I do not recommend USB video-capture cards but I have no experience to support this bias in the last 5 years. I’m sure they’re now magnificent wonderful Do-Everything units - at least, that’s their marketing hype.
For the internal cards, I consider the old Hauppage 1200-series ($60-ish) to have a great foundation - it’s own MPG processor, and it’s a single-input source for sole, dedicated processing. The 1600-series is an updated version, and has yielded several years of top quality video captures.
Then there are the newer Hauppage dual-channel cards (2200 series) which allows two input streams to be processed simultaneously. Their cost is also doubled.
If you can find an old ATI Theater Pro 500-to-650 with all the package parts included, it will have a ‘hydra head’ attachment to allow its single plug to connect to almost every video-input source available. Very nice, but these units have been out of production for a few years. A used one would not be a terrible option IF the attachments and the Base CD are included. [B]The Base CD is required for some updates to be installed[/B], by the way, yet the CD is only referred to during those update processes as “existing”, too - only an ID file is read, but nothing else is used on it. Grrr…
There are non-Hauppage cards, but almost everything under $70 will not have a hardware MPG encoder chip - it will all be software. The debate on this quality continues - I’d expect, at some point, that the video-results will be the same.
If I had to get a TV-recording PC, I’d find some cheap, used one with 2Gb of RAM, XP and go with a $60 Hauppage 1200 series. The resulting quality will not be altered by the PC - it’s only affected by the TV Capture Card. Now, processing the video - file conversions, etc - THOSE can be affected by the host PC.
That’s why God invented networks and 2nd computers.