With our PVR buying guide, you’ll never have to miss another episode of your favourite TV show!
There’s so much great TV content each week, but with our busy lives it’s not always possible to watch shows when they air. From sitcoms to sports to movies—sometimes on at the same time—it’s hard to keep up. Thankfully, with the power of a Personal Video Recorder (PVR) you don’t have to miss out on beloved shows.
With a dedicated PVR hooked up to your cable box, you can record and save hours of your favourite content. Now, you can freely catch up on your weekly shows, or watch the latest sports game when it’s convenient for you and family!
PVR Buying Tips
When purchasing a PVR, you first want to ensure it’ll meet your viewing needs. For instance, most cable packages now offer HD channels, so you may want a PVR that can record in HD to maintain viewing quality.
Also, take into account how many people in your household will likely be recording content on the box. Some PVRs can record multiple shows at once, while other PVRs will only record one show per timeslot. Look for an option that suits your family’s lifestyle and viewing habits.
As well, some PVRs include user-friendly features like an EPG (electronic programming guide) that is easy to navigate for adults and children alike. Also, pay attention to how simple the remote control is to use—the last thing you need is someone accidentally deleting last week’s episode of Brooklyn Nine-Nine!
So, let’s take a look at some features PVR boxes have and how they can suit you and your family!
- Storage capacity
- Time adjustment
- Series recording
- Broadcast recommendations
- PVR networking
- Remote recording
- DVD and Blu-ray player PVRs
- Parental controls
When it comes to storage capacity, you’ll want a size large enough to meet the viewing needs of your family. Generally, you can record up to 25 hours of content per 100GB. While that may seem like a lot, consider how many hours of TV your family will be recording each week. Make sure to have extra room to record one-off shows, like a major award show or sporting event! You can always delete recordings, but that’s no fun, is it?
Older PVR boxes only allow you to record what you’re watching at the time. Instead of potentially missing out, PVRs with Dual or Twin tuners will let you record multiple shows in the background while you’re watching different programming. Now, you can record that Simpsons rerun while catching the Leafs’ game!
If you’re a big fan of HBO’s Game of Thrones like me, you’ll know the show tends to run over its 60-minute runtime. Nothing is worse than coming home eager to catch the latest episode, only to notice the last 10-minutes have been cut off! Many PVRs feature the ability to keep recording if a program runs longer than intended automatically. If you’re recording too many shows at once, some PVRs can also resolve overlapping conflicts by suggesting alternative time slots.
Sometimes, rainy days are perfect for a TV binge session! A PVR with series recording functionality can be set to record the same show over multiple weeks to get your prepared. In a few easy steps, you can begin recording a season of a show and have the PVR record it weekly until the season finale.
Time-shifting lets you pause and resume live television at your leisure. If you need to start cooking dinner or receive an incoming phone call, pause your show and after pick up right where you left off. Note that most PVRs only let you rewind live TV up to 60 minutes, so for longer periods make sure you record the programming. Time-shifting lets you bypass commercials too! After hitting record, wait a few minutes and begin watching. When the first commercial break begins, hit fast-forward—simple!
We all have nights where everyone in the house says: “I don’t know, what do you want to watch?” PVRs with the broadcast recommendations feature can give you suggestions based on previous viewings or favoured genres. When you select programs to record, the PVR searches for programs of a similar genre scheduled for future broadcast and may ask if you wish to record them, too.
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In the age of television streaming, having access to your TV shows on any device can be just as important as watching them when you want. Some PVR boxes can connect to your laptop, tablet and even mobile devices. This connectivity means you can start watching a show in the living room, and pick up where you left off in the backyard while you BBQ.
We all live busy lives! So, to have the ability to curate and start recording remotely is a big advantage. Online program recording lets you record from any mobile device connected to the internet. Now if your child asks you to record their favourite show, you can play the hero from wherever you are!
DVD and Blu-ray player PVRs
If you record a series or season of a show and are running out of PVR hard drive space, consider getting a PVR with DVD and Blu-ray player capabilities. This will allow you to transfer recorded shows onto a DVD or Blu-ray disc to take with you on the go, or build an archive for the household. If discs aren’t your thing, some PVRs have a USB port to transfer content onto an external hard drive.
PVR parental controls let you decide which content is accessible to your children. Using the on-screen programming guide, you can block certain channels or shows based on what’s age appropriate. Restricting content via a PIN on the remote can also be used to control what your children watch without blocking the content outright.
PVR maintenance tips
Ideally, you want to keep your PVR in a well-ventilated area. This will avoid overheating or dust build up. As with any major electronic, keep it cleaned and securely plugged into a surge protector to avoid unexpected issues from arising. Finally, make sure the time and date are always correct to maintain recording accuracy.
Aside from digital cable, PVR boxes can give you access to streaming services such as Netflix, YouTube, Crave TV, and other popular platforms. You can also access many great streaming platforms directly from the network. CBS All Access, Family Channel, HGTV, Food Network and plenty more will add new shows regularly after broadcast.
A good rule of thumb is to give yourself a buffer of a minute or two before broadcast to set up the recording and make sure everything is running smoothly. Another great tip is to keep tabs of how much storage remains, so you don’t miss out on anything! Alternatively, enable the overwrite function so your PVR records over older content once your hard drive is full.
Many households have begun cutting the cord on cable in exchange for streaming devices. If you have cut the cord yourself, or like me, want to be able to stream The Umbrella Academy to any of your TVs, dedicated streaming boxes are a must!
Devices such as Google’s Chromecast or the Roku Streaming Stick give you access to over 1000 streaming apps. Heavy-hitters include Crave TV, YouTube, and of course Netflix. Streaming devices simply plug into an HDMI port on the back of your TV and connect to the internet via Wi-Fi.
Streaming services are also a great way to access 4K content if you have a 4K TV. Apple TV 4K is a wonderful example that’s built to send 4K and HDR content to your TV. On top of that, Apple TV 4K can airplay videos and photo galleries from your tablet or phone onto your TV for the entire family to see!
When it’s time to settle in for the day, catch up on the hottest shows. With a PVR, you’ll never have to miss a single minute of your favourite shows again.
See also: 8 Ways to Get the Most Out of Your HDTV