What is a PVR?

Carol Francois

A personal video recorder (PVR) is an electronic device used to record media digitally.This is a generic term, and can be used to describe portable media players, stand-alone units, and combination units. The PVR is also known as the digital video recorder or DVR.

The first PVR was displayed at the Las Vegas Consumer electronics Show in 1999.
The first PVR was displayed at the Las Vegas Consumer electronics Show in 1999.

The first PVR was launched at the 1999 Las Vegas Consumer Electronics Show™. The PVR product offerings were called ReplayTV® and TiVo®. The ReplayTV® won the prize for the Best in Show for video entries, but the TiVo® was a larger commercial success.

Personal video recorders are devices used to digitally record and story media.
Personal video recorders are devices used to digitally record and story media.

The recorder is connected to a media input device, such as a satellite or cable box and the television. These units are really just large hard drives with file management software and a remote control is used to record shows. The software provides a user interface, scheduling, playback and deleting functions.

After the PVR was first developed, options such as commercial skipping, video streaming and expanded Internet capabilities were released to further enhanced the unit. Pausing live television, 30-second instant replay and skipping scenes are now widely available. All these features require the video source to pass through the PVR before being transmitted to the television. The recorder stores the data and creates a mini-buffer that allows it to manage these features.

Satellite and cable suppliers are now including more and more of the digital recorders functions into their own products. The hard drive itself is relatively inexpensive, and there are greater profits available for the suppliers if they incorporate the PVR into their product. Digital television signals are already is the correct format and are simply stored on the disk for future viewing.

By incorporating the PVR into the satellite receivers, these firms are now able to offer dual tuners. These units have two independent tuners and a built in hard drive. This set-up allows the user to watch one show and record another. Users can also record two programs simultaneously.

The increased use of the Internet as a source of video and television programming has expanded the PVR market even further. Both software and hardware is widely available to incorporate this functionality into your computer. All that is necessary is an external drive, software, and access to Internet video streaming websites.

The ability to skip commercials has raised questions about how advertising will change. Increasingly, the actual show itself is the commercial. Companies often sponsors sporting events and shows that rely on product placement provide multiple opportunities for marketing firms and scriptwriters to incorporate brand name products into the show itself.

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Discussion Comments


As I understand it, in order to run programming from titan tv, you have to have a pvr, which again as I understand it is an actual device. Titan tv should not advertise free tv if you must first have a device (and not be upfront about needing a device). That is not true. They wasted my time.

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