First thing I would like to say is thank you to Hauppauge for providing the WinTv PVR 350 for me to Review.
When you first take the WinTv PVR 350 out of the anti static wrapping you notice the jacks on the back where things can be plugged in. On this card you have the following inputs and outputs.
2 75 ohm cable connectors that are used for both the FM radio and the Tv Tuner.
1 SVideo input with this you can plug in a video source and record to disk.
1 SVideo output with this you can run the output of the card into a tv or vcr if you choose.
1 Line in this one is used for audio in to go along with the video in.
1 Remote control receiver socket. This is used for the remote control to work.
Installation of the WinTv PVR 350 card was a snap. Like any other PCI card you just slip it into a empty slot and put the screw in to hold it in place and your done.
The WinTv PVR 350 is a tv tuner card with on board mpeg encoder and decoders. What this means to the average person is that you can record video and audio to your hard drive and basically not take any cpu hit.
The old way I would do what this card does was to take my old hauppauge tv tuner card that didn’t have any mpeg encoders or decoders on it and run it with power vrc 2. Doing this will will give you a result thats close to what the WinTv PVR 350 has to offer but will drive your cpu to nearly 100% useage when recording since it’s using the cpu to encode the mpeg files.
This is why the WinTv PVR 350 is such a treat to have because your cpu hardly gets used at all while recording shows to the hard drive. One thing about having hardware like this is you want to have a lot of hard drive space. With the software that comes with it I left everything pretty much at default and when it was setup like that one hour of video was like 1.2 gigs of hard drive space.
Having the software for the WinTv PVR 350 pretty much in default modes gives you quite a nice picture when playing back the mpeg files. In fact I couldn’t see any difference at all between what I was watching live and what I recorded and played back. However if your looking to play around with some other recording modes you can choose from quite a few of them in the preferences. Keep in mind some of the recording modes can eat up 5.4 gigabytes an hour.
The Pause feature is a nice thing to have to. You can pause live tv and it will record basically what your missing to the hard drive. When you come back to the computer you hit play and watch right where you left off when pausing the show.
One thing that stood out for me was the stereo sound. The previous tv tuner I had from hauppauge was a mono one so going to stereo was quite a treat. The quality of the stereo sound was also quite good.
Also on the positive side is the remote control that seems to work well with supplied tv tuner software and I didn’t see any problems there.
The WinTv PVR 350 even comes with a FM radio built onto it and it to has software that lets you access that. The sound of it was also quite good.
You also get a scheduler program you can setup to record your favorite shows. Its has all the features you would expect such as when to record and how often and so on.
This card also has quite a bit of 3rd party support from different companies such as Sage tv. So that means your not stuck using the supplied default software.
The WinTv PVR 350 also comes with a few programs that can be used to create DVD’s and SVCD. The software to do that is really simple use and shouldn’t take very long before your burning your videos to DVD.
I did find one thing wrong with the tv tuner software for this card was that it can have conflicts with other software. You will notice this conflict when you see things start to be shown on the tv tuner software in what looks like a slow motion mode. When that does happen the audio is also out of sync with the video. To get the tv tuner back to normal I have to switch to another channel and that usually gets everything back in sync. A side from this one problem its the only issue I have seen with the software at all. I should also say here that when the tv tuner software is the only thing running for hours on end I have never seen anything go out of sync or do the slow motion thing. This is why I think the tv tuner software doesn’t like other software that I’m running. The big problem is it seems to happened randomly which is why I don’t know what software it don’t like.
I plan on doing more testing in terms of the sync/slow motion problem when I get some new software in that will support the WinTV PVR 350. This could be a problem thats only related to the software that come with WinTV PVR 350.
If you decide to buy this card there is one thing you got to do and thats don’t even install the drivers from the CD. The drivers I had on my CD were out of date and that prompted me to un-install them and get the latest drivers from the Hauppauge web site. You do have to do a bit of messing around to get rid of the old drivers and put the new ones on but the instructions for doing this are on the hauppauge web site under the support section of the WinTv PVR 350.
The WinTv PVR 350 also comes with a software package that can show you your local tv listings and then you can record from that list or setup a schedule. The problem I had with the program is that it only supports the U.S and is of little use to people like my self who are in Canada. However for the people in Canada there are some programs that do have support for our listings and I’m trying to get them to send me the software so I can see how well it works. When I do get the software I will do a separate review on that. For those that don’t want to wait for me to review this software go get your self a copy of sage tv and then in www.google.com look for “sage tv zap2it” without the quotes that should get you some hits on some plug ins for the sage tv software that supports Canadian tv listings..
In closing I must say for a first hardware review I was quite impressed with how the WinTv PVR 350 works. For those that find the pre loaded software a bit to simple or not enough features in it you always have other 3rd party programs that should take care of your needs. At the time of this article you could buy a Hauppauge WinTv PVR 350 for about $180.00 U.S.
Once again i would like to thank the folks from Hauppauge for providing this card to me so i could review it.
The test system used for this Review was the following..
CPU = AMD 2500 XP
M/B = ASUS 87N8X
RAM = 2 GIGS
VIDEO = ATI 9800 PRO 128 MEGS OF RAM
HARD DRIVES = 2 SEAGATE 1 20 GIG 1 60 GIG 7200 RPM IDE
OS = WINDOWS XP PRO SERVICE PACK 2
Now onto the screen shots of what comes in the box and the software that comes with it enjoy!
Here is a picture of the box the WinTv PVR 350 came in..
This is the same pic but the backside of the box..
Here we have the contents of the box..
Here is the front side of the WinTv PVR 350..
Here is the back side of the WinTv PVR 350..
This is the Remote Control that comes with the Unit..
The Tv Tuner Software..
The Radio Software..WolfManz611..