Windows Media Center 7 saves files by default to the .wtv format. This format is capable of storing the highest quality broadcast. The only problem is that it is not compatible with some programs written for previous versions of Windows Media Center (such as Lifextender which only works with the .dvr-ms format). Lifextender allows all my recorded TV to have the commercials completely removed from all my files without pressing a button. I need to use WtvWatcher if I want to use Lifextender to remove commercials. Lifextender is unable to process the default Windows Media Center 7 formatted files, so WtvWatcher converts the file to a format Lifextender can work with.
Microsoft has included a .wtv to .dvr-ms converter with it’s Media Center, but it is only capable of converting one file at a time, and it is a manual process. WtvWatcher uses this utility by finding the files that need converting, and sending them to be processed. WtvWatcher looks after this job very well. It sits in your task tray and converts all your recorded video to the dvr-ms format. I have been using this software for well over a year and found it to be very reliable and stable.
From what I can make out, the two formats are identical, but the .wtv format can handle a broadcast format that is rarely used. This is why I have not noticed any drop in the quality of recorded TV, once the conversion has taken place.
There are very few settings. Simply point WtvWatcher to the folder that contains your recorded TV. It will do the rest. You will want to ensure you create a shortcut to WtvWatcher.exe in your startup folder so that it loads when the computer boots up.
I have used version 126.96.36.199 for this review. I tried the latest updates but had poor results. It is worth trying the newest version and downgrading back to this version if it doesn’t work for you. If you downgrade, you will want to untick the Check for Updates tick box in the preferences.
WtvWatcher is available for free from codeplex.