written by: Misty Faucheux•edited by: Rhonda Callow•updated: 5/12/2010
DVRs have become a must-have item in every home theater setup. But, exactly how does DVR work? Well, learn the mysteries of your home DVR system today.
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DVR vs. VCR
Many satellite and cable companies are now offering DVRs as part of their packages, allowing customers to record TV programming. But, how does DVR work? Surprisingly, while the technology may seem complicated, the concept is quite simple.
DVR or Digital Video Recorder works similar to how the old videotapes used to operate. You press record, and it records the selected program. But, unlike videotape, the programs are being recorded onto a hard drive, allowing for more storage and better quality playback. And, some of the newer DVRs can store a lot, up to 300 hours of programming.
Just like VCRs, programs can be selected to record at a later date, and more than one program can be recorded simultaneously. Plus, DVR hard drives allow users to record programming on the same drive as often as they want. If a DVR runs out of space, certain programs just need to be deleted to create more room. To use a DVR, it just needs to be connected to a receiver, TV or computer.
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DVR and Digital Signals
DVRs record programming via digital signals that are received via cables or satellite dishes. When a TV channel is tuned into and then the record button on the DVR remote is selected, the digital signal becomes split into basically two signals. You can still hear and see the image, but the other half is now being saved onto the hard drive.
When you choose to playback the recording, your DVR will read the saved signals and then play the selected program. Similar to how VCRs used to work, DVRs can record programs without the television being on. If you select a program to record in the future, the DVR will tune to that channel and record the program.
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Real Time Recording
DVRs record programming in real time. As you are watching a program, the DVR is recording some of that programming onto the hard drive. This allows viewers to pause, fast-forward or rewind program. Basically, you are watching a delayed program as opposed to real-live broadcast.
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Many DVRS now come with advanced features such as the ability to search for programming by name, producer, actor, etc., and then record programs that match these features. DVRs will download program schedules from your service provider, generally on a nightly basis.
Other advanced features include the ability to record programming on one channel while you are watching another channel. DVRs with these capabilities have two tuners: TV 1 and TV 2. TV 1 is going to be the TV for your main room and the room that you are viewing. TV 2 can be connected to other rooms. While something is being recorded on the TV 2 setting, you will be able to watch any program that you want on TV 1. But, if two programs are being recorded simultaneously, you will only be able to watch the programming on TV 1.
DVRs are generally part of new cable and satellite packages. But, they can be bought from any electronic store.