Hauppauge has released details and announced timing for their USB HD recording device. The HD PVR records from component and optical inputs at up to 13.5Mbps in H.264. Additionally, AVCHD recordings can be burned to DVD for Blu-ray STB playback (via bundled ArcSoft application suite). Shipping is expected to begin May 1, and a pre-order page (presumably, with pricing) should be available in the near future.
Brent Evans has been really fired up about this box, as the one of the first consumer-grade HD encoding devices – allowing folks to bypass a specialized, certified HTPC (BIOS/firmware) with CableCARD tuners to record digital cable at HD resolutions. I’m somewhat more restrained… To fully appreciate this, one would need a computer, the Hauppage box, and a cable or satellite set-top box co-located. Which may be too much clutter for many living areas without an AV closet. (It is for me.) And until (if) this product is integrated into Windows Media Center, extension options are limited. Brent assumes we’ll see support from BeyondTV and SageTV at launch, though I’m not counting my ducks just yet. (I’ve checked in with both CEOs and hope to hear back shortly.) Actually, my main concern isn’t integration into those PC DVR software products. Rather, I wonder about the breadth of STB IR support. (Though the box IR receiver could conceivably be used to learn commands.)
While the HD PVR will record high def content it’s re-encoding analog output rather than making a bit-for-bit digital copy of the original. I’m sure it’ll look good and the reported max bitrate is actually higher than I had expected, but it’s not the same as recording directly via CableCARD or ATSC OTA. (Which may not matter if some of these recent cable-co compression stories are accurate…)
Keep an eye on Brent Evans Geek Tonic for updates.