Digital Video Recorders (DVRs) are one of the best solutions to commercial free TV. They provide you with the ability to watch and record a show at the same time.
DVRs allow you to watch a show and fast forward through the commercials. It is much easier than the old VCR method because the show is digitally recorded. This means no more slow rewind or fast forward wait times. A Digital Video Recorder can skip a 30 second segment with just a click of a button!
Imagine yourself sitting on the couch watching your favorite television show. All of the sudden you get blasted by loud, annoying, and repetitive commercial advertisements. Digital Video Recorders allow you to skip past the commercials. Imagine the time you will save by watching your favorite show while fast forwarding through the commercials by a few clicks of the remote.
The secret is to record a show and then start watching it 15 to 20 minutes later. This gives you a buffer so that you can fast forward through the commercials without catching up to live feed. Meaning, you can not fast forward into the future. You can only fast forward up to actual live broadcast. This is why you wait 15 to 20 minutes before watching the show. Take some time and get something to eat, put the kids to bed, make a phone call, or just use the time to relax. The show will still be there when you get done. This is simply the best way to watch TV!
The first two major players in the market were ReplayTV and TiVo. ReplayTV had some early struggles because of two features they included in their DVR. The first was a feature that allowed ReplayTV to connect to a personal computer so it could send recorded shows over the internet to friends and family. The other was an automatic commercial skipping feature. ReplayTV would record a show and then splice out the commercials. You never had to hit the fast forward button, they were automatically removed for you. The networks really did not like this and took ReplayTV to court. Sonicblue, the parent company of ReplayTV, eventually went bankrupt fighting the case and had to sell the company. The courts did force ReplayTV to remove these two features from their DVR’s.
TiVo has done a little better than ReplayTV. It made an early deal with the satellite provider DirecTV. DirecTV was the biggest affiliate of TiVo selling a huge number of units with their satellite service. News Corp recently purchased DirecTV and made an announcement that they will start providing their own DVRs for their satellite service. Other electronic producers such as Microsoft, Panasonic, Sony, and RCA have also starting selling Digital Video Recorders. This has put huge pricing pressures on both ReplayTV and TiVo. You can now find several units under the $200 range. It looks like all this competition was good for someone – the consumer!
Typically most DVRs are sold as part of satellite service equipment. New customers are offered free DVRs when they sign up for a yearly contract. In fact, it is typical that most satellite receivers now are integrated with DVRs.
Digital Video Recorders can also find your favorite shows. Lets say you really like Johnny Depp as an actor. You can program the DVR to constantly scan for all shows with Johnny Depp. When it finds a show on television with Johnny Depp, it will automatically record it for you. You can also program some DVR’s to guess at what shows you will like and record them for you. For example, if you constantly record Friends and ER, it might determine you like Seinfeld also. Besides recording Friends and ER, it would automatically record any re-run of Seinfeld it found. It is an interesting feature. Some people love it, while others choose not to use it.