A good video recorder is easy to use, capable of recording multiple shows at once, and offers networking and Internet connectivity with the touch of a button or remote control.
A personal video recorder gives you full control of your TV viewing schedule by recording the shows so you can watch them whenever you want. You can say goodbye to the annoyance of missing your favorite shows because you’re not at home or when the shows are showing at the same time.
It’s also an advantage for the whole family when everyone can record their favorite shows. Personal video recorders, also known as digital video recorders, record live broadcasts to a hard drive. What’s more, the storage capacity of a personal video recorder far exceeds that of other storage devices.
A personal video recorder gives you full control of your TV viewing schedule by recording the shows so you can watch them whenever you want.
You can say goodbye to the annoyance of missing your favorite shows because you’re not at home or when the shows are showing at the same time.
Tips for buying a video recorder
- Make sure the recorder you choose is compatible with your cable or satellite box’s decoder.
- Consider your current or potential recording habits of TV shows to ensure enough capacity on your hard drive.
- Choose a device with different connectivity and networking options if your family consumes a lot of media.
- Look for a personal HD video recorder with plenty of storage capacity if you have, or plan to buy, an HD capacity TV and want to record high definition programming.
- Look for an electronic program guide to create shortcuts for managing your recordings.
Features of video recorders
Features of video recorders
Depending on your family’s recording habits, your video recorder’s hard drive may fill up quickly. The more capacity your hard drive has, the more programs you can record, especially in high definition (HD) format.
You can plan to record about 25 hours of HD TV for every 100 GB (gigabyte) of storage. A 500 GB hard drive will allow you to record up to 250 hours standard definition or 100 hours of HD content.
While it is possible to easily erase recordings to free up space on a capacity hard drive, you will appreciate the additional storage during periods of heavy use.
Video recorders are equipped with a single tuner or dual tuners to provide the flexibility that will be available to you for channel changes during recording. Single tuners only record the program you are listening to and do not allow you to switch to another program until the recording is complete.
Dual tuners, on the other hand, can record a program while children watch their favorite cartoons. Some dual tuners allow you to record two programs at the same time while listening to one of the channels being recorded.
Other types of dual tuners allow you to record two programs at the same time while listening to a third channel.
Nothing worse than sitting down to listen to a recording to realize that it was interrupted in the middle. Some video recorders are equipped with functions that prevent this kind of situation, for example, missing a key moment or a winning goal. These functions will stretch the length of a recording if the broadcast of a program is extended, or change the start and end times if a live program changes schedule.
Keep in mind, however, that the device cannot reset if the source broadcaster has updated the electronic program guide. Some recorders are equipped with conflict resolution capabilities. That way, if you try to record a program that coincides with another, it will search the schedule and suggest an alternate time when the simultaneous recording is replayed.
Do you want to make sure you don’t miss a single moment of your favorite TV or reality show? Series recording is a feature that allows you to automatically record all future shows in a series over several weeks in one easy step. This function allows you to record up to 20 different series, for a television feed during the next rainy weekend.
This feature is usually limited to the current season and cancels the scheduled program once the season is over, but some digital recorders look for the upcoming schedules and will bookmark your program when it returns the following year .
The offset allows you to pause and rewind live TV to replay moments you may have missed. You can have a snack, take care of an awakening infant, or answer the phone, and then resume watching the show after you leave it.
Video recorders use a 30-90 minute timeframe that allows you to rewind live TV to review a winning goal or capture missed dialogue. Although the lag does not allow fast forwarding during the live broadcast, it allows you to skip all announcements using the time shift function.
You only have to set up your video recorder to record a program and listen to it a few minutes after the start to bypass the announcements by scrolling. It’s a handy way to watch kids’ shows and classics with your little ones, without ads.
Are you looking for a new series to watch once the current one is over? Some video recorders recognize the type of show your family regularly records and suggest similar shows to suit your tastes.
The recommendation feature searches your favorite comedians, directors and genres or other keywords in the schedule, and can offer recommendations or automatically record shows.
When you choose programs to record, the digital recorder searches for programs of a similar genre later on and may ask you if you want to record them as well.
Electronic program guide
An electronic program guide displays a detailed schedule of all TV and radio programs for the next seven days directly on the screen, so you can choose the ones you prefer. The guide lets you browse shows by time, date, title, rating and summary for an overview of all the movies and TV and radio shows you might want to watch in the next few days.
The guide allows you to browse channels and slots to find programs scheduled at any time of the week. Several have a search function so that you can find your particular favorite shows. Look for an easy-to-use Electronic Program Guide interface, which shows multiple channels on the screen at once and highlights your recording preferences.
Recording in high definition (HD)
If your TV can display images in high definition (HDTV), you will want a video recorder capable of recording HD programs for the best possible picture quality. HD mode provides better image quality than standard definition (SD) display by increasing the pixel and color density of the image, while regenerating the image more often per second than for analog TV signals. .
HD tuners can display SD broadcasts but not the other way around; therefore, it would be wise to purchase an HD video recorder if you are considering purchasing an HDTV in the future.
In addition, more recent programming and probably half of the programming broadcast during peak hours is currently in HD. So it’s worth the investment to upgrade to an HD video recorder.
Video recorder networking and connectivity
Whether you travel by public transit, out of town or just near your home, you may want to consider purchasing a networking video recorder.
Networking allows the whole family to share shows between devices and stream TV shows to tablets, laptops, smartphones and other mobile devices. That means you can record a TV show in the living room and listen to it on your laptop in the backyard or anywhere.
Networking also allows you to stream digital broadcasts from the Internet to your home TV and record everything from games, music and videos. You can get access to video sharing sites such as YouTube and video streaming sites such as Netflix and Crackle from your video recorder, and record news that you can watch at will.
Some video recorders even allow you to catch up and record shows you may have missed the previous week, through specialized online services.
If you’ve been out all night and forgot to record a major game or major awards, remote recording lets you schedule your video recorder wherever you are, anytime.
Remote recording, also known as online video recorder programming, allows you to open a session from any connected device, whether it’s a laptop or your smartphone. This handy feature lets you record your favorite shows remotely and stay connected to your show schedule.
Thanks to the ability to connect from any Internet access point, whether you are in an Internet café or at your chalet, you will never have to miss a program from your favorite series.
DVD or Blu-ray integration
If you can’t bear the thought of erasing your favorite shows, your best option is a personal video recorder with a built-in DVD or Blu-ray player. This convenient option allows you to transfer the video stored on your recorder or video camera to a rewritable DVD or Blu-ray disc for later viewing on your TV.
You can save your little one’s favorite shows for family travel, or keep the family’s favorite shows on disc to watch over the years. While creating a family archive, it frees up space on your personal video recorder for new shows.
Keep in mind, however, that very few Blu-ray players can record to disc.
Parental control software
Parental control software on your personal video recorder can help you filter your children’s programming and give you confidence that they’re still watching age-appropriate programming.
You can block certain shows and channels by reviewing their ratings and restricting access using PIN code protection, without hindering access to family equipment that you have reviewed and approved.
Low power consumption in standby mode
A personal video recorder is usually in standby mode so you are always ready to record and receive program updates. However, video recorders, especially those that are HD, can consume a lot of power – more than your TV alone and as much as a standard size refrigerator.
Consider a low power consumption video recorder in standby mode to avoid these additional costs. Turn it off while you sleep or when you leave for longer, and remember to unplug it when you go on vacation.
Tips for registration and maintenance
- Keep your video recorder in a well-ventilated place or on a support to prevent overheating.
- Dust your video recorder regularly with a dry lint-free cloth and spray the air vents with compressed air.
- Connect your video recorder to a surge protector or a backup battery.
- Keep the device and your discs away from sunlight and heat sources.
- Check the current date and time regularly to ensure accurate recording.
- Set the recording time a little in advance and add time after each desired broadcast to ensure complete recording.
- Set your video recorder to record a program and listen to it a few minutes after the start so you can scroll through the announcements.
- Set the recording resolution to a lower standard to record more shows and free up space on your hard drive.
- Use the rewrite function of your video recorder to automatically overwrite older programs when your hard drive is full.
- Use the parental controls and record educational programs for children to make the time spent watching TV entertaining and rewarding.
Video recorders can provide access to a wide range of digital and specialty channels. Some networks, including Radio-Canada, Food Network Canada, HGTV Canada, YTV and Treehouse TV, offer free access to their archives.
With one touch, you can also stream and record video and music from online sources. Free streaming (ad-supported) is available to Canadian viewers on sites such as Crackle, Viewster, CinemaNow and Project Free TV.
The subscription-based Netflix service offers TV shows and movies for a monthly fee. Browse YouTube, Vimeo or Justin.tv online for the latest thrilling videos. You can listen to live music and radio shows from Radio-Canada, Grooveshark, NPR or Spotify, or listen to podcasts on Ted Talks.
Search engines for streaming such as Can I Stream It? and Watch It Stream let you find your favorite show and listen to it whenever you want.