Gone are the days of the VCR where you could put in a tape and record your favorite TV show or Movie and watch it later… or maybe not.
Today with the technology of Television and Movies moving towards online services like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon many homes are upgrading their televisions and home networks to play on demand television and movies.
Unfortunately with that comes a cost. You have the initial first cost of membership for many of these services and then you have the extra cost to upgrade your internet connection to support downloads from these services. Finally although some selections are free you will find that many of the shows you want to watch have a cost.
Eventually you can spend a lot more for on-demand video than you would for regular television or even a subscription that provides a better selection of content. This is really not the reason you decided to cut the cord but the reality is providers want you to pay for their content even if they include commercials and other advertising.
So, what can you do to compile your own collection of TV and Movies?
Well there are a few options but it will require both a small investment in hardware and probably a few days of your time to set it up.
If you have a cable tv subscription there are devices from a handful of manufacturers that are cablecard ready and they will allow you to record up to 6 shows at a time. Tivo is one however the shows on that device will be limited to the storage capacity of the Tivo. You then have Ceton’s InfiniTV, SiliconDust and Hauppaugue that offer Network Tuners that can send shows from their device over your network to a box at your TV or to a MediaCenter Computer for Recording.
Actually there are a mixture of cablecard devices and they have a variety of different methods of recording and distributing your providers content.
Then there are the TV Tuners. They are single cards that you install in your computer to capture television. They can capture from your Cable Company or Over The Air Antenna.
Finally there are a few devices like the cablecard tuners that will give you multiple tuners from over the air that can be distributed across your network.
This sounds a little complex doesn’t it? Yes it can get that way but you can quickly narrow down your choices by the type of content provider you have.
Do you have Cable TV? Then you are looking at a CableCard Tuner if you want many shows recorded or sent to different TVs or if you can live with a single show being shown or recorded you can use a TV Tuner Card.
Do you have an Antenna? Then you are looking at a SiliconDust to provide you more than one tuner and a TV Card for a Single Tuner. You can also record single shows with a Set Top DVR that is similar to a Tivo.
In other how to guides we will get into the specifics of each of these devices and how they can provide you both live viewing and recording.
What do you use to record the shows?
Well if you aren’t using the stand alone units then you need to get that TV Signal into a computer and use software like Microsoft Media Center to record your shows.
Media Center is about the best option although there are others because it offers a very simple setup and recording solution.
Basically once you install your TV Card or hookup your Network Tuner you go into Media Center’s Tuner Setup. The setup will ask you your zip code and then download a TV Guide for your local Antenna or Cable Lineup. From there all you do is browse the lineup like you would an online tv guide and right click on shows you want to record.
If you want to record just one episode or the whole series you have that option at a click.
Once you have a bunch of shows you are recording you can set their priorities so if there is a conflict one show will have preference over another and you will never miss that episode that recorded overnight or while you were at work..
Then you just sit back and watch as your shows and movies begin collecting.
The raw or full file sizes for shows is pretty large so you will want to use a Media Center Plugin called MCEBuddy to convert the shows and strip out your commercials.
It will sort all the shows into directories in a format that you can view on your windows computer or cast to a television.
You can expect to record 10 to 20 shows a day which is over a hundred a week and a couple hundred a month.
Within a couple months you will have a nice archive to watch when nothing else is on.
I suggest you invest in an external USB Drive to store your shows. Or you could place it internal to your computer. You don’t need a dedicated Media Center Computer but you could benefit from one if you have a decently powered computer that can run windows 7.
Whats even better is if you are on Antenna there are a number of decent older shows that play late at night that you can record and watch later. Daytime Programming on Antenna based TV kinda sucks unless you love to watch people screaming about cheating girlfriends but there are some shows people enjoy like soaps or kid shows.
Whether you are on antenna or cable you can really benefit from recording your shows and watching them later. This way you never have to say there is absolutely nothing to watch.
You can pickup a tv tuner card that can record single shows for about $25 or you can spend $150 for a CableCard tuner that can record 6 shows at a time.
The choice is up to you on how much you spend but if you have cable tv or a good selection of tv stations over the air in your area it is not a bad idea to start recording shows you want to watch later.
Just recording some event like a sports show or the Olympics while you are at work or over night while you sleep can make the investment worth it and then you have the equipment to continue going.
You don’t necessarily need a dedicated computer or hard drive to get started and if you have windows 7 home premium you already have the software.
So Get started and in a month or two you will be really impressed in your collection of shows you can view again without the need to pay for subscriptions to online services.