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  1. Member
    Join Date: Dec 2008
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    Ey guys, just got AT&T Uverse with a DVR and really would like to burn the content I have stored on the DVR to DVD. I was thinking of going with a TV Tuner for a laptop and just simply connecting the coaxial cable from the DVR to the tuner on my computer(instead of to the TV) and doing it that way... but is it as simple as that? And are there other, better alternatives that offer better quality? I really would prefer to get the content onto my computer to burn to DVD because I see it as much more flexible method than using a DVD recorder to do the recording. I am also pretty tech-savvy so I am comfortable with using any software necessary to get the job done. But please feel free to let me know if you think one particular method is better than another and for what reasons. Comments and advice greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance!
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  2. Member
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    There is a lot of information this website about capturing, editing, and authoring. You need to educate yourself a bit before embarking on this project. Start by reading some of the guides and stickies.

    A coax connection is not the best choice. Composite is better than coax. S-Video is better than composite. Component is better than S-Video, but I can't remember ever seeing a capture device for a computer with component inputs.

    I did find a couple of decent-looking devices for notebooks while browsing at my favorite on-line store. (Though I'm only guessing that they are right for yours, since you haven't told us much about it, or what kind of interface you plan to use.) The second device has a tuner, which is not needed for capture, but it was the only one I saw with that type of interface that looked relatively good.

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16815100112
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16815100022

    I use a DVD recorder myself, not a capture card, so perhaps somebody else can make better suggestions or make some useful comments regarding mine.
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  3. Member
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    Thanks for the comment. I have a Lenovo T60 on windows XP that I am planning on using. Also, about the guides, any specific ones you can recommend or link me to? Because there is a ton of them... Thanks.
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  4. Always Watching guns1inger's Avatar
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    If you are simply going to connect the video out to your laptop and capture through a USB capture device or similar then you are better off just going s-video to s-video DVR to DVDR. You gain nothing, and in fact will probably get picture quality and less headaches doing it this way.

    If you were working with desktop and a decent capture card and lots of HDD the situation might have been different. But at the moment I suspect it will be more hassle than it is worth.
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    What is the hassle with doing it via computer? I see it as being a cheaper and easier solution than buying a DVD recorder as well as all the cables needed, when I have a DVD burner on my computer and can use software to prepare it the exact way I want it. Am I right? I am willing to shell out a couple hundred if need be for a solid capture card if it will be reliable and produce good quality stuff, and yes I do have a lot of HDD space and multiple external drives, so that is really not much of an issue. Thanks a lot for your help guys.
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  6. Originally Posted by usually_quiet
    A coax connection is not the best choice. Composite is better than coax. S-Video is better than composite. Component is better than S-Video, but I can't remember ever seeing a capture device for a computer with component inputs.
    ADS has a capture card with component input. Don't know if it is any good though.
    http://www.superwarehouse.com/ADS_Pyro_A/V_Link_Firewire_Video_Capture_Card/API-558-EFS/p/1523624
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  7. Member
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    Originally Posted by Stunner
    What is the hassle with doing it via computer? I see it as being a cheaper and easier solution than buying a DVD recorder as well as all the cables needed, when I have a DVD burner on my computer and can use software to prepare it the exact way I want it. Am I right? I am willing to shell out a couple hundred if need be for a solid capture card if it will be reliable and produce good quality stuff, and yes I do have a lot of HDD space and multiple external drives, so that is really not much of an issue. Thanks a lot for your help guys.
    A good capture device is not cheaper than a DVD recorder, and often not easier. (Why do you think I bought a DVD recorder and then edit and author on my computer? ) The capture devices often come with bundled software, but often better capture software must be purchased because what comes with the card proves insufficient, and that adds to the price.

    Canopus makes very good external capture devices, at approximately $200 US and up. The output for those is DV, which is uncompressed digital video. Nice if you are editing video from a camera and adding special effects, or converting VHS tapes, but not really necessary for what you plan to do. DV has to be converted to MPEG-2 format to make a playable DVD, which adds another step to the process, and requires more learning on your part to do it right. Cost and the DV issue are why the I suggested those cards, which output MPEG-2 video. (The ADS capture device mrswla recommended also outputs DV.) ...and you'd need a firewire port on your laptop for all of the better external capture devices, if I remember correctly.
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  8. Always Watching guns1inger's Avatar
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    Dv is not uncompressed digital video. It is compressed at a ratio of approx 5:1. It is, however, designed for editing, and with good codecs can withstand several generations of re-encoding without significant degeneration. Something that mpeg based codecs cannot do. Uncompressed video requires a lot more resources and a lot more disc space than DV.
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  9. Member
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    So what is your process by doing it your way? You take the signal to the DVD recorder, burn a disc, then place that disc in your computer, edit it to what you like, then burn the final product? Isn't that a waste of discs?

    Also, about the capture cards, is there any real difference between the Canopus cards and the ADS card? Why are the Canopus cards priced so much higher? Which would you recommend?
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  10. Member
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    Originally Posted by Stunner
    So what is your process by doing it your way? You take the signal to the DVD recorder, burn a disc, then place that disc in your computer, edit it to what you like, then burn the final product? Isn't that a waste of discs?

    Also, about the capture cards, is there any real difference between the Canopus cards and the ADS card? Why are the Canopus cards priced so much higher? Which would you recommend?
    I use rewritable DVD discs. They cost $1 or less each and can be re-used a number of times before they wear out. Canopus has a reputation. I can't personally say that they are better, but people who have them swear by them.

    Thanks for the correction guns1inger.
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  11. Always Watching guns1inger's Avatar
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    You use DVD-RWs so you don't waste discs.

    If you have a laptop then capture cards are of little use to you, unless you are looking at PCMCIA type arrangements. The Canopus devices are external boxes that connect via firewire, and basically encode the incoming signal to DV before transfering it to the PC/laptop.

    I would look at it this way.

    Full PC capture is best when you have to do significant editing or video processing (restoration). It does require a lot more effort and resources, and takes longer. However it does give you a lot of control over the final outcome. It is best if your sources are lower quality - VHS or other analogue sources. You may find that you also need other equipment in the chain, including time based correctors and video processors.

    DVDR is good if you sources are good quality, and all you really need to do is trim out the commercials. Most recorders have some basic filtering on the inputs, and if you have a HDD recorder or keep the running time low (60 - 90 minutes), the quality is pretty good. Files can be easily transferred to the PC using re-writable discs, and VideoRedo or Womble Mpeg Video Wizard can be used to do lossless cut based editing to remove commercials or unwanted segments.
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  12. Member
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    Well then if you are recommending me to get a DVD recorder, do you have any recommendations on any particular type? And how do I go about connecting it and getting it to record and such? ANy guides you can link me to? Thanks a lot by the way, really appreciate it.
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  13. Always Watching guns1inger's Avatar
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    I don't know the US market. HDD based recorders seem to be difficult to get over there. Over here they are common.

    I like Pioneer because they have the most flexible time units. You can adjust recording times, and therefore quality settings, in 2 minute increments. I don't know of any other recorders that can do this.

    Most DVDRs will take s-video input. Some may take component. Again, it will depend on market and budget. s-video should be considered the minimum. I record vis s-video from a HD digital settop box and get a good quality image from it.
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  14. Member
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    So is it a Hard Disc Drive(HDD) based recorder I need to look for, or will any DVD recorder work fine? Thanks.
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  15. Member
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    The Philips 3576 & Magnavox H2160 HDD-DVDRs are the only HDD models currently made for the US market. Price is between $240 and $300. For the most part, people who have them seem to like them.

    You could use a tunerless DVD recorder with no HDD or a recorder with a tuner but no HDD. Several companies make them. Some of the better current non-HDD recorders are the Panasonic DMR-EZ28K , Sony RDR-GX360, and Toshiba D-R410. Chances are you'll be happier with one of the HDD models.
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    Hm... what can I do with an HDD recorder that I would not be able to do with a non-HDD one? I assume it allows you to store content on its HDD before burning, but are you able to hook up a computer to it to edit it, or do you have to do the editing through the HDD-DVR itself? Thanks.
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    You would edit on the HDD DVD recorder, and dub to a DVD disc. The DVD recorder handles authoring for you when you finalize a disc.

    You can put a lot of time into editing and authoring on a computer, and if you are very fussy, or enjoy the creative aspects of cutom menus, it is worth the time. However, if the only objective is to save recorded TV programming on a DVD, without commercials, many find that their HDD DVD recorder does a satisfactory job.
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  18. Member
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    I see, and with a regular DVD recorder, I would have to manually time when I would want to start and stop recording? And things wouldn't be nearly as automated, correct? I am just trying to find out the main advantage of the HDD DVD recorder over the standard DVD recorder.
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  19. Always Watching guns1inger's Avatar
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    The advantage to a HDD recorder is flexibility. For example, I know that the standard running time of a 1 hour program is between 42 and 44 minutes once the commercials are removed. I can set my recorder to record an episode as if it ran for 90 minutes, so that it uses the correct bitrate. Once the commercials are edited out (on the HDD), I can fit two episodes to a disc without having to re-encode. I cannot do the same on a non-HDD model. If I am doing 22 minute shows then I can record a 4 episodes, cut out the ads, then put all four on a single disc in one go. Again, not something easily done on a non-HDD model.

    Some HDD recorders do have USB ports and do allow transfer of materials to the PC (as do some DVRs). Most do not.

    Personally, I don't believe non-HDD models are worth purchasing, but I guess for the set and forget crowd who hate to actually make decisions and don't care for quality, they are fine. If, however, you are archiving these to watch more than once, it is definitely worth it.
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  20. I'm a Super Moderator johns0's Avatar
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    Non-HDD models are built better than hdd models and its very easy to edit the discs on the computer so you get the best bit rate,hdd dvd recorders remind me of the combo units like dvd players built into tvs where quality isnt the best.
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  21. Always Watching guns1inger's Avatar
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    I have seen no evidence of that, but each to their own. (Although I do agree about combo units). I would put my Pioneer HDD model up against any non-HDD model, any day.

    Example 2. I have a 2 hour movie to record. Again, I know when the commercials are removed it will run 90 minutes. I can set the recorder to record in 90 minutes mode, and when the commercials are excised, the movie fits snuggly on one disc using the maximum possible bitrate for it;s size. Try the same thing on a non-HDD model and you have to record in 2 hour mode to make it fit. After removing the commercials on your PC (or recorder if it is a DVD-RAM model) you have a movie that fits, but has been recorded with 25% lower bitrate. That's a big difference in quality.
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  22. Member
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    Oh ok Guna, that last example was much more clearer, makes much more sense. Thanks! Also, any of you happen to know of any other HDD DVD recorders other than the Philips 3576 & Magnavox H2160? I have had a hard time trying to find the H2160 for sale and want to look at other HDD DVD recorders other than the Philips. Thanks in advance.
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  23. Member
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    You could use some kind of timer with either type of DVD recorder, though obviously an HDD would give you more leeway when recording from your DVR.

    I use a regular DVD recorder. (At the time I bought it, HDD DVD recorders were hundreds of dollars more than they are now.) Here's what I have to do:

    1. Record to DVD-RW
    2. Finalize disc.
    3. Copy files from DVD to computer HDD for editing.
    4. Remove commercials etc. using an editing program.
    5. Author the video and audio with an authoring program. (If I want menus, I have to create them.)
    6. Test files on computer HDD to make sure everything plays correctly.
    7. Burn to DVD-R
    8. Reformat DVD-RW so it can be re-used.

    With an HDD DVD recorder:

    1. Record to DVD recorder's HDD
    2. Edit out commercials. etc.
    3. Dub the programs to be saved to DVD-R
    4. Finalize disc. (Menu created automatically, but you may have the opportunity to choose a title for the disc and labels for the programs on it.)
    5. Test disc to be sure it plays correctly
    6. Erase programs from HDD
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  24. Member
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    Originally Posted by Stunner
    Also, any of you happen to know of any other HDD DVD recorders other than the Philips 3576 & Magnavox H2160? I have had a hard time trying to find the H2160 for sale and want to look at other HDD DVD recorders other than the Philips. Thanks in advance.
    The Philips and Magnavox models are the cheapest (and only) HDD DVD recorders made for the US market. You could look at refurbs

    If you want to use speciallty online retailer and pay a premium price (well beyond the cost of either the Philips or Magnavox) you can get other brands/models of HDD recorders in the US. However, they won't be under mfr. warranty because they are imported, not made for our market. Used HDD recorders that still work can be very expesive if they were a good model, since they are scarce commodities.
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  25. Member
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    Thanks for that outline.
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  26. Member
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    Oh, and a couple last questions before buying this:

    http://www.walmart.com/catalog/product.do?product_id=10104532#Item+Description

    I just got AT&T Uverse about a week ago and we got a DVR, will I be able to use this HDD DVD recorder with the DVR, or will there be problems? The DVR provided by AT&T UVerse is in a different room than mine. The TV setup in my room has a standard receiver, If I wanted to, could I setup the HDD DVD recorder in my room with the standard receiver? Thanks.
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  27. Member
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    Since I don't have your manual, or know the make and model of your DVR and STB, I can't say for sure, but I would expect that you can use that DVD recorder with your regular receiver to record programming. If you have one of those set-ups where you can watch recordings from the DVR in any room with a connection, you need to check the manual to see which line outputs can be used for watching the DVR recordings. Those are what you would need to connect to the HDD DVD recorder to record output from the DVR.

    Something you need to be aware of: guns1inger said his Pioneer HDD DVD recorder offered a recording mode which would record 90 minutes to a DVD. The Philips and Magnavox HDD DVD recorders are less sophisticated machines and don't offer that kind of flexibility. They are limited to 60 min., 120 min., 150 min., 180 min., 240 min.. and 360 min. per DVD. You should stick with 60 min. or 120 min., if you can. That being said, the other benefits of an HDD recorder still apply.

    It's also possible that some programming you have recorded on the DVR will be copy protected (HBO, Showtime, and other premium content) and you may not be able to record them to a DVD or even the HDD. That is a limitation that all of us in the US have to live with when it comes to DVD recorders.
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  28. Member
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    Ok so, what is meant by 60 and 120min? Is that corresponding to the quality the DVD will record at, or the time intervals of recording? If that is the time intervals of recording, would I be able to manually start and stop the recording? So for example say a movie lasts 90min when the DVD recorder lasts 120. Would I be able to stop the recording after the movie has ended at 90 min? Thanks.
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  29. Member
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    Originally Posted by Stunner
    Ok so, what is meant by 60 and 120min? Is that corresponding to the quality the DVD will record at, or the time intervals of recording? If that is the time intervals of recording, would I be able to manually start and stop the recording? So for example say a movie lasts 90min when the DVD recorder lasts 120. Would I be able to stop the recording after the movie has ended at 90 min? Thanks.
    The times I gave are for the picture quality settings. 60 min. mode is the highest quality setting. 120 min. mode is the standard quality setting, etc. (I use 120 min. mode most of the time. I'm recording analog cable, and it seems good enough for that.)

    You should be able to stop a manual recording at any point.

    There is a good thread on the current Philips and Maganvox HDD recorders here: http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=940657

    The pdf manual for the Magnavox model that interests you is available here: http://www.funai-corp.com/6pdf/om/H2160MW9.pdf
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