Recording From a Cable/Satellite DVR to a DVD Recorder

What to do with the video on your DVR after the hard drive gets full

Magnavox and Funai DVD Recorders
Magnavox and Funai DVD Recorders.

Magnavox and Funai

With the increasing use of digital video recorders like cable or satellite DVRs, there comes the question of what to do when their hard drives get full. You may be able to transfer your hard drive recordings to DVD, but there are some limitations.

Before You Get Started

The physical process of recording from a DVR to a DVD recorder is the same as recording to a VCR, or a DVD recorder/VCR combo. In fact, your DVR or DVD recorder user manual should have a page illustrating this.

You can connect a DVR to a DVD recorder, provided the following connection options are available on your DVR. Connect either the S-Video or Yellow composite video outputs, along with the red/white stereo audio outputs of the DVR to the S-Video or Composite Video and the red/white analog stereo inputs of the DVD recorder.

If your DVR only offers HDMI outputs for video/video or HDMI for video and digital optical/coaxial outputs for audio, then you are out of luck—DVD recorders do not provide these as input options. Your DVR must offer analog video and audio outputs in order to connect to the corresponding inputs on a DVD recorder in order to be able to transfer video and audio signals the DVR to the DVD recorder and DVD disc.

The Copy-Protection Factor

Even if your DVR and DVD recorder have compatible connections, some programs you may have recorded on your DVR—such as those originating from HBO, Showtime, On-demand program services, and even some non-premium channels—employ a type of copy-protection that allows an initial recording on a DVR, but will prevent that program from being copied further onto DVD or VHS. Since this process is random, you won't know until you try it or take note of any copy-protection message before the program starts. If the DVD recorder detects a copy-protected signal, it will usually display a message on the DVD recorder's front panel and, possibility, eject the DVD disc.

Other Things To Take Into Consideration

If you subscribe to HD cable/satellite services and have an High-Def DVR as part of that service, and you are successful in making a copy of your DVD recording onto DVD, that copy will not be in high-definition, as DVD is not a high-definition format. The DVR downscales the recording output to standard definition via the S-video or Composite (yellow) video outputs so that the DVD recorder will be able to record the signal onto DVD.

In the U.S. Blu-ray disc recorders are not widely available and those that are will not record any HD content from the DVR to Blu-ray Disc.

The Bottom Line

In the heydey of VCRs and DVD recorders, people recorded a lot of TV programs and movies from antenna, cable, or satellite on tape or disc for later viewing convenience. However, in today's environment, official restrictions limit what you can record and what medium you can record onto.

With the advent of options such as video-on-demand services and internet streaming, which allow watching a program or movie anytime you want, the imperative to record content to offline media diminishes. In fact, it's becoming increasingly hard to find DVD recorders and VCRs except in secondary resale markets.