Wednesday 20 July 2011

In Depth: The Hauppauge HD-PVR

The Hauppauge HD-PVR is a few years old now, yet it is still one of the best-sellers at but has it stood the 'test of time'?

What it can do:
  • Record TV programmes as a ‘middleman’ between a set top box and a PC
  • Record gameplay from most major games consoles including the PS3 and Xbox 360
  • Record in 1080i High Definition and in AVCHD Blu-Ray format to be replayed via a Blu-Ray player
  • Save the recordings directly onto your PC
  • Change the file type for compatibility with portable media players and YouTube using the provided PC software
  • With the software provided you can burn your recordings to DVD and Blu-Ray discs
  • Transfer your previously recorded programmes from your Sky box (or similar) onto your PC then burn them onto a disc
  • Transfer your VHS cassettes to discs using a VHS player, the HD-PVR and a PC
  • What it cannot do:

    • Store your recordings it’s self (it has no hard drive)
    • Record TV single-handedly (there is no built in tuner)
    • Play discs (there is no built in disc drive)
    • Burn discs without a PC
    • Burn discs, change file type etc. on a Mac, as the software is not compatible
    • In Depth

      As you’d expect from any product of this type, it records your favourite programmes and films from your TV. However, unlike most, the Hauppauge HD-PVR doesn’t have a built in tuner this means it needs to be wired up to a freeview, satellite or cable TV set top box.

      To makes matters worse there’s no internal hard drive, meaning you need a PC to save your recordings.

      This means that the HD-PVR is a kind of ‘middleman’, you need 3 different devices (the HD-PVR itself, a set top box and a PC) to do what a traditional PVR does.

      However, there are redeeming features for this product that make it worthwhile:

      The HD-PVR can make real-time H.264 compressed recordings with a resolution of up to 1080i, 720p or VGA/D1 along with high definition 5.1 surround sound where possible, usually only achievable with high-end PVRs.

      It also records in Blu-Ray AVCHD format so the included software, you can burn all your recordings onto a standard DVD or Blu-Ray disc, both of which can be played back on any Blu-Ray player for the full experience.

      What’s more, you can record and watch your favourite HD shows simultaneously thanks to the Audio/Video component loop through, although, because there is no built-in tuner, you cannot record one channel and watch another.

      It also has an IR Blaster to change the TV channel automatically so you can record what you want, when you want. This means you don’t have to be there to change the channel for the programme that you want to record.

      A key feature is the ability to transfer your previously recorded TV programmes from your Sky+ box onto your PC. Unfortunately, this is a very tedious operation, to do so you must replay them back as they are re-recorded by the HD-PVR.

      You can also transfer all your old home movies from traditional cassettes to your PC to burn onto a disc and give them a new lease of life using the S-Video input.

      The included software selection: Arcsoft's TotalMediaExtreme, TotalMediaTheatre and MediaConverter, is a major bonus to this product, introducing numerous features...

      You can convert your recordings to a games console compatible format, copy them to your console and play them back on your TV whenever you want.

      You can convert your recordings into the correct file format for most portable media devices, to watch your clips on the move.

      There is also the opportunity to convert your recordings into YouTube and Facebook compatible files, so you can share your favourite TV moments with all your friends.

      Also, you can playback and edit all your recordings on your PC

      In addition, you can hook up the recorder to your Xbox 360 or PS3 (and other consoles) to record seamless gameplay footage as you play. You can then uploaded your game highlights to YouTube and other online video sites, to show off your skill to your friends and family. This video pass through system, also means that the footage is uploaded to your computer whilst the recording is happening. This provides instant viewing, flawless recording and uninterrupted gameplay.

      What’s in the box?

      The product comes with everything you need to get started:

      • The HD-PVR box - a mere 19.8cm wide x 17.3 cm deep x 7 cm high – this controls everything; it’s the nerve-centre of the all the recordings you’ll ever make.
      • The HD-PVR PC software – System Requirements: Windows 7 (32/64 bit), Vista (32/64 bit), or Windows XP Service Pack 3. This is the software that you need to be able to playback and save your recordings onto your PC. N.B. this product is not compatible with Macs so, sorry to all the Steve Jobs’ out there but I’m afraid to say that this product is not for you.
      • A power supply (for obvious reasons).
      • A USB cable – connects the box to your PC.
      • An IR Blaster cable – for the automatic changing of channels when recording.
      • A Component video and audio cable set – all the standard cables required to set the HD-PVR up and connect with your cable or satellite top box or your games console.
      • A Quickinstall guide – tells you everything you need to get going.
      • Remote control – to control the functions of your set top box, not the product itself, in functions like changing channels.


      The HD-PVR was the first of its kind when it was released: a PVR (Personal Video Recorder) that can transfer all your recordings to your PC and can also record your gameplay from a games console. Now many other companies have stepped up to the mark with their own versions of a Personal Video Recorder to rival Hauppauge.

      This product is great for everyone wanting to record their favourite TV shows and gameplay, and it's much better than any built in feature in a DVD or Blu-Ray player.

      It may be a few years old, and with technology improving so quickly, you’d expect it to have been left behind. However, its' uses are as relevant today as they were when it was invented and it's still up there with the competition, keeping a sturdy foothold in the market. It does exactly what it says on the tin, providing an excellent video recording experience.

      Received an average of 4.5/5 from MoreComputers' reviewers

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