Short for personal video recorder, PVR is a generic term for a device that is similar to a VCR but records television data in digital format as opposed to the VCR’s analog format. VCRs utilize analog tapes to record and play programs broadcast over television, but PVRs encode video data in MPEG-1 or MPEG-2 formats and store the data in a hard drive. PVRs have all of the same functionality of VCRs (recording, playback, fast forwarding, rewinding, pausing) plus the ability to instantly jump to any part of the program without having to rewind or fast forward the data stream.
A PVR is essentially made up of two elements: the device that stores its hardware elements, such as the hard disk drive, power supply and buses, and the software in the form of a subscription service that provides programming information and the ability to encode the data streams.
Two common PVR systems are TiVo and ReplayTV.
A PVR is also referred to as a hard disk recorder (HDR), digital video recorder (DVR), personal video station (PVS) , or a personal TV receiver (PTR).