What is DVR/PVR?

When the VCR rose to popularity, one of its most appealing features was the ability to record and playback television programming, a feature that provided ease and convenience to the average television watcher. Now that the VCR is becoming a thing of the past and new technology is developing, we have designed the digital video recorder, or the DVR, to perform the same basic functions as the VCR.

DVRs, also called personal video recorders or PVRs for short, is a device which records television programs and data in a digital format, whereas the VCR recorded programs in the analog format. Basically, video data is encoded and saved on a built-in hard drive in formats known as MPEG-1 or MPEG-2. Just like VCR recordings, DVR machines have the ability to record, play back, fast forward, rewind, and pause television shows with ease. However, DVR recorders have the added abilities to jump ahead to any portion of the show you select without having to rewind or fast forward. Additionally, because the DVR has a hard drive of its own, it doesn't require additional hardware such as a video tape or DVD, which is a definite advantage to owning DVR recorders.

Choosing and purchasing a DVR system

When choosing a DVR system, you will want to consider two major things: what you're willing to pay and what you want out of your DVR. Typically, the cost of a DVR depends upon the amount of recording hours included, the size of the hard drive, and if they include a built-in DVD recorder. While recording data directly to a hard drive is great, DVD recorders are still in high demand and can be an added bonus to the standard DVR. Depending upon these features, DVRs can run anywhere from $100 to over $1000.

Typically a subscription service is included in the purchase of a DVR. The service provides the programming itself, and most cable and satellite providers offer DVR systems for reasonable monthly charges. Tivo is also a well-known DVR service, providing both the software and the system itself. When going through a cable or satellite subscription, the DVR itself is leased through the company and does not require an up-front payment. Like the VCR, DVR is quickly becoming a permanent fixture in many homes, due to its simple design, convenience, and potentially low cost.