by : Max Bellamy

DVR is a term heard quite frequently these days. What exactly is DVR? DVR stands for digital video recording. Compared to conventionally used devices like tape recorders, VCRs, or time lapse recorders, the DVR is entirely digital and provides many features that are required for high quality data storage and retrieval. It is no wonder that this technology has found many applications in various fields.

Instead of recording data on tapes, DVRs convert data into MPEG-1 or MPEG-2 format and stores it on a hard disk. A typical DVR consists of a device that stores data that forms the hardware and software in the form of a service that provides programming information and the ability to encode varying data streams derived from single or diverse input devices.

DVR has touched many fields including television, surveillance and monitoring, motion pictures and logistics to name a few. DVRs are commonly used in television to pause a live TV show, revert back a few seconds for an instant replay. It even lets you skip thorough unwanted commercials. In these cases, a DVR records directly to a hard disk drive.

The advantage of DVR is storage and retrieval. Images, motion pictures and related data are converted into digital format and stored. The retrieval is quite easy and there is no loss of quality or data. There are essentially two types of DVRs. One is platform dependent like the ones that use personal computers. A variant of this is platform independent that are commonly referred to as stand alone DVRs. The former gets data from a device such as a camera and then handles the information and passes it on to the storage device located on the PC.

Stand-alone DVR is an all in one system consisting of a cabinet and vital sub devices such as circuit boards, power supply, CPU and all DVR related components. Usually, one board encompasses all this. The software is embedded inside an integrated circuit chip. Stand-alone systems are less complicated and are quite easy to use. The hardware-software configuration ensures optimal performance and eliminates the possibility of conflict between hardware and software.

Platform based DVRs often come with more advanced features and can be upgraded, andor modified. As add on devices can be changed, DVRs can deliver customized performance depending on the environment. These devices are often used in the banking, retail and transport sectors among others. However, due to the addition of hardware, device conflicts can arise adversely affecting the whole system.

DVRs are also available to enhance your TV viewing pleasure. These DVRs allow you to record up to 4 programs simultaneously. One can also view up to two programs at a time. With this technology, one can pause a live broadcast, replay, sequence and even skip commercials. Unlike VCRs where the amount of programming that can be recorded is limited, a DVR can store up to 20 hours or more of television programming depending on the storage capacity.

DVR has become a mini revolution. In homes, people are now controlling what they view. In offices, storage of thousands of hours of digital high quality surveillance data is at hand and faster data acquisition, transfer and retrieval. In the future, DVR will employ many new people, and many new areas including monitoring pollution levels, weather watch, etc. will be explored.