Choosing a recording format

Pinnacle TVCenter Pro allows you to record TV programmes in a range of different formats. These formats are simply the different methods your computer has for compressing video and each one has its own properties and uses. Some offer smaller files, some offer better picture quality, others are playable on mobile phones or Apple® iPod®. Still others are designed for DVD playback.

Many users never change the recording format, but once you work out what the different options do, it's easy enough, and there are great benefits. For example, it's worth choosing a high quality recording format to record a Hollywood blockbuster, but you'd probably be better off with a higher compression if you want to archive every episode of a daily soap opera. In addition, you can save a lot of time in making DVDs or iPod videos if you record in the right format to begin with.

How to change recording formats

Open up the settings panel using the button at the top left of your Pinnacle TVCenter Pro screen and select the Capture option to choose recording formats. Select the recording format in the top box on the right hand side, then choose a preset from the dropdown list directly underneath.

Here are a few different recording formats you might see (depending on which version and upgrades you have on your system):

File: The File format offers a choice of DVD recording choices. If you pick the "Long play" option, you can fit more on a DVD, but the quality will be lower. If you pick the VCD or SVCD choices you can record lower quality DVD programmes onto an ordinary CD and play them back on a set top DVD player.

DivX: DivX offers very powerful compression, so it's great if you're collecting a big video library - you'll be able to fit a lot of video on your hard drive. The Handheld and Portable options are lower quality, but allow you to record in a format playable on many handheld devices like the Archos.

MPEG4: With presets for the iPod and Sony™ PSP®, mpeg4 recording is mainly aimed at creating programes playable on the move. The quality isn't high, but the files can be placed straight onto an iPod or PSP.

Native: This format depends on the PCTV hardware you have installed and simply records the programme directly to disk as it's received without re-compressing it. This can create quite large files, but it doesn't take up much of your computer's processing power when recording.

Note: Some video formats also allow you to alter the audio format and quality too. However, audio is generally pretty good on all compression types and doesn't take up much space compared to the video portion of the recording, so there's not a lot of benefit in changing the audio settings unless you're having problems.