First of all I need to say that I wasn't sure about which forum this topic belongs to so I posted it here. Administrators please feel free to move it to a more appropriate forum. The two main questions I have about the product are: 1) is it able to record 5.1 channel sound? 2) what format is used to record the TV shows? Besides those two questions please feel free to share anything you want. Thanks in advance.
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If the cable provider is sending 5.1 the show gets recorded as 5.1 (Windows doesn't reencode the audio or video, just stores whatever compressed data it receives in a file). Win7 and Win8 wrap the show in a WTV container.
Clear QAM broadcasts are not encrypted. Encrypted QAM broadcasts remain encrypted and locked to the computer that recorded them. Unencrypted videos can be moved around and played by any device that can play WTV files. Approved Windows Media Center Extenders (like the Xbox 360, or Ceton Echo) can play encrypted videos, but the computer that recorded the videos must serve the video to the extender -- ie, you can't copy an encrypted WTV file to a USB drive, plug it into your standalone media player, and play it. On our cable system only the local broadcast channels and a few others are unencrypted. 95 percent of the channels are encrypted.
Tools like VideoRedo can remux unencrypted WTV files to MPG, MKV, MP4, etc. Windows comes with a tool (WtvConverter.exe) that can remux to older (still useless) ms-dvr container. I haven't found any tools or players that can deal with encrypted WTV files directly.
Nice informative answer jagabo. You even answered some questions that arouse from your answers like if the files can be converted and watched in any device or software. Thanks for your post.