What's Old Is New In DVR Technology


One of the most popular features of today’s high tech satellite television systems is digital video recording, or DVR. With DVR, you can record shows that you want to watch and watch them any time you want, as many times as you want. This technology is one of the biggest selling points for people interested in upgrading their satellite or cable television service to something new.

Early DVRs: TiVo and Replay TV

DVR has been around in some shape or form for quite a while. The earliest DVR systems made quite a splash when they entered the market in 1999. The two main competitors at this time were TiVo and ReplayTV. Replay TV is not around anymore, but it had features that still excite consumers today, over thirteen years later. For example, Replay TV offered automatic commercial skipping, and allowed you to record shows and share them over the internet, a feature that is not a part a today’s market due to the legal trouble that ReplayTV went through as media companies sued them.

Thankfully, some of the innovative features of ReplayTV still exist in today’s DVR market. All DVRs let users skip over recorded commercials with the press of a button. Some DVRs even do it automatically, such as DISH Network’s popular and controversial Hopper DVR. All you have to do is tell the DVR that you want to skip the commercials, and then every commercial is skipped for that show by deleting the commercial break.

New DVRs: bigger hard drives, record more shows at once

Other improvements in DVR technology include more hard drive space available for recordings and a larger number of shows that you can record at once. The hard drive improvements allow you to keep many more shows on your DVR to watch and rewatch. It also makes it more practical to record full movies or sporting events and watch them later. On an older DVR, a four hour football game in HD would quickly fill up your DVR’s memory and leave you unable to record any other shows until you deleted it.

The improvement to the number of shows that you can record goes great with the increased hard drive space. In some older or cheaper DVR units, you can only record one show at a time while watching other channels. If you tried to record two shows, it would force you to watch one of the shows that was being recorded. New DVRs can record much more at once, as many as six for some units. This allows you to make sure that you can get all of your favorite shows, especially during prime time, where many popular shows are on at the same time.

Future DVRs: What’s Next?

The DVR is a rapidly evolving piece of hardware that is growing along with the satellite and cable companies that provide them. It’s easy to wonder about future developments. Will some of the powerful features that the ReplayTV had, such as sharing recorded TV over the Internet, come back? Or will there be brand new features, like increased integration with computers as cable and satellite providers offer more and more content online and on-demand.

Preston Barryknoll writes about satellite television and technology.

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