TiVo Decoder GUI

TiVo Decoder GUI is a GUI front end to the TiVo Decoder utility written by Jeremy Drake.  You can download it by clicking the link below:

TiVo Decoder GUI
TiVo Decoder GUI
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TiVo Decoder GUI

TiVo Decoder GUI

TiVo Decoder converts TiVo files (obtained from using TiVo Desktop) into standard MPEG2 files which can then be used to produce a DVD that is playable on any DVD player. Prior to TiVo Decoder, the only official way to produce a DVD from your TiVo files was to use Roxio’s MyDVD or Easy Media Creator.

Easy Media Creator is a very nice program but some people might prefer to use another DVD authoring/burning tool. For example, on one of my systems, Easy Media Creator 8 is annoying slow when bringing up the file selector to select the video files you want to include in your DVD. For this reason, I would prefer to use another DVD authoring/burning tool such as Nero.

After decoding your TiVo files into standard MPEG2 files, you can then use any DVD authoring/burning tool to produce your DVD. With Nero, I have found that you must set the final output resolution to be different from the input resolution recorded from the TiVo file in order to force Nero’s SmartEncoding to re-encode the MPEG2 file. I usually like to set the final output resolution to 704 x 480 and the Bit Rate to the highest rate possible while still fitting inside a DVD.

If you do not do this then Nero will not re-encode the MPEG2 file before burning it to a DVD. This has always resulted in audio sync problems for me. I have never understood the reason for this problem because I can play the MPEG2 files with no problems on my computer but as soon as I produce a DVD from them, the audio sync is so bad that the result is unwatchable. When you re-encode the MPEG2 file, the audio sync is fine.

It’s unfortunate that you have to re-encode the MPEG2 file because this adds a significant amount of processing time to the DVD production

Another very important setting is to set the Sample Format to Interlace (top field first) otherwise the end result will be flickering whenever the camera pans around.

Nero Settings to produce a DVD

Nero Settings to produce a DVD

I have tried other converters such as Direct Show Dump but they sometimes produce files that caused Nero to abort with an error in the middle of the burning process. In my experience, I have never had any problems with the MPEG2 files produced by TiVo Decoder. I have had a 100% success rate burning DVDs from TiVo Decoder’s output. It’s a great little utility!

The only problem is that it’s a command line utility and it is sometimes a pain to type in the pathnames to the TiVo files you want to convert. If only there was a GUI front end to make this job easier.

Well, why not write one myself? So, I decided to whip one up using Visual Basic .NET 2005. I hope you find it useful and convenient. The installation includes the latest version (v1.4) of TiVo Decoder.

The GUI defaults to looking at the current directory for the TiVo Decoder binary but you may use the preference menu to enter an alternate path for it.

To use the GUI, open up the preference menu and enter your TiVo’s Media Access Key (MAK).

Now use the GUI to add TiVo files to decode. Set the output directory to where you want to store the decoded files and press the decode button.

After a period of time, all the files should be decoded. You can use the “View Output” menu from the file menu to look at the decoded files.

Thanks to Jeremy Drake for providing such a useful piece of software for the TiVo community!

Update 3/26/2012:

I recently purchased a TiVo Premiere and have discovered an incompatibility with TiVo Decoder.  If you are using a TiVo Premiere, then you have to uncheck the “Use the fastest method available” for file transfer speed in TiVo Desktop when transferring video from your TiVo Premiere to your PC.

TiVo Premiere Settings

TiVo Desktop Settings

If you have it checked then TiVo Decoder will abort with an error when attempting to convert the TiVo file to a standard MPEG2 file.  If you have it unchecked then TiVo Decoder will be able to process the TiVo file.

In my case, I didn’t notice much difference in transfer speed when having it checked or unchecked.