pvr, personal video recorder

Gadgets Channel / Bullz-Eye Home

Yes, at one time, before cable boxes offered recording, Personal Video Recorders (PVRs), also known more commonly over time as Digitial Video Recorders (DVRs) were a thing.

What DVR does is act as a hard drive buffer for your TV. It takes the signal from the cable, and spits it to a hard drive. From there, you can do all sorts of things, many of which we now take for granted. But when DVRs were introduced, people were mostly using VCRs, so the improvement in the user experience was dramatic:

- Pausing live TV. If something happened while you are watching TV, you could hit the pause button and take care of business. When you come back, press play, and it will take off where you left off. This was revolutionary at the time.

- Expanded programming guide. You now had with an on screen programming guide that is much more detailed than you can get anywhere else. You could search for shows and movies; see what is on further out into the future than the normal guides.

- Record TV. This was probably the most important aspect. The DVR allowed you to pick TV shows from any timeframe you want, or just surf the online guide looking for interesting shows. You tagged your shows, and it recorded them without fail. You could later (via an onscreen menu) pick and choose what you are going to watch.

This blew away the experience with a VCR, offering so much more convenience and capability.

The hassle with VCRs was that you had to find the shows you wanted to watch, set the VCR to tape them, hope that no one in the house would mess with it, and then, you would have to keep track of millions of tapes.

PVR made it simple. Press a button to record a show. At some later time, watch the show at your convenience. Skip the commercials. When you are done, press one button to delete it.

This was more of a lifestyle device than a techno gizmo. It took the control of your TV watching away from the networks and puts it in your hands. It took every hour of your TV time and compressed it into 40 minutes, tops. Many consumers stopped watching live TV.

The DVR liberated people from network TV schedules, and gave them the opportunity to watch things they never knew existed. It has also saved them HOURS of commercial watching. People loved this machine. 

Now of course we take all of this for granted. Throw in streaming and the old ways of watching television before DVRs and streaming are completely foreign to younger people.

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Digital Video Recorders (DVR) – An Interesting History
Informative history.

The Evolution of DVR Technology
From the VCR to TiVo to DVRs built into cable boxes, having what we want, when we want it has evolved significantly over the past thirty years. As storage moves to the cloud in many industries, it shouldn’t be long before DVRs move to the cloud as well. This should greatly reduce storage and device costs but requires large internet bandwidths that can handle streaming Ultra High Definition (Ultra HD) television.

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