Digital Video Recorders

DVRs (digital video recorders) are similar to a cable box or a digital seton card. So what's the catch? DVRs are usually synonymous with Tivo Series 3 HD Digital Media Recorder. It has enjoyed favorable reviews from PC Magazine and others.

How to Choose

* '''Price'''. How much can you afford to spend and how much will much usage will you get for your dollar? Just because you ''can'' spend $1000 on a DVR doesn't necessarily mean that you should. Think about how much recording capacity you actually need. Also consider buying the box and the service together as a promotional deal and save. ** '''Buy'''. The most basic models can store up to 40 hours of recordings on an 80GB hard drive. Tivo offers the box alone for $30-$50 but that won't include service. Upgrade to 80 hours of recordings plus a year of service and pay around $150 for the box. A 300 hour box normally would run $300 or more, but you can get it as a package with the service and knock the price down to $200. For $249, you can also buy a Humax DVD Recorder with TiVo which comes with ability to burn DVDs as well as an 80 GB hard drive. ** '''Rent'''. For slightly more money a month as part of your service fee you can get a box without paying any initial cost. The DVR will not belong to you, but remain the property of the provider. However, you can use it just as you would a DVR that you bought to keep. * '''Storage'''. How many hours do you need compared to price? ** '''40 hours''': You tend to watch sitcoms or other short shows and usually won't watch them twice so you can delete them after watching them. You are also less concerned with the recording quality. ** '''80 hours''': It takes you a while to get around to watching TV but you want to see the show at some point and maybe you are not the only one in the household who wants to record shows for later viewing. ** '''300 hours''': Movies, long programs, and sports are your favorite things to watch and record. You may also have a large screen TV, so high recording quality is of the essence. * '''Versatility'''. A slightly pricier option, which is starting to develop, is a combination DVD recorder plus DVR. It will cost substantially more than a model without DVD compatibility and the same storage capacity. However, it allows you to burn the shows that you record. * '''Compatibility'''. Make sure that the DVR has all the necessary audio/video connections for your home theater setup. For better surround sound you should use digital optical or coaxial audio instead of composite (RCA) audio, and likewise for your TV, skip the composite (RCA) inputs and use S-Video or component inputs instead.


Many DVR's today do not yet support HDTV. Keep this in mind as you research various devices. There are a few on the market already that do support HD, and more are sure to follow. Look out for Slingbox which digitizes you cable or dish TV and streams it live over the Internet.  Connect to the Internet, run the Sling Media Software and watch your favorite shows anywhere in the WORLD.

PC Based DVR

You can also get DVR functionality out of your PC with a TV tuner card.  Here are some software suites to do the job and avoid a monthly fee: * * * * *