Okay, you are ready to jump into the DVR pool for some high quality swimming. But before you dive in, you have choices to make. There are two main categories for this new technology: a DVD based digital video recorder and a hard disk recorder (PVR). The main difference is that a DVD recorder uses discs and can play your own DVD movies or ones you have rented or borrowed. A hard disk recorder cannot.
A hard disk recorder (or personal video recorder) takes the digital information and puts it onto a hard drive like the one that is in your computer. This means a ton of space for recording as more and more PVRs are capable of 100 gigabytes and on up. Panasonic has a model with 400 gb...that's over 700 hours of video watching. Imagine yourself on a month long trek to the North Pole, but never having to miss a second of Jerry Springer. He'll be there waiting to entertain you as you return to thaw out and recover from that nasty case of frostbite. Now if you rely only on your digital video recorder, you are limited to about 4.7 gb or eight hours at limited quality. However, the capacities of PVRs are listed at the lowest quality. Cut the storage capability by 2/3rds if you are interested in the highest quality. If you are using a PVR with a satellite connection, compression is about 1/3rd although this is not a variable for you but is determined by the satellite technology.
Many hard disk recorders have the capacity to record two programs at the same time, while you are watching a playback. This is an advantage when the programming geniuses try to outdo each other during sweeps week...or when you have a very diverse viewing audience in your home, such as an avid Food network devotee living with a macho ESPN 24/7. No reason to ruin the soufflŽ with a PVR.
And let's look again at those storage drawers in your entertainment center...they are almost empty, as you keep all your precious videos on the hard drive. Unfortunately, you won't be able to play any DVD's of your wedding or the rental store on a hard drive recorder. You will have to pony up for at least a high quality DVD player for that.