How do I record DVR to computer, 2020 Edition?
November 12, 2020 2:56 PM   Subscribe

I need to upgrade my internet and in order to do so, I'll likely need to turn in my ancient DVR. Before I do, I want to find a way to keep what I've recorded. Are the answers in this post still relevant?

Like the asker, I also have the dreaded Scientific Atlanta Explorer 8300 on a grandfathered Time Warner Cable account. Also like the asker, the recordings are for my own use only (particularly shows on TV Japan, which are a PITA to find online).

When I had a CRT TV, I was able to hook up the TV, cable and VCR in such a way that I could just record whatever showed on the TV screen, but my Vizio doesn't appear to allow for that. Is a video capture card the way to go here? I would be the happiest Recliner in the world if I were able to keep the 2009 Kouhaku Uta Gassen and watch it whenever I wanted to...
posted by Recliner of Rage to Technology (3 answers total)
If you’re recording SD material and not sensitive about quality - which is probably the case if you are comparing to a CRT TV and VCR - a cheap NTSC to USB capture box will serve adequately (i.e., something like this, not that I’ve ever used this particular one).
posted by doomsey at 3:10 PM on November 12, 2020 [1 favorite]

If it has a Firewire port (and you have something to plug it into) you should be able to capture any video you play back on it that wasn't marked copy once when you recorded it. (If they are copy protected, you'd need a DVHS recorder, since those are the only things that have the necessary key to decrypt protected video)

The nice thing about doing it over Firewire is that it is lossless, it just sends an MPEG transport stream containing whatever is already on the hard drive, so there is no quality loss from reencoding an already compressed video.

It's been so long since I actually did this, I can't remember what software I ended up using to save the video. On Linux, you don't need any special software, just cat, but then you have to deal with repacking the transport stream into an mkv or whatever other container rather than having it done automatically.
posted by wierdo at 10:49 PM on November 12, 2020 [1 favorite]

Update: I did buy the capture box doomsey linked here, and while the files look a bit fuzzy on playback, that's probably to be expected given how old my DVR is. Thanks!
posted by Recliner of Rage at 3:23 PM on December 27, 2020

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