Connecting a PC to a DVD recorder

We currently have a DVD recorder on loan, and were wondering if we could use it to archive some files from our computer. Unfortunately, it seems that there isn’t any one compatible set of plugs on the two devices. The DVD recorder has s-video inputs, RCA inputs, and a digital video input which the recorder manual claims is a Firewire port. The computer has several USB ports, and that’s about it.

So what we’re wondering is, what’s the easiest/cheapest way to connect the two? Is it possible to move video from the PC to the DVD recorder with just an adapter cable and some software, or will I have to buy a new hardware card for the PC?

You can use a VGA to composite converter (like this one, $46.47) and a 1/8" to RCA audio cable (here, $6.99) to connect your computer’s video and audio output to a DVD recorder, VCR, TV, etc. But then your desktop and mouse movements will be recorded on the DVD while you’re starting the video, unless you have perfect timing.

A DVD+/-RW burner for your computer is about the same price (slightly more for a retail package that includes software), and you’ll have full control over exactly what gets recorded, the video quality, and the menus.

Another solution might be to get a Firewire PCI card ($10.49) and transfer the video to the recorder’s digital input. You’ll probably have to encode the video to the proper DVD format first. You can use something like TMPGEnc DVD Source Creator (30 day free trial, then $39).

If you were looking to backup data-files from your computer rather than copy off movies I can tell you right now that you can’t. A home theater type DVD-recorder records “movie type”-DVDs only. Even if you hook it up to the computer in one of the ways Mr2001 mentions you’d only be able to record video sent from the computer.

Yeah. I know. I’m dumb. I re-read the OP and saw that you weren’t trying anything so silly. Just ignore the above. Nothing to see here. Move along. Say, is that a moose?

Moose? Where? looks around frantically

Okay, that looks promising. What software do I need to actually perform the transfer, once the format issues are resolved? Or will the computer and the recorder be smart enough to figure that out on their own, once the Firewire connection is established?

Not sure, I’ve never used Firewire. I assume the DVD recorder will show up as a drive, and you’ll just drag files to it… but maybe not. The recorder might expect you to plug a hard drive or a DV camera into it, and in that case you’d need some software to make your PC look like one of those devices.

Okay, I think I’ve found a freeware program to do that (namely WinDV), and the online support page for the recorder seems to suggest that plugging it into the PC via a Firewire connection is par for the course…so I think I have a workable plan. We’ll give it a shot once the Newegg order comes in.

That Newegg is a nice site; thanks for pointing it out. It would have cost at least twice as much to get that card at my local Circuit City. And thanks for your help.