Greetings, I'll start with some background information so you know what I'm trying to accomplish and then get to my question. I work at a Television station in the US and we are working on setting up an online DVR/Podcast system for all of our newscasts. So basically we would be recording every newscast in HD, encoding it to flv/h.264 for viewing in a browser on flash compatible and iphone/ipad devices, eventually migrating to WebM when it's browser compliant.

This task is theoretically pretty simple as it all it involves is a TV tuner device and a program like VLC, MythTV or whatever to schedule and dump it to a file, encode it with VLC/FFMPEG and push it to the streaming server.

Now to the hardware, in order to accomplish that task, should I use an internal PCI tuner or a USB 2.0 tuner? Is there a difference? The bus speeds of both are not too far apart, and is the bus speed really relevant in this case? Does it matter if the device has a hardware encoder or a software encoder?

On many sites the USB was recommended for ease of set up and use, but would it overly task a processor, or is that not a concern as long as it's a decent PC (at least duo core, 6gb ram). What's the difference between the stick USB and the Box USBs? To my understanding analog is basically gone in the US, so we would want a hybrid or combo tuner correct? How do those differ from DVB? Are there any other features or concepts which I am missing which may influence the recommended product. It would be ideal if the device which could work in both Linux and a Windows environment, to my knowledge most Hauppauge are?

Example 1: PCI Hauppage http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16815116033 Example 2: USB 2.0 Box http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16815116029 Example 3: USB 2.0 Stick http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16815116031

Any guidance from the Superusers would be much appreciated!

  • Personally I love the Cetoncorp.com devices. I have the pcie card and allows 4 Turner recording at the same time. 3x of these and you've got 12 channels – kobaltz Jan 5 '12 at 16:49

You might want to take a look at the HDHomeRun. The HDHomeRun and MythTV play very well together. You could setup MythTV user jobs to transcode your recordings to h.264. MythTV and Linux are extremely flexible. I recommend Mythbuntu.

Below is the ffmpeg description of a HDHomeRun OTA recording.

Input #0, mpegts, from 'NCIS_2010-06-22_8-00_PM_Flesh_and_Blood.mpg':
  Duration: 00:59:56.48, start: 1693.130600, bitrate: 15946 kb/s
  Program 1 
    Stream #0.0[0x31]: Video: mpeg2video, yuv420p, 1920x1080 [PAR 1:1 DAR 16:9], 65000 kb/s, 29.97 fps, 29.97 tbr, 90k tbn, 59.94 tbc
    Stream #0.1[0x34](eng): Audio: ac3, 48000 Hz, 5.1, s16, 384 kb/s

Rock on, PLA


USB could possibly be easier to physically install, just because of the whole plugin vs open up the PC, unscrew a slot, install it, and put it back together thing. Not much processing power is really needed, although more power would certainly make it go faster (especially RAM). You should go for the hardware encoder, unless it's much more expensive. That will decrease the load on the rest of the computer, and again, help it go faster.

  • Problem with usb is that its controller is shared bandwidth of 480Mbps meaning that if you have more than 2 or 3 tuners then you will start to get packet losses – kobaltz Jan 5 '12 at 16:50

Do not use the Hauppauge WinTV-HVR-1600 if you plan on using in Linux. It is not compatible out of the box with Linux. You can make it partially functional in Linux by replacing some of the BIOS with some code (which is no longer in development). Trust me, Im speaking from experience on this one. :P

Just be sure to check each model (and version of that model) if it is supported out of the box with the version/distro of Linux you are using.

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