The digital video recorder (DVR) has revolutionized the way viewers watch television by allowing them to program the device to record whatever they desire and watch it whenever they choose. DVRs also allow viewers to pause, rewind and fast-forward programming. According to reviews on a variety of websites, four top DVRs lead the way in terms of features and functionality.
Dish Network ViP722 HD DVR
The Dish Network ViP722 HD DVR offers a high recording capacity and has the ability to receive and record programming transmitted in the new MPEG-4 AVC format. This DVR can also record up to three high-definition (HD) shows simultaneously while playing back a fourth. In addition, the ViP722 includes a USB port that allows users to connect it to a portable media player or external hard drive, expanding its storage capacity. A subsequent model, the ViP922, features the addition of Slingbox software that lets you control your DVR from anywhere in the world via the Internet.
A review on the Consumer Search website (consumersearch.com) gives high marks to the TiVo Premiere. The Premiere has the capacity to store 45 hours of recorded HD programming or 400 hours of standard-definition (SD) programming. This can be expanded by adding an external hard drive, and you can even transfer programs from a PC to either watch, store or save them to DVD via third-party software. According to Consumer Search, which compiles online reviews from various sources, "some critics say that the TiVo Premiere might be the best TiVo ever."
DirectTV Plus HD DVR HR20-700
Although the DirectTV channel guide isn't as sophisticated as the TiVo's, the DirectTV Plus HD DVR is straightforward and easy to use. Dual HD tuners mean you can record two HD shows at the same time. The HD recorded-image quality is rated as being very good by PCMag (pcmag.com), which describes the HR20-700 as "a feature-rich high-definition DVR with lots of A/V connections, a sizable hard drive and handy one-touch recording capabilities."
Channel Master CM-7000PAL
The Channel Master CM-7000PAL is an ideal choice for those who want the benefits of an HD DVR without going through a cable company. According to Consumer Search, the CM-7000PAL is designed "specifically for over-the-air use," with two ATSC tuners pulling in digital broadcast stations. This DVR can also use the TV Guide on screen feature when available, which increases its functionality. The hard drive has the capacity to hold 30 hours of HD programming or 250 hours of SD programming.
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