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How to Connect a DVR to a PC or Transfer Video Content

written by: theinkandpen (Robert Mullon)•edited by: Tricia Goss•updated: 5/10/2010

This article deals with some of the methods for connecting or transferring your Digital Video Recorder to a PC or Laptop. This is particularly useful if you wish to store, convert or burn whatever you’ve recorded for future reruns.

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    The DVR (Digital Video Recorder) unit has largely replaced standard video recorders, such as VHS tapes or home DVD recorders, due to its capability to record straight to a built-in hard drive. Home DVD recorders are still used, but there is much more convenience in a DVR such as no need for media. The ‘TiVo’ model of DVR shows how the popularity of DVR’s has surged, often chosen in favor of other TV recording methods.

    You can connect your DVR to your PC and consequently store the output on an external/main drive, encode and upload somewhere, burn it onto media or whatever else takes your fancy. This is usually straightforward, and we will look at how to do it by using examples of existing DVR models.

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    Connect to Your PC

    Connection depends on your model, but most offer a USB connection or some other means to connect to your PC, such as a Wireless adapter to connect your DVR to the Internet.

    TiVo makes transferring shows to your PC easy by connecting an Ethernet cable to an Ethernet port on your computer and then changing the settings on ‘Phone and Network’. You can also download desktop software (found here) especially designed to work with TiVo (note: some shows are copyrighted).

    The newer Pioneer DVR-LX61D, offers drag-and-drop transfer via a USB connection on your computer. This is an extremely easy way to transfer your video.

    You will have to consult your DVR’s user manual in any case, but most either use an Ethernet port or USB in order to connect to your computer. Also, check for available software designed to work with your model.

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    Connecting to Capture

    Capturing simply means the ability to store a live stream as it is being recorded by the DVR. This is entirely more complex, and it would need a separate article. However, since I am a gentleman (views may vary), I will include a brief section right here.

    In essence, you will need a Video Capture card, such as ViewCast Osprey, Blackmagic or other series of cards. These allow you to capture both Audio and Video streams to your computer, which are subsequently decoded. RCA cables or S-Video are the available input/output on such cards and all you‘ll need to do is connect the necessary cables and start up your recording software to record the stream.

    Of course, choosing the right components is not easy. There are kits available if you are less technically minded, which allow you to setup your computer as a recorder for DVR more easily. As a starting point, I recommend this article by ‘Lockergnome’: DVR to PC Transfer

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    Other Resources

    For more help with DVR's and PC's, read Introduction to DVRs and How To Use Your Computer as a DVR.