Record from TV to Computer

DiVVy

DTVUSA Jr. Member
#1
What can I get to record TV programs or movies from my TV onto my computer? I'd like to be able to watch them on the TV again as well. I need something fairly simple to use because my mom and dad will probably want to use it too. Thanks for any help.
 

n2rj

Moderator
Staff member
#2
Hi and welcome!

If the computer has Windows Vista or Windows 7, you can use Windows Media Center with a TV tuner card. If you are using an antenna or unencrypted digital cable I would recommend a dual tuner TV tuner card such as the AVermedia HD Duet. It can be had for about $60 or $70 on Amazon. Single tuner cards are cheaper but they only allow you to record one show at a time.

To watch recorded TV on the TV you have two options. I'm assuming the TV is a modern TV with a HDMI input. You can connect the PC to the TV with a HDMI cable if your video card supports it, or you can get an extender such as the XBOX 360 and connect that to the TV and watch TV over the network. That's the setup I have - two extenders and Windows media center.
 

bicker

DTVUSA Member
#3
Some important points I want to highlight in what n2rj said -- his approach doesn't result in "record[ing] TV programs or movies from [your] TV". Generally televisions don't provide outputs that can be used to record onto a computer. In the approach he outlined, you record television from directly inside your computer, by installing a card in your computer that essentially makes the computer into a television itself (kind-of).

Why this is important is because his approach has limitations if you're getting your television in some manner other than through an antenna. Specifically, the AVermedia HD Duet (generally) does not provide you access to HD cable networks (such as ESPN, Disney, TNT, CNN, etc.), but rather (generally) only provides access to HD over-the-air channels (such as ABC, NBC, CBS, CW, PBS, and local independents). There are tuner cards (from ATI and Ceton) that support CableCARD that will provide access to HD cable networks, but I don't believe AVermedia makes any.

I personally feel, though, that the Windows Media Center arrangement is simply not user-friendly enough (yet) for users who are described as people who "need something fairly simple to use". The reason why TiVo and Moxi are still selling DVRs in significant (though decreasing) numbers is because these devices, made solely to record and play-back television, are substantially easier to set-up and significantly easier to use, than a personal computer. I'm a pretty technical guy... I write software for a living these days. However, I choose to use a TiVo over Windows 7 (and I even have a computer within 30 inches of my television and home theater system), solely because it is easier and therefore making my television-watching more enjoyable.
 

n2rj

Moderator
Staff member
#4
Some important points I want to highlight in what n2rj said -- his approach doesn't result in "record[ing] TV programs or movies from [your] TV". Generally televisions don't provide outputs that can be used to record onto a computer. In the approach he outlined, you record television from directly inside your computer, by installing a card in your computer that essentially makes the computer into a television itself (kind-of).

Why this is important is because his approach has limitations if you're getting your television in some manner other than through an antenna. Specifically, the AVermedia HD Duet (generally) does not provide you access to HD cable networks (such as ESPN, Disney, TNT, CNN, etc.), but rather (generally) only provides access to HD over-the-air channels (such as ABC, NBC, CBS, CW, PBS, and local independents). There are tuner cards (from ATI and Ceton) that support CableCARD that will provide access to HD cable networks, but I don't believe AVermedia makes any.
So let's ask Divvy - what kind of signal?

It is also unlikely that the TV itself would have been able to receive those signals without a CableCARD either, and almost no TVs today come with a CableCARD slot.

I personally feel, though, that the Windows Media Center arrangement is simply not user-friendly enough (yet) for users who are described as people who "need something fairly simple to use". The reason why TiVo and Moxi are still selling DVRs in significant (though decreasing) numbers is because these devices, made solely to record and play-back television, are substantially easier to set-up and significantly easier to use, than a personal computer. I'm a pretty technical guy... I write software for a living these days. However, I choose to use a TiVo over Windows 7 (and I even have a computer within 30 inches of my television and home theater system), solely because it is easier and therefore making my television-watching more enjoyable.
I think your personal feeling is wrong because I have owned both and the setup for Windows 7 MC isn't all that different from TiVo. Installing the TV card will be the hardest part.
 

bicker

DTVUSA Member
#5
Sorry but my personal feeling is not wrong. You feel differently, and that's okay, but I feel what I feel, and the fact that I (someone who is more technically inclined to start with) feel it, is pretty valuable input for the OP.

I don't want to go into details, but understand this: I have a vested interest in people using and liking Windows 7 MCE. I really wish it was more user-friendly -- more like a TiVo -- and I assure you as soon as it is as good as a TiVo I'll switch (and not just because I get it free <cough> <cough>).
 

n2rj

Moderator
Staff member
#6
Sorry but my personal feeling is not wrong. You feel differently, and that's okay, but I feel what I feel, and the fact that I (someone who is more technically inclined to start with) feel it, is pretty valuable input for the OP.

I don't want to go into details, but understand this: I have a vested interest in people using and liking Windows 7 MCE. I really wish it was more user-friendly -- more like a TiVo -- and I assure you as soon as it is as good as a TiVo I'll switch (and not just because I get it free <cough> <cough>).
So what is more difficult in MC than TiVo? Please be specific.
 

bicker

DTVUSA Member
#7
The things that are simpler with my TiVo include installation, configuration, getting service providers to provide CableCARDs, applying software updates, setting up recordings and season passes, adding and reviewing scheduled recordings from anywhere in the world, clipping programs with small overlaps, etc.

MCE is good for people who don't mind managing a computer. Most people prefer dedicated DVRs.
 

n2rj

Moderator
Staff member
#8
The things that are simpler with my TiVo include installation, configuration, getting service providers to provide CableCARDs, applying software updates,
I convered that already when I said that installing the TV card (and other hardware) would be the hardest part. You can actually buy a pre-configured media center PC.

As for CableCARDs, they are generally a pain in the neck for some people and TiVo hasn't been a cakewalk in that regard either.

As for software updates, it's Windows. Everything I've applied has been done automatically through Windows updates. I've never done a manual update on my box.

setting up recordings and season passes,
I don't see what's difficult about that in Media Center, compared to my old Series 3. From the guide, select the show and hit record. Season pass? Hit record twice. In fact in terms of season pass functionality it absolutely blows TiVo away.

adding and reviewing scheduled recordings from anywhere in the world,
THAT one I can agree isn't easy for a newbie. But that is not a basic DVR function. Most DVRs deployed today don't have this feature. It's not a deal breaker for me and it won't be for most people. In fact TiVo added it relatively late in the game. Before that you had to hack your DVR to add this feature. I had TiVoweb on my series 1 and actually preferred it to TiVo's "official" remote scheduling feature.

clipping programs with small overlaps,
They have had clipping since Vista. For overlaps <=5min, Media Center will clip the next scheduled show that conflicts. Overlaps >5min will result in a hard conflict that you resolve. But I resolve this by having plenty of tuners available.


Go on...
 

bicker

DTVUSA Member
#9
I don't see what's difficult about that in Media Center, compared to my old Series 3.
I think that's why you're having trouble accepting what I'm saying, because you don't see what the differences are, while I do see the differences. I think at this point you just need to take my word for it. TiVo is easier for me, my wife and many other people, including many other technically-inclined people. It is purpose built to be easy, especially for people who aren't technically inclined. It is better than MCE in that regard. It just is.

More: The padding options are better. TiVo's Wishlists capability is superior to MCE's alternatives. TiVo's remote is the best among the "come with" remotes. TiVo is generally more robust while recording, while MCE has given us BSoD sometimes.

And again, I really hope that changes someday.
 
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DiVVy

DTVUSA Jr. Member
#10
I think that's why you're having trouble accepting what I'm saying, because you don't see what the differences are, while I do see the differences. I think at this point you just need to take my word for it. TiVo is easier for me, my wife and many other people, including many other technically-inclined people. It is purpose built to be easy, especially for people who aren't technically inclined. It is better than MCE in that regard. It just is.

More: The padding options are better. TiVo's Wishlists capability is superior to MCE's alternatives. TiVo's remote is the best among the "come with" remotes. TiVo is generally more robust while recording, while MCE has given us BSoD sometimes.

And again, I really hope that changes someday.
Isn't Tivo expensive? How much did you pay for your unit and do you have the option to watch any shows on your computer from your Tivo?
 

DiVVy

DTVUSA Jr. Member
#11
Hi and welcome!

If the computer has Windows Vista or Windows 7, you can use Windows Media Center with a TV tuner card. If you are using an antenna or unencrypted digital cable I would recommend a dual tuner TV tuner card such as the AVermedia HD Duet. It can be had for about $60 or $70 on Amazon. Single tuner cards are cheaper but they only allow you to record one show at a time.

To watch recorded TV on the TV you have two options. I'm assuming the TV is a modern TV with a HDMI input. You can connect the PC to the TV with a HDMI cable if your video card supports it, or you can get an extender such as the XBOX 360 and connect that to the TV and watch TV over the network. That's the setup I have - two extenders and Windows media center.
Thank you, yes I do have a HDMI input but my video card doesn't have an HDMI input? Should I buy another vid card or get something external?
 

bicker

DTVUSA Member
#12
Isn't Tivo expensive?
We were chatting about this in another thread (perhaps in another forum) earlier this week. TiVo is less costly, but has a significant impact on short-term cash flow.

How much did you pay for your unit and do you have the option to watch any shows on your computer from your Tivo?
I don't want to throw actual numbers out until we get past the point where what I wrote above, about the difference between cost and cash flow, makes sense. What I will say is that I will break-even on my TiVo S3 sometime this fall, and so from that point forward it will represent a cost savings as compared to the cable company provided DVRs, despite the fact that my TiVo S3 can store 120+ hours of HD, while the cable company provided DVRs obviously cannot.

Regarding the second half of your question (really: your second question in that same sentence :)) TiVo has two features you're going to be very interested in (as long as the service provider hasn't marked the recording so that you aren't allowed to make copies). TiVo Multi-room Viewing and TiVo-to-Go. MRV allows you transfer programming from TiVo to TiVo through your home network. (Of course, you can only transfer HD programs to an HD-capable TiVo.) TiVo-to-Go offers several benefits. The primary use for TTG is that you can transfer programs from any of your TiVos to your personal computer (up to three, I think), and watch the programming there. I regularly use this method to carry a bunch of programs with me when I'm traveling. I sometimes can even connect my laptop to the hotel's HDTV via HDMI cable. It's great when that works out. Another use for TTG is to convert programming so it can be carried on your portable device, such as a Zune HD, iPod Touch, or some smartphones.
 

n2rj

Moderator
Staff member
#13
I think that's why you're having trouble accepting what I'm saying, because you don't see what the differences are, while I do see the differences. I think at this point you just need to take my word for it.
LOL! Please, don't flatter yourself...

TiVo is easier for me, my wife and many other people, including many other technically-inclined people. It is purpose built to be easy, especially for people who aren't technically inclined. It is better than MCE in that regard. It just is.
Sure it's easier. I've owned TiVos for almost 10 years now. However media center isn't more difficult, at least not very much more difficult. In some aspects it is easier to use and faster than TiVo, especially the premiere with its new slow as molasses Flash UI.

More: The padding options are better. TiVo's Wishlists capability is superior to MCE's alternatives.
I agree but those don't equate to "something fairly simple to use." They equate to "features."

So far everything you've described has had nothing to do with "easy to use." At this point I think you had better take my word for it, or you're just doing your usual contrarian thing.

TiVo's remote is the best among the "come with" remotes.
It is, but it lacks a keyboard or an easy method of alphabetic entry. Media Center smokes it in this regard even with a numeric remote.

TiVo is generally more robust while recording, while MCE has given us BSoD sometimes.
That I agree with but that doesn't equate to "something simple to use."

A VCR is about as simple to use as you can get yet doesn't have advanced wishlists or any of those features.
 

n2rj

Moderator
Staff member
#14
Isn't Tivo expensive? How much did you pay for your unit and do you have the option to watch any shows on your computer from your Tivo?
It's not that expensive. $299 gets you their latest box and $12.95 is what monthly service costs with discounts if you prepay yearly. You can buy lifetime service for $399 which means no more fees for the life of the box.

There are also refurb TiVo HDs starting at $199.

You can copy shows to your TV using the TiVo desktop software or a third party alternative such as pyTiVo.

There is one caveat though. If you are subscribing to and recording from cable, some cable providers mark a lot of channels as copy protected. Some, such as Time Warner and Bright House are especially bad because they mark everything except local channels as copy protected, so you can't copy them to your computer or another TiVo.
 

n2rj

Moderator
Staff member
#15
Thank you, yes I do have a HDMI input but my video card doesn't have an HDMI input? Should I buy another vid card or get something external?
I think you mean a HDMI output. If it doesn't have an HDMI connector you might be able to get an adapter. Some video cards don't have the HDMI connector but if you connect a HDMI to DVI adapter and a HDMI cable it will work as HDMI. Note, however that if it is simply a DVI output and you use a HDMI adapter it might not play some types of content.

Some TVs can also accept a VGA output as well. That is one route to go.

Yeah, and this is really where it gets complicated. Media center itself is easy to use, but if you are building a system from scratch you will need to know how to connect it to your TV etc. That is the difficult part. And you can thank several entities for that, most notably hollywood who wants a secure encrypted connection between your computer and your TV.
 

bicker

DTVUSA Member
#16
LOL! Please, don't flatter yourself...
Sorry, but I'm the absolute final arbiter of what I myself experience, which is what you were challenging. I wasn't telling you what you experience, so don't presume to tell me what I experience.

Sure it's easier. I've owned TiVos for almost 10 years now. However media center isn't more difficult, at least not very much more difficult.
You're equivocating. So now it is more difficult, but and you're negotiating how much. And still trying to impose your perception of how much more difficult onto me. I find it enough more difficult that I stick with TiVo.

Even though I have a vested interest in MCE.

I agree but those don't equate to "something fairly simple to use." They equate to "features."
Sorry, but no. You can schedule programs with MCE -- TiVo's Wishlists make it easier to do so for certain types of programming.

So far everything you've described has had nothing to do with "easy to use."
Incorrect.

At this point I think you had better take my word for it, or you're just doing your usual contrarian thing.
I'm not letting you tell me what my wife and I feel. It is insane that you're insisting on trying to do so.

It is, but it lacks a keyboard or an easy method of alphabetic entry. Media Center smokes it in this regard even with a numeric remote.
TiVo is about to release an advanced remote for stand-alone sale, that has a keyboard. And instead of having to deal with a big bulky computer keyboard in the den, it's compact, and is something you would expect to see in a den.

That I agree with but that doesn't equate to "something simple to use."
Yes it does.
 

MrPogi

Moderator, , Webmaster of Cache Free TV
Staff member
#17
Convergence or collision??

Okay, I'll throw in my 2 cents. I know I'll regret it, but...

I would have to say that for the average user, without computer savvy... its a set top box. TiVo or other brand.

I've just been setting up my first media box. I am sure if I spent the money, windows media center would make it soooo much easier. But being the cheap sniveler I am, I am using a surplused win xp box, 2.6 dual core, 3 gb, ati geforce 7200, and an ATI usb hybrid tuner... total cost, $100.

I have used the ATI catalyst software (included with the ATI tuner), GBPVR, MediaPortal, and BeyondTV... the first 3 free, the last $99 but no subscription fee. The first 3 are media centers, BeyondTV is just the PVR.

If you just want a PVR and don't mind the $99, Beyond TV is the way to go. It works great "right out of the box". The other 3 won't pull down a program guide without a lot of setup, and aren't very smooth.... lots of lag time loading, starting TV, changing channels, etc. And only Beyond TV is simple enough for (almost) anyone to use. It's worked flawlessly for the firts 3 days of the 20 day trial.

I can't comment on win MC, since I don't own it. If $ was not an issue, that's what I would do. I know that I will have to bite the bullet someday... but until then I'm going to get a WinTV 1600 card, put the usb on the laptop, and just use TitanTV & wintv software with the WinTV card. WinTv software worked ok with my old analog tuner. Not great, but good.

To the OP: if your parents are using it, then get one of the set top boxes. The drawback with these is that you can only record to the box, I don't know of any that will let you pull the files off them. If you want to use a windows computer, WindowsMedia Center or Beyond TV. If you're a LINUX user, I hear good things about MYTHtv. But again, we don't know if your getting your TV OTA, cable or Sat. so we don't know what tv tuner card to suggest. There is A forum here for media PC, check with them for help. An alternative you might consider is HULU with Stream Transport to save shows if you have reliable internet. I give stream transport 5 stars... it even cuts out the commercials!

For the record, I am computer literate, I've owned computers since the 80's, I'm an electronic tech. Setting up a media center without Win MC is a pain for the average user. Convergence is more of a controlled collision...
 
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n2rj

Moderator
Staff member
#18
Sorry, but I'm the absolute final arbiter of what I myself experience, which is what you were challenging. I wasn't telling you what you experience, so don't presume to tell me what I experience.
Actually, I was challenging:

"Windows Media Center arrangement is simply not user-friendly enough (yet) for users who are described as people who "need something fairly simple to use"."

That describes a lot of people, not specifically you and your wife. If it were just you and your wife you would be correct, but you are trying to speak for everybody, and in that regard you are clearly wrong.

You're equivocating. So now it is more difficult, but and you're negotiating how much. And still trying to impose your perception of how much more difficult onto me. I find it enough more difficult that I stick with TiVo.
Selective reading and quoting on your part.

I said that media center was easier in some aspects.

Sorry, but no. You can schedule programs with MCE -- TiVo's Wishlists make it easier to do so for certain types of programming.
I haven't used a wishlist in 10 years. The majority of DVR owners do not have TiVo and therefore do not use wishlists either. Wishlists, while nice, is not a core DVR function.

I'm not letting you tell me what my wife and I feel. It is insane that you're insisting on trying to do so.
LOL, pot, kettle, black...

TiVo is about to release an advanced remote for stand-alone sale, that has a keyboard. And instead of having to deal with a big bulky computer keyboard in the den, it's compact, and is something you would expect to see in a den.
You don't need a keyboard for alphanumeric entry in media center. You can enter text similar to how you do on cellphones with text messaging with each numeric key corresponding to three or four letters.

At this point I'm done bickering with you. You can take it as a win or loss, I don't care. But clearly you are wrong and refuse to admit so.
 
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