Recording video from a set-top box to disc?
February 12, 2012 2:56 AM   Subscribe

Does anyone yet sell a device that would allow me to plug a tv set-top box into it and directly record an mp4 video file? (For the purposes of copying old VHS tapes and recording some sports matches for posterity from TV).

(I have a TV capture card on my Mac and use this for recording some tv, but this specific use would be for capturing things for posterity from encrypted channels. at the moment i use a dvd recorder and copy the files to my pc later, but that seems cumbersome and outdated). i'm in the uk if that helps.
posted by ascullion to Technology (6 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
but this specific use would be for capturing things for posterity from encrypted channels.

What do you mean by this?

Do you want to plug an HDMI cable into this hypothetical box and record high-def mp4? Such a thing is explicitly supposed not to exist. In order to buy the female HDMI connector itself and the little chip that is necessary to talk over HDMI, you must agree that the product you're building is not such a thing. If you do build a capture device, the HDMI cartel sues you.

[These things have existed before, but they are always short-lived affairs. Sort of like game console modchips, if you're familiar.]

The capture card is the way to go here. You can easily build a little appliance by purchasing a new, but inexpensive, desktop computer. Fill it with harddrives and RAM, add an appropriate capture card with hardware encoder, and you can record from analog or DVI signals. Something like mythtv might be helpful.
posted by Netzapper at 5:48 AM on February 12, 2012

At this point, computers are so cheap, it would make the most sense to just buy one for this purpose. You might, for instance, get one of these and plug a USB video capture device in the back.

You will end up with a pair of set top boxes, one of which decrypts video from your cable company and forwards it to the other, which compresses and saves said video.

If this seems clunky, that's exactly the way your cable company wants it. I guess you could try building an unlicensed decryption box, but...
posted by LogicalDash at 7:40 AM on February 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

Oh, if you want to avoid converting to analog video and back again, it's probably for the best to just get an HDMI-to-DVI adapter. Don't worry, that particular conversion is lossless. Well, you'll need to do sound separately.
posted by LogicalDash at 7:43 AM on February 12, 2012

And I kind of wish I'd held my tongue because, while analog capture devices are easy to get, DVI capture is a pretty specialized need, and I can't seem to find an appropriate device at less than $300 or so.
posted by LogicalDash at 7:58 AM on February 12, 2012

Best answer: A video card with HDMI input. $200. Best deal I could find.
posted by LogicalDash at 8:04 AM on February 12, 2012

Archos has made various devices that do this. I never read any reviews lauding them for recording quality, however, and most of these products were on the market 5+ years ago. Neuros made a similar line of products.

More recently, the Hauppauge HD PVR seems to fit your bill.
posted by unmake at 10:33 AM on February 12, 2012

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