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Old 21st July 2007, 22:53   #1  |  Link
Seraphic-
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Capture Cards: PDI Deluxe vs Snazzi V DVD Pro

Wanted to know, has anyone used one of these cards? If so, I'm interested if they could comment on their experience the picture quality.

Both cards offer component input (480i max). But a post I found on Doom9 talks about the PDI Deluxe's chip-set being somewhat out of date and that it uses an older 8-bit DAC (POST HERE).

The PDI Deluxe costs somewhat more then the Snazzi V DVD Pro, but after looking at the specs and features of both cards, I'm thinking that the Snazzi* V DVD Pro might be the better buy. However, could anyone with experience with the cards speak to how they compare?

PDI Deluxe | Snazzi V DVD Pro
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Old 5th August 2007, 19:37   #2  |  Link
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8-bit DAC's are okay if you're capping from cable, digital cable feeds, VHS, or S-VHS.

10-bit is good if you capping from a HQ source like a DVD, Digital Camera, or any HQ source.

The difference shouldn't be that noticeable unless your eyes are keen.

Pixelmagic's advantage is that it can cap raw (or lossless) video while Snazzy's hardware limits you to using it's built-in hardware encoder. I'd rather cap raw (or lossless) and encode myself then be limited by my hardware. Any advantage the 10-bit DAC that Snazzy offers are taken away by the fact that it won't let you cap raw. I don't care if the hardware allows you to cap as high as 15mbps either, realtime hardware encoders simply aren't efficient.

However, if raw or lossless doesn't matter, then Snazzy should be fine.
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Last edited by Revgen; 5th August 2007 at 19:44.
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Old 8th August 2007, 02:15   #3  |  Link
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Thanks for the reply.

The thing is... it's hard to find component 480i capture cards (nearly impossible for 480p as I still haven't found one) so that is why I was looking at these two cards (even though they do 480i).

Yeah, I heard it has an 8-bit DAC. But I'm not sure if the PDI Deluxe uses the same chip-set as the Sweetspot (Sweetspot is the European PDI Deluxe). The European version seems to have a 9-bit chip (9-bit analog-to-digital converter). Or maybe that is different? Sweetspot Specs

As for the the Snazzi V DVD Pro, picked one up the other day to test out the performance (was thinking of getting the PDI Deluxe too, just to compare and then just return the one I end up not using). Over-all, the Snazzi V DVD Pro works well, but it has a few issues.

1. Hard as hell to contact their support. No phone numbers work, and if you're lucky, you will get an e-mail reply after several days to your questions. Then another several days if you have more questions. Hate to think how I'm going to get an RMA # if I try and return the card...

2. To use the card's own capture software "Snazzi 5 DVD Pro" you have to install InterVideo WinDVD, Windows Media 9 run-time, and do a manual install of the card's video driver.

3. When using "Snazzi 5 DVD Pro" you can capture hardware based with MPEG-1, MPEG-2, or custom MPEG (custom allows for 720x480 or 640x480 (not sure if it's true 640x480 though as it could just 720x480 squished) and config of the hardware de-noiser). However, for console input, there is an audio/video sync issue while viewing the video during the record (common with hardware mpeg). The final video is in sync though.

A big downside is that the preview window itself is stuck around 320x240 (no matter what size the final video is... so it's hard to see the picture). As for software encoding, there is WMV 8 or 9, DivX, and DV-Type2. But to be honest, software encodes aren't too great. Hardware encodes seem to work better of the two, but picture is still not that great as the capture software itself does NOT seem to capture both video fields and the video is NOT interlaced. Thus, the picture is poor. Also, the software it self does not have a sharpness setting so picture is not crisp...

3. No WDM drivers for the audio chip on the card. This means you can't record audio from the card when using 3rd party capture programs and so you need a sound card with audio input.

4. When trying to record component video using 3rd party programs, the video is Black&White and at the same time is distorted. This is a huge letdown... component video is that main thing I was looking for and I think the problem has to due with their poor video drivers. I've tried component with DScaler (yes, card works with DScaler) and VirtualDub, but component video is still Black&White and distorted. On the other hand, S-Video works well with both these programs and the video is interlaced meaning it captures both video fields. You can also config 720x480 or 640x480 and also have access to saturation/hue/sharpness etc... control (can't seem to access config for hardware de-noiser though). And as for color space and compression with 3rd party capture, it seems to use a codec called "CFX2" with "no recompression and 12 bits per pixel". It seems to be lossless.

So over-all, when using a 3rd party capture program, an extra sound card, and S-Video, the results are impressive. But kinda sucks not having a WDM audio driver and a component video fix yet.

Anyone know if PDI Deluxe/Sweetspot has this kind of problem with component video when using DScaler?



Edit:
Good news, got the component input to work =D. The issue seemed to be caused because several odd settings were created when using component (don't know why), but just needed to correct them and it seems to be working. Now if only it accepted 480p, lol. (well it does, kind of, the picture is just split into two up the center)

Last edited by Seraphic-; 8th August 2007 at 05:33.
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Old 9th August 2007, 09:43   #4  |  Link
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I just bought the PDI Deluxe a couple days after posting the post above. The picture isn't that bad actually. It's alot better than another BT8x8 card I had. The component video from my digital cable reciever looked a bit sharper and cleaner than the s-video.

The PDI uses Dscaler and is mostly meant for viewing rather than recording. The good thing is that it uses the BT-878 chipset whose specs are pretty much open-soure so there are tons of 3rd party software to choose from.

I use it combined with Dscaler 4.1.15 to record losslessly to Huffyuv.
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Old 9th August 2007, 16:35   #5  |  Link
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Interesting that you picked up the card (I had a few questions about it).

Using DScaler, are you able to record a full height (not counting 1/2 height) of 640x480 or 720x480? And how is your audio/video sync issue when recording (I had a sync issue when using a sound card for the audio input)? Also, can you post some samples with component?

I should report that I found a way to access the on-board audio processor when recording using 3rd party programs. Audio is very clear/vibrant and perfectly synced to video. With that fixed and component working, the only problems that remain are:

If the the card is truly recording 640x480 or if it's 720x480 squished/resized.

To decompress the proprietary "CXF2" color-space/compression format (found a way to do it short duration videos, but videos longer don't display a video source when trying to decompress).

The last is to do some more comparisons with S-Video and Component as the S-Video looks brighter and to have more vibrate color. (this could be due to the fact that component was meant to be used with their capture application).

Last edited by Seraphic-; 9th August 2007 at 17:21.
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Old 9th August 2007, 19:05   #6  |  Link
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Seraphic- View Post
Interesting that you picked up the card (I had a few questions about it).

Using DScaler, are you able to record a full height (not counting 1/2 height) of 640x480 or 720x480? And how is your audio/video sync issue when recording (I had a sync issue when using a sound card for the audio input)? Also, can you post some samples with component?

I should report that I found a way to access the on-board audio processor when recording using 3rd party programs. Audio is very clear/vibrant and perfectly synced to video. With that fixed and component working, the only problems that remain are:

If the the card is truly recording 640x480 or if it's 720x480 squished/resized.

To decompress the proprietary "CXF2" color-space/compression format (found a way to do it short duration videos, but videos longer don't display a video source when trying to decompress).

The last is to do some more comparisons with S-Video and Component as the S-Video looks brighter and to have more vibrate color. (this could be due to the fact that component was meant to be used with their capture application).

I can record full-height. It captures 720x480 but I wouldn't call it resized, it just digitizes the analog signal to 720x480. However, I make sure to use YUY2 compatible codecs since they will perform faster. No sound sync issues for me. I just plug sound into my line-in port of my sound card and it records.

The only downside is that Dscaler is VFW only and doesn't currently work with FFDshow's VFW interface. I don't know why exactly. So you're only limited to Xvid, Huffyuv, Lagarith, and others other than FFDShow. However, if you have no problem encoding lossless then it shouldn't be a problem.

Fortunately, other 3rd party programs and drivers are available for the BT878 chipset, so FFDShow ought to work with them. I'm not sure if those programs can capture full height though since I only use Dscaler.

I'm not familiar with CXF2.

The S-Video is brighter for this card, but I wouldn't say better. The bandwith is more limited and there is more noise too. The limited bandwith probably cancels out of lot of the blacks therefore appearing brighter.

The thing with this card is that it was meant for HTPC's and therefore more for viewing rather than recording. I use it since I have experience recording using Dscaler. It's not exactly a packaged capping card. The capture video from the component input does look good though, so it's worth it for me.
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Last edited by Revgen; 9th August 2007 at 19:12.
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Old 9th August 2007, 23:02   #7  |  Link
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Never heard of "CXF2" (Conexant Falcon Video) myself, but it's the only format that this card will record in when using 3rd party programs. It also "seems" to be lossless, but I can't say for sure just yet. Not really a big deal, but I'm having a hard time decompressing it into an editable format. Videos less then a few minutes work fine, but videos that are longer then a few minutes have issues... I'm unable to decompress the video source at that point, just the audio.

640x480 Not-Deinterlaced) S-Video on left and Component on the right.




720x480 Not-Deinterlaced) S-Video on top and Component on the bottom.




As you can see, the text seems to be smoother with Component, but the color also seems to be less vibrant and the picture less bright. Also, about the 640x480 image, I'm still unsure if that is true 640x480 or the card just resizing down to it from 720x480. Their support still has not responded and I wonder if the video fields are damaged if it is resized.

Here a few sample videos that have been converted from CXF2 to YUY2: (anyone have some thoughts on what they think looks better?)

640x480 Not-Deinterlaced) S-Video - Component
720x480 Not-Deinterlaced) S-Video - Component

Last edited by Seraphic-; 10th August 2007 at 00:48.
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Old 11th August 2007, 09:15   #8  |  Link
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Any chance you could post a small sample of one of these "CXF2" encoded files? It might just be a raw format with a dodgy fourcc.
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Old 11th August 2007, 10:03   #9  |  Link
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Seraphic- View Post
As you can see, the text seems to be smoother with Component, but the color also seems to be less vibrant and the picture less bright.
Pretty typical with my card, however it's more noticeable in motion than in stills.

However, it doesn't bother me since the component cables are allowing more blacks to come through due to higher bandwith. If it's too dark then the brightness can be adjusted with Avisynth HDR plugins or others.
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Old 11th August 2007, 20:09   #10  |  Link
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Just a heads up. If anyone buys a "Snazzi" product don't expect much support (if any). It's been almost a week with no reply and their support e-mail box if full...

Quote:
Originally Posted by squid_80 View Post
Any chance you could post a small sample of one of these "CXF2" encoded files? It might just be a raw format with a dodgy fourcc.
It seems to based on DirectShow and the below Avisynth script works. However, like I said, videos that are longer then a few minutes no longer return their video (just constant gray image). CXF2 Video.

(squid_80, if the download comes back as corrupt download it again. It was only about 60% uploaded when I posted the link (didn't know you were online, lol)

Code:
DirectShowSource("C:\1.avi", fps=29.97, audio=true, pixel_type="YUY2")
Quote:
Originally Posted by Revgen View Post
Pretty typical with my card, however it's more noticeable in motion than in stills.

However, it doesn't bother me since the component cables are allowing more blacks to come through due to higher bandwith. If it's too dark then the brightness can be adjusted with Avisynth HDR plugins or others.
Yeah, it does have more bandwidth for sure. And I wanted to learn some more about "YCbCr" so I did some searching on how it works. After reading up on it, it seems it inputs a full vertical resolution but only half of the horizontal resolution. Thought that was odd, was expecting it to input a full v/h resolution. However, YCbCr was designed to be less bandwidth intensive then RGB (so maybe RGB does the full v/h resolution?).

Anyway, just wanted to get an idea from you if the results were about the same with the PDI Deluxe in relation to brightness, etc. Speaking of the PDI, does that accept both YCbCr and RGB?

Last edited by Seraphic-; 11th August 2007 at 20:28.
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Old 11th August 2007, 20:50   #11  |  Link
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It's some sort of YUV uncompressed format, 12bpp but not standard YV12 or I420.
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Old 11th August 2007, 20:59   #12  |  Link
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Quote:
Originally Posted by squid_80 View Post
It's some sort of YUV uncompressed format, 12bpp but not standard YV12 or I420.
Thanks for looking into that. Just to recap: "CFX2" (Conexant Falcon Video) with "no recompression and 12 bits per pixel"

Hmmm... do you have any suggestions on how to decompress it into an editable format?

Last edited by Seraphic-; 11th August 2007 at 21:05.
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Old 12th August 2007, 01:54   #13  |  Link
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Seraphic- View Post
Just a heads up. If anyone buys a "Snazzi" product don't expect much support (if any). It's been almost a week with no reply and their support e-mail box if full...



It seems to based on DirectShow and the below Avisynth script works. However, like I said, videos that are longer then a few minutes no longer return their video (just constant gray image). CXF2 Video.

(squid_80, if the download comes back as corrupt download it again. It was only about 60% uploaded when I posted the link (didn't know you were online, lol)

Code:
DirectShowSource("C:\1.avi", fps=29.97, audio=true, pixel_type="YUY2")


Yeah, it does have more bandwidth for sure. And I wanted to learn some more about "YCbCr" so I did some searching on how it works. After reading up on it, it seems it inputs a full vertical resolution but only half of the horizontal resolution. Thought that was odd, was expecting it to input a full v/h resolution. However, YCbCr was designed to be less bandwidth intensive then RGB (so maybe RGB does the full v/h resolution?).

Anyway, just wanted to get an idea from you if the results were about the same with the PDI Deluxe in relation to brightness, etc. Speaking of the PDI, does that accept both YCbCr and RGB?
Both RGB and Component are supported.

The formats supported are:

Composite
S-Video
Component YPbPr (not YCbCr)
RGB (Composite Sync)
RGB (Sync on Green)

Composite Sync and Sync on Green explained here. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Component_video_sync
YPbPr explained here. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/YPbPr
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Last edited by Revgen; 12th August 2007 at 02:01.
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Old 12th August 2007, 05:51   #14  |  Link
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Seraphic- View Post
Thanks for looking into that. Just to recap: "CFX2" (Conexant Falcon Video) with "no recompression and 12 bits per pixel"

Hmmm... do you have any suggestions on how to decompress it into an editable format?
CXF2, not CFX2. I can't figure out how the pixels are arranged and googling seems to show no-one else has either. I did manage to get hold of the directshow codec which can decode it (colorcvt.ax, "Conexant Color Format Convertor") so I might be able to reverse engingeer something.
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Old 12th August 2007, 06:52   #15  |  Link
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Appreciate your help with this as I'm getting no tech support from Sanzzi with the issue.

Anyway, here are the 32-bit and 64-bit drivers for the card (I'm using 32-bit and the colorcvt.ax came with it, but wasn't sure if you needed it). Maybe the drivers will assist you. Download

Last edited by Seraphic-; 12th August 2007 at 06:57.
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Old 12th August 2007, 07:21   #16  |  Link
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Revgen View Post
Both RGB and Component are supported.

The formats supported are:

Composite
S-Video
Component YPbPr (not YCbCr)
RGB (Composite Sync)
RGB (Sync on Green)

Composite Sync and Sync on Green explained here. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Component_video_sync
YPbPr explained here. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/YPbPr
Also Revgen, are you using RGB at all or just Component YPbPr? If you have or are able to use both, did one outperform the other in picture quality?

EDIT: Didn't mean to post, meant to edit my above one...
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Old 12th August 2007, 07:53   #17  |  Link
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Seraphic- View Post
Also Revgen, are you using RGB at all or just Component YPbPr? If you have or are able to use both, did one outperform the other in picture quality?

EDIT: Didn't mean to post, meant to edit my above one...
I don't have any hardware that outputs RGB. I only use component YPbPr because that's what my Digital Cable Reciever outputs. Sorry.
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Last edited by Revgen; 12th August 2007 at 07:58.
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Old 12th August 2007, 08:41   #18  |  Link
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I don't have any hardware that outputs RGB. I only use component YPbPr because that's what my Digital Cable Reciever outputs. Sorry.
No problem, thanks for the reply.

One other thing, does the PDI Deluxe have a "capture filter" setting? Where you can config things like contrast, hue, saturation, sharpness etc. Also, is there a capture pin? I don't have DScaler installed at the moment, but if you have VirtualDub (if PDI Deluxe works with it), go to file > capture avi > go to device > select PDI Deluxe > go to video tab > look for capture filter/pin.

Capture pin should look something like this...


Last edited by Seraphic-; 12th August 2007 at 09:04.
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Old 12th August 2007, 10:18   #19  |  Link
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Originally Posted by Seraphic- View Post
No problem, thanks for the reply.

One other thing, does the PDI Deluxe have a "capture filter" setting? Where you can config things like contrast, hue, saturation, sharpness etc. Also, is there a capture pin? I don't have DScaler installed at the moment, but if you have VirtualDub (if PDI Deluxe works with it), go to file > capture avi > go to device > select PDI Deluxe > go to video tab > look for capture filter/pin.

Capture pin should look something like this...

Yep. You need to download the BTWincap drivers to use it with VirtualDub. I just tried it, and it works well with Vdub. I can even use FFDshow with Vdub which I can't do with Dscaler. Hue, Brightness, and other settings work too.
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Last edited by Revgen; 12th August 2007 at 10:21.
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Old 12th August 2007, 11:43   #20  |  Link
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It's YV12, but not as we know it.

I've nailed down how to process luma but chroma looks like it's got the same ridiculous ordering as well as being packed instead of planar. Better give me another day or so.
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