Hauppauge HD PVR Reviewed: Great Quality But Usability Flaws

Setting up a computer-based media center can be a matter of picking one off the shelf of your nearest Best Buy, or spending days building your own DIY version.  But if you'd rather stick with the PC you already have, the Hauppauge HD PVR Model 1212 could be the device for you. Capable of recording high-definition content, without DRM, it's a compact USB box with a great cluster of ports; Gear Diary have been testing it out.

The good news is that it works exactly as intended.  With component, optical, composite and S-Video, the only port you'll really miss is HDMI.  Still, there's likely to be some way you can connect it up to your set-top box, and after that the Arcsoft software handles scheduling and playback.  

The bad news is that, apparently, the Arcsoft software is pretty much awful.  You'll also need a decent spec PC, well above the dual-core and 256MB graphics Hauppauge suggest.  The HD PVR also can't output video, only guzzle it in, and of course it's a real storage hog; budget for an extra hard-drive.  It's also not a standalone option, and will only work with an attached computer.

Still, the quality of the HD images (SD less so) pleases reviewer Joel McLaughlin, so if you can get past the usability issues then you'll be left with decent output results.