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The internal video playback can be tested by the programs/mythavtest tool:
mythavtest /myth/tv/1003_20060302232800.mpg mythavtest db:\\ mythavtest dvd:\\ mythavtest dvd:\\/path/to/dvd.iso
Without an argument, this tool also exercises the "Live TV" recording chain. This can even be done on a machine without any tuner cards by creating a dummy recorder which loops through a sample file, like a previously recorded MPEG. Simply add an "Import Test Recorder" or "Demo test recorder" card in mythtv-setup and fill in the file pathname.
The DEMO card creates an MpegRecorder, which supports looped "recording" and performs rate-limiting, but only supports MPEG files. The IMPORT card creates an ImportRecorder, which supports many AV file types, but due to seek table processing delay, should only be used with small files. The latter can also be used without a fixed file - external programs can monitor the backend for recording events, and move/create a recording file in-situ.