Video capture card
Video capture cards are used to get the picture from the cable, aerial, or satellite television source into the PC (compared to video display cards which provide output). They decode and capture the video signal from the channel you want to record. Most include, as is implied here, some sort of RF tuner to capture and convert over the air or cable TV signals, and they are therefore more properly called 'tuner cards' -- video capture cards without tuners do exist (like the Pinnacle DC30 and DV500 series, for example), but these are not commonly used with MythTV.
Types of cards
Analog framebuffer cards
These cards (also called frame grabbers and software encoders) are usually based on a chipset like the Bt848/878 or Conexant cx2388x, and decode broadcast NTSC, PAL, or Secam television. These cards deliver an unencrypted data stream to MythTV, which then encodes to MPEG-4 or RTJpeg using software encoders. Advantages of this type of card are:
- Low cost
- High flexibility -- you can choose your encoding method and employ filters prior to encoding
- If you have the CPU power, MPEG-4 produces better quality with smaller file sizes than the MPEG-2 used with most hardware encoding cards
The main disadvantage of this type of card is the high CPU requirements. Depending on your encoding settings, you may need close to 1GHz of CPU speed to handle a single encoding stream, and more if you have multiple cards or want to play back while recording. MPEG-4 is particularly demanding; for systems with weaker CPUs, RTJpeg consumes less CPU time at the cost of larger file sizes and more digital video artifacts.
Analog Hardware-Encoding Cards
These cards, currently the Hauppauge PVR cards, the AVerMedia M179 and any other card which supports the V4L2 MPEG Encoder API, have a video processor onboard which compresses the tuned video signal into an RTJpeg, MPEG-2, or MPEG-4 program stream before sending it into the computer. The advantages of these cards are:
- Greatly reduced load on the entire machine (with certain technical caveats). This is particularly important for machines with weak CPUs or when using multiple tuners in one system.
- The reduced load means that your video stream is less likely to suffer from encoding "hiccups" if a process causes the system to become momentarily too busy to process the video.
- Most hardware-encoding cards output an MPEG-2 stream, which can simplify backing up to DVD.
The main drawback of this type of card is that you're limited to the video format and encoding options supported by the manufacturer (usually MPEG-2). You can transcode to MPEG-4 after recording to save space, if desired, but this requires post-record processing and will degrade quality slightly.
Digital Hardware-MPEG cards
Digital broadcasting (for DVB and ATSC at least) is in the form of an MPEG-2 transport stream, so unlike analog capture cards, there is no need for any kind of onboard encoding engine, the required program stream is extracted and handed directly to the computer for viewing or saving. Some cards have a hardware Program ID filter (hardware pid) which means the card can extract the required program stream from the transport stream itself.
In either case, the computer power required to save a MPEG-2 transport stream (but not view it) is very small, being only what is required to shift data from the PCI/USB bus and save it to disk.
Some digital capture cards also support analog (NTSC or PAL) transmissions, usually via a frame grabber. If your digital capture card lacks such hardware and you want to record both digital and analog transmissions, you'll need to buy a separate analog capture card - either a frame grabber or a hardware-encoding card.
With the world moving towards digital broadcast standards, this type of card is likely to become dominant in the next few years.
Capture Card Matrix
Here is a matrix, listing cards with their related drivers.
|Card||Driver||Works with MythTV?||Hardware-based encoding?||CC Stream?||CC MPEG2?||Notes||Reporter|
|Aimslab Video Highway Xtreme||bttv||Yes||No||?||?||Non-standard internal audio-out pinout, but labeled on PCB. Requires BTTV Module parameters card=14 tuner=2||HeK|
|ADS Tech Instant TV_Deluxe - PTV305||kernel>=2.6.20rc2, ,cx88, cx88_blackbird||Yes||Yes||?||?||Cx23880-19/Cx23416-12/TDA8275+TDA8290||Dreality|
|ATI All-in Wonder||?||No||NA||NA||NA||Does not work with MythTV||Unknown|
|ATI HDTV Wonder||kernel >= 2.6.15, cx88-dvb||Yes||No||?||?||broadcast HDTV||Unknown|
|ATI TV-Wonder Pro||cx88xx||Y||N||?||N||This is the Conexant based card||Lucidity|
|ATI TV-Wonder VE||bttv||Y||N||Y||?||Discontinued||Unknown|
|AVerMedia M150-D||cx88-blackbird||Yes (with caveats)||Yes||No (?)||No (?)||Card is finicky and unreliable; see card's wiki entry for details.||Srs5694|
|AVerMedia M179||IVTV stable||Y||Y||?||?||Unknown|
|AVerMedia DVB-T 771||bttv I believe||Yes||Yes||?||?||WhyTey|
|AVerMedia DVB-T 777||saa7134||Yes||?||?||?||raintonr|
|ComPro VideoMate TV PVR/FM||v4l2||No||No||?||?||MythTV 0.19, Works with KdeTV||Ola A|
|Compro VideoMate TV Gold Plus||saa7134||Yes||?||?||?||Audio capture from PCI bus works, see wiki writeup for more info||Lynchmv 13:45, 2 June 2006 (UTC)|
|DVICO Fusion DTVDVB-T||?||Yes||?||?||?||DVB-T, more info, also note Patch for 2.6.12 kernel||Unknown|
|DVICO FusionHDTV5 Gold||Kernel >= 2.6.17||Partial||No||?||?||Tested with 2.6.17. Read more at link||Jason|
|DVICO FusionHDTV5 RT Gold||Kernel >= 2.6.15||Yes||Yes||?||?||DVB Driver from linux kernel 2.6.16, Works out of the box since Ubuntu 6.06 more info. The digital and analog tuner are recognized in one single card since Myth 0.20. Myth shows all of the digital and analog inputs including the S-video and RCA inputs on the card. Tested 43 HDTV channels with an indoor digital antenna||Jylups|
|DVICO FusionHDTV II (and DVICO FusionHDTV3)||Kernel ??||??||??||?||?||(hardware details: , ,  ) ( mentions that the "II" and "3" are very similar)||User:DavidCary|
|FireWire capture||NA||Yes||NA||??||??||Caption stream is avail when playing through cable box, but not through mythtv||Unknown|
|Hauppauge DEC2000-T||?||Partial||?||?||?||DVB-T, USB external tuner||Unknown|
|Hauppauge Nexus S||?||Yes||?||?||?||DVB-S, STV02998 based Mpeg Encoder||Unknown|
|Hauppauge PVR-500||IVTV >= 0.4.0||Yes||Yes||Not supported in MythTV||Yes in some versions of ivtv||Dual TV tuners, single FM Radio tuner, no remote. See Hauppauge_PVR-500 on this wiki!||User:Michel|
|Hauppauge PVR-350||IVTV stable||Yes||Yes||Not supported in MythTV||Yes||Has TV-out and if the option to encode CC in MPEG datastream is enabled, PVR-350 TV output can also pass it back to the television CC decoder. Not recommended for new purchases, as mpeg decoding does not support advanced myth functions (like fast-forwarding) and future versions of myth will use OpenGL, which will not work on this card. See Hauppauge_PVR-350 on this wiki!||Unknown|
|Hauppauge PVR-250||IVTV stable||Yes||Yes||Not supported in MythTV||Yes||See Hauppauge_PVR-250 on this wiki!||Unknown|
|Hauppauge PVR-150||IVTV stable||Yes||Yes||Not supported in MythTV||Yes in some versions of ivtv||All versions have one TV tuner. Different versions exist, some with FM Radio tuner (but no remote), some with remote (but no radio). See Hauppauge_PVR-150 on this wiki!||User:Michel|
|Hauppauge HVR-1600||No Linux support||No||Yes||No||No|| Does not work with MythTV or Linux yet because of the new Conexant CX23418 chip used to encode MPEG-2. The card has two tuners, one supports both ATSC (8-VSB) and Clear QAM up to 1080i resolution, the other does standard NTSC hardware encoding to MPEG-2. You can watch or record on both tuners at once.
Hauppauge has stated that Linux support for the WinTV-HVR-1600 is in process, however the company themselves are not working on a driver. A message to Hauppauge support asking about the supposed "in process" driver resulted in the following response: "we don't produce Linux drivers only Win XP/Vista drivers. You will have to refer to the Linux community for that." Evidently, they are telling their customers that the Linux community "process" of getting pissed off with lack of vendor support and writing drivers without assistance will eventually produce something that works with their hardware.
|Randall, Robert Ham|
|Hauppauge WinTV-Go||bttv||Yes||No||Yes||No||See Hauppauge_WinTV-Go on this wiki!||Unknown|
|Hauppauge WinTV 38061 Rev B226||bttv||Yes||No||?||?||Use btaudio for sound||Unknown|
|Hauppauge Nova-T||bttv||MythTV version 0.18.1 or older||No||?||?||DVB-T, Digital Terrestrial||Unknown|
|Hauppauge Nova-T||cx88-dvb||Yes||No||Yes||Yes (UK)||DVB-T, Digital Terrestrial||User:Fishter|
|Hauppauge Nova-T 500||Kernel >= 2.6.19 dvb-usb-dib0700||Yes||No||Yes||Yes (UK)||DVB-T, Digital Terrestrial|||
|Hauppauge Nova-S||CX88-DVB Kernel >=2.6.15||Yes||No||?||?||DVB-S, Digital Satellite||Unknown|
|Hauppage WinTV PVR (Roslyn)||kernel>=2.6.18||?||Yes||?||?||Should be supported with MythTV 0.20||Unknown|
|Hauppauge WinTV-PVR-USB2||kernel>=2.6.18 or separate package||Yes||Yes||No||No||Looks like a PVR-x50/500 card to software||Srs5694|
|K-World Xpert DTV - DVBT PCI||?||Y||DVB-T, has aerial passthru||Unknown|
|Leadtek LR6650/ DTV1000 - DVBT PCI||cx88-dvb Kernel >=2.6.12||Yes||DVB-T, has aerial passthru||Juski|
|Leadtek DTV2000H - DVBT & Analog PCI||cx88-dvb Kernel||Yes||DVB-T, Analog. Seperate antenna connector for DVB-T and Analog||Stev391|
|Lifeview TV Walker Twin (USB)||m920x (linuxTV HG)||Partial||Dual DVB-T. Single antenna connector, works with gxine. To get card working setup VLC to Network Stream and use an IPTV tuner in MythTV.||Stev391|
|Matrox Rainbow Runner G-Series||mgavideo||Yes||Yes||No||No||Discontinued||Unknown|
|pcHDTV HD-3000||kernel >= 2.6.12, cx8800, cx88-dvb, cx22702, or51132||Yes||No||No||No||broadcast HDTV.||User:rtsai1111|
|pcHDTV HD-5500||kernel >= 2.6.16, cx88-dvb||Yes||No||No||No||DIGITAL SDTV/HDTV in 8ESV, QAM64, QAM128, QAM256, and Analog NTSC||Dreality|
|Pinnacle PCTV HD||?||?||?||?||?||ATSC, NTSC, Clear QAM, FM. Conexant CX23883-39 Chipset||GBob|
|Plextor ConvertX||wis-go7007-linux-0.9.7||Yes||Yes||No||No||USB external device (MPEG4)||MythTV 0.18|
|Silicondust HDHomeRun||MythTV >= 0.20||Yes||Yes||No||No||ATSC Digital TV, Dual tuners, TCP/IP network. Technically there is no hardware encoding however the device streams mpeg-2 directly from the ATSC broadcast --> no encoding requ'd.||User:jafa|
|Technisat AirStar HD-5000||kernel >= 2.6.x, dvb B2C2, LGDT330x||Yes||No||No||No||OTA and Clear QAM HDTV.||User:digitalboy|
|Techno Trend TT-budget C-1500||saa7146||Yes||No||No||Yes||?||akif|
|Terratec Cinergy 400||?||Yes||No||?||?||Unknown|
|Terratec Cinergy 600||?||Yes||No||?||?||Unknown|
|Twinhan MiniTer DVT PCI||kernel >= 2.6.8||No||No||?||?||DVB-T Australia. Provides MPEG2 stream from digital signal||User:Bill|
|Geniatech Digistar||cx88xx||Yes||No||?||No||This is the Conexant based card||User:versteckt|
Removed from matrix because I could not find any info at vendor websites (please re-add if you have info about these!):
- Aver Desktop PVR
Cards that work
ATSC (HDTV) cards
- pcHDTV HD-2000 (V4L w/pcHDTV patch -or- dvb driver) (Terrestrial only) (replaced by HD-3000)
- pcHDTV HD-3000 (V4L w/pcHDTV patch -or- dvb driver) (Terrestrial and clear QAM)
- pcHDTV HD-5500 (V4L cx88 -or- dvb cx88-dvb driver) (NTSC Analog Television/HDTV ATSC QAM64/QAM256/VSB_8)(no firmware needed)
- Air2PC (dvb drivers) (Terrestrial and clear QAM) (replaced by Technisat AirStar HD-5000)
- Technisat AirStar HD-5000(dvb drivers) (Terrestrial and clear QAM)
- ATI HDTV Wonder (dvb drivers) (Terrestrial, clear QAM)
- FusionHDTV 5 Gold or Lite (dvb & v4l cvs, mm kernels) (Terrestrial and clear QAM)
- FusionHDTV 5 RT Gold (dvb & v4l. kernels >=2.6.15) (Terrestrial and clear QAM)
- Silicondust HDHomeRun (MythTV >= 0.20) (Terrestrial ATSC and clear QAM)
- DViCO FusionHDTV5 Lite
Hardware Encoder cards
- iTVC15 family of MPEG encoders supported by the IVTV drivers
- V4L2 MPEG encoder API card (Kernel 2.6.18 and later)
- Hauppauge WinTV-PVR-USB2 (MPEG2 encoder box with USB2.0)
- Cards based on the Conexant cx23416 MPEG with cx88 pci brigde (Conexant blackbird reference design)
- Hauppauge WinTV-PVR-Roslyn (P/N: 28552 on the TV Tuner).
- ADS Tech Instant TV_Deluxe - PTV305 (Kernel 2.6.20rc2 and later)
- Must use use proper encode firmware, cx88_blackbird module, and use V4L2-ctl with myth
- Matrox Marvel G200/G400 MJPEG encoders
Software Encoder cards
- BrookTree (bttv) based cards. NOTE: The bttv page includes kernel parameters and links to vendor specs.
- Hauppauge WinTV-Go
- Aimslab Video Highway Xtreme (VHX)
- ATI TV-Wonder
- ATI TV-Wonder VE
- Hauppauge WinTV
- Leadtek WinFast
- Leadtek WinView 601
- Pinnacle PCTV Studio
- Pinnacle PCTV Studio Pro
- Lifeview Fly Video II (Bt848) LR26 / MAXI TV Video PCI2 LR26
- Lifeview Fly Video 98 LR50 / Chronos Video Shuttle II
- Lifeview Fly Video 98/ Lucky Star Image World ConferenceTV LR50
- Lifeview Fly Video 98/ MAXI TV Video PCI2 LR50
- Lifeview Fly Video 98FM LR50 / Typhoon TView TV/FM Tuner
- Lifeview Fly Video 2000 /Fly Video A2/ Lifetec LT 9415 TV [LR90]
- Prolink PV-BT878P+4E / Lenco MXTV-9578 CP
- Prolink Pixel View PlayTV pro / Pixel View PlayTV PAK
- AVerMedia TVCapture 98
- STB TV PCI FM, Gateway P/N 6000704 (bt878)
- 3Dfx VoodooTV 100, Gateway P/N 6000699 (btt878)
- Sigma TVII-FM
- Zoltrix Genie TV/FM / TV-Max (people reported having Audio Issues with card)
- Sabrent TVTuner (bt878)
- BT878 (Takes an MPEG2 HDTV(?) stream)
- ATSC - pcHDTV / HD-2000
- Philips SAA7134-based cards
- AVermedia DVB-T (Bt8xx)
- AVerMedia DVB-T 777 (saa7134) PCI
- DVICO FusionHDTV DVB-T (More Info)
- DNTV Live! DVB-T Pro (More Info)
- Hauppauge WinTV-Nova-T PCI Cards
- Hauppauge Nova-T (Digital Terrestrial)
- Hauppauge Nova-S (Digital Satellite)
- Hauppauge Nova-SE2 (Digital Sattelite)
- Hauppauge Nexus-S (STV02998 based) Mpeg Encoder
- Leadtek LR6650 DVB-T and other cards based on the Conexant 'reference' DVB-T design.
- Nebula Electronics DigiTV PCI Rev 1 (Bt878, Nxt6000) Rev 2 (Bt878, Zarlink MT352) (Digital Terrestrial)
- Pinnacle PCTV DVB-S (Bt878)
- Technisat Sky Star 2 TV PCI
- Technotrend C1500 (DVB-C) - Warning: newer version with different tuner (antenna in and out) might not work under Linux
- Technotrend T1500 (DVB-T)
- Twinhan MiniTer DVT PCI
- Geniatech Digistar
USB Capture Cards
- Hauppauge DEC2000-T
- Hauppauge WinTV-HVR-900
- Hauppauge WinTV Nova-T USB2
- Hauppauge WinTV-PVR-USB2
- Pinnacle PCTV USB2 (pal Europe version)
- Terratec Hybrid XS
Cards that don't work
- ATI All-in-Wonder cards
The ATI drivers provide a kernel module for basic V4L support which allows for capturing video from the device as it is playing. They do not, however, provide the tuner functions necessary for MythTV to select channels. Instead, they implement their channel tuning using the Xv extensions of X-Windows. A solution might be to patch the MythTV source code to recognize the ATI hardware and use Xv frequency changing to change the channel rather than solely relying on the V4L tuning functions. Then it would depend on whether the V4L support for capture is adequate enough in the ATI drivers for MythTV to work. It also might be possible to use an externally called Xv channel changing utility to change the channels.
The ATI All-in-Wonder card cannot (it is said elsewhere on the internet) send video across the PCI bus. It can only show video on the VGA output on the card. It is on this basis that neither the card nor drivers are appropriate for use with mythtv.
- PVR-350 all functions work, but TV-Out isn't well suited for Myth, since it isn't accelerated and the MPEG decoder isn't well supported any longer.
- Hauppauge WinTV-HVR 1600. Includes both an ATSC high-def tuner and an analog cable TV tuner, but is apparently not yet supported by the IVTV drivers.