As you may have read in my previous postings, I use a freeware program called DVRMSToolbox (Dtb) to automatically convert my TV Tuner recordings from DVR-MS format to WMV format for my Zune 80. The entire process happens automatically, and I simply sync my Zune to my PC to download the converted video files. These files are converted to my exact specifications, and have all the meta data tags included (e.g., episode name, air date, show description, etc.). Granted, it took a bit of effort on my part to configure everything just the way I like it (which I’ve documented on my video conversion pages), but at this point everything is completely automatic.
A poster to this web blog recently brought to my attention an alternative to Dtb called MCEBuddy obtainable from this web site. Apparently, this freeware utility has similar functionality as Dtb, so I downloaded it and gave it my cursory review.
As it turns out, this automatic converter package was indeed easy to install and set up. Below is the single interface used to configure MCEBuddy:
As you can see, there’s very little to configure to get MCEBuddy working for automatic video conversions. That is a good, and bad thing, in my opinion. It’s good since it makes it very easy to setup and use, but in some ways that’s bad because you are limited in what you can customize.
The “Convert To” setting allows you to convert your videos to several different formats, including “Zune”. When I used this setting, the converted file that was created is in MP4 format. This is perfectly suited for the Zune, and doesn’t require transcoding (re-converting) when you sync with your Zune. I personally like the WMV format, since that format allows me to add in various meta data tags for show description, episode title, video type (Movies, TV Show, etc). The MP4 format doesn’t allow for such extra meta data tagging.
Now, MCEBuddy does have a provision for creating WMV files, however, the codec used creates the older WMV3 (or WMV-8) formatted files which requires transcoding for the Zune. Also, there is no option that I can see where you can define the video bit rate, frames per second, etc. as you can with Dtb.
So my conclusion is that MCEBuddy is probably a good tool for those who don’t mind creating MP4 files and want an easy, out-of-the-box solution for converting DVR-MS video recordings for their Zune. However, if you want WMV formatted files or more control over the exact format specs, DVRMSToolbox is a better suited tool.