Video recording has come a long way since the days of the video cassette recorder (VCR). The VCR made it possible to watch movies at home and record television shows, so they could be viewed at later time. It was eventually superseded by the DVD recorder, but you still had to buy blank discs to record anything. The current darling of the market is the High-Definition Personal Video Recorder (HD PVR). It has both a DVD recorder and a hard drive, just like the one inside a computer. The hard drive allows you to record without having to use blank discs. There is a huge list of features that needs to be check before buying a HD PVR.
A HD PVR is essentially a digital converter box that has a DVD writer and a hard drive for recording the video. There are a few different types of HD PVR on the market, but there is only one type you should be aiming for if you have a large screen television. Full high-definition (1080p) is the only way to watch video on a television larger than thirty-two inches. The lack of detail at lower resolutions is not a problem on small screens but it becomes more noticeable as the screen gets bigger. In places where there should be fine textures and soft shadows, viewers only see a bland and blurry patch of color. In areas where full high-definition broadcasts are available, a 1080p HD PVR is the best choice.
On the outside, a HD PVR looks like any other converter box. A typical model is rectangular in shape and has a subdued color, such as black or silver. It has very few controls on the front panel because most users prefer to use the remote control. Some models have USB connectors on the front which are concealed behind a hidden panel. On the back panel, there are the usual input and output connectors, including HDMI. The overall appearance of a HD PVR is functional yet elegant, making it suitable for display in any home entertainment system. This is one piece of audiovisual equipment that does not look flashy or cluttered.
The main feature to look for when choosing a HD PVR is how many tuners it has. Models that have one tuner are seriously limited in what they can do. With only one tuner, you must stay on the same channel for the entire time that you are recording. If the channel is changed, the recording will also be changed to the new channel. A model with dual tuners allows you to record one channel while watching another. The price of a model with a single tuner may be lower but the difference is usually small. It really makes no sense to put up with the limitations of a single tuner when you can have dual tuners.
The other important feature of a HD PVR is the capacity of the hard drive. High definition media contains a lot of detail that requires a huge amount of storage space. The hard drive should have a capacity of at least several hundred gigabytes, but even a large one will quickly fill up when you are recording in full high-definition. A DVD writer is essential for moving recordings off the hard drive to free up space. With some models, it may be possible to offload the recordings to an external hard drive or a computer by using either Wi-Fi USB dongle or an Ethernet cable.
There are plenty of other features to consider before buying a HD PVR. It should have a good selection of menu options and it should have both manual and automatically channel detection. The recording timer should be flexible enough to record several different broadcasts weeks in advance. It should also have support for teletext and electronic program guides (EPG). The remote control should be well designed and easy to use, which means not having lots of buttons all cramped together. If all those features are present, then you have a pretty good HD PVR on your hands.