Monday, March 27, 2006

Burning Tivo-to-DVD

The Indigent Girlfriend purchased two Tivo Series II units on the Friday after Thanksgiving. One she gave to her son for Christmas and one she used as a gift for us. Of course, I have all the Tivo units working wirelessly throughout the house and can download recorded shows to my computer.

Well, it is now time to burn one of those recorded shows to DVD and this is proving to be no simple task. The method recommended by Tivo is to purchase the Roxio MyDVD Studio. I use the free version of DeepBurner to simply write backup files to DVD and would probably upgrade to DeepBurner Pro if I ever had a need to burn a video DVD. Having said that, since Roxio offers a 300 MB, 15-Day trial version, I figure I'll give it a try.

In just a few minutes, my download is complete and I begin installing the software... and immediately hit my first snag. Like most software these days, it wants a a serial number before proceeding with the installation. I must've missed where it told me that my trial serial number would be emailed to me, but I know the drill. I check my gmail account and sure enough, there is my trial serial number. Once I entered the serial number, the installation proceeded without further trouble.

The (Roxio) Sonic MyDVD Studio requires a reboot and then it's ready to go. I select the "Get Recorded TV Shows" option, select the episode of Desperate Housewives I want to send to the Indigent Girlfriend's mother, and click the big red "Burn" button. For the next hour, I got to watch a little progress bar tick across the screen while "Transcoding Video", another minute for "Importing Video", then the "Transcoding Audio" began. Fortunately, that only took about a minute as well.

These were followed by a bunch of short tasks that flashed by so quickly that I could not read them. Now it is finally trying to write the files to DVD. So, from the click of the Burn button to when the completed DVD was ejected from the drive was just under 90 minutes for an hour long TV show at the highest quality.

The DVD I burned worked fine on my PC and in all house DVD players, except for the cheapy $30 DVD player in the Indigent Daughter's room. I thought that was an interesting thing to note.

By the way, I think Tivo is pretty cool, but things that should be easy are hard. Things like burning shows to DVD and connecting the Tivo to the home network. It seems to me like the Tivo product is basically old technology using any hack and kludge it can to cling to relevance. My advice would be to get yourself a Media Center PC where all the things that should be easy and automatic, are easy and automatic.

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