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Situation

We have about 60 episodes of "The Little Einsteins" saved on our cable DVR, a Scientific Atlanta Explorer 8300HD. My daughter loves the show and I am terrified that some freak accident will wipe out our hard-earned collection. So I would like to digitize the copies to a PC for backup. It would also be nice to throw them on a video iPod for trips.

Desired solution

I would ideally like to be able to encode the videos in 1080i. Obviously best case would be to somehow do a pure digital copy, but I'm resigned to the fact that I will probably have to play the episodes one-by-one and do an analog capture. I'm willing to spend up to a few hundred dollars on a solution.

What I've looked at already

So, I thought this would be an ideal quesiton to pose to the SuperUser community: what are some affordable ways to liberate the high-def content from a cable company's DVR?

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I really really really doubt that Litte Einsteins are broadcast in 1080i. So saving it in that format will only be a waste of space. Cartoons are usually highly compressible and should look fine in lower resolutions. –  Nifle Aug 9 '09 at 8:37
    
We get DisneyHD and regular old Disney. The stuff broadcast on the non-HD Disney channel looks like complete crap. I agree with you, cartoons should not require 1080i, but compared to the compressed garbage being streamed down the non-HD channels, it's a huge difference. –  Portman Aug 10 '09 at 2:31
    
Interesting. I suppose its true what they say. Once you go HD there is no turning back. –  Nifle Aug 10 '09 at 7:42
    
Note that the Blacmagic card does run on windows. **Intensity features the latest HDMI technology for the highest quality capture and playback on Windows™ or Mac OS X™ computers. ** –  Nifle Aug 10 '09 at 7:48
    
I am in the same position - nearing 95% full on the DVR. Didnt want to create a duplicate question - all I want to do is offload the shows I recorded to a DVD for storage and playback at a later time, pretty much like we used to be able to do with a VCR. Doesnt have to be HD - just a recorded copy so I can delete everything off the DVR and..... start that process over again I suppose.. –  Electric Automation Aug 24 '09 at 2:23
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closed as off topic by Nifle, Tog, Renan, 8088, TFM Mar 14 '13 at 18:56

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3 Answers

Attach a video capture card to your computer. Hauppauge makes a wide range of products to do this. You can then connect your DVR to the capture card and record/encode anything on your DVR.

The only drawback is your DVR. DVRs do not support HDCP out. This is designed so that pirates cant make high quality copies from digital sources easily. So the output will be less than 1080p. Im not sure what the output will be, but it should still be more than acceptable.

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If the DVR has component or USB output, there are a number of HDMI converters available:

From there, an HDMI 2 DVI adapter is easy to find.

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This link says that you should have an external SATA connection. If you hook up a hdd to that you can copy your data to that for backup (or later connect it to your computer for conversion).

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Unfortunately, my cable box runs "PASSPORT", not "SARA", so the eSATA port is deactivated. wkblog.com/tivo/2007/09/… –  Portman Aug 10 '09 at 2:29
    
Often the output formats are encrypted when written to external disks to prevent piracy. I know people have cracked the encryption on some of the devices though. –  Keltari Mar 14 '13 at 0:00
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