3 Free Ways to Transfer Movies from TiVo DVRs

by Ostatic Staff - May. 08, 2009

My name is Lisa and I’m a TiVo addict.

As Kristin points out, there are a lot of reasons to love Roku and MythTV, but TiVo has had a special place in my heart since its earliest days of DVR development. Since I rarely have time to actually sit down and watch something from the comfort of my living room couch, it's easier to transfer the recordings to a laptop computer so I can watch things on the fly. TiVo provides free recording transfer software for PC users, but Mac users need to shell out $80 for Roxio Toast to move recordings to a Mac. No matter what platform you use, if you want to convert shows into a format playable on an iPod, iPhone, or MP3 player, be prepared to cough up even more cash.

Fortunately, the open source community has come to the rescue with three fantastic apps that make transferring shows a breeze -- and all for the low, low cost of free.

iTivo downloads recorded shows to your Mac and then converts them to different formats that are easily transferred an iPod or iPhone. Thanks to a terrific GUI, format presets, and little touches like optional commercial skip, this is by far my favorite choice for moving recorded programs off my TiVo DVR to watch on my iPod touch.

TiVo File Decoder is a handy app for converting recordings to MPEG from the proprietary format TiVo uses. This is the tool you'll want if you're looking for a basic converter with a small footprint and no extra bells and whistles.

SeasonPassGetter automatically transfers regularly scheduled programs (like a Futurama marathon, for instance) and transfers it directly to iTunes. Once there, it's easy to watch your favorite shows in FrontRow, or drop them onto your iPod or AppleTV.

Of course, just because these apps are free it doesn't mean we can't thank the developers for their time. Check each app's site for a donation method, or offer to pitch in and lend a hand with the project.