Turning My PC Into a Digital TV Recorder

pvrLast year I purchased a Hauppauge PVR-150 TV Tuner card for my Desktop PC to record TV Shows. Since I have Windows Vista Home Premium, the Vista Media Center (VMC) software was included. VMC saves recordings in DVR-MS format (a container for the standard MPEG2 format), and I can easily replay videos on my Desktop PC. So, effectively I have a Personal Video Recorder (PVR) that can record my favorite TV shows and store them digitally on my PC’s hard drive. This is wonderful, since there are times I’m out of town on a business trip or busy with a family event and I want to record a TV show for viewing later. Using VMC is much, much easier than having to re-learn how to use the DVR recorder whenever I want to record a show.

In fact, there’s a handy utility called WebGuide which will let you control what TV shows to record via a standard web browser connected to the Internet. So if I forget to set VMC to record a TV show while on a business trip, I can use my web browser at the hotel and control what VMC is to record on my Desktop PC.

Now in my case, I normally don’t watch recorded TV shows on my Desktop PC. Instead, I like to watch videos on my Microsoft Zune media player while in bed at night. I usually watch a 1-hour show right before I doze off to sleep. The Zune takes MP4 or WMV formatted video files, so I need to convert them from DVR-MS format and reduce the video resolution to 320×240 for playback on my Zune.

Luckily, I stumbled upon a wonderful freeware utility called DVRMSToolbox, which was designed for processing DVR-MS formatted files. I use DVRMSToolbox (DTb) on my Desktop PC to automatically editing out commercials and conversion the DVR-MS video file to WMV file format. Once this is done, I just sync my Zune to my Desktop PC and my TV shows are available for viewing on my portable Zune. This is all done automatically, so I just set what TV shows I want to record in VMC and everything else is taken care of for me. If you’re interested in doing something similar for your Zune (or Apple iPod), check out this posting on my Zune web blog site.


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