Reader Question: DVRs after the Transition

Q: The transition to digital broadcasts poses a problem for some people who record daytime shows on their VCRs to watch when they come home from work. I asked the salesman at Radio Shack about the two converter models they sell, and they do not have a timer feature to set up like a VCR.

I have seen ads online for cards that could handle this, though in what seems to be a makeshift fashion. I think that what I want is a Linux or Windows setup stripped down just to do TV and recording so that it can come up quickly. Do you have any ideas?

George Rose

A: I’m not certain that “stripped down” is necessarily the way to go, but most TV tuner cards now include software that will do the recording for you. Check out ATI and Happauge’s offerings in this area. Drop one of them in your computer, and you should be in business.

You also can buy computer cases that look like VCR or DVD players, so they fit well in your living room d├ęcor (or at least they don’t look like a computer sitting there). Windows XP Media Edition or Vista Ultimate can also give you some tools to manage your TV and other content.

There are a very few DVRs with digital tuners on the market, so you also have that as an option. (By the way, if you’ve never used a digital video recorder instead of a VCR, you’re in for a real treat.)