In the days of analogue TV, VCRs were the go. Then came DVD recorders, and hard drive recorders. Now we see lots of Personal Video Recorders or Digital Video Recorders advertised in stores. So what’s a Personal Video Recorder?
A Personal Video Recorder is basically the same thing as a Hard Drive Recorder and a Digital Video Recorder. What’s that? Well it’s a video recorder that allows you to record TV programs to a computer hard drive inside the recorder unit. This means there’s no tape or disc required, all the storage is internal.
Personal Video Recorders have a lot of features that make them far easier to use than old VCRs used to be. They use Electronic Program Guides thats are broadcast over the air by TV Stations or published on the internet by other companies such as IceTV. This means that setting a TV show to record can be as simple as moving the onscreen pointer to the program you want to record and pressing Ok. Recording a whole series is just as simple, with the PVR automatically setting each episode to record.
Beyond these basic features, many PVRs are capable of playing various forms of internet video. Most will be able to access YouTube videos and other popular video site content. Some will also handle Catch-Up TV services run by many networks. Many claim to have “apps” like Apple iOS or Android phones. However these number of “apps” available on most PVRs is very limited.
What to look for
Number of Tuners
Many PVRs on the market will offer twin tuners or even quad(4) tuners. A single tuner recorder can only record one program at a time. A twin tuner recorder can record two shows at the same time. A quad tuner recorder can record four different channels at the same time!
Hard Drive Capacity
The size of the hard drive governs how much you can store on the recorder at a time. 500GB is the minimum I’d recommend for this type of recorder, but 1TB(1000GB) is better, particularly if you want to record high definition.
Digital TV Format Handling
Always go for a PVR that can record HD channels and MPEG4 channels. Some older units may not be able to handle MPEG4 Digital TV Channels.
Freeview or Freeview Plus
The Freeview branding indicates a certain basic feature set will be available. Freeview Plus gives you access to the internet based catch up services that TV networks now run.
What Brands are Available?
The main brands of Personal Video Recorders are Humax, Strong and Thompson. These companies tend to be better known overseas. TiVo is also another major brand, although they haven’t taken off as much as they did in the US. There are lots of other generic PVRs. Lots of brands of Digital Set Top Boxes will record programs to USB storage, but they aren’t as feature rich as dedicated PVRs.
Where to Buy?
You can find Personal Video Recorders(PVRs) and hard drive recorders at most department stores, electrical appliance retailers or in the DVR, Hard Drive Recorders category on eBay.