Saving Tivo Programs on the VCR

Many new TiVo owners have little difficulty making the initial connections, getting the cable or satellite signal into their unit, and then connecting it to the TV and/or stereo for viewing. Oftentimes, this simple setup is sufficient for months of enjoyment as the new user gradually becomes oriented to the new television viewing experience.

But then it inevitably happens. There is either too many programs taking up valuable space on the internal disk, or the owner wants to share a program with someone outside of the home. In both cases, the solution is the same -- and one that the TiVo folks have encouraged the use of by including it in the on-screen menu.

"Save to VCR"

This option is available in the menu for every program that TiVo records. There is nothing special about clicking on this option as opposed to Play except that TiVo will display an introductory screen for about 10 seconds prior to starting the program. This screen provides useful information about the show, which includes the title, description, channel, duration, etc. When the actual program does start, it is important to remember that it will behave like any other show you playback through the device, which means that all fast-forward, pause, and rewind actions will be recorded directly on the VHS tape, including the "bloops" and "blips".

There are two other items of note. First, you will need to make one additional connection from your TiVo to your VCR to successfully transfer programs to tape. This is just as easy as connecting the TiVo to the TV which, more than likely, has already been done. Look for an additional set of output jacks on the back of the TiVo box. Use the red/white/yellow composite connections on both the TiVo (use the "output" jacks) and the VCR (be sure to use the ones marked "In" or "Input"). If your VCR supports it, you may choose to upgrade to an S-Video connection for a better picture on the tape. Be sure the VCR is recording the signal from the correct input.

And finally, you should know that the TiVo box will not automatically control the VCR, so you must prepare the VCR to record as you would a normal TV program. The introductory screen that TiVo places in front of the program is a good synchronization point. After loading the tape and pressing "Record" and "Pause" on the VCR, simply wait till you see the intro screen, and then press Play (or whatever button is used) to start the recording on the VCR. Of course, this also means that you must stop the tape after the program is finished.

To some, this whole process may seem like a step backwards since DVRs, like TiVo and ReplayTV, are supposed to replace VCRs. However, until the integrated DVR/DVD-Recorders units become more prevalent, this is the best solution for archiving and sharing programs with others.