A DVR is basically a hard drive that can be connected to the computer and to other video sources such as a VCR. It has a tuner which captures the signal using a cable, antenna, or a satellite. The analog signals are compressed and converted into digital signals, which are then stored on the hard drive. A built-in MPEG-2 decoder converts the digital signal back into analog signal when it has to reach the television for viewing. Each DVR has an operating system within the hard drive.
There are several advantages to digital video recorders. They do not require a recording medium like tapes, as the data is stored on the DVR itself. Another main advantage is that the recording and playback can be done at the same time. Using this, even a live program on the TV can be paused, in the sense that the program can be recorded on the DVR and then viewed instead of the live program. However, the space within a DVR is limited, which is its main disadvantage. DVRs also have a live-TV buffer that keeps them in a constant recording mode for an hour or more.
Another interesting feature of DVRs is their search tool, which allows searching of a particular program by name of the program, name of the actors, or even by keywords. Some DVRs can be programmed to record some programs that have certain words in them. DVRs have recording capacities ranging from thirty hours to 320 hours. This also depends on the quality of the stored files.
The main categories of digital video recorders are TiVo, ReplayTV, and UltimateTV. Some of the top manufacturers of digital video recorders are LG, Panasonic, Philips, Pioneer, RCA, Samsung, Sonic Blue, and Sony. Prices range from $600 to $1,200 or more, depending on the brand, the model, and the options provided.
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