How to Buy a DVR Vs. Renting From Cable TV

By Elle Di Jensen

Adding a DVR to a DirecTV account is simple.
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Digital video recorders are becoming as commonplace as VCRs and DVD players once were. Aside from digitally recording shows you want to watch at a later time, DVRs allow you to easily skip over the commercials, which can take up to 20 minutes away from an hour's worth of recorded programming. Cable companies now offer DVRs as a service and equipment option, but if you prefer, you can purchase one instead of renting from the cable provider.

Contact the Cable Company

Before you purchase your own DVR, contact your cable company and explain you are considering purchasing a DVR rather than renting equipment. The representative will be able to tell you if a DVR will work with your provider's service. Some cable companies' services won't work with certain brands of DVRs, but most are compatible with TiVo. It's critical to ascertain that what you purchase will be able to perform in the way you desire.

Comparison Shop

Once you have a list of DVRs that the cable service will support, compare them against each other. Not all DVRs are exactly the same, so you'll want to compare features and weigh the differences against the cost variations. One variable to consider is the cost of the TV scheduling service that allows you to control your DVR. Visit a few local electronics stores or compare brands and models online.

Set Up Your New DVR

After you've purchased a DVR, the setup is fairly simple. Plugging it into an electrical outlet and connecting it between your cable box and your television is typically all that is required. There will be some programming you'll need to do so that you can begin recording the shows you want to watch later. Follow the manufacturer's programming instructions in the owner's manual.

Consider Renting

Although it is possible to purchase a DVR rather than renting it from your cable company, you may find that renting has its advantages. If you buy your own DVR, you may also have to purchase the service that goes with it that keeps the DVRs programming up-to-date. If you go with the cable company's DVR, you will have to pay a small rental fee, but the programming service is often included. Also, if there are technical issues, the cable company will not be able to service your DVR if it is not a rental. One last consideration is that as technology improves, you can switch out your rented DVR for a newer one as the cable company makes upgrades available.