Now youre in my neck of the woods Phreakski
Firstly, what capture software did you use? Most of those devices come with Ulead nowdays.
It really depends on whether you are planning to do this often.
As far as capture quality and device performance is concerned - it all comes down to one thing: Hardware vs Software MPEG2 encoding!
Most usb capture sticks use a software based encoder, they are slow, buggy whether you have sprung for a cheap asian generic one or a pricey one from belkin.
There are devices out there that have a dedicated processor onboard to handle the capture and encoding, this is called hardware mpeg2 encoding, or h-mpeg2 if you want to sound like an a-v nerd
The capture device defines the experience - even if you have a souped up pc, a crappy capture device will result in frowns. I tried one of those cheap capture sticks on my corei7 rig with 4gb DDR3, and it still performed hopelessly! H-mpeg2 is the key
You can get these capture boxes as external usb devices, or internal pci or even pci-e devices. Manufacturers Hauppauge are the leaders in the capture device market, and they often have tuners built into them.
For you over there in the US, you could go for something like the Hauppauge HVR-1950
. Here's the newegg listing
As this device has a tuner built in it can also capture TV, but that makes it more expensive of course. There used to be a tuner-less versions but they has been phased out - though you might get lucky and find one on fleabay.
As you have a laptop, I can't suggest the pci cards which would work out a bit cheaper. Does your lappie have a PCMCIA or express card slot??
Important things to remember:
Most(not all) DVRs actually capture the transport stream(digital tv) in its native mpeg2 format. Some newer satellite services are in MPEG4 of course. Hence if you are using a proggie/usb device to capture that stream in avi, then get back to Mpeg2(DVD), you are already introducing 2 stages of compression - which if you're into image quality - isn't ideal.
Secondly, what software did your usb device come with? Most commonly, its some version of Ulead DVD Maker that gets shipped with those things.
I personally do my capture within windows media center, but if you are just doing existing recordings on a DVR, could stick to ulead for the capture.
As for the edit and encode to DVD though, there is simply no better(IMHO) consumer level mpeg2 editor than VideoRedo.
The TV suite edition, allows you to do all your edits and output directly to dvd. Every htpc-er I know with a penchant for archiving their recordings uses this. It's super easy to use and has auto ad-detection/cut. (I set to find auto but not cut automatically to ensure accuracy)
If that is a bit too much pricewise, you could try the Kworld DVD Maker devices, which come with a much better software bundle(from cyberlink), but they will always have the same limitations of a software based encoder.