Digital Video Recorders  

This page compares certain notable features of TiVo and ReplayTV, the two popular digital VCRs (DVCRs) in the United States that are marketed mainly around their features of helping people find (and watch) more TV shows that they like.

TiVo ReplayTV description
BASIC STUFF
yes yes When you are watching live TV you can pause and rewind the live TV ...
yes yes ... but as soon as you switch to another channel, all the previous live TV is lost.
yes yes Has a button to instantly skip back 8 seconds
no yes Has a button to instantly skip ahead 30 seconds
yes no Higher FF speeds automatically skip back a bit when you return to "play" to compensate for your reaction-time delay
yes yes If a show is recording, you can watch it from the beginning even before it's done recording.
yes yes If it is recording something, and you change the channel, it asks you to say it's okay to stop recording before you can change the channel ...
yes N/A ... but doesn't require confirmation if the recording was a "recommendation"
yes ? It keeps a partial recording if you stop a recording prematurely
yes yes If you want to save a show permanently, you can copy off the DVCR to a normal videotape
yes no Extra charge for program guide service
yes no Suggests and automatically records shows it thinks you might like
LIBRARY MANAGEMENT
yes yes Rather complex prioritization system to automate decisions about what recordings to get rid of when it's time to record something new
yes ? You can reprioritize recordings
no ? You can undo any reprioritization decision
yes ? You can "lock" a recording so it will never get auto-deleted
SPECIAL SETUPS
yes yes If you have an extra VCR you don't need (to use as a tuner) you can set up your DVCR to work with older dual-cable "A/B" analog cable TV systems. (The way you do this is by hooking up the VCR to the A trunk and the cable box to the B trunk, connect the VCR to your DVCR via RCA cables and connect the cable box with an RF cable. Use the IR blaster to control either the cable box or the VCR (or both if you have ReplayTV) If you have TiVo, you have to manually change the input setting from RCA to RF and vice-versa. See the next two items.)
no yes A/B cable users can record any channel
yes no A/B cable users can record any channel on one cable (either A or B, their choice) but must manually switch the channel for the other cable
yes no If watching live TV, and you decide you want to record the show you're watching, and the show is already partly over, the recording will include the part that is already past (copied from the "live TV rewind and replay" storage area)
yes yes With some effort you can record anything manually from the composite video (or S-VHS) inputs (as an "auxiliary input" or non-TV program source)
yes ? Automatic timed recording from both normal TV (cable/satellite) and or "auxiliary" inputs (like if you have a security camera wired to the composite inputs) requires that you "trick" the DVCR into thinking that you have both a cable service and a satellite TV service.


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This page was last updated on 2014 Mar 10.
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