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How-To: HTPC File Management
August 3, 2005
Author: Achilles0 Manufacturer: N/A
Department: HTPC-SFF Model: N/A
Article Type: How-To Time Spent: N/A
 
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Introduction




The purpose of this article is to explain in broad terms how to manage the glut of files HTPC users seem to accumulate by recording TV shows. As an example, Sci Fi Friday has three shows I watch that are an hour long each. Recording them with my PVR software of choice, SageTV, and at a good quality, generates three files 2GB in size EACH--for a single season of those three shows. We're talking 100GB of disk space. So, I need to edit out the commercials, and compress them.

It's very easy to get so technical on this subject that 90% of our readers would die of boredom--when all they want to know is how to easily edit out a few commercials and compress the files--then maybe burn them onto a CD or DVD at some point. We could bury you in a morass of bit rate vs. quality arguments, discourse at length on the virtues of each and every codec, and in the end, accomplish nothing but to gather a forum full of people arguing over the smallest aspects of a complex subject. Well, don't worry, we're just going to cover the "Need To Know" items to help you reclaim some HDD space.


Useful Terms

Let's start with a handy reference list of terms that are helpful to understand when dealing with managing and converting files, and will make reading this article easier for those new to all this video file stuff.

Bitrate: Also spelled bit rate. Defines how much physical space a second of audio or video takes in bits. Some of you are probably still wondering what the hell that means…well, it means this: Bitrate is the amount of Bits transferred in a second by a digital device. So the higher the Bitrate is, the more information that gets transferred which usually makes for higher quality in a video or audio file.

HTPC: Home Theater Personal Computer. Need I say more? I sure hope not.

PVR: Short for Personal Video Recorder. A device that records video similar to a VCR. A PVR utilizes digital video recording unlike a VCR which is analog.
Examples of PVR: TIVO and ReplayTV

CBR: Constant Bit Rate. CBR encoding means that the file gets encoded with a constant Bitrate. These types of files are usually represented by constant file sizes and file quality.

VBR: Variable Bit Rate. VBR encoding ensures high quality because of bit allocation decisions during encoding. This means the Bitrate varies depending of the complexity of the file at that second.

VCD: Video Compact Disc. This is somewhat similar to the DVD. It isn’t as widely implemented in North America as it is in Asia. The standard was formed in 1993 by a group of Japanese electronics manufacturers. It uses the MPEG 1 file format at a constant bit rate. This quality is roughly similar to VHS quality.

SVCD: Super Video Compact Disk. This is an enhanced version of the VCD format that uses constant or variable Bitrate with an MPEG 2 format.

DVD: Digital Versatile/Video Disc. A newer version of the Compact Disc which can hold about 4.7 Gigabytes or more. It is usually used to store MPEG 2 format.

VOB: Video Object. This is the data file used in the DVD format to deliver video, audio and graphics.
 
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