What is a HD DVR?

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  • Written By: Ken Black
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
  • Last Modified Date: 01 October 2019
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A HD DVR is a digital video recorder capable of recording in high definition. This is a newer addition to the DVR market that is becoming increasingly popular. While the first units may not have been affordable for many consumers, many cable and satellite providers now offer a HD DVR option to purchase or rent. The units can also be purchased independently as well.

The evolution of high definition television recording started with the rise in popularity of high definition televisions. As more consumers sought to take advantage of the clarity of sound and picture that these new sets offered, they naturally demanded more hi-def programming. The only downside, from a consumer standpoint, was that recording could only be done in standard definition, at least initially. For those who could not be home to watch a broadcast live, the only option was to watch a recording that failed to take advantage of the television's capability.

There are a number of things to keep in mind when shopping for a HD DVR. Compatibility and hard drive size are two of the main items. Cost and style may also be considerations for some people. Like most electronic devices, choosing the right one will likely depend on personal preferences.


Regarding compatibility, it is important to remember that not all HD DVR systems will work with all cable and satellite companies. Therefore, it is important to make sure the model you are considering is going to do what you need it to do. Most have clear warnings if they do not work with the most popular systems. For those who are using a smaller provider, however, the warnings may not be present. Be sure to check with your provider, or with the dealer, prior to the purchase. At the very least, be sure that if can return the device to the seller if it turns out not to be compatible.

Hard drive size is can be another confusing factor, especially for those who have owned conventional DVR units. A high definition recording takes approximately four times more space than a standard definition recording. An HD DVR with the same hard drive space as an owner's previous standard definition DVR may be inadequate for the task.

Pricing and style can also be very important. With the prices coming down, and rentals now being offered by many cable and satellite providers, the cost of an HD DVR may not be as big of an issue as it was in the past. Those who go through a cable or satellite provider may not have much of an option as far as style is concerned. Those purchasing an HD DVR independently of these providers will find there is are slight difference in the appearance and functions of different models. This not only applies to the physical appearance, but also to the way the user interface looks and functions.


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