Options Equal Empowerment: How the DVR’s Modern Technology Gives Us Control

The DVR (digital video recorder) is one of our favorite modern technologies. It empowers people more than I thought it ever would, and I think it will continue to do so for families for years to come. When I first heard about the DVR, I didn’t realize how effective and useful it could be; then, we got our first DVR in 2008. We began by recording just a few things to test it out, and we were hooked.

Shouldn't your family have control of free time?

Shouldn't your family have control of free time?

Now, just like most people in today’s society, we are normally busy and have limited free time (especially to be able to just relax and watch TV) but this is how the DVR crosses that line between useful and empowering. If you like to watch TV, then you can use your DVR to maximize your free time at home. Free time is precious for families, so this is a basic but invaluable benefit! My family is now able to “control” our TV and we can now watch more of our favorite shows, see less commercials, and have the TV schedule work around our schedule.

Honestly, I could never go back to life without a DVR (okay, if I had to, I could..I just wouldn’t want to). We record just about every show we like to watch: weekly competition shows, our favorite childhood reruns, news specials, movies, and anything else that interests us. With a DVR, watching TV is a much better experience because it puts the family in control.

Flipping through channels and watching commercials is nice sometimes, but you always have a lot more options when you’re using the DVR. And to me, options equal empowerment.

For those of you who do not have a DVR yet, here are some more things to learn about them. You may be surprised at how much control you actually have:


  • TV show times no longer matter—you can set a show up to record and you won’t miss it. You don’t have to worry about being home at a specific time for the program.
  • Pick and choose the commercials you watch.
  • Fast forward, rewind, and pause your shows.
  • Makes your favorite shows available whenever you want to watch them. (If we can’t find anything good on live TV, we have no problem re-watching our previously recorded Seinfeld or Roseanne episodes!)
  • Recorded programs are stored right in your satellite/cable box.
  • You have an option to add extra storage capacity with an external hard drive.
  • You can save money because you no longer have to purchase DVDs or tapes to store your recorded shows.
  • You can record a show and watch another show at the same time, on the same TV.
  • Most DVRs are free with a new service, which means there’s no expensive equipment to buy.
  • It’s easy to set up an entire season to record with just a few pushes on the remote. You no longer have to setup the recording weekly.
  • You’re free to delete shows at any time.


  • Missing out on some commercials we might like to see.
  • There’s a possible monthly service fee (but believe me, it’s worth it!).
  • We’re less likely to watch new shows, because we watch mostly what is already recorded.
  • Limited hard drive space if you choose not to use a separate external hard drive.
  • Having to “wait” for certain shows to be on TV (this doesn’t bother us, but could be a concern for those that are used to the instant ways of Netflix).

I listed both pros and cons to be fair, but honestly, I see only pros after having our DVR for 3 years. We would never go back. Having a DVR empowers our family by saving time, allowing us to watch the shows we aren’t normally home for, and we can skip over some of those darn commercials! These benefits give families more control over their free time, which is a huge perk. Just think of everything you could accomplish with even an extra hour or two a day!

Do you have a DVR at home? If so, what is the main benefit for your family? Could you ever go back to life without it? And what other modern technology empowers you, whether at work or at home?


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  1. Jana Quinn

    The biggest thing on your con list that jumps out at me is that you rarely watch new shows. Not only do DVR owners (myself included) rarely spend time flipping channels, but the commercials that promote the other shows on the network are getting skipped over.

    Another downside to widespread DVR use is that the advertisements are starting to intrude on the programming. I’m not talking about an extra-visible Sprite can or a gratuitous mention of the Toyota Sienna’s luxury features (I’m looking at you, Bones). I’m talking about the bottom 1/5 of my screen getting covered with people randomly shoving each other next to a TV show title and time/date listing or the episode-long imprint in the lower right corner with a TV show title and time/date listing.

    Basically, we’d love to skip the boring commercials, but those boring commercials pay for the production and distribution of those TV shows. With DVR gaining popularity, the networks have no choice but to start intruding on the programs themselves. Does this “shortcut” lead to an overall poorer viewing experience?

    Although I must say, I’m looking forward to Shovin’ Buddies and Slowly Rotating Black Man…

    • Amanda

      We do watch some new shows—and by using the DVR I have discovered some new favorites like Law and Order SVU, The Mentalist, and Lie to Me, without recording them at first, I never would have seen them. But most work nights, we do watch the a lot of the same shows.

      Which tv service provider do you have? We had DirecTV and now have Dish Network, and the commercials never intrude on the shows. So I’m confused about what you mean there. Our recorded shows play just like normal.

      • Jana Quinn

        I’m not talking about commercials playing over the shows or in a split screen. I’m talking about the network advertisements for other shows playing along the bottom of the screen; this has nothing to do with service provider and everything to do with the network.

        If you look at the Shovin’ Buddies clip above, you’ll know what I mean. It’s from Family Guy, but it has the same format as those intrusive ads.

        • Amanda

          Oh….after watching the clip and re-reading your comment, I see what you’re saying….at first I thought you meant that the commercials were playing over the show or something.

          I guess I didn’t see those 1/5 of the screen things often enough to have them bother me. But yeah, they may become more annoying if they become more common.

    • JPorretto

      Holy crap does Bones piss me off with that! “OMG look at this amazing rear-view camera!” Gag.

      • Amanda

        I’ve never watched Bones….do they really advertise for Toyota in the show that much? I’ve never seen it to that extent. Something to look forward to, I guess, lol.

      • Jana Quinn

        I understand why they do it; that gives them more cash in the budget to do awesome gross corpses and explosions. But it’s still annoying, and it’s rarely done organically through plot or character.

        I also noticed the Southwest placement in Thor – between the rerouted plane and huge billboard, I was wondering if it was going to be the official airline of the Avengers.

        • Mandy Kilinskis

          The Avengers need to fly all of their bags for free! Iron-Man suit, Thor’s Hammer, Captain America’s Shield – they’d have to check that stuff. You couldn’t carry on those kinds of weapons. 🙂

    • Kyle

      Haha I love the “Shovin’ Buddies” Family Guy clip. I hate when those types of ads pop up during important/dramatic parts of shows. Nothing says tension killer like seeing an ad for American Idol while watching Jack Bauer foil a terrorist plot (not a real example but you get my point).

  2. Mandy Kilinskis

    Great list, Amanda! Though I have to disagree with one of your cons. I’ve actually started watching more new programs because of DVR. At the beginning of the fall TV season, I always set up series recordings for shows that I think I’m going to like – and just in case I’m working or just forget to watch, I can go back to my DVR and catch up there. If the show isn’t everything I hoped it would be, it’s just as easy to cancel that series recording.

    • Amanda

      I see what you’re saying, and after thinking about it, there have been some shows we’ve discovered because of the dvr. This is another great perk! Oh how I love our dvr. =)

  3. Jill Tooley

    I wanted a DVR before, but now I’m really excited about getting one! Not only do I hate commercials, but it would be so perfect to record shows and movies to have “in queue” for a later date. Do the shows have any sort of time limit that you have to watch them by? I’ve heard of DVRs that restrict users to a certain date range before they expire and auto-delete from your system.

    TV hasn’t been a part of my life for about 3 or 4 years now, so it’ll be weird (but fun) to go back. Thanks for the thorough rundown, Amanda – I’m going to check into this ASAP in my area. 🙂

    • Amanda

      I would 100% recommend getting a dvr. It’s so awesome! With DirecTV and Dish Network, there are no time limits. You can record however you want. We keep some movies on there for months and months, and they never auto delete shows either…which is awesome.

      • Amy

        I’ve got them too and I highly recommend them!

  4. Amy

    I would literally die without my DVR. I worked Thursday nights during the school year and I always missed out on NBC’s Thursday night line-up of amazingness (Community, Parks & Recreation, The Office, Outsourced) until the glorious day when I upgraded to the DVR package. And with wonderful Murphy’s Law, it seemed when I did have time to watch something, there wouldn’t be anything good on >:( If I could only grab two things if my house caught on fire, one of them would be my DVR <3 it!!

    Great post Amanda (as per usual)!! Good job of thinking of cons, I would have difficulty coming up any at all to keep things balanced!

    • Amanda

      Dvrs are so amazing, and so easy to use! Until 2008, we’d have to call my grandma and have her record things for us on vhs. I couldn’t never get it to work at our house. lol.

      I am glad to see so much dvr love! =)

  5. Joseph Giorgi

    Awesome post, Amanda. 🙂

    My parents used to have a DVR, and I used to love that thing. I would set it to record “Star Trek: Voyager” episodes weeks before they were scheduled to air. I loved knowing that I wouldn’t have to set aside a specific hour of my time to catch the show while it was airing, and that I could watch it whenever I eventually chose to do so. To me, that was revolutionary.

    Of course, nowadays I opt for the enormous back-catalog of TV shows available through Netflix, seeing as how it’s cheaper than cable. There just aren’t many shows on TV these days that interest me, and when there are, I have no problem waiting for them to be available on Netflix.

    But DVR is amazing if you’re a cable buff. In the off-chance that I subscribe to cable again, DVR will be a necessity.

    • Jill Tooley


      I’m more of a Next Gen type of gal, but Voyager definitely had its strong points.

      • cyberneticSAM

        “maH ‘oH Hoch toy’wI’ a’pu’ Daq vum” (Yeah, that’s right – Klingon).

    • Mandy Kilinskis

      Voyager will always be my first and favorite Trek. Can’t miss with a woman captain – especially one as awesome as Janeway.

    • Amanda

      Thanks Joe! I did enjoy Netflix, but my husband hated it. It wasn’t easy enough to hook up the laptop to the tv and so many things he wanted to watch, weren’t available….so we cancelled. But I still support Netflix, and think it’s awesome that so many people get a ton of use from it. My mom is actually looking into sigining up for Netflix so she can get rid of her cable tv bill. I think she’ll love it!

      And yeah, we’re satellite tv buffs for sure. That is one luxury I’d never be willing to part with in order to save money.

      • Jana Quinn

        If you have a Blu Ray player and a wifi widget or a PS3, you can stream Netflix straight through your television set. That’s what I do. 🙂

        • Amanda

          That sounds awesome! I know we wouldn’t buy a PS3, but a blu ray will hopefully be in our future this year. And maybe then he’ll re-consider Netflix. And if it’s that easy to use, it might be nice to have around for extra movies. I loved watching netflix when I worked part-time, now I just don’t have the time for as much tv. And for $8 a month, it’s real cheap, but we weren’t using it, so we cancelled. Thanks for the tip though! It makes me more hopeful! =)

        • JPorretto

          Netflix evens sells a set-top box for about $60 that you can use to stream if you don’t have any of the other fancy tech.

  6. JPorretto

    I agree with Mandy, I actually watch MORE shows now. I don’t have to choose between two shows that are on a the same time, I can watch both!

    Another Plus….. relationship saver. No more fighting over the remote. Just record what you want to watch, and view it when you have the time. Nobody has to sit through “The Bachelor” when the NBA Finals are on 😉

    • Amanda

      Agreed. It makes it so much easier for me to watch my weekly competition shows like American Idol. It records, we watch our “together” shows…and later I can still watch Idol with no commercials. Win win!

  7. Scooby DOO!

    I agree with Jana in that the commercials PAY for the show, so as we see the popularity of DVRs increase, we will continue to see more crap at the bottom of a shows, or products with huge logos used obnoxiously during the program. And when the sponsors realize that due to the DVR proliferation, that their ROI is no longer there, they’ll pull adds, and then the production companies will go to cable. Its eventual and predicable. But hey, I don’t need to see another BEGGON strips commercial ever again. So it’s a win-win for me.

  8. Kyle

    DVR’s are AWESOME! I would miss so many of my favorite shows if I didn’t have one and I couldn’t see going back. I think we will continue to see increases in consumer control in all forms of media as technology evolves.

    I’m still waiting for Netflix to offer content streamed directly to the brain. (Insert Dr. Evil laughter here.) >:)

    • Amanda

      Hahahaha. Nice Kyle. Yay for DVRs. =) I agree, the future is all about consumer control!

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