Thursday, 10 May 2012

My PC - My Personal Video Recorder

I have been using my PC as a video recorder ever since my VCR has been producing jumpy recordings. That was about a year and a half ago. At that time I was thinking of getting a new VCR but nobody sell them anymore in Malaysia. Instead retailers were recommending digital video recorders that costs at least RM1000 each. I find that to be very expensive.

Since I already have a media player hooked up to my TV, and it supports AVI files with XVID and MP3 encoding, I decided to get myself a TV capture card to record analog TV programs on my PC itself. On my PC, what I have is an Intel Pentium Dual Core 2.7 GHz CPU with 1 GByte RAM installed in an ASUS P5G41C-M LX motherboard. As everything was experimental, I chose the cheapest TV capture card that I could find - the KWorld PCI Analog TV Card Lite (PVR-TV7134SE). The price RM99.

I did not use the TivMe software that came with the KWorld capture card as the documentation was poor and not much options were given to set the video and audio encoding parameters. With a background in computing, I would like to have as much control as possible in what I am doing. So instead I decided to use the freeware VirtualDub (v1.9.11) by Avery Lee.

All my captures are in high resolution 720x576 - encoded directly into XVID for video and MP3 for audio while capturing. However, not everything was plain sailing. TV capturing was an entirely new thing to me and I had to rely on Unofficial VirtualDub Support Forums, Doom9 Forums, Lukes Video Guide, VideoHelp Forums and countless Google searches. There were hardware problems, software limitations, and not forgetting inappropriately set XVID parameter.

But all in all, I am very pleased with how things have turned out. I now have very good quality video captures, with no advertisements (as I manually delete them after the captures), no jumpy playbacks and no more mouldy tapes. I don't have to worry about hardware replacement parts as PC components are fairly standard - unlike say a VCR video head or some obscure roller.


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