PVR vs. VCR recorder

Discussion in 'Playback Devices' started by Joseph Hansen, Sep 10, 2003.

  1. Joseph Hansen

    Joseph Hansen Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2002
    Messages:
    63
    Likes Received:
    0
    Okay, call me ignorant, or uneducated, or whatever you want. I am not exactly the biggest proponent of the PVR issue. However, given all the hype, my enquiring mind has to know ...

    Everyone says that Tivo/ReplayTV/PVR-of-your-choice "changes the way we watch TV." In all of my admitted ignorance, and truely without a hint of cynisism (sp?), how is a PVR any different than a VCR from this standpoint? Did a VCR not change the way you watched TV? Is it because the PVR gives you a better picture? Or is it that the PVR really provides a set of features that are not available from a VCR (such as the programming, etc)?

    I have never felt the need for a PVR, but possibly that is because I don't know better. In fact, the only person that I know that owns a PVR is my brother-in-law, and it seems that he spends more time making room for new shows than he spends watching the shows that he has already recorded. Is this just him, or is this the norm? I have a VCR, and I might not be up-to-date with what I am watching vs what I have recorded, but I always have an empty tape lying around (at a cost of $2 each, for a two- to six-hor program or set of programs).

    Again, I am not meaning to stomp on anyone's toes, or start a VCR-vs-PVR war (in fact, if I have broken forum rules, please have the moderator remove this post). I just would like to know how people use their PVR in a manner that they could not use (or do not desire to use) a VCR. Features, quality, convenience, anything.

    Thank you for any guidance, directions, and/or criticisms.

    Joseph
     
  2. Robert_J

    Robert_J Lead Actor

    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2000
    Messages:
    8,288
    Likes Received:
    51
    Location:
    Mississippi
    Real Name:
    Robert
    Let me give you some real world examples. You like the TV show Friends and you set your VCR to record it every Thursday starting at 7:00pm (central time) and the ending at 7:30pm. That works out just fine and you watch the show on Saturday afternoon when you have time. This Saturday when you are watching it and the show just stops. NBC "Super Sized" the show to 40 minutes and you missed recording the last 10 minutes. My Tivo knew the show was longer and recorded the entire 40 minutes without any intervention from me. You get smart and change the stop time on your VCR to 7:40pm. Next Saturday you watch your 30 minutes of Friends and when it's over you notice there is another showing of Friends right after that. You start watching but after 10 minutes, the show stop. NBC has shown back to back episodes, each 30 minutes long. My Tivo records both episodes without any help from me. To keep the this from happening again, you change your stop time to 8:00pm. Saturday, you sit down to watch Friends and you have recorded Scrubs and Will & Grace. NBC moved Friends to 8:00pm. As usual, my Tivo recorded it. You can't let NBC win so you record 7:00 to 10:00 now. On Thursday evening, you have some free time and want to watch Friends but it's still recording. You have to wait until it is finished and rewind to watch it. Not me. I start watching Friends from the beginning while it is still recording the ending. Next Saturday you have 30 minutes free to watch Friends but want to record the football game to watch later in the day. You can't do both at the same time with a VCR. Tivo can. Recording and playback are separate functions.

    Basically, you don't have to let the network programmers run your life. Tell Tivo to record your favorite shows and watch them when you want. Another argument is "I don't watch enough TV to need a Tivo". You will spend even less time watching the few shows you like. Like a certain actor or director? Tell Tivo and it will record shows with that actor. Like monster trucks? Tell Tivo and it will record shows with them in it.

     
  3. Stephen Tu

    Stephen Tu Screenwriter

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 1999
    Messages:
    1,573
    Likes Received:
    0
    There are several areas where a PVR just blows a VCR away, making it convenient to time-shift 95-100% of your programming rather than a smaller fraction which makes TV viewing a different experience. With the PVR getting everything you have a pseudo video-on-demand system.

    1. You can start watching before you finish recording. It's highly annoying to come home at say 9:15 and have to wait until 10:00 to start watching your 9-10 show. Or the 8-9 show on the first part of the tape. This can be partially worked around with a second VCR but it's a pain compared to the effortless PVR. This is the top reason why I didn't record more when I just had a VCR.

    2. Random access
    Watch any show you feel like at the time; with VCR you feel somewhat constrained to watch on the order on the tape so that you free up contiguous free space for later recordings. Plus it takes time to FF/rewind to the program you want even on faster VCRs with good indexing features. And on the PVR it's easy to just leave a program you are tired of and watch something else, without losing your place.

    3. Programming ease & accuracy
    You never have to remember to set the timer / turn VCR off (which I've forgotten many a time), have effectively infinite recording slots rather than just 8, and it will track time slot changes of your shows. Plus you get search-and-record by keyword/category features, which have been described as "googling TV".
     
  4. Scott Kimball

    Scott Kimball Screenwriter

    Joined:
    May 8, 2000
    Messages:
    1,500
    Likes Received:
    0
    My #1 enjoyed feature is the ability to tune in for a 9:00 show at 9:15 and watch it commercial free... or if I have 3 shows I like back-to-back, I'll start watching later in the evening and catch up to "real-time" by the end of the last show... or, just put the whole night of programs off for another more convenient time.

    Advertisers hate to hear this, but I rarely see commercials anymore... and I can cut my time in front of the tube by 25% and still catch all the shows I want to see.

    Since PVRs buffer programming, you could be watching a movie and decide, halfway through, that you'd actually like to record that. With a VCR, you have to plan ahead. The PVR lets you decide to record long after the program started.

    Also, not having to deal with that stack of 7 or 8 unlabeled VHS tapes sitting on top of the VCR is absolutely wonderful. The PVR holds many hours of programming without need of tapes - and all the shows are labeled and have descriptions, dates, etc.

    Finally, picture and sound quality are superior to VHS - and the satellite models can record Dolby Digital.

    Your mileage may vary.

    -Scott
     
  5. Patrick Sun

    Patrick Sun Moderator
    Moderator

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 1999
    Messages:
    38,717
    Likes Received:
    463
    Once you get a PVR and live with it awhile, you'll look at your VCR with utter contempt and disdain! And you'll wonder how you lived without a PVR in the mix.
     
  6. Ken Chan

    Ken Chan Producer

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 1999
    Messages:
    3,301
    Likes Received:
    0
    Also, if you actually are home, you can "pause live TV", and even rewind it a bit (or a lot, depending on the PVR). This comes in handy if you didn't catch what someone said, when the phone rings, or when the delivery guy shows up.

    //Ken
     
  7. Joseph Hansen

    Joseph Hansen Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2002
    Messages:
    63
    Likes Received:
    0
    Thank you, one and all, for your answers to my query. I had been assuming (for the most part) that a PVR was really being used as a digital VCR. However, you really do utilize (and maximize) its capabilities. Excellent!

    Thanks again,

    Joseph
     
  8. Jay H

    Jay H Producer

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 1999
    Messages:
    5,654
    Likes Received:
    32
    Location:
    Pittsfield, MA
    Real Name:
    Jay
    I kind of felt the same way as you did... before I got my PVR!

    But like everybody mentions, they are great at allowing us to timeshift coverage and the ability to skip commercials is a plus. Especially when the commercials are all the same (like during OLN's cycling coverage, usually sponsored by one major manufacturer, the result is every commercial is the same for 2 hours every day. It gets monotonous very fast).

    What also is great is the ease to set timers, weekly, daily, M-F, etc. If you have a conflicting timer, you can move them around with a few clicks, rather than having to enter VCR+ codes or even reprogram the whole thing...

    Jay
     
  9. nolesrule

    nolesrule Producer

    Joined:
    Aug 6, 2001
    Messages:
    3,084
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Clearwater, FL
    Real Name:
    Joe Kauffman
    I got the Bright House Cable DVR on Friday. I gotta say that I love it. I think my favroite feature is being able to pause TV. Which also has the added benefit of being able to skip through at least some of the commercials once you resume viewing.
     
  10. Keith_R

    Keith_R Screenwriter

    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2001
    Messages:
    1,170
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    FL
    Real Name:
    Kyle
    I've had my PVR for going on 3 months now and love it. I coincide with much of the responses in this thread,With my TiVo there is always something on even on a night where none of my favorite shows are on because I almost always have something saved on my PVR's hard Drive to watch at a later time.

    Aside from that my PVR is also set-up to find and record things based on a wishlist of keywords or Titles that I set. A real world example of this is the wishlist I set-up to find shows about UFO's, last night the wishlist found and recorded 3 seperate documentaries about UFO's that I will now be able to watch tonight. Had I not had my PVR I would not have found out about these shows.

    Another great thing about PVR's as has been mentioned is the ability of them to keep track of and record your favorite shows week after week. For example my favorite show The Shield is not currently on and won't come back on until January. My PVR however, is set to look for it and will automatically find it and set it to record for me in case I forget when the time comes. It may also find a marathon of that particular show that I would not have known about had I not had my PVR.

     
  11. Ted Lee

    Ted Lee Lead Actor

    Joined:
    May 8, 2001
    Messages:
    8,390
    Likes Received:
    0
    yes, a pvr (i have a tivo) will change the way you view and think about tv. it's really that good.

    i almost never have to worry about what's on tv anymore.

    i don't have to worry about missing my show, worrying if it's changed time-slots, worry about commercials, worry about worrying if there is anything good on, worry about missing something because someone knocks on my door, etc.

    tivo has solved that problem completely.

    if you watch any decent amount of tv, you absolutely owe it to yourself to get one.
     
  12. StacyV

    StacyV Second Unit

    Joined:
    Oct 13, 2003
    Messages:
    282
    Likes Received:
    0
     
  13. Robert_J

    Robert_J Lead Actor

    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2000
    Messages:
    8,288
    Likes Received:
    51
    Location:
    Mississippi
    Real Name:
    Robert
    Tivo will start start the recording from either when you changed the channel, the beginning of the program (if you changed channels before it started) or it will go back and get all of the 30 minute buffer. If you switch to HBO and the movie is showing the final credits, unfortunately it can't go back in time and record the entire movie for you.

    -Robert
     
  14. MickeS

    MickeS Producer

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2000
    Messages:
    5,058
    Likes Received:
    1
    Like others have said, on the surface a PVR seems to be just a digital VCR, but it is so much more.

    One thing that I didn't see mentioned so far is the ability to easily switch between recorded shows. Say that you're watching a recording of "Six Feet Under" with your wife, and all of a sudden the phone rings and she has to go answer a business-related call that you know will take a while. You don't want to sit there and watch the rest of it yourself, and you don't feel like starting some non-TV-related project of your own. What do you do? You just click back to the menu and watch one of "your" shows that she has no interest in seeing, while she's away. When she comes back, you'll just switch back to "ER" and continue watching. The "switching" is as easy as clicking a few manu items on the screen.

    This is one thing you could not do easily on a VCR, you'd have to either rewind/ff the tape to find "your" recording (and don't forget to set that counter to 000 so you'll find where you left off in "ER") if it's on the same tape, or switch between tapes if you have it on different tapes. And of course, it would have to be cued up to "your" show on that other tape already, otherwise there'd be more rewinding/fast forwarding.

    There's just a whole lot of functions that never occurred to me to be important, that I now would never want to give up.

    Oh, and the ability to create your own replays in sports is an excellent function. I now get annoyed if I happen to be watching a game on a non-Tivo equipped TV, because there's always some point where I want to go back and check something... and realize that I don't have my Tivo. [​IMG]
     

Share This Page