DVR To PC Transfer

Is there a way to download a recorded program from a DVR to a PC or laptop which would then possibly be burned on to a DVD for permanent storage? –Ben

The Digital Video Recorder (DVR) has replaced the VCR as the de facto standard for most households that want to record television programming.

The range of options include stand alone systems, such as the TiVo, to DVRs that are built into cable and satellite tuner boxes that can record exponentially more programming than our old six-hour VCR tapes.

Since what is recorded is digital, it can be transferred and copied in numerous ways without the traditional loss of quality that occurred when making copies of analog video tapes.

Your exact DVR and PC will determine the options available to you, so checking with your supplier or manufacturer is a good first step (TiVo has the TivoToGo option for instance, while some PCs come equipped with special video cards and software designed to connect to any video signal.)

Typically, DVRs have standard RCA output jacks (coded as red and white for the left and right audio channels and yellow for the video channel) or S-Video jacks that would allow you to transfer the recorded shows from the DVR to your computer.

In order to do this, you will need some special equipment that will allow you to connect the two and capture the video signal as it’s being played.

For most non-technical users, one of the easiest methods that I have found is to purchase a video transfer “kit” that includes the cables, converter box, and recording software in one package.

These kits are converting the analog output from your DVR into digital, so it’s not as clean as a pure digital transfer, but if you want it to be easy, this may be your solution.

I have had good success with the Video Xpress system from ADS Tech ($50) that allows you to capture any analog video output (VCR, DVD, DVR, camcorder, etc.) to your computer through a special box that connects to a USB 2.0 connection.

Once you install the software on your laptop and connect all the cables, you simply press the play button on your DVR and the record button in the software on your laptop to record the video stream real-time.

Once you have captured the video, you can do simple edits and then burn it to CD, DVD, or convert it for use on other devices such as Sony’s PSP or video iPods.

If you are interested in other video capture options including HDTV or direct to disc, take a look at the other offerings at ADS Tech’s Web site.

Another company that has some interesting offerings is Pinnacle Systems, including a brand new product called Pinnacle Video Transfer ($130).

The difference in the Pinnacle Video Transfer system is that you don’t even need a PC to transfer your video from your DVR to an iPod, PSP, USB 2.0 hard drive, or USB flash memory device.

Once it is on an external hard drive or flash memory stick, you can transfer it to any PC to burn DVDs, video CDs, or whatever you want to do with it.

Ken Colburn
President of Data Doctors Computer Services, Host of the award-winning Computer Corner radio show, and Author of Computer Q&A in the East Valley Tribune newspapers.

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  • Miriam

    Thanks for the great overview and instructions.

    If I DO want to record as a pure digital transfer, how would I do this?

  • carey

    Pioneer DVR-LX61D
    comes with the ablities to transfer both ways with built in enternet port.
    Pioneer’s calling it PC Connect.
    Now you can transfer download movies from your pc directly to the unit or vice versa.
    Carey Hogan
    Ottawa, Canada.

  • Gravel

    Will the above analog converson process still work when the digital signal conversion takes place? or will new hardware and software be required?