I have been on a testing spree recently. First it started with Hulu, I am currently testing Boxee, and just for fun I decided to test how far I can push the Revo with my tuners. I am lucky enough to have 3 ATSC USB tuners hooked up into my Revo. For the last 2 months I haven't really used all three of my tuners, usually I only have 1 recording at a time maybe two maximum. I was never really watching television while WMC was recording a show, but all I knew is that all the recordings were flawless. Now was the time to max out the little Revo and its tiny single core Atom chip.
Test 1: 1 Recording and watching a different channel:
This seems to be a normal use case where you are recording a show but watching something different. The Revo like a champ passed this test with ease. Live TV playback was nice and smooth with no hiccups, and the recording was just fine. You could see that the Revo was starting to get stressed as CPU usage jumped up to about 75% and memory usage was up to 40%.
Test 2: 2 Records & Watching one of them:
This is bit of a different test than Test 1. The key here is that you are Recording both shows and watching one of them live, as where before we only had the live buffer going and not saving it to watch again later. Like before the Revo handled this just fine. I navigated though the UI to see if there was any performance issues and the UI lagged a little but it wasn't extremely noticeable. I did see a little spike in CPU usage up to 85% and memory usage up to 45%. Overall not bad at all.
Test 3: 3 Recordings & Watching one of them:
This test is exactly the same as Test 2, but I threw in another recording so all three tuners would be used at the same time. This is not only a stress on the Revo but it is also a stress on the Hard Drive as it is writing non stop all three streams. To my surprise and satisfaction the Revo survived, but I could tell it was having a hard time. The menus were a bit more laggy, but watching the show was just fine which is what was important. I reviewed all three recordings and they were just fine! During the test though CPU usage was maxed out at 100% and ram usage was up to 55%.
Final Test: 3 Recordings + Netflix:
Just for some fun I wanted to not only test recordings but also test one of my favorite features of WMC, which is Netflix. I started all of the recordings and again saw CPU skyrocket to 100% as I tried to move through the menu's which were getting a little laggy. The Netflix UI started up and I picked Dirty Dancing from my instant queue. The movie buffered out and started up just fine. Playback on Netflix wasn't perfect though as there was some tearing and a bit laggy. I wouldn't want to watch it in this state and would probably wait for a recording to finish. The Revo again was maxed out at 100% and memory usage was up to 61%
Overall I was extremely impressed with the performance of the Revo. I can say with confidence is that the maximum tuners is 3. I have a feeling that a fourth tuner would not result in a smooth recording, but I am still interested in testing it out. Some notes about my testing is that I was using my 3 USB ATSC tuners. I made sure that all recordings were HD content for a true test. Finally I have the single core AR1600 Revo with 2GB RAM. So if you have tuners, which it seems like most people do you will be just fine with your Revo, and if you really want to push it you can add a third.
Do you hate commercials in your recorded television shows? If so there is an amazing tutorial over at Engadget HD by Ben Drawbaugh. It is an older post so you might have missed it. By following these steps I have and you will be able to get automatic commercial skipping in your recordings. My experience has been very positive when I use this process, and I rarely have any issues with the skipping. Both ShowAnalyzer and DVRMSToolbox are constantly updated and have a great community behind them. Happy commercial skipping.