Recorded HD-TV shows to laptop?
June 9, 2009 6:43 PM   Subscribe

Are there (legal) ways to copy recorded TV shows from my HD-TV box to my laptop for personal use? Note: This is a technical question, not a legal one - I just don't know where to start.

I have a Topfield PVR but I think most of the shows are being recorded on this Foxtel box.
posted by vizsla to Computers & Internet (5 answers total)
It is possible to record from a box to a computer using a card such as if and only if the signal is not encrypted. Movie channels and some other channels are 100% encrypted. Most of the regular broadcast channels are not encrypted.

This will not work directly to a laptop because you can't install a card to input the data and its very likely not fast enough to keep up with the data-rate anyway. In order to do this you need a fast computer with a really fast hard-drive that can keep up with the data-rate.
posted by Osmanthus at 6:58 PM on June 9, 2009

The Hauppauge HD-PVR should be able to record from HD sources via component video cables.
posted by zsazsa at 7:42 PM on June 9, 2009

I just looked up the Hauppage HD-PVR and noticed that it peaks at 13.5 MPS, but you have to go down to 5 MPS to record a 2 hour show. The lowest quality HD signal (720x480 compressed) is 25 MPS. High quality uncompressed 1080i is 932 MPS. (

Whatever it is you are recording on that PVR, its really not fair to call it high def since the quality is degraded. At this point, you might as well just record a regular NTSC broadcast ( and avoid arbitrary compression artifacts.
posted by Osmanthus at 8:07 PM on June 9, 2009

Best answer: The OP is in Australia and, if they're using a Foxtel IQ2, can't just "record a regular NTSC broadcast" (or PAL, for that matter) with it.

Osmanthus, the Hauppauge HD-PVR records MPEG-4 which has substantially reduced bitrate requirements for HD - not MPEG-2, which your 25Mbps relates to. Yes, the quality may be reduced slightly by the analogue connection between the IQ2 and the Hauppauge adaptor, but it will still be substantially better than a regular analogue PAL signal, 'PAL' DTV signal, or, god forbid, analogue NTSC.

(That's assuming the OP is recording stuff off the Foxtel-only HD channels. Foxtel's rebroadcasts of the SD & HD FTA channels is abysmally bad, using MPEG-2 at about 1/2 the bitrate of the original FTA broadcast.)

OP: If you're recording your FTA channels (10/1, 2, 7, 9, & SBS) on the Topfield, you may be able to copy the raw files off that. The TF5000 (SD only) can be connected by USB to a PC to download the raw MPEG-2 transport stream; it can also record & transfer (but not play) HD FTA. Be aware that this is somewhat slow - about real-time for SD, about 3x that for HD (depends on the bitrate of the broadcast)

If you've got a TF-7x00 HD pvr, I believe (though I'm not sure) that files can be copied to a USB. Check the Topfield or Aus DTV Forums for further info.

If you're recording it all on the IQ2, you'll need something like the Hauppauge, and you'll get a slightly downgraded version as it's been through a digital->analogue->digital conversion. There's no way of copying stuff off the IQ2 digitally; people have tried & failed - it's not the same as the lookalike Sky box in the UK. Be aware that, as far as I know, the non-base-package movie channels all enforce Macrovision copy protection, so you'll have trouble copying them (without an analogue Macrovision stripper / "image stabiliser" in between). Again, AFAIK, Foxtel don't turn Macrovision on on the other channels (at least, usually not - I believe there are instances of it being turned on occasionally, by 'accident' or otherwise, but it's certainly not that often).

Better still, trip over to the Aus DTV Forums, search for similar questions there, and ask if necessary.
posted by Pinback at 4:24 AM on June 10, 2009

Just download them with bittorrent.
Faster, easier and someone will have already cut out the commercials.
posted by Iax at 11:56 AM on June 10, 2009

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