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TiVo vs. Cable/Satellite Provided PVR/DVR's

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Watching recorded TV shows with a VCR has virtually gone the way of the 8-Track tape. Back in the late 1990's a little company called TiVo redefined the record now to watch later experience. In the years since cable and satellite providers brought out non-tape recorders most commonly referred to as personal video recorders (PVR's) or Digital Video Recorders (DVR's).

Tivo offers advantages over cable company DVR's despite having a few major disadvantages.  A Tivo box is purchased outright, but the monthly subscription fee can cost as much or more than the rental fees cable and satellite carriers charge to one of their DVR's.  Tivo also offers a lifetime subscription plan, where a customer can pay one price (albeit a rather high 
price) to get service on a tivo box for the lifespan of the device.  The only continuous month to month expense is the rental fee for a CableCard, a credit card sized device that allows compatible user owned TV set or set top box to access a cable company provided optional non basic channels. The lastest generation of TiVo hardware called the Premiere currently being sold in the United States has the capability to access online streaming video services such as Netflix, Blockbuster On Demand, Amazon Instant Video and Hulu Plus. The TiVo Premiere would be a excellent solution for those considering 'cord cutting' since the Tivo Premiere hardware can tune tivo logoand record ATSC over the air digital broadcast including programs in high definition.

A free standing Tivo box works best with over the air broadcast, analog cable or digital cable with a CableCard. In situations where the cable company doesn't provide CableCards making the use of a digital cable box mandatory, or with satellite TV, the digital cable box or satellite receiver hinders the ability of the TiVo box because one of the tuners of the TiVo box is connected to the digital cable box or satellite reciever. That makes the TiVo unable to record one show while watching another one. Tivo's other major disadvantage is that support for technical issues can get a little difficult especially when Tivo blames the cable provider and the cable provider blames Tivo for any sort of problem. Total cost of ownership with TiVo is much higher, buying the TiVo hardware and then the monthly subscription or buying the lifetime subscription it adds up.

PVR's provided by the cable company on the other hand are fully supported by the cable company, this allows users to make just one call to the cable company if anything goes wrong. The PVR's provided by cable and satellite carriers have the ability to access Pay Per View, Video On Demand, music channels and other special or enhanced features that are provided with cable or satellite service. Many cable companies are now providing upgradeable PVR's with an eSATA port on the back that an external hard drive is connected. On the other hand, a PVR from a cable or satellite provider is only compatible with the cable or satellite that originally sold the box which may not be the best thing for anybody considering changing their TV service provider.

Whether your buying or renting your first PVR/DVR and finally putting that old VCR into the grave or buying/renting a second or third one, today's digital video recorders that come from the cable or satellite company or TiVo have recording capacity and features for finding shows never before seen. A gadget that was once considered to be a luxury just a couple of years ago is now considered essential for people to continue to enjoy television with lifestyles that are busier than ever.


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