Recording TV Shows

Although I already have a DVD Recorder which I use to record TV programs, the interface software is very confusing to use. Whenever I want to record a show, it always takes me 15-20 minutes just to remember how to do it! In addition, I could never figure out how to conveniently take the recorded video and get it on my Desktop PC for converting to WMV format for my Zune.

As a result, I’ve decided to take the plunge into the world of Personal Video Recording by buying a TV Tuner Card for my Windows Vista Desktop System. My intent, is to record my favorite shows for either playback on my Desktop PC screen or for conversion to WMV format for my Zune.

The TV Tuner card that I selected was the Hauppauge WinTV-PVR 150 MCE, which I purchased from NewEgg.com for $69.99 (free shipping). I chose this tuner card, since it has a hardware MPEG encoder built into the card. This is different from some of the cheaper tuner cards which use the host computer’s CPU for MPEG encoding using software. Having the encoder being processed on the card directly saves CPU cycles for my Desktop PC. In addition, the freeware software called GB-PVR requires hardware MPEG encoding to function properly.

My intent is to use this PVR-150 tuner card with either the freeware software GB-PVR or with Windows Media Center on my Vista system. Both are currently available to me, and both seem full feature packages. My biggest concern, is having software that will be easy to use and will run in the background on my system to record TV shows. Some of the cheaper software solutions requires the recording application to be running in the foreground and in some cases, the video is capture directly off the main display buffer on the screen. This would be very impractical for me, since I may need to use my Desktop PC at the same time as when I’m recording.

So stay tuned, as I’ll post my trials and tribulations with personal video recording!

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5 thoughts on “Recording TV Shows

  1. Xsabre says:

    Good selection on the capture card, that is the one I am using on my own system.

    How do you receive your TV signal? Standard Over Air (i.e antenna), Cable, Satellite
    The reason I ask, is because Satellite is a little tricky to setup. The rest are pretty straight forward.

    MCE or GB-PVR should be very easy to setup. I believe that there are more plugins / addons for MCE but don’t take my word for it.

    This is a large MCE community forum. Everything you ever wanted to know about MCE and than some. (http://tinyurl.com/zfx7z) One thing that I recommend is to work on getting the system up and running for a week or 2 weeks before adding any additional plugins / addons. Additionally creating an image of your system once you get it working is great to as you can always go back to a working version without problems.

  2. zunetips says:

    Xsabre: Currently, I’m subscribed to Comcast digital cable. All of our TVs have a digital converter box, but I’m planning to connect the cable as-is to the Tuner card and only deal with channels 1-125 (which I hope will work).

    Thanks for your advice on this subject. I’ll let everyone know how it works out, and what hoops I might need to jump through!

  3. Xsabre says:

    You might run into some problems as any scrambled channels will not be visible because it requires the converter box. Regular channels you should not have a problem with but you might with say a HBO, Cinemax, etc.

    FYI: The capture card comes with a infrared plug that connect to back of the card and send a signal to your converter box to change the channel.

    Good luck…

  4. I too have Vista with Media Center, a HDTV tuner card and a Zune 80. Sadly Microsoft says the Zune software will convert Media Center files to the Zune, but it does not (read my conversations with Microsoft here: http://forums.zune.net/156507/ShowPost.aspx ).

    Since MS is of no help, I found a free utility that will convert recorded Media Center files in the background automatically and it works extremely well called MCE Buddy http://www.mcebuddy.com

  5. zunetips says:

    Jason: I’ve spent the last day trying to find an efficient way of converting my Vista Media Center recordings (in DVR-MS format) to WMV format for the Zune. Although the DVR-MS format is basically MPEG2, it’s wrapped up in a way that the Standard Windows Media Encoder 9 can’t process it.

    I did checkout MCEBuddy.com, and that application did seem easy to use. After working with it a bit, I decided to focus on the DVRMSToolbox application which seems to have more features (specifically for automating) than MCEBuddy. I can have the Toolbox application continuously monitor my “Record TV” folder, and when it finds a new file that is finished recording, it will convert the file to WMV format (using my specified .prx profile), and then copy it over to my Zune sync folder. So theoretically, I can have it process all recorded videos automatically and have them ready to sync to my Zune.

    There’s also a freeware application called DVD2WMV which will convert DVR-MS files to WMV format.

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