DVD Vs. VHS: Best Recording Format Part 3

 TV Tuner Cards

 Another option for recording TV broadcasts is to use a TV Tuner Card and record right to your computer.  Unfortunately this is also the most complicated way to record TV. 

Over The Air TV

This is actually the easiest to record.  All you need is a TV tuner card that, for Canada and the US, can receive ATSC and NTSC broadcasts and connect to an antennae (preferable an outdoor antennae, but "Rabbit Ears" will suffice) by coax.  You can record both Standard and High Definition signals that are straight digital copies with no conversion to analog.

Cable TV

This is probably the second easiest to record, but at the same time it is also a lot more tricky than Over-The-Air TV.  If your cable company still provides analog cable, all you need is a cable card with  coax cable connector that is able to record NTSC video.  Another option is a card that can record QAM over the coax cable---but QAM is only possible if your cable company sends unencrypted TV channels.  With QAM you can record straight digital copies of Standard-Definition and High Definition signals.  You can also get capture cards with HDMI, or some digital cable boxes also have firewire that allow you to record over firewire, but in both cases, you can only record channels that are unencrypted.  One last option is to get a capture card that can record via component video cables, S-Video or yellow RCA composite.

Satellite TV

With Satellite your options are limited.  If you want low quality, you can always get a TV Tuner card that connects will accept a coax cable from your satellite box, but this will only give you low resolution Standard Definition video and mono audio, even for programs broadcast in 5.1 and Stereo audio.  Satellite boxes do not offer firewire connections, but they do offer HDMI.  Again with HDMI you can only record unencrypted channels.  The last option, and probably the best is to use a tuner that accepts analog High Definition signals over component video. 




  • record right to your computer
  • can convert the saved file to any format for DVD, cell phone, tablet
  • for all-digital recordings, can capture original MPEG-2 digital stream
  • can record both Standard-Definition and High Definition broadcasts


  • can be very difficult to setup
  • for analog, most recorders record at 1.5Giga-bytes-per-sixty-minutes, while a single-layer DVD can hold 4.7 Giga-bytes-per-sixty-minutes at its fullest, uncompressed form for 1-hour of recording; 2.35 Giga-bytes-per-sixty-minutes for 2-hour recordings on one disc.
  • ties up a computer for just recording TV.


This is the last of the currently available methods.  Next up will be some older methods, that while they are currently out of production, the still offer some great alternatives to the current methods.


Copyright 2015 Trevor Thurlow Productions