I got my Zune 80 last Christmas specifically for watching videos. Up until now, I was at the mercy of whatever videos I could find on the Internet for download. Sites like Stage6.com was nice in that they had uploaded TV Shows available for download, however, it was very time consuming to search through their database, download the desired video files, convert them from DIVX to WMV format, etc.
I also struggled with using my DVR (which records to DVDs) to record live TV Shows so that I wouldn’t miss them when I was on a business trip or away from home. The DVR that I have is difficult to use, and it always takes me 15-20 minutes to read the manual, figure out which buttons to press, make sure the recording time is set right, etc. Even if I can successfully record a TV show, I could never figure out how to get the recorded video onto my PC to convert the file for my Zune.
Because of all this, I decided to purchase a Hauppauge PVR-150 TV Tuner Card for my Desktop PC system. My only snag, is that I didn’t have a cable line running into my home office. So after a trip to Home Depot for supplies and about an hour in my house attic, I was able to wire an extra cable line into a convenient corner of my office. Note, that I decided to get the PVR-150 model since it has a built-in MPEG2 encoder, so all the encoding is done on the TV Tuner card itself and doesn’t rely on the Desktop PC’s CPU to do the processing. If you’re planning to get a PVR, I highly recommend getting one with a built-in hardware MPEG2 encoder.
Remarkably, all I had to do was plug-in the new TV Tuner card, start up my system, and the Vista OS found the right drivers to use. Since I have the Vista Home Premium version, the Vista Media Center (VMC) software was already included on my system. From this point, all I had to do was start up VMC and go through the automatic setup, after which, I was ready to go! It was amazingly painless, and I could watch live TV and set future recordings just by making a few selection clicks. What’s also nice, is that the TV program guide for the next two weeks was automatically downloaded on my system, so I have a very convenient program guide that I can pursue through and make my recording selections.
With my video recordings conveniently located on my Desktop PC, I was able to use the freeware utility called DVRMSToolbox to automatically convert my new TV Show recordings to WMV format for my Zune. If you’re interested in learning how I do this, you can check out my new blog page that covers that topic.
In the end, I am extremely happy that I bought the PVR-150 and configured it to work with my Vista Desktop System. For those wanting to have their favorite TV Shows available for watching on their Zunes, I highly recommend getting a PVR and checking out my blog page.