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This currently fashionable abbreviation stands not for “Player Value Rating” as American football fans might think, nor for the medics’ “Pulmonary Vascular Resistance”, but for “Personal Video Recorder”. Readers in the US may be more familiar with this term than those in Britain or elsewhere, since the US has three types on sale at the moment — TiVo, UltimateTV and ReplayTV — while only TiVo has so far made it to the UK. The concept marries a digital video recorder with a computer and an electronic program guide, downloaded via the telephone, that lets you look 14 days ahead. You choose up to 35 hours of programmes, which are stored on the disk as they are broadcast for you to watch when you like. One key advance over the VCR is that you can browse, replay or skip at will, and watch one programme while another is recording. Some of the systems let you skip the commercials, are capable of learning your viewing habits, and allow you to pause live programmes temporarily while, say, you answer the telephone.

PVRs are interactive — as they play the selected program they also collect data about viewing habits that advertisers can use to target commercials at specific audiences.

Time International, Mar. 2001

Still, PVRs promise sweeping new powers to this nation of tubers: Save hours wasted watching commercials! Rearrange your viewing schedule without limits! No more messy VCR tapes! There’s always something on TV that you might actually want to watch! This is why PVR fans remain steadfast even after the unit fails to record that crucial episode of their favorite show.

Forbes Magazine, June 2001

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Page created 23 Jun 2001