Personal Video Recorder.
You can get all sorts of video cards today with Video In features, that means you can put a coaxial cable from your socket in the wall into the computer and watch TV on your monitor.
Sounds exciting, eh?
Well, that’s only the beginning. With the (making quote moves with my fingers)capture card(making quote moves with my fingers) you can also record TV as you would with a VCR. Neat and all, but why not using directly a $99 VCR and skipping the $1,500+ expense of having a computer doing this for you? Well, there are some advantages. Usually, alongside with your capture card, comes an EPG (Electronic Program Guide) that pulls TV listings from the internet and lets you choose the shows to record by browsing a grid similar to the cable boxes’ ones. The captured shows are saved on your hard disk and can be edited and burned onto CDs for long term archive. CDs mantain the picture quality much better than video tapes.
Good. So, we’re set, right? Just use the software that comes with your card and you won’t have to worry about tapes and blinking 12:00, right?
The software shipped with these cards has the amazing ability to be spectacularly sucktacular, basically unreliable and crash prone. Why? Who knows, but it seems it’s like there is an unspoken agreement between manufacturers not to ship working software.
Sucks, does it? Fortunately, there are hardware solutions out, like TiVo or ReplayTV. These nifty little boxes are self-contained, plug and play PVRs that work like an appliance should. Unfortunately, these devices have some shortcomings, like not being able (without serious hacks) to save on CDs your recorded shows and the fact that these devices do not work in Canada.
So, what should a poor Canadian software designer do? Write his very own PVR software of course 🙂
In the following posts I’ll describe the components of the system and how am I doing in implementing them. Hope it will work in the end.