PVR and Hard Disk Video Recorder Buying Guide

Long record times, high definition and advanced features.

The VHS video cassette recorder has reached the end of its lifetime as a mainstream product. With video recording technology advancing so much in the past three decades VHS has now been superseded by hard disk drive and DVD recorders -- the latest components to grace the living room.

But what was wrong with the VCR?

Hard disk drive-based recording offers several clear improvements over the humble video cassette:

Random access. One of the greatest improvements over VCR is the convenience factor. One of the key problems with tape is the necessity to advance and rewind the tape to access particular footage, a process known as sequential access. Hard disks do away with this problem by using random access, much in the same way as DVDs; it doesn't matter how much data is stored on the disk, recordings can instantly be accessed at the press of a button.

Better quality. Another advantage, which also applies to DVDs, is the improvement in picture quality. Hard disk drives store digital data, meaning an end to ugly scratches and other visual aberrations. Sound is also improved, with multi channel audio and high quality encoding.

Longer recording times. While the most that could be expected from an average VCR tape was about four hours of recording (8 hours if you used the Long Play modes in your VCR recorder), hard disk drives offer significantly increased recording times. The limiting factor is the size of the disk, and with terabyte (1000GB) recorders due to hit the Australian market soon, there seems to be no shortage of space. A terabyte of disk space will offer enough room for about 1700 hours of standard definition footage, or in other words, over two months of continuous recording!

Space saving. This is a big boon for all the Feng Shui enthusiasts who hate clutter. Having all the recordings in one big box rather than a multitude of smaller boxes will save a lot of space in the long run. Imagine how many cassettes you would need to store 1700 hours of recordings! (About 425 is the answer you were looking for.)

Multiple formats. VCRs were all about video. Hard disk drives can offer so much more, with space to save all your photos and music in addition to an entire season of your favorite show.

Timeshift. One of the great features of hard disk drive recorders is timeshift, or as it is sometimes put, the ability to 'pause' live television. Using nifty buffering technology this feature will let you put live television on hold while you answer the phone, and come back to exactly where you left off. It's even possible to rewind live television to see whether that try in the footy really did go over the line.

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PC World Staff

Good Gear Guide

7 Comments

robnjude

1

Product comparison

Could you please include an article comparing current PVRs with twin HD tuners available on the Australian market for under $700.00

Carl

2

Currently have paytv box which records two channels at once.
Looking to get a DVD recorder with HD TV tune, Hard Drive and capacity to burn DVD in RW format so I can record paytv channel/s to Hard Disc and/or burn to
DVD disc later any shows I watch on paytv. There is so much out there, I'm looking for someone to advise on best model recorder that can do all of this to save me monthly outlay on paytv. Do the Recorder manuals have a connection diagram to connect to paytv box or is this frowned upon by paytv?
Any advice with DVD recorder model numbers would be appreciated. Cheers

krzystoff

3

@Carl;
I think you'll find the Haupage HD PVR is what you're looking for, which leverages the harddrive space on your computer to save its HD files from your payTV source, you can then burn the files to DVD or Bluray if you desire:

"HD PVR is the world’s first High-Definition video recorder for making real-time H.264 compressed recordings at resolutions up to 1080i. HD-PVR records component video (YCrCb) from cable TV and satellite set top boxes, with a built-in IR blaster to automatically change TV channels for scheduled recordings. Audio is recorded using AAC or Dolby Digital .

The recording format is AVCHD, which can be used to burn Blu-ray DVD disks."

its retail price US$199 + (shipping + a large hardrive for your PC) = a tiny fraction of what you would pay for a year of FoxtelIQ, or a BeyonwizDP-P2 ~$1000, which are probably your only other options.

EJ

4

Converting from IQ to set to box.
Hi we have had Foxtel IQ for a number of years to realise we are just watching/recording a lot of free to air programs! Foxtel has now gone and I want to get a set top box that does similar features to the IQ. I am a NOVICE with this and we don't have a digital TV.

All we need is something that can record 1-2 programs while being able to watch another program. Finding it confusing with all the jargon and not sure what to buy.

I have been recommended the Astone 360-T. Really don't want to spend more than $300.00.

thanks for any assistance - EJ

JUSTICE NGOVENI

5

I BOUGHT ELLIES 160GB PVR AND EXTERNAL HARD DISK. NOW AFTER PRESSING THE MOVIE HOTKEY BUTTON ON ITS REMOTE , I LOST ITS DISPLAY ON THE TV SCREEN, PLEASE HELP

leon

6

wil my vidio recorder still work with digital tv as i cant get all stations

JUSTICE NGOVENI

7

does anyone know what might be wrong when the "ELLIES 160GB & EXTERNAL HARD DISK" only displays PVR MULTIMEDIA WHEN CONNECTED TO TV for five seconds and fails to respond when pressing the reset button at the black

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