What is a DVR or Digital Video Recorder?

A DVR, which is an acronym for “digital video recorder”, is a device that records and stores television programs in real time. It operates much like a video cassette recorder (VCR) but without the hassle of carrying tapes and putting them in order. The digital system is usually part of a cable service plan and is sometimes even built into a television. Users can tell the device to save or record certain programs, which are stored on a hard drive or a cloud server owned by the network. People often use this service to record shows when they’re away from home, but it can also be useful while a show is actually playing, as it often lets you pause, rewind, and fast forward. So people can re-watch the action they missed, and they can usually quickly flip through the commercials as well. The service can be expensive and recordings are usually not permanent; in most cases, they disappear when a person’s cable subscription ends, and they can also be erased or deleted in the event of a power outage or other server error. Still, the device is becoming more and more popular and as technology changes, many of the issues are being improved.

A DVR records television programming similar to a VCR, but uses a hard drive instead of a videotape.

Basics of Operation

It is usually quite simple to operate one of these devices. In most cases, they are linked to the main television or entertainment system via a series of cables or other digital connections and are accessible via a “main menu” screen on the television or via a special control function. remote. Typically, users can make their selections and set their programming selections on the TV screen, rather than manually programming the device buttons. Shows can usually be selected by title or time period, and in most cases the only thing a person needs to do is tell the machine to record – setting exact start and end times is usually not necessary as the device you can usually set them based on the length of the show’s schedule.

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DVRs can be used to burn information to CDs.

Accessing stored programs is usually just as easy. Users typically go to a main menu or “library” to see a list of stored programs that can be watched continuously. Titles are usually organized by date, but can also be coordinated by title, series, or episode number. Many systems also have separate menus for shows and movies.

DVRs can store more content than a VCR tape and the content will be better quality.


There are many advantages to using a DVR. First, the picture quality is considerably better than VCR recordings and is always consistent. The digital format also allows video archiving and data transfer to a computer, CD or DVD. The convenient search function allows users to quickly find the specific show or scene they want to watch. The device can be programmed to record an entire season of a television program, and it is even possible to watch the first half of a program while the DVR continues to record the second half – or to watch a program on one channel while the device records a different from each other.

DVRs allow viewers to record TV shows to watch later.

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One of the most popular features of this device is its ability to fast forward or skip commercials. It also allows users to pause, and replay live television. Since the machine is connected to the Internet, either through a direct link or a digital cable package, users may be able to access and view their favorite shows from anywhere in the world using a computer and a DVR remote monitoring feature. This may cost extra and may not be available with all plans.

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Depending on how the device is set up, though, accessibility is usually universal throughout the house where the connection is situated. It’s usually possible to watch several stored shows simultaneously on different screens — so one person can watch one show in the den, while someone else watches something totally different in the bedroom. It’s also common to start a program on one device, pause it, then pick it back up later on a different screen around the house.

“Smart” Programming

Some recording packages also come with what is known as “smart” recording or programming options. In these instances, the device will automatically record shows that are similar to shows the user has actually instructed it to record. Cable companies often use this as a way to introduce viewers to new series or programs that they might be interested in, based upon their prior tastes and preferences. This can be a great feature for busy people, but others are annoyed by it, especially if it takes up a lot of storage memory. In most cases the smart programming option can be disabled by switching it off in the device’s settings menu.


Not all digital video recorders support High Definition television (HDTV) broadcasts, although this is more commonly a problem with older devices created before HDTV became more commonplace. Devices that don’t support high definition can usually still record the shows, but the clarity isn’t as good — though in some cases the recording itself simply can’t happen, and all that comes up is an error message.

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Digital recorders also typically require a subscription, either with a company that provides the specific services or with a satellite or cable television company. Fees are often billed monthly, usually bundled into the larger cable bill, and any lapses in payment can clear the cache. Programs are also sometimes inadvertently deleted at the server level if there’s a problem at the cable company, and any time people’s cable boxes malfunction stored shows can be lost. Power outages or surges can cause similar issues.

It’s usually fairly simple to operate the DVR.

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