Video capture card

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Video capture cards are used to get the picture from the cable, aerial, or satellite television source into the PC.

They decode and capture the video signal from the channel you want to view or record. Most cards include a tuner to capture an specific TV signal (called 'tuner cards'). Video capture cards without tuners do exist, but these are not commonly used with MythTV. Sometimes people mistake video capture cards with video display cards which provide the output to the (tv)screen.


If you visited this page to pick a tuner card, then jump to the section Cards tested with MythTV.


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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 on-board 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.

Most cards of this type are designed to encode standard definition analog (NTSC, PAL, or SECAM) video signals. At least one product, though, the Hauppauge HD PVR, encodes analog HD output, as produced by cable or satellite TV boxes. Such a product is currently the only way to record HD content from providers that encrypt their digital data streams. (Some cable boxes have FireWire outputs, but cable operators often encrypt the IEEE-1394 output for some of the channels tuned by these boxes.)

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 on-board 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.

Confusingly, many useful tools for working with MPEG-2 transport streams have "dvb" in their names, even though they work just as well with MPEG-2 transport streams derived from "ATSC" broadcasts.

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.

Some cable and satellite TV boxes include FireWire ports. You can use these ports, along with a FireWire port on your MythTV box, to record both analog and digital channels from the cable box. Essentially, the FireWire card and cable box function like a digital hardware MPEG card, although configuration details and capabilities differ. Depending on your cable operator, the channels tunable via the cable box may be the same as those that are tunable via a standard digital tuner card, or you may be able to record some or all of the cable system's encrypted channels, as well.

With the world moving towards digital broadcast standards, this type of card is likely to become dominant in the next few years.

Cards tested with MythTV

MythTV basicly supports all cards that are supported by the LinuxTV module. So you can choose any card thats registered as supported on the | LinuxTV site.

Because its practically impossible for us to test all these cards, we have added the cards that we have tested on MythTV below. Of course all the other "LinuxTV supported cards" should work as well.

If your card is not in this list and works with MythTV then we would appreciate it if you add it here so others can benefit from your experience. For specifications about a card you can go to | LinuxTV site or the site of the manufacturer.

If you make an entry here, it is very useful to show the numerical PCI ID or USB ID of the card. This will allow people reading your information to be positive it applies to their card. Examples in this wiki are Compro_VideoMate_TV_Gold_Plus (PCI) and DViCO_FusionHDTV_DVB-T_Dual_Digital_4 (USB). On Linux you can get this information with

 # (lspci && lspci -n) |sort

or

 # lsusb

See also [1] and [2]

ATSC Cards (only in US/Canada )

Analogue cards (Hardware Encoder)

When recording analogue television a hardware encoder makes it easier for you computer to process the TV signal into a digital signal.

Note: Hauppauge is no longer shipping any analog only (PVR) cards due to pressure from FCC.


Analogue cards (Software Encoder versions)

Because these cards don't have a encoder your computer needs to work harder to convert the analogue signal to a digital signal.


Note: Manufacturers are no longer shipping analog-only capture cards due to pressure from FCC.


  • BrookTree (bttv) based cards. NOTE: The bttv page includes kernel parameters and links to vendor specifications.
    • BT848
      • 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 Pixelview PlayTV pro
      • 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
  • cx88xx
  • Hauppage WinTV-HVR-1110
  • Hauppage WinTV-HVR-1120

DVB-C cards (Cable viewing)

SAA7146-Chip:

DVB-S and DVB-S2 cards (Satellite viewing)

DVB-T cards (Terrestrial viewing)

USB Capture Cards

Firewire Capture Cards

See the Firewire Cable Box Compatibility page for details of using a cable box with a FireWire port under MythTV. Support varies by cable operator and cable box, with the FireWire hardware and support software in the MythTV system also playing a role.

Capture Card Matrix

Please add your information to the heading "Cards tested with MythTV". This section is outdated and will also be moved there.

Because all the specifications in this matrix are also available and more up-to-date at | LinuxTV wiki (the module we use for MythTV), its unnecessary to update this matrix. Please add your findings and input to the group "Cards tested with MythTV" here on the page. Also for some of us a wiki table is not user friendly enough to work with.


Card type 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 Analogue ? No NA NA NA Does not work with MythTV Unknown
ATI HDTV Wonder Hybrid: Analogue + ATSC & ClearQAM Digital Cable (8VSB) kernel >= 2.6.15, cx88-dvb Yes No  ?  ? broadcast HDTV Unknown
ATI TV-Wonder Analogue bttv Yes No Yes ? Discontinued Unknown
ATI TV-Wonder Pro Analogue cx88xx Y N ? N This is the Conexant based card Lucidity
ATI TV-Wonder VE Analogue bttv Y N Y ? Discontinued Unknown
AVerMedia M150-D Analogue cx88-blackbird[3] Yes (with caveats) Yes No (?) No (?) Has audio issues with older kernels; see card's wiki entry for details. Srs5694
AVerMedia M179 Analogue IVTV stable Y Y ? ? Unknown
AVerMedia DVB-T 771 DVB-T bttv I believe Yes Yes ? ? WhyTey
AVerMedia DVB-T 777 DVB-T saa7134 Yes ? ? ? raintonr
AVerMedia TV Hybrid A16AR DVB-T saa7134 Yes ? ? ? auric
ComPro VideoMate TV PVR/FM Analogue v4l2 No No ? ? MythTV 0.19, Works with KdeTV Ola A
Compro VideoMate TV Gold Plus Analogue saa7134 Yes ? ? ? Audio capture from PCI bus works, see wiki write up for more info Lynchmv 13:45, 2 June 2006 (UTC)
DViCO Fusion DTVDVB-T DVB-T ? Yes ? ? ? DVB-T, more info, also note Patch for 2.6.12 kernel Unknown
DViCO FusionHDTV5 Gold ATSC & ClearQAM Digital Cable (8VSB/64QAM/256QAM) Kernel >= 2.6.17 Partial No ? ? Tested with 2.6.17. Read more at link Jason
DViCO FusionHDTV5 RT Gold ATSC & ClearQAM Digital Cable (8VSB/64QAM/256QAM) 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) ATSC & ClearQAM Digital Cable (8VSB/64QAM/256QAM) Kernel ??  ??  ??  ?  ? (hardware details: [4], [5], [6] [7]) ([8] 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
Geniatech Digistar  ? cx88xx Yes No ? No This is the Conexant based card User:versteckt
Hauppauge DEC2000-T DVB-T ? Partial ? ? ? DVB-T, USB external tuner Unknown
Hauppauge Nexus S DVB-S ? Yes ? ? ? DVB-S, STV02998 based MPEG2 Encoder Unknown
Hauppauge PVR-500 Analogue 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 Analogue 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 MPEG2 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 Hybrid IVTV stable Yes Yes Not supported in MythTV Yes See Hauppauge_PVR-250 on this wiki! Unknown
Hauppauge PVR-150 Hybrid 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-1250 Hybrid kernel >=2.6.24 or linuxtv.org CVS cx23887 Yes No  ?  ? Digital only, ATSC or QAM. Driver doesn't support analog yet. PCI Express and can be found for < $50 USD Jflatt
Hauppauge HVR-1600 Hybrid cx18 Yes Yes No No Drivers are released and included in recent kernels. Concurrent NTSC and ATSC capture are working. Randall, Robert Ham, vsnine
Hauppauge WinTV-Go Analogue [9] 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 WinTV PCI-FM (34519)  ? cx8800 Yes No ? ? Use cx88_alsa for sound Unknown
Hauppauge Nova-T DVB-T bttv MythTV version 0.18.1 or older No ? ? DVB-T, Digital Terrestrial Unknown
Hauppauge Nova-T DVB-T cx88-dvb Yes No Yes Yes (UK) DVB-T, Digital Terrestrial User:Fishter
Hauppauge Nova-T 500 DVB-T Kernel >= 2.6.19 dvb-usb-dib0700 Yes No Yes Yes (UK) Dual DVB-T, Digital Terrestrial - Make sure you compile the latest v4l-dvb tree in order to get great and stable support [10]. Superseded by WINTV-NOVA-TD500[11] [12] [13]
Hauppauge Nova-S DVB-S CX88-DVB Kernel >=2.6.15 Yes No ? ? DVB-S, Digital Satellite Unknown
Hauppage WinTV PVR (Roslyn) Analogue kernel>=2.6.18 ? Yes ? ? Should be supported with MythTV 0.20 Unknown
Hauppauge WinTV-PVR-USB2 Analogue kernel>=2.6.18 or separate package Yes Yes No No Looks like a PVR-x50/500 card to software Srs5694
Hauppauge WinTV HVR-950 Hybrid em2880 Yes No  ?  ? This is essentially the same exact card as the Pinnacle PCTV HD Pro USB Stick. If you have that one working, this one will work, too, or vice versa; see an install guide here User:raphy3
K-World Xpert DTV - DVBT PCI DVB-T ? Y DVB-T, has aerial pass-through Unknown
Leadtek LR6650/ DTV1000 - DVBT PCI DVB-T cx88-dvb Kernel >=2.6.12 Yes DVB-T, has aerial pass-through Juski
Leadtek DTV2000H - DVBT & Analog PCI Hybrid cx88-dvb Kernel Yes DVB-T, Analog. Seperate antenna connector for DVB-T and Analog Stev391
Lifeview TV Walker Twin (USB) DVB-T 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 Analogue mgavideo Yes Yes No No Discontinued Unknown
pcHDTV HD-3000 Hybrid kernel >= 2.6.12, cx8800, cx88-dvb, cx22702, or51132 Yes No No No broadcast HDTV. QAM256, and Analog NTSC User:rtsai1111, pridkett
pcHDTV HD-5500 Hybrid 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 Card (800i) cx88xx Yes Yes No Yes  ? ATSC, NTSC, Clear QAM, FM. Conexant CX23883-39 Chipset Curryrice71
Pinnacle PCTV USB HDTV 452e DVB-S Partial (only DVB-S), multiproto API [14] with 452e Patch [15] No (multiproto not yet supported) No  ?  ? see [16] for instructions to get the kernel drivers running Dka
Pinnacle PCTV HD Pro USB Stick Hybrid: Analogue + ATSC & ClearQAM Digital Cable (8VSB/ 64QAM/ 256QAM) em2880 Yes No  ?  ? works for OTA digital (ATSC) but not analog (as of 12/2007), see an install guide here User:raphy3
Plextor ConvertX Analogue on some models [17] wis-go7007-linux-0.9.7 Yes Yes No No USB external device (MPEG4) MythTV 0.18
Silicondust HDHomeRun ATSC & ClearQAM Digital Cable (8VSB/ 64QAM/ 256QAM) 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.[18] DVB-T version announced[19] User:jafa
Technisat AirStar HD-5000 ATSC & ClearQAM Digital Cable (8VSB/ 64QAM/ 256QAM) kernel >= 2.6.x, dvb B2C2, LGDT330x Yes No No No OTA and Clear QAM HDTV. [20] User:digitalboy
Technotrend T1300 Budget DVB-T budget-ci Yes No ? ? Needs firmware file. User:blachner
Technotrend C-1500 DVB-C budget-ci Yes No  ?  ? This card is supported using the native V4l saa7146/stv0297 drivers. The 2.6.24 kernel drivers fixes the 1% signal strength bug. Note: The "HDTV version" of this card only includes an extra Windows HDTV codec so save the additional money and buy the "normal" version if you plan to use Linux. Note: Some (newer versions) of these cards do NOT work under Linux because of a different tuner. Mine doesn't. --Per Olofsson 15:09, 16 April 2008 (UTC) akif, User:Per Olofsson, User:Mat
Technotrend S-1500 DVB-S budget-ci Yes No ? ? User: Loki
Terratec Cinergy 400 Analogue SAA-7134, ?[21] Yes No ? ? Unknown
Terratec Cinergy 600 TVRADIO Analogue SAA-7134 [22] Yes No ? ? Unknown
Terratec Cinergy 1400 DVB-T DVB-T cx88_dvb,cx8800,cx8802, Yes Yes ? Yes This card is autorecognized by kernel. Worked for me since kernel 2.6.18. External DVB-T antenna connector. IR remote sensor and control. apos
TiVii S470 DVB-S2, PCI-E ds3000 [23] Yes No ? ? Tested with kernel 2.6.32-23 (Mythbuntu 10.04) User: joko66
Twinhan MiniTer DVT PCI  ? kernel >= 2.6.8 No No ? ? DVB-T Australia. Provides MPEG2 stream from digital signal User:Bill

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 don't work

Here you find an overview of the cards not working with MythTV. In general the cards listed here as "not working" are the cards not supported by the LinuxTV module. So the fact that these doesn't work isn't a MythTV issue.


  • 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 MPEG2 decoder isn't well supported any longer.

Caveats

MPEG2 Tuner Card caveats are mostly that since these cards tend to be PCI busmasters, you may have to be careful how you put them in your machine (ie: which slots), where your VGA card is, and possibly what kind of motherboard you select, if you're planning on doing something silly like building a 10-tuner machine with 5 Hauppauge PVR-500's.

External Links