Hauppauge HD PVR Model 1212 Review

Would you like to record video from HDTV without having any DRM(Digital Rights Management)?  If so, the Hauppauge HD PVR may be for you.

Hauppauge HD PVR Model 1212 Review

Similar in size to the Mac Mini, the HD PVR is a small and light box.  In the front, you have a SVideo, Composite Video, Left and Right Audio for connectors.

The Power Button is also on the front as is a IR window.  The HDPVR does come with a remote, but it will not control any of the software that comes with the PVR.  It’s mainly for use with other programs like Sage TV or GB-PVR that are not included in the box.

Hauppauge HD PVR Model 1212 Review

The rest of the connectors along the back are in and out ports for Left/Right Audio, Y, Pb and Pr Component video, Optical audio out and in (not tested), the IR blaster, USB and Power.

Hauppauge HD PVR Model 1212 Review

Important to note, the outs are just there to pass through between your Cable or Satellite receiver and the TV.  The HDPVR isn’t capable of playing video on the TV itself.  It’s strictly for recording on your PC.

Minimum requirements for this device as stated by Hauppauge are a dual core CPU, Graphics with 256MB memory (or greater, Sound card.  These are most definitely a MINIMUM setup.  I recorded with my Lenovo T60 and while it worked, viewing the video in vlc or anything other then the TotalMedia Theater resulted in a little herky jerky video.  You probably want a LARGE and fast hard disk and at least 2 GB of ram to help with this.

The included software is Arcsoft Total Media Extreme, Arcsoft TotalMedia Theater and Arcsoft Media Converter.  As for operating system requirements, this will work with Windows XP SP2 and Windows Vista 32 bit.  No 64 bit drivers are available.  This software was a exercise in frustration to me.  First, the capture program would lock up every other recording.  Then when I told it to record for 5 minutes, it blanked out the video on the computer when recording it and then went past the 5 min mark and also became unresponsive so I had to kill it.  The Arcsoft software is pretty terrible with the exception of the Theater player.  That worked really well and played these videos the best of anything I tried.  Linux played these vids in vlc and it was a little jerky at both 720p and 1080i.

Hauppauge HD PVR Model 1212 Review

Arcsoft Total Media Extreme

Hauppauge HD PVR Model 1212 Review

The  Capture Program

The video recorded by the HDPVR is AVCHD or h.264 and the audio uses AAC I believe.  This video is compatible with the Blu-Ray spec.  In fact, you can burn the video to a DVD with the included software and put it in your Blu-Ray player and the recording will work and be HD.  There is a converter included in this package as well to convert the video for other devices like your Xbox 360 or PS3.

The HDPVR will automatically switch from one resolution to the next when your source video changes, but you can also control this in the software if you don’t want to change the output resolution

Hauppauge also included scheduling software.  Using the IR blaster, when the schedule time happens, it triggers the capture program turns on and starts recording.   However, due to oddities in remote control schemes, a dedicated Tivo or PVR will provide a better experience.  I recommend using a DVR and then hooking this HDPVR to it to off load some of the stuff you have been saving on your DVR.  When used this way, you can get more space on the DVR.  The reason I say it’s better to use a stand alone DVR than this PVR is your computer MUST be on to record.  That means leaving it on all day and you may or may not want to do this if the machine isn’t dedicated to recording video.

As far as Linux support goes, it’s still early, but the HDPVR won’t work on Myth TV currently.  From what I understand, a driver is in development and is of alpha quality.  Once Myth TV works with this box, it would be a perfect DVR solution with the caveat of the IR blaster.

As far as storage goes, you need to get some extra external add on drives that so you can switch the drive between your computers.  A 5 min 1080i recording took 400 MB for 5 minutes.  That means each 30 minute show is 2 GB of storage.  An hour would be 4 GB.  I very easily can see someone maxing out a 1 TB drive recording their favorite show.  So if your planning on picking this up, pick up a 1 TB drive too!

Here are a couple of screenshots I took of the video.  Note: It’s not HD due to space constraints.  Also, I can’t show what the video is like due to space concerns and possible copyright issues.  Take it from me, the quality is great!

Hauppauge HD PVR Model 1212 Review

Hauppauge HD PVR Model 1212 Review

The Hauppauge HDTV PVR is available direct at Hauppauge’s website for $249.  You can save 30 bucks by ordering it from Amazon.com instead for $229.

What I liked: DRM free recording off of your HDTV or Satellite provider in any supported resolution up to 1080i.  Exquisite video quality.  You can’t go wrong for a HD capable recorder.

What needs improvement: Standard definition recording is fuzzy.  It looks like it’s out of focus.  Also the Arcsoft software is terrible.  It needs an update to fix some of the issues I experienced.  Also it needs  a hefty machine and truely shines when running on a standalone machine all of the time.

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About the Author

Joel McLaughlin
Joel is a consultant in the IT field and is located in Columbus, OH. While he loves Linux and tends to use it more than anything else, he will stoop to running closed source if it is the best tool for the job. His techno passions are Linux, Android, netbooks, GPS, podcasting and Amateur Radio.

10 Comments on "Hauppauge HD PVR Model 1212 Review"

  1. Christopher Gavula | October 22, 2008 at 8:53 am |

    I’m not terribly inmpressed with the lack of Mac or Linux support. This seems like a very limited-use device as it stands. For Mac users I’d probably direct them to look at something like the Elgato EyeTV 250 Plus which also offers HD support, but on more platforms and for $50 less.

  2. Joel McLaughlin | October 22, 2008 at 10:25 am |

    Agreed. This box will really shine once it works with Myth TV. The default software was horrible on Windows even. It’s a software issue mainly. Once this is solved, I think the hardware itself is fine.

  3. Nice review. This device isn’t for the plug-n-play crowd probably, but it is an excellent tool for the DIY HTPC folks.

    You won’t want to use the included Arcsoft software with this box as mentioned in the post above, but SageTV, BeyondTV and GBPVR all support the Hauppauge HD-PVR for liveTV, recorded TV etc. I’m using it daily with SageTV to get live and recorded HD content from all of my Time Warner Cable channels.

    One other thing to mention. It does work with Linux and MythTV.

  4. Joel McLaughlin | October 22, 2008 at 11:51 am |

    It does? I have seen lots of bug reports with people saying they have gotten it to work with Myth but then days later after a update it stops working. According to the Myth TV wiki, the driver is kinda buggy. Do you know if it works with Mythbuntu out of the box?

    I will probably be building a Myth box soon as my laptop just doesn’t have enough umph to do the 1080i. The included viewer works great and it looks awesome. Plus, I’d like to do some offline processing via cron to covert some of the content to view on a PSP. Yeah, I know, not HD but good enough for me.

  5. I have been using the HD-PVR with MythTV since August. I’m currently running with two HD-PVRs. I’m using KnoppMyth, not Mythbuntu. You do have to be willing to compile and run unreleased software. Here is a link to my work:


  6. Joel McLaughlin | October 23, 2008 at 10:13 am |

    nharris: Thanks! You’ve given me a project! 😉

  7. Joel,

    I am looking at purchasing the PVR you reviewed. A few questions if you don’t mind :
    1. If the input video is HD, what is the recorded HD video quality like on a 46-50 inch HD TV screen ?
    2. If the input video is HD, and the output a standard (non-Blu-ray) DVD, what is the video quality like on a 46-50 inch HD screen ?
    3. If the input video is S-video, and the output a standard (non-Blu-ray) DVD, what is the video quality like on a 46-50 inch HD screen ?
    4 I believe that for playback, the PC has to be dual-core with a 256mb video card. For recording, however, it is not as critical. Is that your experience ?


  8. Joel McLaughlin | December 6, 2008 at 1:45 am |

    1. If the input video is HD, what is the recorded HD video quality like on a 46-50 inch HD TV screen ?

    Should be good when using 1080p mode. However, your mileage may vary since I don’t have a 46-50 inch HDTV! 😉

    2. If the input video is HD, and the output a standard (non-Blu-ray) DVD, what is the video quality like on a 46-50 inch HD screen ?

    DVD’s aren’t highdef. If your upscaling player has component out, quality should be good.

    3. If the input video is S-video, and the output a standard (non-Blu-ray) DVD, what is the video quality like on a 46-50 inch HD screen ?

    Would be crappp…..on any screen. All recordings on SD connections were fuzzy for me.

    4 I believe that for playback, the PC has to be dual-core with a 256mb video card. For recording, however, it is not as critical. Is that your experience ?

    Probably true. Make sure you have a fast disc for recording…7200 rpm or better. The box does all of the encoding for you so it’s not as cpu intensive recording as it is playing. The speed of a disc is a factor here too. 7200 RPM platters should be ok, but if you can and your building a desktop for this, 10K or 15K might be better.

    Remember…the HDPVR doesn’t output at all. Just pass through. You would have to use a output from the PC or from a box like the Neuros Link.

  9. Joel,

    Thanks for the feedback. What size is your TV ?
    Are you using an upscaling DVD player for SD video ?
    As I read your reply I assume that you have not actually tried the various configurations I am looking at. Is that correct ?


  10. Joel McLaughlin | December 6, 2008 at 2:42 pm |

    I don’t even have a HDTV yet but I do have a HDPVR from the cable company so I used a HD Source to create recordings for playback on the computer. You can copy the video to a DVD in BluRay format and it WILL play in HD.

    If I did buy a HDTV and I am planning to in the next few months if I can, I will likely get a 35-40 inch LCD TV. I would then look for a upscaling DVD player to play the DVD’s I have and for BluRay, I would likely use something like the PS3 or one of the BluRay players that stream Netflix.

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