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DVR Developments

The New York Times' excellent technology writer David Pogue has an article summarizing the latest trends in Digital Video Recorder (DVR) technology, namely, what TiVo and ReplayTV are up to these days, including comparisons of how the two vendors' approaches to DVR design differ. He begins the article by asking and then answering a question:

Why hasn't the digital video recorder become the must-have, smash-hit, world-changing appliance of the digital age? ...

If you're among the 6.3 billion stubborn holdouts, here's the deal with DVR's. They're like videocassette recorders, except that they record shows onto a hard drive instead of tapes. You look over a two-week TV listings grid and press a Record button on the remote for each show that you want "taped." Another press sets the machine to record every episode of that series automatically.

Over time, the DVR builds a list of captured shows, ready to begin playback in whatever eccentric time slots your schedule affords. You'll never know or care when they were originally broadcast or on what channel; you're just grateful that there's always something good on. Because a DVR can also jump forward 30 seconds at a time during playback or pause a live broadcast, its net effect is to free you from the slavery of the commercials, the filler and the rigid scheduling of live TV.

One of the leading theories concerning the DVR's modest sales is that you can't describe the concept in a tidy sentence or two, as you've just discovered.

What I find interesting is that people will listen to explanations of DVRs, buy them with an almost what-the-heck attitude, then become fanatics within days of installing them.

The DVR industry needs some sort of category positioning -- crossing lines between manufacturers -- to help everyone understand the DVR category as a whole.


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