Patterico's Pontifications


Technical Bleg

Filed under: Gadgets — Patterico @ 6:31 am

I love having TiVo, even though I watch very little television. But between the things we record for the kids; the season passes to the Simpsons, South Park, and numerous other shows; and the automatic recording of every movie ever made by Alfred Hitchcock or Stanley Kubrick . . . the thing is starting to fill up. I’m looking for a cheap and simple way to get those programs onto DVD to clean up the DVR and make room.

Ideally I’d like to burn the DVDs using my laptop. A guy at Costco told me there is something called a “video capture card” that I can use to accomplish this, but I can’t find one at the usual suspects like CompUSA or Fry’s.

Any ideas?

16 Responses to “Technical Bleg”

  1. Haven’t a clue, but watching with great interest.

    Old Coot (caf903)

  2. You didn’t specify, so I assume you have a Windows laptop? On my Mac, I don’t use a dedicated video capture card – instead, I use my digital camcorder to do the same thing. Many digital camcorders can take video in and convert it to digital video output, which I can then import into iMovie on my Mac for editing, and then into iDVD to burn. I’m not as familiar with software options on the PC (Windows Movie Maker, etc.), but it may be possible to do the same.

    As for dedicated video capture devices, they do have them at Frys and CompUSA – here is one such product.

    Bill (0a8642)

  3. If you find the laptop idea to cumbersome, look into getting a DVD-recordable machine and hooking it directly to your DVR. We just purchased one for $79.99 at Best Buy (Sam’s sells them for $89.95), and it’s worked really well to clean off the DVR. We were at 90% capacity! The only downside to copying from the DVR to the DVD-R is that it is time-consuming. You have to tie up the DVR for the whole recording time. I’m sure you’d run into the same problem with your laptop video capture as well.

    Good luck!

    Amy (9b1752)

  4. If your TiVo is new enough, you could download TiVo Desktop and TiVoToGo onto your computer.

    You will need a wired network connection or a wireless network connection. If you are downloading updates for your TiVo without a phone line, then you have the connection you need. If you don’t have it, get one ($50 I believe at Best Buy for a TiVo branded wireless card). It frees up your phone line, and speeds up software updates.

    The software is from TiVo (free) (, and you can use it to download shows onto your computer. Use a removable hard drive on your computer and you can store as much as you want. Then you can burn them onto DVD if you have a DVD burner on your computer.

    There are minor hoops to jump, so just go to the website and read up. I’ve done it, and can help.

    pangur (0f1b88)

  5. Here is an adaptor for your usb port that will do both NTSC (Old fashioned analog) and high definition signals. They have others for less money that just do NTSC.

    Richard Haisley (a90377)

  6. Patterico–

    1) Perhaps the simplest method is to get a DVD recorder and use the TiVo’s output as the source. It’s a little tedious (you have to manually select each thing to be recorded and you can’t watch anything while you are doing it). But it will obviously work and takes little technical savvy.

    2) You can add a large second drive to most TiVos without losing your current content (see Weaknees). A bit pricey. It might also just postpone the problem.

    3) You can more cheaply replace your current drive with a much larger one, but you will lose all current content AND you will have to do some technical stuff (like opening up both the TiVo and a PC and using the PC to format the new drive). See DVRUpgrade.

    4) You can do 3) and add a few hacks to the TiVo while you are at it (See DVR playground).

    5) Depending on your TiVo model you MAY be able to archive recordings on a PC with TiVo-brand software, in TiVo-encrypted format, and then burn those archives to DVD. However, you would have to reverse the process and get them back onto the TIVO in order to view them.

    6) There are also DVR/DVD Recorder combos out there which would provide an alternate capture means for to-be-DVD’d shows. Pretty sure none of these are TiVo, though. There seems to be fewer of these than there once were.

    7) You could buy a Windows Media Center PC that already contains a capture card. Pricey, but it will also do the trick.

    8) You could stop recording more than you can watch. One of the reasons I don’t use wishlists as anything other than search tools.

    Kevin Murphy (0b2493)

  7. i can see the merit in having a library of the hitchcock and kubrick filmography, but south park and the simpsons? what’re you gonna do with that simpsons dvd 15 years from now? remember that there will be hip new shows you haven’t heard of yet coming out over this time, you gonna record all of them too? the other day you said that rarely watching tv was one of the keys to your personal dynamism (as it is for me too).
    in the future, tivos and dvd’s for recording shows may become obsolete. everything broadcast or cablecast will be simultaneously stored in a central database which you will be able to access for a modest subscription fee.

    assistant devil's advocate (6106ab)

  8. we have the DVD-R hooked to the TiVo and it is the easiest thing ever. What we do is we wait to watch things that we want to record to DVD until we record them, then it doesn’t matter if we can’t watch something else while it’s recording.

    Also, the TiVo To Go/ TiVo home network thing is quite easy to set up and you can burn the DVDs right on your laptop.

    However, my preference is for the DVD-R because laptop-burned DVDs are less likely to play properly in other DVD players. IF you go with the DVD-R, make sure it supports multiple formats (+ and -, etc.) or at least the format of the DVD player you will want to use later.

    caltechgirl (fbed6f)

  9. You bought an HDTV recently, why do you still have TIVO?

    Rent the Cox DVR, which does high def and lets you record two channels at once, or watch one and record the other.

    I am a huge TIVO fan, but a bigger HD fan.

    When you pick up the DVR, walk over to South Shores Meat Market and pick up a couple of fish kebabs.

    [It’s an HD DVR. — P]

    TomHynes (c41bdd)

  10. Tom–

    I kinda agree, but since I have DirecTV, I have my TiVo & HiDef via the HR10-250. It records both satellite and over-the-air signals. Of course, DirecTV is phasing out their TiVo HD DVRs in favor of their lesser inhouse brand, so that option might not be still available.

    Oh, and I can record 2 AND watch one.

    Kevin Murphy (805c5b)

  11. caltechgirl–

    So, the newer stand-alone TiVos allow you to store unencrypted content on a PC and make playable DVDs from the files? Didn’t know that.

    BTW, the only DVD writer I have ever had that has never produced an unreadable disk is this one: NEC ND3550A, 16x @ $30 OEM.

    Kevin Murphy (805c5b)

  12. BTW, for answers to most TiVo-brand DVR questions, go to the TiVo Community Forum

    Kevin Murphy (805c5b)

  13. I second Amy’s comment.

    We have a stand-alone DVD player/recorder that works independently of any computer. We simply pass the Tivo’s output through it. Recording a DVD in this fashion is as easy as recording onto a VHS tape.

    Our unit is a Panasonic DMR-E50. I picked it up two or three years ago for around $150.

    The Liberal Avenger (c93dac)

  14. We have a VHS/DVDR deck. I burn shows to DVD — and if I want, I can put a VHS tape and a DVD-R in, press a button, and burn the VHS to DVD. And they’re not expensive, either.

    TiVO is a Linux box. So you can put a network card in your TiVO and connect from a Linux box. Google hacking TiVO for particulars.

    rightwingprof (5649f5)

  15. TiVO is a Linux box.

    Yes, true.

    So you can put a network card in your TiVO

    Except for the total lack of card slots — and why, when most TiVos have ethernet already? — it’s a software issue, not hardware, and TiVo offers several applications.

    and connect from a Linux box

    Or from a non-Linux box.

    Google hacking TiVO for particulars.

    And there are a lot of particulars. For advanced Unix/Linux users with a lot of spare time only.

    Kevin Murphy (805c5b)

  16. I use my ATI “All in Wonder” videocard, a dual core motherboard, and more than a terabyte of diskspace and Adobe’s Premier Pro to capture and edit video. You can hook the card to your sat or cable hookup – it works VERY well.

    I also have two Tivo units and a Yamaha DVD recorder. If you kiss off your calendar, you can install it all in one day – learning how to operate it all might take a little longer.



    Clark Baker (6b1ecb)

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