When television first came into homes across America in the 1940′s and 50′s, Americans had to be at home in front of the television when their favorite shows like I Love Lucy or Leave it to Beaver came on, otherwise, they would miss them and there was nothing to be done about it. Then, by the 1980’s, betamax and video cassette recorder (VCR) technology arrived, allowing Americans, with their increasingly busy schedules, to record television shows and movies for later viewing.
Though the advent of this new technology was something distinctly new and convenient for Americans, the VCR was still somewhat of a hassle. Programming them took time and led to many jokes from wary parents about how only their children could actually program that darn VCR machine. The cassettes were also somewhat fragile, with the tape inside prone to tearing or dislodging and become tangled inside the machine. Many Americans remember their frustration at ejecting a video cassette only to discover that the VCR has “eaten the tape.” And, if the tape wasn’t breaking, Americans recording on video cassettes always ran the risk of running out of tape. It’s clear that, as Americans grew busier and television programming became more sophisticated and “can’t miss,” that a technological solution needed to fill the void.
That’s where the digital video recorder (generally known as a DVR) came into the picture. In its technical definition, a digital video recorder is a device that records video in a digital format to a disk drive or other memory medium within a device. In layman’s terms, it is a wondrous machine that allows people to record their favorite television programming without going through all the hassle presented by a VCR. Though these devices can come in the form of stand-alone set-top boxes, portable media players (PMP) and software for personal computers, when most people think of digital video recorder, they think of stand along boxes, often provided by their local cable providers or purchased in the form of a device such as a TiVo or RePlay machine.
TiVo and RePlay were the earliest hard disk based digital video recorders, and both were introduced at the much celebrated Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Though RePlay ended up winning the “Best of Show” award at the conference, TiVo went on to enjoy much great success in the digital video recorder field. It became such a hit that the process of digitally recording a show or movie became known as “TiVoing” and many television and radio shows began referring to important or imminently watchable on screen moments as “TiVo moments.”
One of the biggest advantages machines like TiVo and their like have over VCRs is that they can store many more shows. No longer are television watchers digging through various 6 hour video cassettes to find the show or movie they want to see. With the digital video recorder they can generally store, at a minimum, forty hours of programming. Further, programming is searchable, so the days of fast-forwarding and rewinding a VCR are a thing of the past.
So what is the future of digital video recorders? Well, some companies, such as South Korean electronics conglomerate LG did in 2007, are introducing televisions with built in digital video recorders. These seem to be a promising forecast of the future of digital video recorders. Built in digital video recorders will allow for tidier wire clutter in home theater systems, not to mention allow free up at least one port in the standard television, allowing for more television hook-up real estate when it comes to connecting home theatre components.