What is digital video recorder (DVR)? It is an electronic device to record video in a digital format. If you want to know more detailed information about it, then this post from MiniTool is what you need. You can know its definition, history, and multiple types.

Definition of Digital Video Recorder

What is DVR? It is the abbreviation of digital video recorder, which is an electronic device. It records videos in a digital format to the disk drive, USB flash drive, SD card, SSD, or other local or networked mass storage device.

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The term includes set-top boxes with direct to disk recording, portable media players and TV gateways with recording capabilities, and digital camcorders. A personal computer is usually connected to a video capture device and used as a digital video recorder; in this case, the application software used to record the video is an integral part of the digital video recorder.

Many DVRs are classified as consumer electronic devices, which can also be called a personal video recorder (PVR), especially in Canada. Similar small devices with built-in display (approximately 5 inches diagonal) and SSD support can be used for professional film or video production, because these video recorders are usually not as limited as built-in video recorders in cameras and can provide a wider range of codecs support, eliminating the recording time limitations and higher bitrates.

History of Digital Video Recorder

  • In 1999, consumer digital video recorders ReplayTV and TiVo were launched at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Nevada.
  • At CES in 1999, Dish Network demonstrated hardware with DVR capability later with the help of Microsoft software. It also included WebTV Networks internet TV.
  • At the end of 1999, Dishplayer had complete DVR features and sold more than 200,000 units within a year.
  • In 2001, in the UK, BSkyB launched the first PVR Sky+ supporting dual tuner.
  • In 2003, many Satellite and Cable TV providers introduced dual-tuner digital video recorders.
  • In the United States, DVR accounted for 32% of all TV households in 2009 and 38% in 2010. Among households with 18 to 40 years old, DVR usage increased by 40%.

Types of Digital Video Recorder

Integrated Television Sets

The digital video recorder has been integrated into some televisions (TVs). These systems use a power cable, no interconnected ports (such as HDMI), and share a common remote control, thus simplifying wiring and operation.

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VESA Compatibility

The VESA-compatible digital video recorder is designed to be connected to the VESA mounting hole (100×100 mm) on the back of an LCD TV, allowing users to combine the TV and digital video recorder into an integrated unit.

Set-top Boxes

The over-the-air digital video recorder is an independent set-top box for recording broadcast TV programs. In the past few years, several companies have launched over-the-air DVR products for the consumer market.

Some pay-TV operators offer set-top boxes that allow subscribers to connect their network-attached storage (NAS) hard drives or solid-state or flash memory to record videos and other media files (such as audio and photos).


Available software and hardware can convert personal computers running Microsoft Windows, Linux, and Mac OS X into DVRs, and are a popular choice for home-theater PC (HTPC) enthusiasts.


A large number of free and open-source software DVR applications are available for Linux. For example, TV gateway interfaces with a DVB tuner, and provides network tuner & TV server functions, so that real-time viewing and recording can be carried out through an IP network.


Elgato manufactures a series of digital video recording equipment called EyeTV. The software that comes with each device is also called EyeTV and can be used separately to work with compatible third-party tuners from manufacturers such as Pinnacle, TerraTec, and Hauppauge.


There are multiple free digital video recording applications for Microsoft Windows, including GB-PVR, MediaPortal, and Orb (web-based remote interface).


Embedded DVR is a stand-alone device designed to be easily integrated into more complex systems. It is usually provided in the form of a compact bare circuit board, which helps to mount it as a subsystem component in larger equipment. The control keyboard is usually connected with a detachable cable to allow the digital video recorder circuit to be placed outside the system when it resides inside the device.

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