As the computer industry matures, computers are indeed playing more and more, a significant part of our lives. And now, there emerges the Media PC line of hardware and software. Coupled with the right pieces of hardware, your computer can become a replacement for the VCR, CD player, TV tuner, DVD player and stereo radio. Imagine, being able to control all aspects of your entertainment center with one, easy to use, remote control. And, get more information about specific programming than you can imagine.
One piece of software that you will definitely want in your Media PC, is a programmable Digital Video Recorder or DVR. And, one of the biggest players in the market is InterVideo Corp., the producers of WinDVR.
Coupled with your TV tuner card, WinDVR will allow you to capture your favorite shows and movies directly to your hard disk for later viewing. Like a VCR, WinDVR can be programmed to record shows at a specific time, whether you are home or not. Just think, no more ruined tapes to deal with. And, more specifically, digital quality recordings, that you can save.
WinDVR make all of this possible through the use of an online program guide. This OPG, is completely editable to tailor it to your specific desires and needs. It doesnít matter whether you are receiving you programming from an aerial antenna, Time Warner or other cable TV supplier, big dish satellite or one of the Dish Networks, all you have to do is enter you address and heck the appropriate box, and the OPG will do the rest. You will be presented a TV listing similar to the listings in TV Guide or you local newspaper. In addition, you can click on any specific program, and the OPG will retrieve additional information about the show or movie.
In addition to being able to record your favorite shows, WinDVR also has an authoring option that allows you to record directly to CD or DVD including creating and authoring you very own video CDís and DVDís.
Installation of the complete product could not have been easier. Just insert it into your CD drive, answer a few questions concerning your physical location ( for the OPG ) and you're finished. WinDVR will automatically search your system for an installed TV tuner card and load all of the necessary drivers for you. By the way, while we are on the subject, Win DVR supports a very impressive list of tuner cards.
If, at any time, you have a question concerning the use of the product, the help file is very informative. In fact, as I did not receive a manual with this review copy, I have had to rely on the help to write the review.
The minimum system requirements are: Pentium III with a 500 MHZ processor, Windows 98Se, 2000, ME or XP, PCI or USB TV tuner card,64 MB of memory.
At this point, I do want to add a word of caution. Although the above list of minimum system requirements will support this product, it will not adequately do it justice. It will function fine, as a interface to watch TV on your computer screen, but, to record in an acceptable resolution, you will need a little more computer power. I recommend that the following list be used as a guideline, for anyone considering using their PC as a recording device.
Pentium 4 processor at 1.4 GHZ, Windows 98Se, 2000, ME or XP, PCI or USB TV tuner card, 128 MB of memory, at least 30 gigabytes of free disk space.
WinDVR (as with most other software recording packages) will record in various resolutions and formats. Each different setting requires a different ratio between the processor speed, disk speed and most importantly, disk space. You will have to play with your individual settings to find the best resolution for your system. I have found, through very laboring experience, what works on one machine, will not work on another even though they are equipped similarly. And, another word of advice. When you are recording a program or movie, be sure to shut down all other programs including you web browser and E-Mail program. To get the best recording results, let the program have un-restricted use of your computer.
The list price of WinDVR is $79.95 and it is available directly from their Website in addition to being sold at major computer stores such as CompUSA. I found it to be $49.95 at CompUSA.
You can fine more information on this and other InterVideo products on their Website.
In summary, I found this product to be great. I would recommend it to anyone wishing to add the capability of programmable recording to their PC, and in fact, will be using it as my primary recording program on my Media Center PC.