DVR without the Service Fees

How can I record TV?

DVR is an acronym for digital video recorder.  Remember the old VHS?  It is the same concept, but add the computer component.  You can still use a VHS recorder and player, but why would you?

Digital Video Recorders are not tapes or discs.  There are no drives like those on your VHS or computer.  A great explanation can be found at  The explanation is a great overview of how these devices work.  I like the quick explanation of services and hardware, like TiVo.

However, you do not need a service and its accompanying hardware (the DVR).  You can build your own DVR.  This is a great DIY project for the intermediate computer user who is ready for a challenge.    You will need a TV card and DVR software with any decent computer.  See lifehacker for the full set of instructions.

If you have Microsoft Windows Media Edition, you may have everything you need. Digital Home DIY has a quick explanation and how-to with video demonstrations. You can visit as well.

There are a multitude of TV cards.  PCWorld lists the options for your computer.  Look closely at each option and benefit.  There is a difference between digital, analog, and high-definition.  I am not so sure of the HD.  I have read numerous experiences and reviews that do not support better quality as would be expected.  I choose to stay away from the current HD cards or USB devices.

I have personally used the ATI TV Wonder.  While this USB device was a nuisance to install, and after several attempts, I finally found that it worked great.  I used the USB device versus the PCI card.  Carefully read the instructions and follow them to the letter and step by step.  Despite your choice of USB or PCI, the installation must be followed exactly.  You should look every few months on the manufacturer’s website for upgrade and new drivers.

Do you not want to use your computer? There are DVRs that are reminiscent of the VHS-style recorders.  However, they are very expensive or very poor quality.  You can research the popular brands – JVC, Panasonic, Sony, et cetera.  Try CNET first.

If you use a search engine, the results are numerous and often confusing – sometimes even irrelevant to your need or your intended search.  Read about Search Engines first.


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