How Does DVR Work

How does DVR work? While the specifics vary from system to system depending on your hardware, most DVR systems operate with the same basic technology and share many of the same features.

The Basics of DVR Receivers
At the core, DVR systems are actually computers. This is essential to answering the question "How does DVR work?". They function just like your home computer, with a processor, RAM and a hard drive for storing data. In fact, you can even make your own DVR systems out of an old computer, a TV capture card and DVR software.

DVR recording is very simple. You run the video signal into your DVR system. On-screen software enables you to set what you want to record. When a scheduled recording comes up, the DVR system tunes into that station and begins storing the data to the hard drive. You can then go back later and watch the video stored on your hard drive, as well as manipulate it like any other recording, fast forwarding, rewinding or pausing it. Since everything is stored digitally on a hard drive, you can rewind and fast forward very quickly.

Manipulating Live TV
Most DVR systems can also manipulate live television, enabling you to pause or rewind even while the program airs. To enable this type of manipulation, the DVR records the program to the hard drive as it airs, so the program technically stops being live when you begin to manipulate it. You can never fast forward past the point when live programming resumes.

DVR Receivers
If you get a DVR system from your cable or satellite provider, it's generally in the form of a DVR receiver. These devices function both as a DVR system and as a television receiver; they get signals from your television provider, decoding them and let you manipulate them using standard DVR features. DVR receivers generally come with a small monthly fee, since you're leasing the DVR instead of buying it, but they save space by integrating the DVR with the TV receiver. With DVR receivers, you don't need two separate pieces of equipment to manage these functions.

DVR systems are useless unless they're connected to a signal source. Some DVR systems are designed to work specifically with cable television, while others work with satellite providers. Yet other DVR recorders work with over-the-air antennas. It may seem like a no-brainer, but you must have your DVR connected to a video source in order to record programming, and the DVR needs to be compatible with the type of signal that it's receiving.

Data Limitations
Unfortunately, DVR systems don't have infinite storage space. Especially when you're recording in HD, a DVR can fill up quickly, forcing you to delete data if you want to record more programs. Take storage size and your viewing habits into consideration when you're shopping for a DVR, to ensure you get a system that can hold the volume of shows you want to record.

If you want to keep permanent copies of the shows you record, you've got a couple of options. A network DVR will let you save digital copies to your computer or an external storage drive. You can also burn saved shows onto DVDs. Some DVRs have built-in DVD burners, which makes the process very simple. Look for this feature if you want DVD copies of TV shows that you can save. Now that you know how to answer the qestion "how does DVR work?" you're ready to start using one. 

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