When you get a new toy like the iPad you want to integrate it with the rest of your setup which for me means getting it to play nicely with Windows Media Center. Out of box there is no easy way to get recorded TV across to the iPad but it’s not completely impossible. I am sure there are many different ways of tackling the problem but I am just going to look at one solution for now. There method I am using is one that we discussed on The Media Center Show a couple of weeks ago called Aleesoft, this application is designed to convert video files to iPad, iPhone or iPod formant.
Aleesoft is pretty simple to use, you just select the files or folders you want converting and it will create an mp4 versions of the files. If you have a ripped DVD you can point Aleesoft at the folder and it will convert the vob files to mp4 which you can then add to iTunes and send to your device, it will also convert other video files and this is where it can work with Media Center.
Since Windows Media Center Vista TV Pack the file format for recorded TV files is WTV, its the same in Windows 7 and unfortunately this format does not work with Aleesoft’s iPad converter. The good news is that it will work with the older DVR-MS format that Windows XP Media Center and Windows Vista used and Windows 7 does have the ability to convert WTV files to the older DVR-MS format.
So the first step is to download and install the free Aleesoft software, I used the default install options which worked fine. The next step is to convert a WTV to DVR-MS and you can do this my right clicking on a WTV file in Windows Explorer and selecting “Convert to .DVR-MS format”
Depending on the file length the conversion can take some time, I found an hour show can take around 30 minutes
Once the conversion is complete this is the first step done and the next step is to use the Aleesoft app to convert it to mp4
Open the application and add the dvr-ms file to the file list and then click on the convert button. I found that a two hour movie could take 6 hours, it didn’t take this long for a DVD file so it must be an issue with the recorded TV files. One thing I did notice is that Aleesoft runs under admin rights so you will get the UAC prompt when you run the app
Once Aleesoft has completed you can copy the completed mp4 file and add it to iTunes watched videos folder and from iTunes you can sync the file with an iPad. There is the option to select other output formats but the default seemed to work fine for me.
The main issues is the amount of time taken to convert the files, plus there are multiple steps involved so its not something you can do quickly so hopefully I will find a better solution but this works for now. Oh and it does not work with DRMed files so no copy protected TV shows
If you know of a better solution let me know