Free TV PVR (Personal Video Recorder) and TV Recording Software

Capture TV programs and video on your computer

Free TV PVR (Personal Video Recorder) and TV Recording/Capture Software

This page lists PVR (personal video recorders) software for your computer that you can use with your TV tuner to watch, record, timeshift, fast forward, and rewind "live" TV. Some of them, if not all, allow you to schedule recordings of your TV programs at another time slot. They may even have sophisticated TV recording facilities like the ability to handle things like recording every day, recording every week, recording every weekday (Monday to Friday), managing recording schedule conflicts by assigning priority to certain TV programmes, etc. Some software also have automatic commercials (advertisements) detection and removal facilities. Note that the software may require that you install one or more of the codecs listed on the Free Video Codecs page in order to support a particular video format.

While many of the software listed support many PCI TV tuner cards, you should check out each of the software individually to see if your TV card is supported. At worst, if no information is given by the software developer, you can always download it and try it out for yourself (since all the programs listed below are free).

If you wish to edit your TV recording, such as to remove television commercials (advertisements) and add subtitles, you may want to check out the Free Video Editors (Video Editing Software) page. The Free DVD Authoring and Creation Software page lists programs that you may find useful if you are creating a DVD from your TV program and want to put DVD menus, subtitles, etc. Finally, the Free CD and DVD Burners and Copying Software page lists software that allow you to burn your TV programs to your CD or DVD. You may also be interested in the more general purpose free video capture and recording software.

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Free TV Recording, Scheduling and Capture Software

Tvheadend (Linux, FreeBSD, Android)

This is an open source TV streaming server and recorder that handle inputs from DVB-S, DVB-S2, DVB-C, DVB-C2, DVB-T, DVB-T2, ATSC, HDHomeRune, ISDB-T, IPTV (both HTTP and UDP), and SAT>IP. Older versions can handle analog video directly. It also supports EPG, or electronic programme ("program" in US English) guide, via over-the-air DVB and ATSC sources. The software can stream over HTTP, HTSP and SAT>IP.

NextPVR Media Centre (Windows)

NextPVR (formerly GB-PVR) is a personal video recorder (PVR) software for Windows that allows you to record TV programs manually, timeshift television programs, and schedule a recording for a show or even an entire series ("season" in US English). It also purports to be able to record multiple shows simultaneously using only 1 tuner. Apart from its PVR features, the program can also play DVDs, video files and music files. It supports analog TV, DVB-S/T/C, ATSC/QAM, and can handle MPEG2, H.264, HE-AAC, E-AC3 and AC3 encoding. The software can handle Hauppauge cards, many DVB/ATSC digital cards that come with BDA-compliant drivers, analog cards that have either an onboard hardware MPEG2 encoder or software PVR support, etc. This Windows software requires the Microsoft .NET runtime. It is free only for personal, non-commercial use.

MythTV (Linux)

MythTV is a PVR that allows you to watch "live" TV, pause your program, as well as fast forward and rewind your TV show. It supports multiple TV tuner cards and multiple simultaneous recordings. Video is compressed using RTJPEG and MPEG4 as well as MPEG2 (for hardware MPEG2 TV cards). DVB cards and pcHDTV tuner cards are also supported. It is able to automatically detect and skip commercials, grab program information, schedule TV recordings, rip and play audio files (MP3, Ogg, FLAC, CD audio), as well as play and rip DVDs. MythTV runs on Linux.

DScaler (Windows)

Dscaler is an open source software that not only captures video, but also processes it and scales it so as to provide a high quality output. It is able to deinterlace the video source, remove the pulldown for movies and filmed television programs, reduce video noise, automatically calibrate video capture cards for optimal brightness, contrast and colour, manipulate video through gamma, sharpness and other filters, reduce judder and other video timing anomalies, etc. At the time this was written, it supports a wide variety of TV tuner cards and video capture cards, including AVerMedia TV cards, Hauppauge PCI WinTV cards, Leadtek's WinFast and WinView, Pinnacle's TV cards (such as PCTV Rave, StudioTV, etc), and so on (too many to list). This is a Windows program.

Freevo Home Theatre Platform (Mac OS X, Linux, Windows)

Freevo is an open source home theatre platform. It allows you to watch and record television and pause live TV for both analogue and DVB. It supports multiple TV tuners, allowing you to watch a show and record a different show simultaneously. You can record to your network as well. It has commercial detection and removal facilities and the ability to tune into Internet radio. The software can also play DVDs, video files, audio files (such as MP3, Wav, Ogg, Flac), and control home automation equipment (lights, sockets, etc). This PVR works on Mac OS X and Linux. Support for Windows is, at the time this review was written, limited, although a Windows version is also available.

MediaPortal Media Center HTPC Software (Windows)

MediaPortal is an open source media centre. You can view, schedule, record and timeshift live TV, listen to music and radio, watch a DVD or video, etc. It supports analog TV, digital TV (DVB-C, DVB-T, DVB-S, ATSC), HDTV, AC3, multiple TV tuners, advanced recording scheduling (record once, record now, record daily or weekly, record on weekdays, record every time the program appears on TV), timeshift, pause, rewind, fast forward, TV Guide, auto-channel tuning, on-screen display (OSD), the ability to handle recording schedule conflicts and setting of recording priorities, the ability to transcode to XviD, MPG, or WMV, auto-tuning of FM stations, listen to FM radio, DVB radio and Internet radio and lots more (too many to list). MediaPortal works on Windows.

MsDVR (Windows)

(Update: the MsDVR programs are no longer available.) MsDVR allows you to watch TV from your TV tuner, archive movies on CD-R/RW media, record shows, manually skip TV commercials, etc. The newer version, MsDVR 2005, requires you to have Windows Media Player 9 (default in XP SP 2) installed. If you have an older version, you may have to use MsDVR 2000. The software has been tested with Hauppauge, AVerMedia and the generic WDM drivers. This is a Windows program.

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