What is a DVR or Digital Video Recorder?

A DVR records television programming similar to a VCR but uses a hard drive rather than a videotape.
DVRs can store more content than a VCR tape, and the content will have better quality.
DVRs can be used to record information on CDs.
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  • Written By: T Thompson
  • Edited By: L. S. Wynn
  • Last Modified Date: 09 September 2014
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A DVR or functions a lot like a VCR, except that it uses a hard drive to record, as opposed to videotapes. This means that there aren't any tapes to cue, and there is more recording time available. Like with a VCRs, users can record television shows by entering information such as channel, time, and date into a recording menu. In most cases, a menu listing upcoming programming must be downloaded from a remote server. In order to connect to the server, a dedicated phone line or high speed Internet connection is needed, along with Internet service.

There are many advantages to using a DVR. First, the image quality is considerably better than VCR recordings, and it is always consistent. The digital format also allows for video archiving and the transfer of data to a computer, CD, or DVD. The convenient search function allows users to quickly locate the show, or specific scene, that they want to watch. The device can be programmed to record an entire season of a television show, and it is even possible to watch the first half of a show while the DVR continues to tape the second half.


One of the most popular features of this device is its ability to fast forward or skip commercials. It also allows users to pause, fast forward, rewind, or replay live television. Since the machine is connected to the Internet, 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.

One of the few drawbacks to digital video recorders is that some do not support High Definition television (HDTV) broadcasts, although this has changed in recent years as HDTVs become more popular. They also typically require a subscription, either with a company that provides the specific services or with a satellite or cable television company, many of which offer DVRs to their customers for a fee.


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Discuss this Article

Post 23

@LisaLou – It is amazing, isn't it! I can watch a two-hour show in not much more than an hour because I can speed through all the commercials.

While this is a wonderful feature, I have to say that my favorite thing about the DVR is being able to pause the show whenever I need to go to the kitchen, the bathroom, or to get the laundry out of the washer.

I get so much done in the middle of my show without missing any of it. Before, I would miss the best parts because I had to run a quick errand.

Post 22

I have one issue with my DVR system. I have two in my house, so I can record twice as many shows if they come on simultaneously, but if there are three shows I want to record that are on at the same time, I cannot record all three.

I know that there are other recorders available that let you record more shows at once. I just wish that my DVR had this capability, because I really don't want to buy another device.

Post 21

@sunshined – It all depends on who you get your DVR service through. I got in on an introductory deal with my satellite provider, and I only have to pay $6 a month for my DVR.

I think that if you were going through some other avenue, you might wind up paying more. It's worth checking into, though, because as DVRs become more commonplace, they also become more affordable.

This is the same thing that happened with CD players. I remember them being so expensive when they were new that no one in my family could afford one, but now that they are so common, they are affordable.

Post 20

I have no internet connection and no phone line, but I still have a DVR system. Mine runs through my satellite service.

Post 19

How much does it cost to have a DVR service? I have seen this advertised through the cable and satellite companies but have wondered if it is worth the extra expense or not. I don't want to start paying for something that I never use very often.

Post 18

I have lots of favorite shows but little time to watch all of them. I will set up my DVR to automatically record them for me so I don't have to try to remember to do it each week.

A DVR is so much more convenient than messing with bulky VCR tapes and the quality is much better as well. Most of the shows I watch just watch one time and then don't save them.

Some of the shows I record on my DVR I never have time to watch so just delete them and don't worry about it. It is still nice to have the option to convert any shows I have recorded to a DVD for future keeping.

Post 17

When you can sit down and watch a show without watching all the commercials it is amazing how little time it actually takes. A 30 minute TV show usually has about 10 minutes of commercials in it so that really cuts down on the amount of time.

That is one the biggest things I love about my DVR. I get so tired of watching the same commercials over and over again and love to be able to skip right over them.

Post 16

@anon81305-- It is pretty easy to copy a movie from your DVR to a DVD so you have a hard copy of it. It would be hard to explain exactly how to do it because every DVR would have slightly different instructions. There should be a set of instructions on how to do this in the manual you got when you got your DVR. If there is a certain movie I know I want to keep I like to copy it on to a DVD so I know I will always have a copy of it.

Post 15

If a DVR is not compatible with HDTV (considering getting one for Christmas) what would? And what would allow me to view from netflix, etc?

Post 10

what other equipment (cables, wires, etc) do you need to hook up a dvr to your tv.

Post 9

i want to copy a movie over from my dvr to a dvd.

Post 8

I want to make video conference 1:1.

Can I use two CC TV Cameras and one DVR card with two PCs? If possible then send me the method please.

Ghosh, Howrah, India

Post 7

how i can connect my DVR? tell me please.

Post 6

I have not paid to convert our cable input to digital. I assume that the cable is converting the new digital standard signal to analog when they send the signal into our home. Assuming this is correct, does a DVR convert this analog signal into digital or do I need to pay for a digital signal through our cable company to record on a DVR?

Post 5

How do I connect the wireless cam to the vcr and T.V.?

Post 4

I also would like to know will I be able to use a DVR when all I have is an cable or dish?

Post 3

I just bought a Sony DVD/VCR (SLV_-380P). The problem is that I don't have cable tv, only a dishnet digital to analog converter box. So what I am wondering is, is there something that I could get to make this work?

Post 2

Is there a device that incorporates DVR and DVD capabilities in one unit?

Post 1

will i be able to use a DVR when all i have is an antenna? no cable or dish.

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