Best DVRs

Review & Comparison, Last Update May 29, 2018
Do you love watching television, but hate the fact that you are often a slave to the schedules of your favorite shows? The best solution to this problem is to use a DVR to automatically record your favorite shows without being tied to the television. Take a look at five great DVRs that can greatly enhance your television watching experience. ...Read more ...Read less
BEST 2018
PROS
CONS
OUR VERDICT
Hard drive size
Max Encoding Format
Included Apps
Interfaces
Connectivity
Warranty
 
PROS

This video recorder is equipped with 1 TB of storage, which allows the system to work without complaints and quickly process high-definition video. Thanks to the SkipMode function, you can skip through whole blocks of pesky commercial breaks.

CONS

Installation and setup may take some time.

OUR VERDICT

Compact and easy to use, the TiVo R84600 Digital Video Recorder, connected via HDTV Antenna, will give you complete freedom in recording videos, films, and commercials. You can record up to four shows at a time, with a storage capacity of up to 150 hours.

detailed parameters
Hard drive size

1 TB

Max Encoding Format

Full HD

Included Apps

Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, VUDU and more

Interfaces

Coax (HD antenna)

Digital optical audio

Composite Video / Analog audio

HDMI® 1.1 / (1080p 24/60)

Ethernet port: 10 / 100 Mbps

USB 2.0 ports

External storage port (eSATA)

Connectivity

Wi-Fi or Ethernet

Warranty

90 days labor and 1 year parts

PROS

Thanks to Tablo Connect, you no longer have to miss your local news reports while traveling, thanks to the included streaming features for recorded content.

CONS

Some apps load slowly.

OUR VERDICT

With this video recorder you can not only view a large number of HD channels, but also manage them. The equipment can record up to four shows simultaneously, connecting at once to six devices via WiFi or Ethernet connections.

detailed parameters
Hard drive size

1 GB RAM

1 GB Flash

Max Encoding Format

Full HD

Included Apps

Sling TV, Hulu and Netflix and more

Interfaces

Power

Ethernet 10/100 

USB 2.0 (x2) 

Coax

Connectivity

Wi-Fi or Ethernet

Warranty

1 year

PROS

The equipment operates in the high-quality digital recording standard H.264, which uses a high degree of video compression, but does not detract from the high quality of the image.

CONS

Blu-ray burner software not included.

OUR VERDICT

Thanks to this device, you can record your favorite TV shows now, and watch whenever you want. Its HDMI video output has the highest resolution of HD quality, which allows you to connect to it a high-resolution monitor. In this case, the presence of a USB interface allows you to easily manage the device with a mouse or keyboard.

detailed parameters
Hard drive size

No internal hard drive

Max Encoding Format

Full HD

Included Apps

Youtube, Netflix, Hulu, WWE, and more

Interfaces

Power

HDMI output

HDMI input

Component Video input

USB 2.0

Optical audio input

IR blaster

Connectivity

PC connection (Microsoft® Windows® 10, 8, 7 or Vista (32 or 64-bit))

Warranty

2 years

PROS

Built-in video editor Media Studio will help you to post-edit the recording on-site, allowing you to cut out unnecessary footage and collect your own clips.

CONS

The case can overheat during prolonged operation.

OUR VERDICT

AVerMedia EzRecorder is characterized by intuitive settings. It does not require the installation of drivers or the presence of a PC. The device will record the content according to the schedule developed by you personally, so you definitely will not miss the next series of your favorite program.

detailed parameters
Hard drive size

32 GB Flash Drive

Max Encoding Format

Full HD

Included Apps

None

Interfaces

HDMI output

HDMI input

USB 2.0

DC-in

Connectivity

No need for a separate PC. Device with HDMI output necessary

Warranty

2-year warranty after registration

PROS

The built-in 3.5mm audio input allows you to connect a microphone to the recorder and add your own voice comments to the recording.

CONS

If you change the settings during the capture of content, the recording may experience slight trembling.

OUR VERDICT

GooBang Doo is a very flexible and functional video recorder in a superior metal case, with which you can capture video from an Xbox, PS4, PS3, DVD player, TV Box and other devices through the HDMI cable connection.

detailed parameters
Hard drive size

No internal hard drive

Max Encoding Format

Full HD

Included Apps

None

Interfaces

HDMI output

HDMI input

USB 2.0

DC-in

Mic

Connectivity

No need for PC. Capture videos onto USB memory devices

Warranty

1 year

TiVo Roamio OTA

Great DVR From a Famous Brand

TiVo is one of the original creators of the DVR, and their products were so popular at one time that their name became a verb that meant to record shows on a DVR. TiVo is the godfather of home digital video recording, and over the years they have released a steady line of fantastic DVRs that have helped create the market as it is today. However, in recent years, their visibility seemingly waned as many of their DVRs were replaced by basic models that were provided by cable and satellite television providers. Nowadays, many of those DVRs are included for free or for a low price in many cable and satellite service subscriptions.

This leaves a wide open market for those who just use over the air (OTA) broadcast TV, and TiVo has released a great product to help cover this gap. The TiVo Roamio OTA 1 TB DVR is meant as a standalone set top box that can help give those who use only OTA broadcasts a similar, and in many ways, superior experience to those who are using DVRs with cable subscriptions. This model only works with OTA broadcasts by connecting through an HD antenna. However, the extra features provided here can give a far better experience than many of those who use cable or satellite services have.

Review of TiVo Roamio OTA (R84600) Digital Video Recorder and Streaming Media Player

Multitude of Features

This excellent TiVO DVR is loaded with features. It supports recording up to 4 different television shows simultaneously, which means that you never have to miss a show that is being played while another is on the air at the same time. This model includes a 1 TB hard drive, which is plenty of storage for most people's needs, and can fit up to 150 hours of video. This means it's possible to store a whole season's worth of your favorite show and still have plenty of room left over. The playback functionality also includes the renowned features that people come to expect from a TiVo, including SkipMode for skipping whole blocks of commercials, as well as QuickMode for speeding through a show so you can quickly get to a part that you really want to see.

Outside of the recording features, many of the standard streaming services are supported on this device, which includes apps for Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, and more. Setting up the device, although time consuming due to the mandatory updates that are downloaded when first powered on, is quite easy and intuitive. For those with multiple TVs in the house, adding a TiVo Mini to each TV allows you to watch shows recorded from this device on any TV. With all of these features coupled with TiVo's intuitive interface, this remains one of the best DVRs available today.

TiVo Roamio OTA (R84600) Digital Video Recorder and Streaming Media Player in the use

Additional Info

    Manufacturer


What customers say about this product

Key Specs

It used a time-based recording scheme and downloaded 2 weeks of limited program info OTA. Still, it was one of the best dual tuner DVRs at the time.

Recording And Playback

Setting up recordings of programs within the guide is easy, but it would be great if there was something in the box that indicated a step-by-step way to do it. I found the TiVo website and YouTube to be helpful, as well as the TiVo forum.

Features

And while watching the Olympics, I really, really, really loved the commercial skip feature. It worked flawlessly, as it does for all our TV shows. It makes watching a recording almost as seamless as NF and Amazon streaming.

Connectivity

I purchased this for my parents since they watch a lot of OTA TV. They also don't have much patience to mess around with selecting different TV inputs and using a connected PC to watch Netflix.
 

Tablo SPVR4-01-NA

Record Up To 4 Shows At Once

DVRs are not new, having been around for almost 20 years. While they have revolutionized the way that many people watch television, there have still been some small faults that could be improved, and that have remained a thorn in many a viewer's side. One of the biggest downsides to DVRs of the past was the fact that almost none of them were able to record more than one show at a time. This meant that for those who didn't want to miss their favorite show while something else was being watched or recorded, they were out of luck. However, recent advancements in DVRs have relegated this problem to the distant past.

The Tablo 4-Tuner Digital Video Recorder is one such device that supports recording more than one show simultaneously. With four built-in digital HDTV tuners, you are able to record up to 4 different shows at the same time. This DVR only supports OTA broadcasts, but even so, this means that you can record one show from each of the 4 major TV networks in the US at the same time, so you are sure to not miss airings of your favorite TV shows. The recorded content can then be watched at your leisure, with a suite of special functions such as the ability to skip through commercials and even pause or rewind live TV to enhance the experience.

Review of Tablo SPVR4-01-NA Digital Video Recorder

Record Once, Watch From Anywhere

As is usual now with most high-function DVRs, this model comes with plenty of extra features that can make your TV viewing experience unlike anything you've had before. One of the best features of this model is the ability to stream content that you've recorded to almost anywhere. This is a great feature for those who travel a lot, which means that traveling no longer needs to take you away from watching your favorite shows. The Tablo App for iPhone, iPad, Android, and Kindle tablets allows you to watch your recorded shows from anywhere right on your phone or tablet.

As great as the streaming feature is, it is far from the only great feature of this DVR. Other features include the TabloConnect subscription service, which allows you to stream your local television news reports to you while you are traveling. You can also share content to tablets, laptops, Roku, AppleTV, FireTV, and many other devices that you may have in your home. The interface is quite simple, and makes it easy for you to discover new shows, manage your recording schedule, and access other functions of the device, all without having to read a complicated manual. Although it doesn't include internal storage, you can easily add your own external storage for saving recorded content. With all of these features added together, this DVR is an excellent value.

Tablo SPVR4-01-NA Digital Video Recorder in the use

Additional Info

    Manufacturer


 

Hauppauge 1512

Record From Any Source

One of the great things about the advancement of technology is the fact that many devices that were once very heavy and bulking are now rapidly shrinking in size. This is especially true for DVRs, many of which have always been at least as large, if not larger than a standard DVD player. When added together with other home theater equipment, it can make for a very crowded TV stand, with no space left over. However, devices such as this one are starting to become much more space friendly.

The Hauppauge 1512 HD-PVR 2 High Definition Personal Video Recorder is one DVR that has definitely taken advantage of modern technology. This small device packs a lot of powerful features in it, especially considering its size. However, this device isn't necessarily the same as many DVRs on the market that focus on recording broadcast television. Instead, this DVR recorder works as a standalone unit that is meant to record from virtually any source through HDMI or Component Video input. This means that not only can you record TV shows straight from your TV or cable box, but you are also able to record from other devices, such as streaming boxes or video game consoles. This adds a lot of flexibility to this device that is missing from most other DVRs on the market.

Review of Hauppauge 1512 Personal Video Recorder

Perfect For Gamers

Using this DVR is quite simple. The setup process is very easy to manage, thanks to its intuitive interface. Connecting to an input source is just a matter of connecting the device to this DVR through an HDMI or Component Video cable, which then allows the device to record the content while playing it on your television. The input also has virtually no delay in the displayed video, which makes it perfect for gamers who wish to record themselves playing a game on their XBox or Playstation consoles. An included IR blaster even allows you to easily control your cable box or other set top box with the DVR, which means you don't have to manage a bunch of remotes just for watching or playing something.

For gamers who love streaming their games, this device includes the StreamEez capabilities, which allows for live streaming your games online. All video that is recorded with the DVR is recorded with the H.264 video encoding standard, which means that the video is heavily compressed to make it smaller while still retaining stunning details in the image. All video is recorded at up to 1080p60, meaning that there is no loss of resolution or framerate for standard HD quality video. Anyone who loves streaming their games, or who wants the flexibility of recording from any input source will love this DVR.

Hauppauge 1512 Personal Video Recorder in the use

Additional Info

User Manual     Manufacturer


 

AVerMedia Technologies Inc. ER130

Highly Flexible DVR

Although DVRs have been around for almost 20 years, many of the models that we have seen over the years have been purpose-built devices that have little flexibility with what you can do with them. Even high-end DVRs didn't have many of the features that many of us have come to naturally expect from such a device, especially when it comes to recording video from multiple input sources. Although DVRs have revolutionized the way that many of us watch television, there were still some basic things that they have lacked that even old VHS recorders were capable of.

The AVerMedia EzRecorder is one device that finally brings back the versatility and flexibility of VHS video recorders. This DVR recorder allows for recording video from almost any type of input source, whether it be your cable or satellite box, DVD or Bluray player, online streaming device, or video game console. Any input source that can connect to it through HDMI can be recorded in Full 1080p resolution at 30 frames per second. As such, you never have to worry about missing your favorite TV show, or missing out on a special movie that is available for streaming for only a limited time. Virtually anything that you can watch on your television, you can record with this device.

Review of AVerMedia Technologies Inc. ER130

Intuitive Controls

This DVR comes included with almost everything you need to get started with recording video, including the power adapter, DC to Mini-USB connector, remote control, and a 32 GB flash drive. The device doesn't include any internal or external storage other than the 32 GB flash drive, but it does allow for a high-performance USB 2.0 or 3.0 external hard drive to be connected to store your recordings. Although it comes with a user guide, most users report not really needing it, as the interface is very straightforward and simple to navigate. Setting it up and connecting it to the devices that you wish to record video from is also very simple.

One thing that should be noted about this device is that many of the sources that it is made to record from usually contain HDCP copy protection, which prevents many devices from being able to properly record the video. However, by using a separate HDMI splitter, you can strip out the copy protection from almost any input source, and record video without any problems. The device does inform users about this, but it is best to know before purchasing that you may need optional equipment. Despite this, the versatility of this DVR remains virtually unchallenged, especially for those who love flexibility in their DVRs.

AVerMedia Technologies Inc. ER130 in the use

Additional Info

User Manual     Manufacturer


 

GooBang Doo HDVCB1

Professional Quality DVR

When most people think about DVRs, they think of a device that records your favorite TV shows, allowing someone to watch them at their own leisure. This, after all, has been the most popular use for DVRs, but in recent years there have been many more uses found for them, especially those that are flexible in what they can record. For instance, DVRs have become widely used in professional settings for a variety of purposes, including recording online conferences, surgical procedures, and various other business activities. They are even being used extensively for educational purposes.

The GooBang Doo 2018 Newest HDVCB1 Mini 1080p HD Video Capture Box is one such DVR recorder that can be used for a wide range of purposes, Although it is quite suitable for working as a traditional DVR, this one can also be easily used in a professional setting. This DVR can record video from any video source that has HDMI output, which includes cable and satellite boxes, streaming boxes, video game consoles, professional video conferencing cameras, digital camcorders, and many other devices. Virtually anything that can be displayed digitally can be recorded with this DVR, all in just a few simple steps.

Review of GooBang Doo HDVCB1 HD Video Capture Box, PVR, DVR

Record Your Own Audio

Although the flexibility of this device matches what is available in many other DVRs on the market now, there is one particular capability that almost all other DVRs lack. This GooBang Doo DVR includes a microphone input, which allows you to record your own audio track at the same time that you are recording from video input. This one small feature opens up the device for many other useful purposes that simply aren't possible on many other DVRs. This has also made it quite popular with gamers who like to record their own commentary and reactions while playing the latest video games.

The device itself is pretty small and thin, and can fit easily even into an already crowded entertainment center. It comes complete with the video capture box, power adapter, user guide, and even two high-quality HDMI cables, which is something that many other devices don't bother to include. This means there should be no need to make another purchase just to be able to connect it to another device. The only small problem noted by users is that changing settings during the recording process may cause the video to stutter, but this is a small issue that can easily be avoided. With the ability to record your own audio alongside the video, this device is perfect for anyone who needs this capability.

GooBang Doo HDVCB1 HD Video Capture Box, PVR, DVR in the use

Additional Info

    Manufacturer


 

What Is a DVR?

A DVR (short for Digital Video Recorder) is a device that allows you to record video from certain sources into a digital video format. They are most often used for recording television shows from broadcast or cable television to be watched later. These devices first appeared around the turn of the 21st century as standard video recorders meant to replace the recording capabilities of VCRs. However, in recent years many models have included a large number of extra capabilities, allowing them to be used in many different ways, such as like a set-top box, streaming media viewer, or program scheduler.

At their core, most DVRs are essentially small but powerful computers that contain much of the same technology that is often found in a PC or even a smartphone. Many include internal storage in the form of a hard drive or flash memory, and some allow you to connect different forms of additional storage for storing the recorded video. Often, some sort of program scheduler is included that allows you to easily set it to record certain television shows automatically on a recurring basis. Many even include the ability to record more than one show simultaneously, although such capabilities may require the use of extra hardware.

What Features to Compare

The very first DVRs that appeared on the market almost 20 years ago were pretty limited in their capabilities, offering little else than the ability to record shows either manually or through a program scheduler. Some other included features, such as the ability to share video or automatically skipped commercials, were removed thanks to legal action by several media companies. However, more recent models have included many of these features again, as well as adding many more.

Finding the right DVR for your needs will come down to knowing which exact features you want in a device. Here are a few things to keep in mind while looking for the perfect DVR.

Recording Capabilities - All DVRs at their core function as video recorders. However, not all of them offer the exact same features when it comes to recording video. Some are simply made as "live recording" devices without any automated input, whereas others include numerous features that allow you to enhance the recording experience and even edit video that has been recorded. Others may even include the capability to record video from more than one source at a time. When buying a DVR, it is best to check the exact recording capabilities of the device to make sure that they match exactly what you want.

Internal Storage - Many DVRs come with some type of internal storage included. However, many recent low-cost models have appeared that do not, instead allowing you to connect your own external storage devices, such as external hard drives, SD card, and USB flash memory sticks. Even some models with internal storage may only supply a small amount, but also allow for external storage to be added. Basically, the more storage that is either included or that can be added, the better, but you should make sure that any DVR that you purchase includes some kind of internal storage if you don't already have or won't purchase your own to add.

Extra Apps - Ever since the explosion of smartphones onto the market about 10 years ago, many devices now allow the installation of apps, or include their own. Many DVR models include apps now that allow you to use online services such as Youtube, Netfilx, Hulu, and others. If this is a capability that you desire, it is best to make sure before purchasing a device that the model you wish to purchase supports these functions.

Other Features - With each passing year, DVRs have been released that have added more and more features to their standard feature set. Some more recent features include the ability to record from multiple sources simultaneously, included microphones that allow you to record your own commentary or other audio along with the recorded video, and many different sharing capabilities such as streaming recorded video. If you wish to use your DVR for purposes other than just recording the occasional television show, it's best to check the extra features that are included on the latest model to make sure they meet your expectations.

Did you know?

History of DVRs

DVRs have been around for a long time. Much longer than most people realize, in fact. The very first DVRs to hit the market were Microsoft's ReplayTV and the original TiVo model, both of which premiered in 1999. Back then, VCRs were still the most popular (and really the only) way to record anything broadcast on television. The DVR helped make the process of recording a television show quite simple, especially in comparison to a VCR. VCRs required a fair amount of manual programming to set up to record a show at a specific time, and this was often quite complicated and difficult to do as it all had to be done using the few buttons on the front of the device, with no on-screen menu to help with the process. DVRs, meanwhile, provided a simple on-screen menu which allowed you to not only record a show at a specific time, but browse through the listings, set an option to record each new episode of a particular television show, and overall a much easier to use and better experience. The only thing that kept them from being a staple in every person's living room at the time was the high price tag.

During the early days of the DVR, both ReplayTV and TiVo competed for the crown. While ReplayTV met with some moderate success. TiVo gained the most attention, becoming popular enough with DVR enthusiasts to help make the brand a well-known name. For many years after their introduction, to "TiVo" something meant to record a show on a DVR. However, the high price tag of the early models still kept them out of many people's living rooms.

Cable TV Providers Enter the Scene

While TiVo did meet with some success, they still were only in a small percentage of homes in the US. Their successes didn't go unnoticed by many of the big cable TV providers, who started working on DVR models of their own. TiVo also managed to attract the attention of many content providers, who didn't feel that it was legal for them to provide such features as commercial skipping, thus cutting into the revenue of many television networks. TiVo, along with several other DVR providers, soon removed such features in order to help appease the content providers, who were always vigilant about possible piracy.

Meanwhile, many of the cable TV providers started releasing their own custom DVRs, often including them with cable subscription packages. While many of these DVRs had similar features to TiVo, many of them also lacked the intuitive interface that made TiVo DVRs so easy and pleasant to use. Despite this, the market soon became watered down with custom DVR models, each with its own set of features.

Recent Years

TiVo, despite the setbacks they have suffered, are still around, and still provide excellent DVRs. However, there are many other DVRs on the market, many of which provide features that most TiVo or cable company provided boxes do not, such as recording from different video inputs, clip editing, separate audio track recording, and many others. There is even software for the standard PC that allows you to turn your computer into a DVR. With all of the healthy competition available on the market now, today is definitely the right time to purchase your own DVR.

FAQ:

Q: How do DVRs work?

A: DVRs are basically very similar in terms of hardware to a standard computer. They use many of the same technologies as computers, but instead of running an operating system like Windows or MacOS, they have their own custom software that focuses on providing the services and features common to the devices. A DVR records video by taking the video output from another source, such as a cable box or TV antenna, and then recording that video and storing it on some form of mass storage, most commonly a hard drive. The very basic function of this is similar to how VCRs used to work.

Q: Are DVRs difficult to use?

A: This mostly depends on the DVR in question. However, most recent DVRs are extremely simple to setup and use, with many of them featuring intuitive on-screen menus and guides that help you find and use the features offered by the device.

Q: Is it legal to record shows from television on a DVR?

A: This question has been hotly debated ever since the introduction of the first DVRs, with many broadcast television networks concerned about DVRs providing a way for people to watch shows while being able to easily skip commercials. Since advertising revenue has traditionally been the main source of revenue for any TV station or network, this was a legitimate cause for concern. However, in the present day, DVRs are perfectly legal to use to record broadcast television.

Q: Is it legal to use DVRs to record video from non-broadcast television, such as from DVD or Blu-Ray players, or online streaming boxes?

A: The terms for using a DVR to record video from other media sources has been a sticky issue. Many modern devices such as home media players include copy protection built-in, and the terms of service of their use often dictate that it is not legal to record video from their service. If you are using a DVR to record video from such services, it is best to keep this in mind.

Q: Are there any legal prohibitions regarding video content that I record with a DVR?

A: Legal prohibitions regarding recorded content can vary, depending on the content provider. In general, it is legal to record broadcast television, and there is also a legal gray area in regards to recording video content from other sources. However, in all cases, it is illegal to distribute copyrighted content that has been recorded for any purpose, including such actions as selling or giving away copies of such content. If you are unsure of the legality of your actions with a DVR, it is best to check with the provider of the content that you wish to record.

Q: How can I edit the video content that I have recorded with my DVR?

A: Some DVR models include features that allow for simple editing of recorded content, such as editing out commercials. However, for more full-featured editing, it is probably best to copy the content to a computer in order to edit with video editing software.

Q: What are some best practices for scheduling television shows to be recorded?

A: Many DVRs make it very simple to schedule recordings for television shows, with many making it a matter of simply selecting the show from a guide and pressing a button. However, some DVRs can have trouble with discerning a brand new episode of a television show from a rerun. If your DVR supports automatically checking for new episodes as opposed to reruns, you can simply select that option to make sure that you are recording the correct episode instead of one you have seen before.

Another good practice is to schedule your recordings to start a short time before and to finish a short time after the scheduled start of a program. Not doing so many results in the very beginning or ending of a show to be cut off.

Sources:

1. Digital Video Recorder, Wikipedia.

2. Adam Thursby Basic Digital Video Recorder (DVR) Features, Lifewire. March 2, 2017.

3. Benefits of DVR Players, Streetdirectory.com.

4. Carol Francois What is a PVR? wiseGEEK. April 4, 2018.

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Publish Date: 2018-05-02 09:27:16