DVR Review

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Why Buy a DVR?

In the heart of the average American home, there stands a television, glowing with the promise of entertainment. We gather around it, ingesting world news reports, aching for forbidden love and laughing along with our favorite comedians. Believe it or not, there once was a time when catching your favorite show meant scheduling your activities around the desired program. Thanks to the genius behind digital video recorders, (DVRs) those days are gone. With a DVR your TV watching can be programmed around your schedule, instead of the other way around. And you can use it with or without a cable or satellite subscription. A DVR can be scheduled to record different programs throughout the day and then those recorded shows can be played back, just like a movie, whenever it is convenient for you. You can skip passed commercials, cruise by sappy love scenes or watch a winning touchdown in slow motion. To help you pick the right DVR for your home, we’ve written articles on DVRs to help you narrow down the selection.

DVRs: What to Look For

When you have a DVR gracing your entertainment center, TV watching becomes an art form. With remote in hand, you must schedule shows in a graceful pattern – making sure you record everyone’s favorite shows with minimal overlap. The best DVRs make this process easy with simultaneous recording and a large hard drive. Our favorites are the TiVo Premiere XL4, the TiVo Premiere 4 and DirecTV’s HMC HD. These three products have excelled in our side-by-side comparison of the best DVRs, performing well in the following criteria:

Functionality
A product is only as good as the sum of its moving parts, and a DVR is no different. The most important functional elements under a DVR’s hood are the hard drive space, simultaneous recording options and available recorded hours. Depending on the amount of TV you watch, you’ll want enough space to record and save your favorite shows. If you have more than one TV show airing at the same time, you’ll also want the option to simultaneously record multiple shows at once.

Compatibility
Non-cable subscribers need to keep a careful eye on the compatibility options of their preferred DVR. You will want it to work with your television, whether standard or high definition and be able to access free, over-the-air channels. If you are a cable subscriber and don’t want to use the provided DVR, look for a unit that is compatible with all cable providers.

Access
DVRs can access more than just the cable TV you subscribe to. They can access online video services like Hulu, Netflix and Amazon Instant Video and even photo sharing sites like Photobucket and Flickr. If you don’t subscribe to cable, make sure the unit can pull free channels from over-the-air broadcasts (analog) and unscrambled digital signals.

Help & Support
A good help and support base is necessary when choosing the best DVR. These recording devices are fairly complex, and if you run into trouble, you’ll want a manufacturer who has responsive tech support in the form of live chat, email or phone support.

So many good TV shows, so little time. Stop wasting your precious time by enlisting the help of a DVR. With its recording power, you can skip past commercials and unwanted content and head straight for the good stuff.

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Electronics » TV » DVR Review
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Rank #1#2#3#4#5#6#7#8#9#10
10-9  Excellent
8-6    Good
5-4    Average
3-2    Poor
1-0    Bad
TiVo Premiere XL4 TiVo Premiere 4 DirecTV HMC HD Dish Network ViP722k Dual TiVo Premiere DirecTV Plus HD HD HomeRun Dual Magnavox Channel Master Hauppauge HD PVR
TiVo Premiere XL4 TiVo Premiere 4 DirecTV HMC HD Dish Network ViP722k Dual TiVo Premiere DirecTV Plus HD HD HomeRun Dual Magnavox Channel Master Hauppauge HD PVR
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Lowest Price
Visit TiVo Premiere XL4
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Visit TiVo Premiere
Visit DirecTV Plus HD
Visit HD HomeRun Dual
Visit Magnavox MDR515H
Visit Channel Master
Visit Hauppauge HD PVR
Ratings
9.63
9.00
8.70
8.45
8.25
8.07
8.00
7.95
7.38
6.00
10
9
8
7
6
5
4
3
2
1
10.00
8.75
9.38
10.00
8.75
8.75
9.38
10.00
9.38
8.75
7.50
7.50
9.38
8.75
5.00
10.00
7.50
9.38
8.13
10.00
8.13
7.50
7.50
10.00
7.50
8.13
9.38
7.50
8.13
10.00
5.63
7.50
7.50
5.00
9.38
7.50
5.00
8.75
5.00
7.50
 
Functionality
Hard Drive Space 2 TB 500 GB 1 TB 500 GB 500 GB 500 GB NA 500 GB 320 GB NA
Simultaneous Recording/Tuners 4 4 5 4 2 2 1 1 2 1
Recorded Hours 300 75 200 55 75 100 NA 75 35 NA
Usage Fee
    
Multi-Room Streaming
  
Parental Control
 
 
Record Live TV
 
Pause
Rewind
Slow-mo
    
Schedule Recordings
Instant Replay
    
Remote Control
 
Fast-Forward
Replaces Cable Box
  
  
  
Compatibility
HD TVs
Standard Definition TVs
Most Cable Providers
  
  
 
Satellite   
 
 
  
Over-the-Air Stations     
 
Access
Picasa
 
   
 
YouTube
 
 
 
Photobucket/Flickr
 
 
 
Podcaster
 
   
 
Pandora
 
  
 
App for Mobile Devices
 
 
 
Digital Channels
  
 
Hulu
  
     
Amazon Instant Video
  
     
Netflix
  
     
Satellite Channels   
 
 
  
On Demand   
      
VUDU         
 
Analog Channels     
  
Output
1080p
HDMI
 
Component Video
 
Composite Video
 
Optical Audio
 
 
Analog Audio
  
  
Input
USB 2.0 2 2 2 2 2 2    2 1
Cable Coax
Ethernet
 
E-SATA
  
 
Phone Jack   
 
    
Antenna Coax     
 
Help & Support
Warranty 1 Year 1 Year No 1 Year 1 Year No 1 Year 1 Year 1 Year 2 Years
Email
 
FAQs
Phone
 
 
Live Support
 
     
Money Back Guarantee