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Hard Drives for your Home Theater

The computer and home theater center are rapidly merging into a single system. With hard drives gaining greater capacities, faster access speeds and smaller profiles, it was only a matter of time before someone decided that a hard drive could replace the VCR. That time is here and there are several such hard drives available. Microsoft has such a unit with software based, of course, on Microsoft NT. There is also a popular model called TiVo which runs on embedded Unix software. This section is a work in progress so please feel free to contact me if you have such a device.


bulletDigital recording from cable or Satellite. Most AV hard drives have several recording modes similar to the speeds of a VCR. The range from a quality about the same as a VCR but offering as much as 50 hours of recording, to DVD quality.
bulletInteraction with TV schedules. Most units have a phone line connector. This allows the unit to call up a service with up to date TV schedules. Have you ever missed part of a program because of a political speech of a sports event running overtime? Some models can get this information so your recording starts and stops on time.
bulletSeason Tickets. Every time a pre-selected program comes on the unit will record it. Never forget to set the recorder for that episode of the Sopranos again.
bulletMenu drive recording. A graphical interface is presented and you just have to highlight the program you want and hit a button. No more start and stop times to enter.
bulletLet the unit decide what you want to watch. Many models can monitor what you watch and automatically record programs you might enjoy. This feature can get in the way and can be overridden.
bulletTransfer the program to another source. You can video tape a program to permanently keep it in your collection. Of course, recording in DVD mode will not help much when you move it to your VCR. With the growing incentive for DVD burners you may soon be able to make your own DVD to add to your collection.

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