A DVR records onto a built-in hard drive much like the one in a computer. Though you can't record high-def TV programming onto a DVD, you can do so on many DVRs. DVRs don't have a slot for removable discs or tapes, so they can't play recorded media. You'll still need a Blu-ray or DVD player to watch a disc you purchased or rented. A DVR is a good choice if you often record TV programs or often time-shift to watch a program at a more convenient time. You can also pause, fast forward, and rewind live TV and recordings, allowing you even more viewing flexibility.
Perhaps the easiest option for many consumers is a DVR that's integrated with a cable or satellite set-top box and leased from a TV service provider. On top of the rental fee for the box, there's generally a DVR service fee, often about $10 or so a month. Many DVRs have two tuners--some may now have three or four--so you can record two shows simultaneously or watch one program while recording another. These units typically hold 20 to 30 hours of high-definition content and several times as much standard-definition programming. There are some newer units that hold more HD. Verizon FiOS, for example, has a DVR that reportedly holds 60 hours of HD. Multiroom DVRs from various providers let you watch recorded video on multiple TVs in your house.
You can also purchase a DVR from TiVo, whose name has become almost synonymous with this type of product. TiVo recorders have gained a following for their extensive capabilities and easy-to-use interface. A TiVo unit replaces your cable box; you use it with a CableCard that you can rent from your cable company for a few dollars a month. (A TiVo HD DVR is also now available from DirecTV for a small premium over its standard models.) TiVo offers various combinations of price and fees. For example, a DVR that holds 75 hours of HD recording costs $150, and a model with four tuners and the ability to store up to 300 hours of HD programming costs $400. You must make a one-year commitment and pay a $15 per month service fee, or a one-time $500 service fee that's good for the life of the DVR. No-contract, month-to-month service plans are also available. You can add an external hard drive to some models to get more capacity. TiVo recorders also provide Internet connectivity, with access to streaming video from providers such as Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, Hulu Plus, and more.