I have a bunch of content stored on my rented (from my cable company, Rogers Cable) PVR (Scientific Atlanta Explorer 8000 DTVSA). It's the standard video model, not High Definition - I haven't forked out for a wide-screen TV yet. I'd like to get my shows out of the PVR because the 80Gb hard drive in the PVR is getting full. I would like to end up with the shows on DVDs playable in my JVC XV-S40BK DVD player.
What would you suggest?
My first thought is to get the video/audio to a computer with a DVD burner (though it seems authoring and burning DVDs can be pretty complicated and time-consuming). Here's the computer equipment I have:
PowerMac G4 450MHz "Sawtooth" 80Gb, 120Gb drives, Pioneer DVR-109 DVD/CD burner
PowerBook G4 12" 1.5Ghz, 60Gb drive, Combo drive - DVD, CD reader/CD burner
It would be great if I could simply connect the PVR to one of my computers via Firewire. The SA E8000 has two Firewire ports - but they're disabled by Rogers Cable.
My first effort was to buy a CAD$200 Miglia Alchemy PVR PCI card for the G4/450MHz PowerMac.
I hooked it up to the PVR with S-Video and audio cables. I got a recording (MPEG4, 1:2), but the quality was not very good - visible pixillation, lines on whip pans, etc. I've been told by someone who knows a lot about this sort of thing that I'll never get very good quality using this card, especially using a lower speed PowerMac like mine. (Though if you've got tips for me, please let me know.) I'm thinking about returning this card.
Other options I've heard about:
1. Buy a cheap DV Camcorder, and use the PVR's VCR out and S-Video jacks to connect, record to DV tape. Then play back the DV into my Mac using Firewire, recording in iMovie.
DV file size is huge, no? For a 1 hour TV show, I've heard it can go to over 20G. How would I ever shrink that enough to fit on a 4.4Gb DVD-R?
Maintenance is an issue, because DV heads will go out of alignment with heavy use.
Advantage: I get a video camera, albeit a lower quality one at this price point. It also frees me from the limitations of processor speed and can be used with either of my computers.
2. Buy a "breakout box" such as the Canopus ADVC 55. Connect in similar fashion, then transfer DV to computer over Firewire, recording in iMovie.
Same issue with DV file size.
Cost? ~ CAD$400
Advantage: It doesn't seem to require a high speed CPU, and can be plugged in to either of my computers.
3. Forget about using my Macs or the DVD burner. Buy a DVD Recorder, such as the Pioneer DVR-233-S Progressive Scan 1-Disc DVD Recorder for sale at Future Shop for CAD$300.
Concerns: more difficult to edit out commercials, etc.
Advantage: I end up with playable DVDs pretty quickly. (Does anyone know if these Recorders' disks can be read by iMovie?
4. Shell out for a computer that's fast enough to use the Alchemy card to make good pictures.
Concerns: Cost, how much is enough?
Advantage: It's always nice to have a faster PowerMac or other Mac that can use the PCI card.
Has anyone figured this out? Any other solutions? Thoughts? I'd love to hear from you.