Registered: Jan 2002
Happy Snapstream user
I've been a happy Snapstream user for close to two years. I built a dedicated Snapstream server so I could keep up with my History Channel shows and to keep a catalog of shows to watch on my computer while I'm working late. I record all my "Dad-only" stuff on my Snapstream machine and let my wife and kids monopolize the TiVo (except for the several shows that my wife and I watch together).
Snapstream does all its encoding in software, so the quality you can get depends entirely on your CPU power. I record everything at what it calls "Cable/DSL Medium", which produces a 320x240 video with 32kbps 44kHz mono sound and a file size of about 185MB per hour. That's not good enough for full-screen viewing, but it's fine for watching in a little window in the corner while I'm concentrating on other stuff. (I've got an old Next Generation episode running right now.) My server's CPU utilization hits about 35% while recording at that quality level, so I could user a higher quality if I wanted. But at this level I can keep *lots* of old shows on disk and there's minimal load on my network and CPU while I'm watching something.
My server specs:
o Pentium 4 at 1.6Ghz
o 256MB memory
o Three 80GB disks - 2 as RAID-1 (mirrored) array, 1 standalone for now
o Hauppauge Win-TV tuner card
o Soundblaster Live! audio card
o Windows XP Home
o Snapstream V2.0
The same machine also acts as a print server and file server for MP3 files.
A lot of people seem to have trouble getting Snapstream to work reliably, but I've been lucky with it. That may be due to good hardware choices. I first tried a leftover ATI All-in-Wonder card and had problems, so I switched to the Hauppauge card. I also found that the built-in audio on my Intel motherboard gave poor sound quality, so I installed a leftover Soundblaster card.
With a dedicated server, I have very little trouble with missed shows. To be extra safe I installed a utility to reboot my server every night. These days I might miss one show in several hundred recordings. (That reliability doesn't include misses due to schedule changes - this version of Snapstream doesn't have any automatic schedule-tracking features like TiVo.)
I'm happy enough with version 2.0 that I may not bother upgrading to version 3.0 when it finally becomes available.
I have no experience with Sage TV. In fact, I never heard of it until now. Its ability to use hardware encoding is interesting. That lack is the biggest drawback with Snapstream.
Only one TiVo so far, since 1999
(Philips 30hr upgraded to 141hr)
plus SnapStream PVS computer
Last edited by bobg573 on 05-29-2003 at 04:01 AM
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