Converting Topfield PVR Recordings

posted on 14 February 2010 in general

Warning: Please consider that this post is over 13 years old and the content may no longer be relevant.

This weekend I’ve been having fun moving some recording off the full hard drive of my Topfield Masterpiece and trying to convert them into the formats I want. Below is what I’ve learnt in the process, this is only going to be useful to those using Windows.

Moving data off the PVR

If you want to use your recordings on devices other than your Toppy, you’re going to need to get the recordings off it. Fortunately this is the simplest step. For me there were really two options:

  • Use the provided USB link from the Toppy and the official ALTAIR software to download the recordings. For one or two recording this will be fine, although for me it took around 4 hours for a normal sized movie.
  • Attach the hard drive to your computer use TopfHD Read-Write to copy the recordings over to your PC hard drive.
    WARNING! To do this you will need to open your Topfield up to remove the hard drive, in doing so you will void your warrenty. I wouldn’t recommend doing this unless your Toppy is out of warrenty anyway.
    You need to use the TopfHD application to transfer files because Windows won’t recognise the file format of the Toppy hard drive. Be very careful not let Windows modify the disk in any way.
    Transferring about 8 recorded shows and 4 movies took under 30 mins, this takes longer to set up but is well worth it if you’re trying to move a bit of data.

Watching / Converting the Recordings

Once you’ve got the recordings on your PC they will be in Topfield’s .rec format, which Windows Media nor Quicktime can recognise. My traditional way of converting these files for buring to a DVD went;

  • Use ProjectX to convert to m2v file
  • Use TMPGEnc DVD Author to convert to DVD format
  • Use Nero to burn to DVD.

If you just want to watch them on your computer I’ve got some great news which took me a while to realise: the .rec files can be played directly by the ever useful VLC Media Player.

If you want to convert them to another format, VLC can help you there too. Use the Media > Convert / Save option to convert it into many different formats. Supposedly it can convert to H264 / mp4 format  compatible with iPods, however I had real problems with this, the video would be distorted or the audio would be way out of sync. So, after playing around for a while, I thought I’d give it a go converting directly form Handbrake which I do most of my iPod video conversions with… and this works great!

In summary,

To convert to DVD: Probably still use ProjectX > TMPGEnc DVD Author > DVD.

To convert to iPod: Use Handbrake.

To watch or convert to other media formats: Use VLC Media Player.

Hope this is useful.