Bungee DVD
From TV to DVD and back
Bungee DVD
Pinnacle Systems
Windows Me/XP
Recording video is a snap; you can use one of the two presets, or choose a custom configuration. You can record in one of three resolutions (352x480, 480x480 and 720x480) at varying quality levels (2 to 9 Mb/s for the first two, 4 to 9 for the last). You can schedule a program to be recorded or manually click the record button while watching TV, and then of course there are the timeshift functions.

Aside from its small and lightweight form and comparatively low cost, the Bungee DVD has a few advantages over regular DVRs. Unlike closed-box DVRs, it records to standard MPEG-2 files, so you can do anything you want with them after they're recorded: edit them, back them up, whatever you have in mind (of course, a regular DVR doesn't double as a video capture device -- at least, not without some hacking). You also have as much or as little storage space as you need, since it records to any installed hard disk. Need more room to squeeze in this week's Powerpuff Girls? Either clear off some files or install a new hard disk. And perhaps best of all, the Bungee DVD constitutes a one-time purchase; stand-alone DVRs require a monthly subscription fee or a hefty lump sum.

One nice little bonus is that you aren't necessarily tied to your computer screen to watch your recordings. Bungee DVD earns its name by providing a simple way to burn collected video clips onto a CD or DVD so you can watch them on your DVD player. It's a good idea, but I was actually a little disappointed with the options here. Mostly, I was irked because Bungee DVD only burns SVCD (Super Video CD) or DVD discs; many DVD players can handle Video CDs, but not many can work with the SVCD format. Furthermore, the program will only let you urn the files that conform to the medium you're recording to. So if you recorded something in 480x480, you can't put it on a DVD unless you go through the trouble of converting it first. There is a bundled conversion program, but it's not integrated into the television application; why not make the conversion transparent, rather than forcing users to take this extra, annoying step?

Quibbles aside, the Bungee DVD makes for a nice option for desktop TV viewing. The lack of lossless AVI capture may not make it ideal for everyone, but overall Pinnacle has packed quite a few features into a small purple package.

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Originally printed in The Computer Paper (November 2002)
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