Five Must-Have Gadgets

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High Definition Digital Video Recorder

What It Does:
Records television programming on a hard disk drive. Records when you choose a show to record (time shifting) and automatically when you are watching a show. Provides a programming guide to all channels and shows that are available to you (for a specific service like cable or satellite).

What’s To Like:
The conventional part of a DVR is the basic recording of shows (for oldschool folks, this is like a VCR). The advantage here is that the DVR is much easier to program, because it contains the programming guide as well as the record function. You just find a show in the guide (the same as if you were to watch it), and hit the “record”
button. Recording quality is higher than with a VCR and no tapes are needed. But wait, there’s more.

A DVR allows you to have a subscription to a show. That means you can choose to automatically record every episode the first time you record something. The other great DVR features are pause, fast forward, and rewind. Because the DVR is always recording live TV, you can pause, say, a football game, grab that beer, and come back without missing a thing.

Once you’re behind real time, you can fast forward though commercials or dead time between plays. If you want to replay something, you can do it as often as you want (normal speed or in various levels of slow motion).

What’s Missing: 
Some DVRs have jerky fast forward speeds. Others have clumsy interfaces. Some do a better job of managing subscriptions. As a rule of thumb, Tivo DVRs outperform the DVRs that many cable and satellite providers
offer.

Cost: 
Costs vary quite a bit and are somewhat complicated. You should check exact options in your area. Two examples: Tivo Series 3 HD DVR costs $299 plus $12.95 per month (or $399 lifetime). Cable HD DVR costs $0 upfront plus $8 per month. Service fee is $10 per month.

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