What is Timeshifting? (Using Your DVR to "Shift Time")

The term “time shifting” might bring back memories of some of the old sci-fi shows, such as Star Trek, Sliders, or Quantum Leap. With a DVR (Digital Video Recorder), you can be a time shifter right in the safety of your own home! Once you know how a DVR can make your TV viewing suit your personal schedule, you’ll never go back to “real time.”

How Does a DVR work?

It’s not all that complicated. Digital Video Recorders use computer technology and your regular television. TV programs are recorded digitally onto a hard disk. When you watch the recorded program, you access the recording from the hard disk rather than from a tape or from a live television signal.

Most DVR providers put this technology into a set box connected to your television; you control everything through this box. Some television makers are now integrating DVR technology into their new model TV sets so that separate boxes won’t be necessary. The Mitsubishi Diamond Series WD-52825 - TV/DVR combo Plus is one of these simplified units, as is the LG 42LB1DR - LCD TV/DVR combo.

Humax also has a combination TV and DVR in their new LT2650 unit. Besides hardware combinations, several computer software companies are developing and releasing programs that allow you to use your PC as a DVR too. TiVo and One True Media are now offering a service called “Home Movies” that lets you link up your video and your computer to share with your friends and family.

Overview of Timeshifting

DVRs are usually used to record TV shows so you can watch them later on. Most people do this because they’re unable to watch the shows they are interested in at the times they are originally broadcast. When you record your show, and then watch it later on, you’re doing what’s commonly known these days as shifting time. In essence, you’re shifting your viewing times around to suit your own schedule.

Yes, some of you were probably doing this long before DVRs were invented. But unlike a VCR, a DVR is more than “just” a time shifting device. DVRs allow you to virtually “pause” live TV shows to deal with your kids, grab a snack, or take a phone call. The DVR will be faithfully recording your show while you’re away; you can start watching from where you left off whenever you get back. There’s no more waiting for the show to finish recording – you simply watch it when you’re ready!

Connecting with Your Video and Other Media

While the whole time shifting phenomenon is attractive in its basic element, you should also know that you have a lot more options available to you than using it as only a record and playback device. Because a DVR records video digitally onto a hard disk, it’s transferable to other media – such as your computer.

Your recorded video is easily viewed on your computer, emailed to your friends and family, and moved around between home and office computers. Think about it. Could you be watching the latest episode of Scrubs on your computer screen at work when your boss thinks you are viewing an instructional Webcast seminar? (Well, maybe you could – but you probably wouldn’t!)

Computer connectivity is also allowing more and more combined use of your existing hardware (your TV and your computer). Yahoo already has a beta version of their “Yahoo Go For TV” software out that lets you connect directly to your in/out TV video connections from your laptop or home desktop. This also lets you use your computer itself as your DVR. Beyond TV 4.6 is software that also allows you to use your existing PC for DVR.

Sharing can also be done from your PC to your DVR if you choose not to use your PC as your DVR unit. DirecTV Plus has a software download that lets you view the pictures you’ve got saved on your computer on your television screen. TiVo subscribers can schedule their programs online, and if your DVR is networked, you can even access it remotely to download programs you’ve recorded while away.

Personalizing Your Entertainment

Digital Video Recording really means personalized TV watching. Shifting around your favorite TV shows to suit your time schedule is really the ultimate way to enjoy them. DVR will change how you feel about your TV.

The coolest part of owning or renting a DVR is that you are in control of where, and when, you go with your TV. So, if you have ever wanted to be at the helm of your entertainment world, now you can be.