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  1. I'm old. In the 1990s, if I wanted to record a show I'd insert a tape in my VCR and hit record. Simple. But TV tech has moved on without me and now I'm hopelessly lost. What's the modern-day digital equivalent of a VCR and a tape?

    The SyFy Channel is about to start marathons of Battlestar Galactica and Xena: Warrior Princess that include all-new interviews with the cast. I'd like to record these interviews (digitally) and keep them, but I have no idea how. Is it even legal to record and keep TV shows anymore??

    I know DVRs exist, but as far as I know they don't have "tapes" like VCRs did -- they have an internal drive and once they're full, that's it -- and you can't copy files off them. Not great if I want to record 100+ episodes of a show.

    (The other hurdle is that I don't have cable...I'm currently investigating the SyFy app for our Roku box.)

    So how do people record and keep shows in the digital 21st century? Is there a simple way that I don't know about?


    EDITED FOR CLARITY: Sorry, I don't mean "how do I record modern TV to a VHS tape?" I mean "how do I record modern TV to a digital format that I can keep?"
    Last edited by bentley; 11th Apr 2020 at 17:42.
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  2. Dinosaur Supervisor KarMa's Avatar
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    You need a device to output Composite (yellow cable) and RCA audio (red and white). Or find a HDMI to composite converter device. Then plug the Yellow, Red, and White into a VCR.
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  3. Sorry, maybe I should have been clearer. I meant recording digitally. I don't think recording widescreen 1080p interviews onto an old VHS tape is the way to go.
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  4. There are capture devices that capture HDMI sources directly to SD flash cards or USB drives (flash or hard drive). The biggest problem you are going to have is that most HDMI content is protected by HDCP encryption (DRM, digital rights management) and most devices won't record it. Here's one example:

    https://www.amazon.com/HDML-Cloner-Instantly-Schedule-Recording-Required/dp/B012T1D0IG/

    Search the reviews for HDCP.


    There are also device that remove that DRM. They usually take the form of an HDMI splitter (sending one HDMI source to 2 or more HDMI devices) with HDCP removal as a byproduct of the splitting. This is generally not advertised as it's illegal, or least a violation of the HDMI license. So finding which devices currently remove HDCP is rather hit and miss.
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  5. Ah. So most modern TV broadcasts are encrypted, specifically to prevent recording? That puts a damper on things.

    But DVRs can still record and play back shows with this encryption?
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  6. Originally Posted by bentley View Post
    But DVRs can still record and play back shows with this encryption?
    Yes. But you usually can't move the recorded files to another device. And there are sometimes further restrictions (no recording at all, files deleted after a set time, etc.), on subscription channels (HBO, Showtime, etc.) and pay-per-view broadcasts.
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  7. To record over the air (free) broadcast TV, you only need a basic antenna and digital recorder (like from Walmart for about $23). The TV shows are recorded to standard USB memory stick and can be played back to any TV, or archived and played on your computer. You can timer record, just like with a VCR. You can also play video or music you download from computer, put to USB stick, and play it on your TV. I've had one similar to this for over 4 years with zero problems. Example:
    https://www.walmart.com/ip/Ematic-AT102-Digital-TV-HD-Converter-Box-Recorder-with-LED-...splay/54655846
    Note that this device only records over the air broadcast TV.
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  8. There's another possibility... If the video you want is available to stream from SYFY's web site it's possible to download and keep the streams. Web sites work hard at making this difficult so it's a cat-and-mouse game. But there are browser addons and other tools for download such content.
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    Originally Posted by bentley View Post
    I'm old. In the 1990s, if I wanted to record a show I'd insert a tape in my VCR and hit record. Simple. But TV tech has moved on without me and now I'm hopelessly lost. What's the modern-day digital equivalent of a VCR and a tape?

    The SyFy Channel is about to start marathons of Battlestar Galactica and Xena: Warrior Princess that include all-new interviews with the cast. I'd like to record these interviews (digitally) and keep them, but I have no idea how. Is it even legal to record and keep TV shows anymore??

    I know DVRs exist, but as far as I know they don't have "tapes" like VCRs did -- they have an internal drive and once they're full, that's it -- and you can't copy files off them. Not great if I want to record 100+ episodes of a show.

    (The other hurdle is that I don't have cable...I'm currently investigating the SyFy app for our Roku box.)

    So how do people record and keep shows in the digital 21st century? Is there a simple way that I don't know about?

    EDITED FOR CLARITY: Sorry, I don't mean "how do I record modern TV to a VHS tape?" I mean "how do I record modern TV to a digital format that I can keep?"
    I know that you don't have cable but if your cable service provider happens to be Xfinity/Comcast or Verizon Fios then you can rent a CableCARD from them and make portable recordings of the SyFy channel's transport stream since SyFy is normally a "copy freely" channel for both of these service providers. You would either use a TiVo (with a subscription to their program guide data service) or a Windows PC + Silicondust's HDHomerun Prime + NextPVR + 25$/year subscription to Schedules Direct for guide data. Most if not all other service providers mark SyFy "copy once" which prevents TiVos from exporting the recordings and prevents NextPVR from recording the channel at all.
    Last edited by usually_quiet; 11th Apr 2020 at 19:51. Reason: spelling
    Ignore list: hello_hello, tried, TechLord, Snoopy329
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  10. I was lucky -- my cable TV provider (Cox) didn't encrypt SYFY and it was marked copy-freely so I was able to keep recordings from that channel (SiliconDust HDHomerun Prime + Windows Media Center PC). Other than that, and the local broadcast stations, everything was encrypted and copy-once. But we dropped cable TV a year or so ago...
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  11. There is the brute-force, low-quality method.

    Point a camcorder at the TV screen and take the audio from the earphone jack.

    There are videos on YouTube done this way, and some didn't even bother to come out of the earphone jack but instead used the camcorder's on-board mic. Needless to say it sounds like shee-ot. You can hear the room reverberation, kids yelling, dogs barking, etc., and it sounds like it's coming out of a plastic speaker, which it is.

    As I say, it is the low-quality approach. Maybe you can fiddle with the monitor's controls to get a passable picture.
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  12. Have a look around the Hauppauge.com site. Maybe they have something you can use.

    https://www.hauppauge.com/index.htm
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  13. Wow, lots of replies. Thanks to everyone for the thoughts! I tried the SyFy app for Roku and I tried "watch live" on the SyFy website. Both require me to have a cable service subscription first. Bah! So now I'm shopping around for the cheapest provider that offers SyFy...

    Argh, why is it so difficult to watch TV in 2020.
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  14. You need a cable TV subscription to watch the live SYFY broadcast online. But you don't to watch many of the shows available for streaming. It looks like all four seasons were available for free (with ads) with the Roku app.

    Ways to watch live: https://cordcutting.com/how-to-watch/syfy-online/

    If your only interest is BSG and Xena you could sign up for a free trial and record all the episodes in your own marathon.
    Last edited by jagabo; 12th Apr 2020 at 16:59.
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  15. Yup, but I'm only after the new cast interviews. Which as far as I know will only be available on the upcoming live broadcasts, not the current streaming versions.
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  16. Jagabo, thanks for your edit! I signed up for a 7-day Sling TV free trial, so that's one hurdle down for the moment...
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  17. Where do you live, not exactly, just country/state or town and how do you receive your TV signal? Perhaps I can help you and suggest a device with HDD where you can also copy the recording to your PC for archival puposes, like I do without copyprotection issues.

    Out of curiosity: How old are you? It is nice to see "older" people in tech forums
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  18. Hah! I'm only mid-40s. Not super-old, but enough that I apparently haven't taped a TV show in 20 years! I'd rather not give out my location, sorry, but I get TV through a Roku box.

    Hurdle #1 has been jumped: I can now watch the SyFy channel. (Via the Roku SyFy app, with a SlingTV subscription.)

    Hurdle #2 is to purchase a DVR. Any recommendations? Mainly I just need it to be able to record for up to 11 hours straight at very good (1080) quality. I don't need fancy bells and whistles; I don't even need to program it -- I want one where I can just hit "record", walk away for 11 hours and then come back and hit "stop." And I guess the more storage it has, the better, since I might be recording 11 hours a week for the next month...

    I see online that most DVRs require a subscription to work?!? Is that just to access online programming guides, or is it more?

    Advice on buying my first DVR would be most welcome! Thanks!

    (The SyFy marathons start Thursday morning so I'd like to have it in the house and set up in about 48 hours.....buying locally is going to be fun given the pandemic.)
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  19. At least a country would help me
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  20. Originally Posted by bentley View Post
    The SyFy marathons start Thursday morning so I'd like to have it in the house and set up in about 48 hours
    That is probably going to be a problem. HDMI recording devices may not be available at your local Best Buy, etc. HDCP strippers definitely will not.

    Originally Posted by bentley View Post
    Hurdle #2 is to purchase a DVR. Any recommendations? Mainly I just need it to be able to record for up to 11 hours straight at very good (1080) quality. I don't need fancy bells and whistles; I don't even need to program it -- I want one where I can just hit "record", walk away for 11 hours and then come back and hit "stop." And I guess the more storage it has, the better, since I might be recording 11 hours a week for the next month...
    If you haven't done so yet, opt for Sling's PVR option (an extra US$5 per month). That will allow you to record the shows you want (on their servers). You can then play them back any time you want. They have a 50 hour limit on recordings. I see that Sling has each 1 hour episode as a separate show to record. Since they are broadcasting 11 hours a week you should be able to locate all the segments you want and make local copies before the next week's shows. But even if you don't have time 50 hours will be enough for 4+ weeks of recordings (if you don't record anything else).

    I'm not up on the best options for recording from HDMI now. But if you only want something where you can just push a button to start and stop recording look at one of the cheaper Avermedia portable "Gamer" devices. Look for one that can record 1080i and 108p60 -- both as the input signal and as the recorded video. Maybe something like these:

    https://www.bestbuy.com/site/avermedia-live-gamer-portable-2-plus/6288528.p?skuId=6288528
    https://hauppauge.com/pages/products/data_hdpvrpro60.html

    I believe those can do what you want. But don't take my word for it -- I've never used either one. Do your own research...
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  21. Member
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    Originally Posted by bentley View Post
    Hurdle #2 is to purchase a DVR. Any recommendations? Mainly I just need it to be able to record for up to 11 hours straight at very good (1080) quality. I don't need fancy bells and whistles; I don't even need to program it -- I want one where I can just hit "record", walk away for 11 hours and then come back and hit "stop." And I guess the more storage it has, the better, since I might be recording 11 hours a week for the next month...

    I see online that most DVRs require a subscription to work?!? Is that just to access online programming guides, or is it more?

    Advice on buying my first DVR would be most welcome! Thanks!

    (The SyFy marathons start Thursday morning so I'd like to have it in the house and set up in about 48 hours.....buying locally is going to be fun given the pandemic.)
    You need a capture device to record HDMI out from the Roku box. You will probably need a device to strip HDCP since few capture devices will record HDCP-protected HDMI output.

    One capture device you could look at is the AVerMedia EZRecorder 130. It does not need to be connected a computer to operate and stores its recordings on a USB external hard drive (purchased separately) and can be started with the press of a button.

    This splitter is supposed to remove HDCP according to one of VideoHelp's long-time member: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B076JDXPRG/
    Ignore list: hello_hello, tried, TechLord, Snoopy329
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  22. One downside of the ER130 is that it can't record a 1080p60 input as 1080p60. It will accept 1080p60 as an incoming signal (and pass it through to the HDMI output) but it will record it as 1080p30 (discarding every other frame). That makes any film source (most movies and TV shows) jerky. The workaround might be to set the Roku to 1080i and record 1080i.
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  23. Member
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    Originally Posted by jagabo View Post
    One downside of the ER130 is that it can't record a 1080p60 input as 1080p60. It will accept 1080p60 as an incoming signal (and pass it through to the HDMI output) but it will record it as 1080p30 (discarding every other frame). That makes any film source (most movies and TV shows) jerky. The workaround might be to set the Roku to 1080i and record 1080i.
    Setting the Roku to output 720p60 (to record at 720p60) is another option.
    Ignore list: hello_hello, tried, TechLord, Snoopy329
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  24. Originally Posted by usually_quiet View Post
    Originally Posted by jagabo View Post
    One downside of the ER130 is that it can't record a 1080p60 input as 1080p60. It will accept 1080p60 as an incoming signal (and pass it through to the HDMI output) but it will record it as 1080p30 (discarding every other frame). That makes any film source (most movies and TV shows) jerky. The workaround might be to set the Roku to 1080i and record 1080i.
    Setting the Roku to output 720p60 (to record at 720p60) is another option.
    It might be a better use of bitrate too. Do you know what bitrates it can use for the different resolutions and frame rates?
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  25. Video Restorer lordsmurf's Avatar
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    I still do hobby recording of older shows to a DVD recorder.
    Not just any recorder, but the best recorder for off-air 4x3 quality: Zoran-based RCA.
    Example: Blondie movies, Laurel & Hardy shorts, every Sat morning on Movies!Net.

    Recording isn't the hard part. Finding time to watch is.
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  26. Hmm. Looks like I'm less educated about DVRs than I thought. I had thought that once I got a cable TV subscription, I could go out and buy any old DVR and start recording freely onto it. But because of this HDCP encryption you've all mentioned, I'd never be able to copy those shows off to anything *else*. (Unless I jumped through several shady hoops.)

    It looks like that's wrong? The DVRs I see available at my local Best Buy will only record OTA/antenna channels. Apparently if I want a DVR box that will record shows broadcast by my cable provider, I need to rent the box FROM the provider??

    Holy good Godfrey. When did cable get so complicated?

    For the moment, I've taken jagabo's advice, upgraded to the SlingTV 50-hour cloud DVR, and will record and hold the first few weeks of the marathon that way while I ponder my next move.

    Someone mentioned that XFinity, Comcast and Cox broadcast SyFy as "copy freely." Does that mean that I can record *their* SyFy streams onto any old DVR?

    EDIT: according to this website, SyFy broadcasts in 1080i. Does that mean that the Avermedia 130, mentioned earlier as having problems with 1080p60, can handle its broadcasts after all?

    (EDIT2: What about the Avermedia 310? Any better than the 130?)
    Last edited by bentley; 13th Apr 2020 at 23:17.
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  27. Member
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    Originally Posted by usually_quiet View Post
    Originally Posted by bentley View Post
    Hurdle #2 is to purchase a DVR. Any recommendations? Mainly I just need it to be able to record for up to 11 hours straight at very good (1080) quality. I don't need fancy bells and whistles; I don't even need to program it -- I want one where I can just hit "record", walk away for 11 hours and then come back and hit "stop." And I guess the more storage it has, the better, since I might be recording 11 hours a week for the next month...

    I see online that most DVRs require a subscription to work?!? Is that just to access online programming guides, or is it more?

    Advice on buying my first DVR would be most welcome! Thanks!

    (The SyFy marathons start Thursday morning so I'd like to have it in the house and set up in about 48 hours.....buying locally is going to be fun given the pandemic.)
    You need a capture device to record HDMI out from the Roku box. You will probably need a device to strip HDCP since few capture devices will record HDCP-protected HDMI output.

    One capture device you could look at is the AVerMedia EZRecorder 130. It does not need to be connected a computer to operate and stores its recordings on a USB external hard drive (purchased separately) and can be started with the press of a button.

    This splitter is supposed to remove HDCP according to one of VideoHelp's long-time member: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B076JDXPRG/
    Not sure if you're talking about me, but I have a 130 and that splitter, it lets me record anything I see on my HDMI computer monitor, on occasion I record my PCs output.
    Personally for a smaller file, when recording I set my PC to output 720p and to me anyway, the picture looks very good. I also use the maximum compression setting(the 130 has 3 settings) and again the recording looks basically like the source. I'm somewhat fussy when it comes to picture quality and the 720p recording along with the maximum compression looks just fine to me. Setting my PC to 1080p and using a "best" compression setting on the 130 results in a file size almost double of what I get with negligible gain IMO. Now maybe if you were recording something like gaming?? you might see a difference but I never record that. Note one quirk?? I've found about the 130 is, when I set my PC output to anything higher than 1280x720p, the 130 records the file as 1080, I'd have liked to have 1280x768 not record in 1080 but it is what is it, I have to use 1280x720 to get the smaller file size.
    Other things I'm not as found about the 130 is the tiny remote, but it is usable and also when recording one cannot do anything else such as edit other files on the HDD or even have any OSDs, that bugs me the most, when recording all you can do is let it record. Again you can edit with the 130 and it is quite easy but after editing it takes 5 or more minutes to save the new file, not sure why......when I save a file edited on my DVDRs saving the file takes only a second or so.
    You can use a 4TB drive, I have but I've noticed things seem to work better with an older 500GB Hitachi drive I had lying around and after recording, I then copy things with my PC to my 4TB Seagate drive for archiving.
    I'm not sure what you gain with the model 310 and if it did allow things like editing or even displaying while recording I'd have gladly paid a bit more but I got my 130 as an open box on Amazon and the price was very good. Oh the file recorded by the 130 is playable on basically any PC, I use VLC or even my WD TV live little streaming box I bought several years ago, I believe the file format is MP4??
    Note it's really complicated and the splitter isn't really shady, it just gives you more HDMI outputs if you want......
    If I could do it, basically anyone could. I used VCRs for several decades followed by standalone DVDRs for more than a decade after that, the Avermedia device acts basically like a HD DVDR, recording to easily found USB HDDs instead of quirky getting harder to find DVDs.
    Last edited by jjeff; 14th Apr 2020 at 15:56.
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  28. I believe the main feature that makes the 310 better than the 110 is the ability to record component video. If your Roku has component output the 310 can probably record that without needing an HDMI splitter. In theory component video can include CGMS-A to prevent copying. But I don't know if the Roku includes that, or if the 310 responds to it.
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    Originally Posted by jagabo View Post
    Originally Posted by usually_quiet View Post
    Originally Posted by jagabo View Post
    One downside of the ER130 is that it can't record a 1080p60 input as 1080p60. It will accept 1080p60 as an incoming signal (and pass it through to the HDMI output) but it will record it as 1080p30 (discarding every other frame). That makes any film source (most movies and TV shows) jerky. The workaround might be to set the Roku to 1080i and record 1080i.
    Setting the Roku to output 720p60 (to record at 720p60) is another option.
    It might be a better use of bitrate too. Do you know what bitrates it can use for the different resolutions and frame rates?
    There is a chart in the English section of the manual with recommended settings based on the desired quality or hours per GB. The settings below relate to optimum quality, good quality, and the maximum number of hours per GB at a watchable quality:

    HD 1080p30/1080p25: 20 Mbps, 18 Mbps, or 15 Mbps
    HD 1080i30 /1080i25: 15 Mbps, 12 Mbps, or 10 Mbps
    HD 720p60/720p50: 20 Mbps, 15 Mbps, or 10 Mbps
    SD 480i30/576i25/480p60/576p50: 7.5 Mbps, 5 Mbps, 3Mbps
    Last edited by usually_quiet; 14th Apr 2020 at 16:27.
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  30. Member
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    Originally Posted by jjeff View Post
    Originally Posted by usually_quiet View Post
    You need a capture device to record HDMI out from the Roku box. You will probably need a device to strip HDCP since few capture devices will record HDCP-protected HDMI output.

    One capture device you could look at is the AVerMedia EZRecorder 130. It does not need to be connected a computer to operate and stores its recordings on a USB external hard drive (purchased separately) and can be started with the press of a button.

    This splitter is supposed to remove HDCP according to one of VideoHelp's long-time member: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B076JDXPRG/
    Not sure if you're talking about me, but I have a 130 and that splitter, it lets me record anything I see on my HDMI computer monitor, on occasion I record my PCs output.
    Personally for a smaller file, when recording I set my PC to output 720p and to me anyway, the picture looks very good. I also use the maximum compression setting(the 130 has 3 settings) and again the recording looks basically like the source. I'm somewhat fussy when it comes to picture quality and the 720p recording along with the maximum compression looks just fine to me. Setting my PC to 1080p and using a "best" compression setting on the 130 results in a file size almost double of what I get with negligible gain IMO. Now maybe if you were recording something like gaming?? you might see a difference but I never record that. Note one quirk?? I've found about the 130 is, when I set my PC output to anything higher than 1280x720p, the 130 records the file as 1080, I'd have liked to have 1280x768 not record in 1080 but it is what is it, I have to use 1280x720 to get the smaller file size.
    Other things I'm not as found about the 130 is the tiny remote, but it is usable and also when recording one cannot do anything else such as edit other files on the HDD or even have any OSDs, that bugs me the most, when recording all you can do is let it record. Again you can edit with the 130 and it is quite easy but after editing it takes 5 or more minutes to save the new file, not sure why......when I save a file edited on my DVDRs saving the file takes only a second or so.
    You can use a 4TB drive, I have but I've noticed things seem to work better with an older 500GB Hitachi drive I had lying around and after recording, I then copy things with my PC to my 4TB Seagate drive for archiving.
    I'm not sure what you gain with the model 310 and if it did allow things like editing or even displaying while recording I'd have gladly paid a bit more but I got my 130 as an open box on Amazon and the price was very good. Oh the file recorded by the 130 is playable on basically any PC, I use VLC or even my WD TV live little streaming box I bought several years ago, I believe the file format is MP4??
    Note it's really complicated and the splitter isn't really shady, it just gives you more HDMI outputs if you want......
    If I could do it, basically anyone could. I used VCRs for several decades followed by standalone DVDRs for more than a decade after that, the Avermedia device acts basically like a HD DVDR, recording to easily found USB HDDs instead of quirky getting harder to find DVDs.
    Yes, I was talking about you. I'm glad to see such a detailed response from someone who is using the equipment that I recommended.
    Ignore list: hello_hello, tried, TechLord, Snoopy329
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