Choosing the Best and Cheapest DVR Option

Digital Video Recorders (DVRs) can make your television viewing much more enjoyable. No more rushing home to catch the first few minutes of your program, no more phone calls that make you miss the final event in the plotline. Record your program and fear not. The ability to record while watching a television program or to set a program to be recorded a week ahead of time is a great family option and worth the extra money for many. However, when choosing a DVR it's important to weigh the benefits of the recorder rented from your cable provider or the recorder purchased from an electronics store.

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Why Buy a DVR?

Families with children can enjoy programs and events without worrying about bedtimes. Often educational programs begin at 8 pm, ruling them out for little ones who are in bed by 8:30 pm. Recording the program allows them to watch the show on their own timeframe. Another great benefit for children is that recording a long program allows the parent to better monitor television viewing. A two hour program can be viewed over the course of two days, breaking up the viewing time.

Sports fans are especially fond of DVRs. The afternoon ballgame can be viewed after work and instant replay (either creating it or skipping over it) is under the control of the viewer. The downside? Don't listen to the news or the radio before watching your recording; you'll ruin the game.

Anyone who wakes at 5 am for work most likely never saw Leno, Conan, or Chelsea. Now you can. Set your recorder to record any of the shows that you've always wanted to see but never have. You'll even get to watch them without commercials, making an hour show seem more like forty minutes.

The major downside of DVRs? They're not cheap.

Buying a DVR

Like a VCR, you can buy your own DVR at an electronics store. Long-term this will save money if you purchase a reasonably priced model and keep the recorder for two years or more. It isn't necessary to purchase a subscription plan if your cable company allows you to purchase and use your own equipment. However, you might be interested in the plans offered, the most well-known being TiVo. If the TiVo option best suits you, then purchasing your own equipment and plan is your best choice.

If you have cable television, consult your cable provider before purchasing your own DVR. Since the DVR works like a VCR there shouldn't be a problem, but you don't want to unpack your new recorder to learn that it doesn't work with your cable's tuner box.

There are a few downsides to owning your own DVR without a subscription plan. One is that you should be a little tech savvy. If you can barely plug in your TV then this isn't the best option for you. You'll have to do some homework when looking at the DVR to see if it's what you want. Beware of the difference between DVD recorders and DVR recorders.

Renting a DVR

Renting a DVR from your cable company, if available, is the easiest option for recording your television programs. There is no subscription fee like TiVo, and you don't have to be tech savvy to set it up. You'll simply replace your current cable receiver box with a DVR box. The largest plus, other than the simplicity of the setup, is that the cable's box will adjust itself if a program starts late or ends late - something the TiVo subscription also offers. It will most likely add $14-$20 to your monthly cable bill; however, so long term the rental will cost more than the purchase.

About The Author: Kelly Ann Butterbaugh is a freelance writer who regularly contributes to a variety of magazines and has written a history book for middle readers. Visit her website for writing help, lesson plans, history fun, or work for hire at http://www.kellybutterbaugh.com

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Entertainment TelevisionNovember 3, 2010
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