Full user review
"A Must Have with WinTV Editing (WTV)"
- Reads and Writes in native .WTV format
- Commercial Scanner (Ad-Detective)
- Very Fast compared to all else I have tried
- Very Easy to use for basic functions
- Many output formats supported, mainly WTV
- Batch Manager for doing shows in batches
- Access to all the behind the curtain dials for those that need/like all that...
- Needs Channel and Show Profiles for Ad-Detective
- Could use more system resources to speed things up furhter
Overall this really does a great job and while I had a couple, they are more nice to haves.
My rating is in the context I use the application and that is 99% of the time, to remove commercials from shows recorded from Windows Media Center (WMC), then to be able to watch them using WMC. Occaisionally I covert so I can play something on my phone or the kindle, but most of the time, we just watch on the home theater thought my HTPC and then delete them.
The real gem in this package is that it works with native Windows Media Center TV, specifically the .WTV file format used by Microsoft when you record TV.
I have not found another program the fully deals with WTV files native and no sneaking around converting behind the curtains or making you convert first. That one difference make this lightning fast compared to all others out their when dealing with WTV files, the rest have to convert it first. This lack of conversion also means you get the same quality on the output as you get before you chop out ads or edit whatever you want.
If your main use is to watch and toss the show, then converting formats is the last thing you want to do, a 30 minute HD TV recording rund from 2-4GB, hour show 4-8GB, 2 hour movie can hit 20GB, and it takes time just to move files that size, much less convert formats. So that is the first 5 Star feature.
When you first fire it up the options are a little daunting, there are a LOT of config and tweaks you can do, I did not want my PhD in video editing so I just loaded a WTV file, taking the default settings (since there were so many I decided to leave them all alone). Since then I have messed with some, mostly distributing the Disk I/O load by defining different drives and controllers, just added a SSD and I do all editing on the SSD now. So another 5 Star for the controls and that you don't need to use them in most cases.
I loaded a recording of Fringe (HD recording), recorded from a Ceton InfinTV Digital Tuner card (4 digital cable ready/MCard), through WMC. It took only seconds to open and show me the first frame of the recording.
I ran the ad-detective and a few minutes later it had marked everything it thought was a commercial, from there it is a simple matter of jumping from mark to mark and either cutting between them or moving on. Once you have marked the commercials you just save it, and it saves the show out perfectly with the selected cuts removed, the transitions are seamless, no artifacts. You can also optionally burn it to DVD or convert formats.
I have been using it daily for about a year now and keep an eye out for something better, which brought my by here today, and still nothing, this just continues to be best in class for WTV files. I used the tuning on this show feature to get my commercial scan base line and then made a few adjustments over time and it is pretty tight now.
You can tell it to automatically mark and cut the commercials, but only if you are ok with occasional mistakes, that is where it marked something as a commercial that was not. To "see" commercials it really looks for full or partial black frames, and with a year under my belt I can tell you that the broadcasters are getting pretty savvy masking commercials, and then there is show content, like a fade to black or a black part of a scene, someone turns off the lights type of thing. I let it mark up a batch and then go chech the marks as adjust as needed.
I do not think short of Watson (IBM AI) these programs will ever nail commercials 100%, to really know what a commercial is you need to understand the content in context (a lot of shows now show ads for themselves while the show is on, so the content is the same as the show, but the context is wrong, no 50 buck program is going to pick that up.
Two reasons you can fly through these Part of the reason you can fly through the marked shows so fast is how fast and easy to use the editor is and over time you start to pick on patterns, I know NBC, CBS, ABC, SCYFY so well that I can tell the rogue marks at a glance (commercial marks in the actual show). If I could profile by channel, the Ad-Detective would be a lot better, but you only get one profile, I tuned it so it is 95+% accurate in the main channels, but I think 98% is easily possible with channel as well as show profiles.
Sometimes I skip the Ad-Detective for prime time shows I know the pattern well for, and clear a 1 hour show in a few minutes, making it well worth the effort. A typical 1 hour show is 40 minutes of content, 30 minute show is 19 minutes, bigger TV movies, especially 3 hour movies have over an hour of commercials and "extras".
I can't say much about using it to convert formats, so far on what I have done worked very well, but I pretty much use this just for editing and occasionally burning a DVD.
Now for some cons, or really, improvers as this is already 5 star, but it has room for improvement. As noted, if you could have a profile for Ad-Detective by channel at minimum and better would be to have individual show profiles also.
As almost everything I record is HD, 720i the performance could use some work. Going to SSD helped some, but it would be nice if it look at how much RAM you have and use it, I have 24GB on my system, so most shows would fit in RAM making the scanning a lot faster. It also does most the scan work on a single core, it seems it should be able to divide the work up and take X percentage of the show against its own core. So it seems with the SSD I have actually gone past what the program can out-run, so to go faster the program will have to go faster. Still we are talking time frames in minutes, not hours, so this is why I could not ding it on performance. Would also be nice to be able to burn a Blu-Ray directly from the app but given I do that a few times a year tops it is nice to have.
This is one of those rare programs you stumble across that just works great, does everything it claims to do, and does it very well, the controls are perform for the application, whoever designed the UI had to have a lot of editing under their belt, to make it so simple for those of us with no video experience other than watching. This is central to my HTPC and MMC and should be in the toolkit of everyone recording TV with WMC.