PC as a PVR


Distinguished Member
I'm in the process of planning my next PC and am considering trying to add a digital terrestial PVR function to it. I already subscribe to DigiGuide and am looking at Showshifter for the media centre aspects.

However what is a good PC digital tuner? I see from many of the threads that alot of people recommend the Nebula PC cards? Are there any models to avoid/any that are very good?

Am I correct in assuming such a card records the bitstream as broadcast (and thus is lossless)? If so how easy is it to import into an editting programme, do frame accurate edits and author to DVD-R? Do you use re-encoding software to 'fit the recording to disk' - if so what programme(s)?

What about PC hardware? Do you find that using your PC as a PVR is wearing on your HDD? Have you found it better to go for fast HDD such as SCSI or RAID or will cheaper, more conventional solutions be as reliable? Do you have a seperate HDD (from the one with Windows installed) for your PVR recordings?

I'd be greatful for anyhelp on this subject!


Distinguished Member
The nebula dumps the bitstream off to disc and is effectively lossless.

The nebula doesn't reformat the bitstream to any great degree I don't think. They do plan to make the format directly compatable to with dvd . I think I recall a freeware app that allows you to reformat the current nebula recording for use in other playback utilities whether this also allows editing in another package I don't know. I doubt its an insurmountable problem though and I'm sure the nebula people will have plans in that direction anyway.

I use a normal seagate 7200rpm beyond that to be honestbarracuda IDE drive or at least one partition of it as my recording space. I don't think you need anything. SCSI or raid is overkill to be honest.

Diskspace is cheap these days anyway . If you are worried about your disc wwearing out ( and I woulnd't be) then buy a second drive specifically to record to . You can always buy a new one if it wears out.


Distinguished Member
My experience of editing nebula recordings is that it certainly can be done now, but it's just a bit too fiddly and time consuming for me to want to do it very often - currently anyway. But as Mr D. says, there are plans by Nebula to make this easier, and I have no doubt they come through, because they seem to be very true to their promises.

I am very happy with my nebula generally, but the whole recording side isn't quite as slick and polished, as say, a standalone PVR like a Tivo. I get some interference when recording, but that could be just my machine, and in fairness to nebula, they have tried to help - I just haven't had time to investigate it fully.

I would certainly expect a standard IDE 7200rpm drive to be fast enough (using utra IDE/DMA).

As a rule, I have found standalone PVR's to be generally slicker and more seamless than PC's. Although I am not sure if anyone makes a digital terrestial pvr.


Active Member
There are a couple of Freeview PVR stand-alones on the market, for ease of use, but as with Sky+ you still need to capture anything you want to archive.

Nebula recordings are run through PVAstrumento, then can be recorded straight to DVD with or without menus using your favourite authoring package. Depending on the quality of the original broadcast, as a rule of thumb 2GB per hour, so you can expect to get about 2 hours per DVD

I would go for it. Results are excellent, but not as easy as a PVR.


Standard Member
Only takes a few minutes (P2.4) to pass a couple of hours recording through PVAstrumento to turn the TS to PS

As above the resulting file can then be imported into most DVD authoring software. I use TMPGEnc DVD Author. Very easy to edit out adverts and produces great results everytime. It will also burn to disc for you or create an ISO image should you wish.


Distinguished Member
Thanks for the feedback guys. I used to use my PC extensively for creating VCDs, SVCDs and later MPEG recordings on DVD-RAM back several years ago prior to getting a set-top DVD recorder. The results weren't bad but the system needed to be designed from the ground up for video to prevent dropped frames during the analogue to digital process. Obviously most PC components have come on in leaps and bounds since then...and the process is 'all digital' now so I might try this route again. Especially as no freeview/DVD recorder seems imminent.

Nebula recordings are run through PVAstrumento
What is PVAstrumento (is it just a simple conversion from broadcast data into 'proper' MPEG2)? Does it come bundled with the Nebula cards?


Novice Member

Not used it for conversion of broadcast stream to simple MPEG-2, though that is what it can be used for.
I've come across it as a tool for helping sort sync problems.

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