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How to get the most out of your DVR

Laura Williams, M.S.Ed. is a personal trainer, freelance writer and entrepreneur who works with a wide variety of fitness clients. She's the founder of the popular website, - Girls Gone Sporty, and she's the host of the High Impact Blogg...

Pause, rewind, record

The advent of the DVR completely changed the way people watch TV. You’re no longer constrained to the TV networks’ viewing schedule, and you can watch your favorite shows exactly as you please -- even pausing and rewinding as you watch. To get the most out of your DVR, use these quick tips.

DVR

Recording your favorite shows

A DVR is like an old school VCR, but on steroids. The computer technology used by a DVR enables you to record your favorite shows to a hard drive, even recording several shows at the same time. As cool as this is, the hard drive on a DVR is limited, and you may be surprised at how quickly it fills. To maximize your space, consider the following options:

  • Standard Definition vs. High Definition: There's no denying that high definition looks better than standard definition, but high definition recordings eat up a lot of space on your DVR hard drive. If you regularly record your shows in HD, but find yourself running out of space, consider switching at least a few of your programs to standard definition recordings. This works particularly well with kids programming, news and talk shows, where the differences in definition aren't as important.
  • Delete, delete, delete: Make sure you take the time to delete the programs you've watched as soon as you watch them. If you regularly forget to delete your shows, check your settings to see if you can program an automatic deletion. You can usually do this show-by-show, so if you know you watch your favorite shows the same night or the day after they air, setting them to delete within a week could help you free up more space.

Adding hard drive space

If you still find yourself struggling with space on your DVR, see if you can add an external hard drive to your device. This may not be an option if you rent your DVR from your satellite or cable company, but if you own your DVR, it shouldn't be a problem -- simply purchase an external hard drive that's compatible with your DVR model and plug it into your device. A one terabyte external hard drive can add 140 hours of HD quality programming space or more than 1,000 hours of standard definition space to your DVR.

Watching live TV

If you're only using your DVR to record shows, you're missing out on some of the coolest features of the device. Whenever you're watching TV live, your DVR automatically records and saves the information from the channel you're watching. This enables you to pause and rewind live TV. If you hate watching commercials, you can pause your TV on the channel you want to watch for five to 10 minutes at the start of the show. When you start watching, the lag time between the live TV and your recording will enable you to fast forward through all the commercials, cutting down on your total watch time.

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