After much experimentation of various software, I was able to find how to connect my DVR to my HDTV using FireWire / 1394 (very easy, and both devices natively work together), but also my DVR to my PC using the same cable, record the video stream, edit the stream to make it commercial-free, convert the stream to a more widely supported mpeg(2) file, import the said file into Microsoft’s DVD Movie Maker. I haven’t burned the DVD yet however, as I need to edit, convert and ultimately organize more content to fill up a DVD, maybe dual layer.
And this been all legal and through copy protection control. The mpeg video stream is actually the signal that the cable company, comcast, broadcasts, and the DVR is simply dumping it on its harddrive. The stream format however is not designed for seeking in the file, and PC codecs to read these are not very stable (somewhat similar but far not unstable as comcast’s DVR). Most stream from comcast are flag copy-free, so that the copy control system let you record it. I am not using on-demand or pay channels – I wouldn’t be surprised that those are not as friendly.
This enabled me to dump 30 shows in a few nights, most from Cartoon Network / Adult Swim. Yet the software support on Windows is eclectic, so that there are many steps to forward. The only editor & convertor I could find working reliably has unfortunately an interface which is not too intuitive (it is based on selection, and does not implement markers – markers are the fastest way to nail down commercials).
Recording a Law&Order HD from TNTHD failed before I discovered I could use the HDTV to easily read the copy protection statuses. I thought then that the stream was protected – but as I eventually checked it with the HDTV, it wasn’t.
I wish there was an end-to-end solution from Microsoft. There need to be one.