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Recorded TV to DVD? Sonic Makes It Possible

I use both a TiVo device and a PC based on Microsoft's Windows XP Media Center Edition (XP MCE) 2005 to record TV shows in a format that's PC-friendly (or, in the case of TiVo, partially PC-friendly). But one thing that's missing from both systems is the ability to easily take these shows on the road. Interestingly, one company makes it possible to turn both TiVo and Media Center recorded TV content into DVDs that you can play on any DVD player. That company is Sonic, and its solution, MyDVD Studio 6.1, is the latest version of my favorite DVD-making software for the PC. Let's take a look.

I first saw MyDVD years ago at a trade show in New York, and I was immediately taken in by its task-based, Windows XP-style UI. That interface is carried forward in MyDVD Studio 6.1, which combines MyDVD with a host of CD and DVD utilities that Sonic acquired when it bought Roxio's non-Napster products last year. MyDVD Studio's other tools deserve some inspection, of course, but right now I'd like to focus on the ability to burn recorded TV shows to DVD.

To record TiVo shows to DVD, you'll need to have TiVo Desktop 2.x installed, along with the latest update to the TiVo firmware. When you use TiVo Desktop to download TiVo-recorded TV shows to your PC, they'll become available to you in MyDVD Studio. Simply select New Project, then click the Get Recorded TV Shows button in the application's toolbar. Doing so launches a dialog box that lets you choose from a list of shows you've downloaded. When you select a show, the software imports it into your project.

After the importing is finished (a 30-minute show takes less than a minute), MyDVD places a link to the show on a default DVD menu, and you can then perform a variety of editing tasks, including changing the theme, editing the titles, and even changing the button image that represents the link to the show you just imported. That last bit is pretty cool: You can scroll through the TV show until you find an image you'd like to use for the button.

If you want to get a little more adventuresome, you can edit the show or even edit its chapters (which will let you use the forward and back buttons on your DVD player's remote work). When you create chapters for a movie, MyDVD automatically creates a submenu for you, with a separate button (and corresponding editable button image) for each chapter. Nice!

Importing recorded TV shows from Media Center works in just about the same way and provides the same features. (Oddly, however, if you try to import a Media Center recorded TV show on a non-Media Center PC, you'll have to change the view style to All files so that the program can "see" those files.) Note that shows protected by Broadcast Flag technology—currently limited mostly to shows on HBO and Cinemax—can’t be burned to DVD.

Shows still take a long time to burn to DVD, but it's just nice to have the capability. MyDVD Studio 6.1 costs $70 to $150, depending on which editon you purchase. All editions can record TiVo and Media Center shows to DVD.

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