Capture Cards: Sample captures
Building A PC-Based Personal Digital Entertainment Centre
A project diary describing the process of building a PC-based home entertainment center based on regular off-the-shelf computer components and software.

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Sample Video Captures
Here's some MPEG-1 (VCD) quality recording as achieved with the cards being tested.

Unfortunately the apparent quality of an MPEG recording depends very nuch on the type of scene being recorded and these short clips may not be truly indicative of the performance of each option. I will shortly attempt to capture exactly the same scene using each option so that it becomes easier to do the comparison.

Note that the quality of these samples will likely be hard to distinguish between if you view then in the standard Windows Media-player window so it is recommended that you use the Alt-Enter keystroke combination to switch to full-screen mode.

Alternatively, you could burn these samples to a CDR or CDRW in VCD format using Nero or free software such as VCDEasy.

Each recording represents about six seconds of video/audio and is around a 1MB download.

PCTV Non-realtime Recording
This sample was created by capturing raw video using the PCTV card at a resolution of 352x288. The resulting AVI file was then compressed at highest quality using the excellent TMPGenc MPEG encoder.

This is about as good as MPEG 1 (VCD) video gets and the extra quality comes from the fact that it wasn't compressed in realtime.

PCTV non-realtime with TMPGEnc


The PCTV in Realtime
This recording was made with the PCTV using the supplied realtime MPEG encoding software.

If you look carefully, you'll see that moving elements of the picture are surrounded by a pixelated border. This is typical of low-quality MPEG-1 encoding.

PCTV realtime MPEG1 recording


The PVR-250 in Realtime
This capture was performed on the PVR-250 and shows an all around better quality than the realtime PCTV one, but still falls short of the results produced using a non-realtime encoder.

PVR-250 realtime MPEG1 recording


For Better Quality...
It should be rememebered that both pieces of hardware are capable of better quality captures using MPEG-2 encoding at higher resolutions and bitrates.

I haven't included any MPEG-2 samples here because most PCs don't have an MPEG2 decoder installed as standard. However, I will upload some samples later for those who do, or who can burn to a CDR in SVCD format.

Although both cards are not too far apart in terms of their MPEG-1 quality, the difference really becomes apparent when you use MPEG-2 encoding. At this level, the PVR-250 really shines over the PCTV in realtime capture quality -- although the PCTV still comes out on top if you're prepared to capture the raw video and encode using TMPGenc. Unfortunately though, this non-realtime encoding can take up to five or six hours per single hour of video.


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Published and © 2002 by Bruce Simpson and Aardvark Net Publishing. All rights reserved