I get the Dish 622 DVR unit when I order HD programming from Dish. I assume the dvr unit will record HD programming in “squeezed” mode to a hard drive inside the unit.
No, the DVR records the actual data-stream off the satellite, so it’s in HD on the hard drive. When you play it back it’s the same as watching the HD program. Same for SD programs, they are recorded in SD. The DVR will hold about 35 hrs of HD programming, or a couple hundred hours of SD programming. Your DVD recorder will be recording the actual monitor-out from the receiver - what you see on the TV.
The squeezed 4:3 image is created by the satellite box in the output stage on the SVHS and composite video outs. There’s no need to do re-authoring of the “squeezed” recordings on your PC unless you want the ability to watch them on BOTH 4:3 and 16:9 monitors. If you want a letterboxed picture, just set the satellite box to output that in the first place and record it that way.
The only real difference between a 4:3 image and a 16:9 image is in a little digital “flag” that tells the playback device to display it that way. You can change that little flag and trick the playback device into stretching 4:3 to 16:9. Your HD monitor can do the same thing, just by changing the aspect ratio with the remote. DVD players have a similar function, where you tell the player what type of monitor you have and it will then treat the different aspect ratios accordingly and/or letterboxing the image as needed.
Anamorphic more or less means that the image is 16:9, not letterboxed into 4:3, (as a lot of programming is). So if you have an anamorphic 16:9 image on DVD, then it will display as either 16:9 or letterboxed 4:3, depending on the monitor and DVD player in use. An image that’s letterboxed into 4:3 on the disc can only be displayed as a letterboxed 4:3 image. Confused yet?
Some DVD editing and authoring software can treat a 4:3 image as though is was 16:9, and create a 16:9 image simply by stretching it out. Other software cannot do this and will only create 16:9 from 16:9. Others will do it, but will re-encode the video with a resulting loss of quality and a very slow process.
I use TMPGEnc-Author, because it lets me set the input video to 16:9 regardless of what aspect it is, and creates a 16:9 DVD without re-encoding the image. I then have an true anamorphic 16:9 image that will display correctly on any DVD player or monitor.
If you will only want to watch the recordings on a 16:9 monitor, then just record the squeezed image and leave it that way. When playing the DVD you only need to set the monitor to stretch it out to 16:9. (full screen mode)
This all seems confusing, I know. Once you have the hardware and play around a bit, it’ll start to make sense. One of the nice things about having the 622 DVR receiver is that if you screw up the DVD recording, you can just re-do it from the DVR.