Move Over, TiVo: Hauppauge PC-TV Recorder Debuts

Convergence is more than a buzzword in the minds of the engineers at Hauppauge Digital, Inc. The New York electronics manufacturer has announced what it is calling "the first personal video recorder for PCs." In development for eighteen months, the WinTV-PVR is built to occupy a single PCI slot, and allows the recording and playback of television programs via computer. The device is compatible with Microsoft Windows 98 and Windows ME, and comes bundled with a remote control and an FM receiver for the PC.

With a suggested list price of only $249, the WinTV-PVR reportedly allows computer users to watch TV in a window on their monitors—or in full-screen mode—as well as perform functions previously available only in dedicated hard-disk recorders such as those made by TiVo and Replay TV. The device lets viewers "pause live TV, create instant replays, record TV shows to disk, and create Video CDs from television programs," according to a November 9 press release.

The WinTV-PVR employs a high quality MPEG-2 hardware compressor to store what Hauppauge Digital claims is "studio quality video" on a PC's hard drive while minimizing the disk space required for the storage. Like the TiVo and Replay boxes, the WinTV-PVR can pause the TV show and later continue from the point where it was stopped without missing any of the show. Any portion of the paused show can also be replayed, offering users a form of instant replay. CPU resources are not compromised during the recording process, so computer users are free to perform other tasks while the WinTV-PVR is being used. TV shows can also be recorded in a "Video CD" format on CD-ROMs for playback on home DVD players.

A CD-RW disk can contain up to one hour of NTSC television, according to Hauppauge CEO Ken Plotkin, who is understandably enthusiastic about his company's new product. "WinTV-PVR is delivering features WinTV users have been demanding: the ability to record and pause live TV on a PC, create their own instant replays, and archive TV shows onto CD-ROM," Plotkin explained. "Being able to record a TV show onto CD-ROM, and then play this in a home DVD player, will create an incredibly compelling new use for PCs. We expect that the WinTV-PVR will start a whole new category of video products for the home and will help moveve the PC into the home entertainment center."