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Video capture cards allow a video signal to be sent directly to your computer. From there you can record to your hard drive like a DVR or TiVo would record from your television. Cards that allow you to record to your hard drive may also allow you to pause and rewind live television broadcasts as well.
Many videophiles will use capture cards in video editing processes. There are internal and external cards available. Internal cards will typically boast more advanced features, though external ones are appealing for their ease of use. Simply plug them into a USB or Firewire port and power supply to get started.
The inputs and outputs available will vary between each model, but most newer ones, especially ones that can be used as DVRs, will come with coaxial, S-Video and Firewire.
Typically a video capture card will come with software designed specifically for it. This software allows you to watch television or other video signals and then burn them to DVD. Some cards have interchangeable software and some do not, so make sure to check what comes with yours.