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What is a PVR or DVR?
You've probably seen the ads from cable and satellite companies offering DVR service. In addition, you've probably also heard devices referred to as PVRs, as well. What are they, and what's the difference?

DVR stands for Digital Video Recorder. It's a device that uses a computer hard drive to record video instead of tapes. In fact, DVRs are essentially small computers with the single task of managing your TV viewing. A PVR is the same as a DVR, except it's a term coined by TiVo (once seen as the gold standard for DVRs) to describe what they call a Personal Video Recorder. Esssentially, the unit is so able to be customized by the user, it becomes a very personal product.

A DVR is more than just a VCR. It not only records and plays shows, but organizes and maintains them, as well. Your recorded programs show up as an orderly list instead of a pile of unlabeled tapes, the device can usually track your shows when they change timeslots or are longer than usual and they can allow you to search for shows you've heard your friends talking about. PVRs like TiVo and UltimateTV can "subscribe" to shows, so you can narrow down exactly how you want them recorded. You can search for programming based on show titles, program descriptions and even actor names. This way, you'll never miss your favorite actor in any she he or she appears in.

One giant feature of a DVR is the ability to control when you watch shows, much more so than with a VCR. Not only can you record a show while watching another you recorded earlier, you can start watch the beginning of a recording while it's still in progress. With a VCR, you need to either tune in part way through or wait until the show is over if you get home shortly after the recording starts. Some DVRs have a skip foward feature that jumps you ahead 30 seconds, making bypassing commercials a snap. This can shorten the time it takes to watch shows, or allow you to catch up to live television while not missing anything if you tune in late. Finally, many DVRs offere dual tuners that can allow you to record two shows at once while viewing a third show recorded earlier. This can be a great help when season premiere time rolls around and you want to test drive those new shows.

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