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What is a DVR?

The digital video recorder, more commonly known as the DVR, has changed the way that people enjoy television. This device, which was first shown at consumer electronics shows back in 1999, began rising in popularity by 2006, and today has become a fixture in almost every house. The DVR works to record the programs that the owner requests of it so that the owner doesn’t have to be home and in front of their TV to watch their favorite shows.

The device typically comes standard with most cable TV service packages and is included along with a set-top box. The DVR works through its own built-in hard drive that hooks up to your set-top box. Various encoders or tuners can take the footage from your TV and send it straight to the DVR’s hard drive. The footage also goes to the decoder, which typically handles MPEG-2 footage. The decoder sends the footage recorded through the hard drive back to your television.

Any DVR, no matter the brand, only contains so much hard drive space. You can access the recorded shows on your TV through a DVR-specific menu. In this menu, you will typically see a percentage of how much hard drive space is left. Once that space is full of TV shows, the DVR can no longer function. At that point, you will have to clear the shows on the DVR in order to continue recording your favorite programs.

DVRs also have limitations in regards to how many shows that the device can record at one consecutive time. Generally, a DVR cannot record more than two shows at the same time. In the case of you wishing to catch three shows all in the same timeslot, like primetime, you would have to record two of them and watch one of them live. If two shows are not on at the very same time, then the DVR can record plenty of programs throughout the day, limited only by the amount of shows already on the hard drive. Even better, you can begin to watch recorded shows while they record. You don’t even have to bother waiting until the recording has finished to enjoy. DVRs also banish commercials; you can pause, skip ahead, or go back with a recording so that you never have to see a commercial again unless you want to. This is great if you want to re-watch any portion of a show as well.

Unlike VCRs, or videocassette recorders, DVRS require no physical tapes to capture your favorite shows. This saves you time if you want to record in a pinch, and it also saves you money that you won’t have to spend on tapes. However, you cannot add extra space onto the DVR hard drive at any time, so you are somewhat limited by that amount of space. If space limitations truly present an issue in your household, you can always speak with your cable company about possibly upgrading your DVR to a unit with more hard drive space.

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