by Joe Leech
The Digital Revolution is upon us.... In fact, itís been
sneaking up on us for a long time with devices such
as calculators, digital watches, and many other
consumer goods, not to mention the devices we
actually use but see very little of. Such devices are
common to us in "the first person" in the form of
many automotive controls in our car, and indirectly
common to us if we fly.. things like aircraft engines,
But the first area possibly to have a major impact in
terms of comparison has been in the cameras we
use. This effects us both in camcorders and in the
still cameras. While the purist will probably always
win the argument that the film camera gives greater
quality control than the digital, there are those who
would argue against this principal very vociferously.
Now, most Americans who own a TV are about to
experience first hand another upward leap on the
scale of digital technology as our televisions will be
mandated to use digital transmission and reception
technology within the next few years. Yes, for many
years our current televisions will still work.. possibly
with adapters, and the upgrade is not too unlike the
upgrade from the old AM radio to FM, or if you are a
"ham" from AM to SSB.
Sometimes we have to wonder if progress takes
place simply for progress own sake.. or to justify
some new selling point or to create obsolescence so
the engine of progress can march on.
Without going into a technical discussion of digital
Vs its predecessor, analog, and going the
comparisons of an analog watch (one with hands)
to digital, suffice it to say that in this case, the move
to digital technology in most cases DOES bring
substantial benefits. Clarity, use of less power,
higher resolution when it comes to video.. these are
but a few. However, it is not the scope of this article
to lead into a technical discussion which could fill
pages, but to "segway" and introduce one to the
subject of DVR: Digital Video Recording.
The DVR is on the way "in" and the old recording
devices are on they way out at about the same
speed as your old 33 1/3d and 45 RPM records..
and the VHS tape you use. Probably half the of
reader base of this article owns and has used a DVD
player by now, and you see the many advantages of
not having to contend with tape that gets tangled in
heads some times, must be rewound, and has
limited audio and surround sound capability.
Recording with the VCR has always been a
challenge, particularly if one wants to record
multiple programs at multiple times, or do an
extended recording. Instant and simultaneous
replay is virtually impossible.
With DVR, which by the way not only applies to the
entertainment area, all of these things become
things of the past, and options open up that were
not previously available.
One can either own equipment and record on site,
with the most commonly known device being the
TiVo.. although there are devices now made by
virtually every known electronic manufacturer. The
only question in buying one of these is, "Will this
become obsolete in 36 months?" A web site
referred to in the resource block goes further into
The other option is to let a outside source do the
recording. Many of the TV cable providers offer this
as an optional service now. You donít have to buy a
thing.. only be a subscriber to their DIGITAL service
(which we all will be eventually).
In the meantime, the only question is, "Do I want
these benefits now enough to pay the cost for
them?". Thatís an individual question.
In the meantime, this article gives those who have
come across it some general background, and the
opportunity to prepare some questions before
wondering into your TV and Electronics dealership.
We suggest you prepare by doing searches on terms
like HDTV; "digital ready", "digital TV converters";
"Digital Recorders". Ask about the total number of
inputs; the total recording time; Ask if you can make
a copy of the recording onto a CD or DVD, and will it
play universally, or only on the machine it was
Many questions.. but in the end, all of us will soon
be in the DVR owner ranks.
About the Author
Joe Leech has been involved with electronics since getting his first "ham" license in high school, and keeping up with DVR technology is just natural. His full service DVR information web site can be seen at http://www.new-dvrinfo.com.