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Top 5 DVRs of 2019

Hopper 3

Best overall

TiVo BOLT VOX

Best third-party DVR

Contour Record 6

Best basic DVR

Data effective 08/09/19. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

Why you’d want a DVR

Do you love TV but don’t have a schedule that lets you chill on your couch all day? You need a DVR.

With the recording and storage power of a good DVR, you can keep up with all your favorite shows—and you won’t need a half dozen streaming subscriptions to do it.

The DVR reviews below will help you find the best one for you.

Top 5 DVRs of 2019

Specs and features comparison

Specs and features comparison

Swipe Left to See All →
ModelProviderSimultaneous
recordings
HD storageGet the DVR
Hopper 3DISH16500 hrs.
TiVo BOLT VOXTiVo6450 hrs.
Contour Record 6Cox6250 hrs.
GenieDIRECTV5200 hrs.
Fire TV RecastAmazon4150 hrs.

Data effective 08/09/19. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

Best DVRs

  • Hopper 3 DVR from DISH—Best overall
  • TiVo BOLT VOX 3TB—Best third-party DVR
  • Contour Record 6 DVR from Cox—Best basic DVR
  • Genie HD DVR (HR54) from DIRECTV—Best included DVR
  • Fire TV Recast from Amazon—Best OTA DVR

How to choose your DVR

Most TV providers offer to set you up with a nice DVR (for a price). We like the options from DISH, Cox, and DIRECTV. They treat a couch potato right.

If you have a different cable TV company than the ones listed above, you should check out all the features TiVo BOLT VOX offers. Chances are it would demolish your provider’s DVR—but this third-party DVR will also take a big bite out of your wallet.

For cord-cutters with an over-the-air (OTA) antenna, we recommend the Fire TV Recast. You’ll be further in the grasp of the Amazon empire, but you’ll have good TV, so who cares?

Hopper 3 DVR from DISH

Best overall

The specs

  • Cost: Starts at $15/mo., prices vary based on credit qualification
  • Simultaneous recordings: 16
  • Storage space: 2 TB
  • HD storage: 500 hrs.

Pros

  • Voice control with Alexa
  • Mobile viewing and control
  • Commercial auto-skip function
  • Netflix and YouTube app integration
  • 4K Ultra HD capability
  • Multiview sports bar function
  • Remote finder button

Cons

  • Required DISH subscription

Yes, the Hopper 3 is pricey, but if you’re a TV fanatic, it’s the most satisfying thing since the Breaking Bad series finale.

The Hopper 3 offers an impressive 2 TB of storage, which is enough for all your newest favorite shows, plus keeping all 30 seasons of The Simpsons handy. You know, for a rainy day—er, month.

Plus, DISH has ended the very notion of TV scheduling conflicts. No other DVR on the market has this many tuners—a mind-boggling 16—which means you can record 16 shows at the same time.

And Hopper 3 is a smart home’s best friend. DISH has integrated Alexa with the Hopper 3 and the Joey receivers you connect to extra TVs, so you can watch hands-free in whatever room you want. Better get those Echo Dots handy.

And as an added bonus, should you choose to venture from your sofa, the DISH Anywhere app lets you download your DVR recordings to your phone or tablet.

Want more modern must-haves? With this DVR’s commercial auto-skip function, you’ll never spoil a show by fast-forwarding too far.

The Hopper 3 also has Netflix and YouTube built in, which means no switching remotes.

Oh, and speaking of remotes, you won’t lose yours ever again. This DVR has a rad remote-finder button. That’s some sweet icing on this five-layer cake.

Need more words before you fall in love with the Hopper 3? We’ve got a full review dedicated to it.

TiVo BOLT VOX 3TB

Best third-party DVR

The specs

  • Cost: $499.81 one-time charge (at time of writing), plus $14.99/mo.
  • Simultaneous recordings: 6
  • Storage space: 3 TB
  • HD storage: 450 hrs.

Pros

  • Voice control through Alexa or remote
  • Mobile viewing and control
  • Commercial auto-skip function
  • Amazon Video, Netflix, and Hulu app integration
  • 4K Ultra HD capability
  • QuickMode™ for faster viewing
  • Remote-finder button

Cons

  • High 1-time charge plus monthly subscription
  • Satellite TV and fiber TV incompatibility

Do you have deep pockets and love TV more than life? Well, CableTV.com is currently accepting donations and bribes, and—oh.

. . . Our lawyers have just informed us we cannot accept donations or bribes. So the next best thing to spend your vasts amounts of money on would be the TiVo BOLT VOX.

With this DVR, you can record six shows at once and save 450 hours of HD TV. That’s enough space for the 33-year run of Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood.

Like with the Hopper 3, you can download recordings, auto-skip commercials, voice-control through Alexa. You can also stream Amazon Video, Netflix, Hulu, and more.

A fun feature of the BOLT VOX is QuickMode™, which plays recorded shows 30% faster to help you binge-watch more in less time. Don’t worry—it will correct the audio, too, so you’re not left listening to squeaky voices.

You’ll need a CableCARD from your TV provider to decrypt its signal, which your cable company will cost you about $2–$4 a month for. Just keep in mind that BOLT VOX is built to work with cable TV, not fiber or satellite TV providers.

On top of that fee and the initial cost of purchasing the DVR, TiVo charges a monthly service subscription of $14.99 or an annual plan of $149.99. If you want a cheaper DVR, the TiVo BOLT VOX 1 TB has less storage but knocks about $200 off the initial cost of the DVR.

Either way, the TiVo BOLT VOX is an expensive option, but it’s worth it for TV fans who want all the best DVR features.

If we’ve piqued your interest, check out our TiVo BOLT VOX review.

Contour Record 6 DVR from Cox

Best basic DVR

The specs

  • Cost: $19.99/mo.
  • Simultaneous recordings: 6
  • Storage space: 2 TB
  • HD storage: 250 hrs.

Pros

  • Live TV fast-forward feature
  • TV show and movie recommendations
  • Top-notch display screen

Cons

  • Required Cox Contour subscription
  • No out-of-this-world features

When it comes to features, the Contour Record 6 looks naked next to the tricked out Hopper 3 and BOLT VOX. But it can still record six shows at once and hold 250 hours of HD TV, which means it’s an excellent DVR.

Even though you can’t download recorded TV shows to your tablet or phone, Cox has one app that will let you set DVR recordings from your phone and another to watch certain live or on-demand shows on the go.

You’ll never be bored waiting at the dentist’s office ever again.

One of the handiest features from the Contour Record 6 is that it can recommend TV shows and movies based on what you watch. It’s a great way to find new shows that you’ll probably enjoy.

And with the recent system update, you’ve got a powerful DVR with a great-looking and handy display screen. This DVR isn’t perfect, but it’s certainly not a bad choice if you like to keep things simple and Cox is available in your area.

Genie HD DVR (HR54) from DIRECTV

Best included DVR

The specs

  • Cost: price included in service
  • Simultaneous recordings: 5
  • Storage space: 1 TB
  • HD storage: 200 hrs.


Pros

  • Live TV restart for select shows
  • Multiview sports bar function with NFL SUNDAY TICKET
  • Picture-in-picture viewing
  • 4K Ultra HD compatibility

Cons

  • Required DIRECTV subscription
  • Fewer at-once recordings and storage than our other recommendations

If you’re nervous about extra monthly fees, the Genie from DIRECTV will grant your wish for an affordable DVR. DIRECTV’s packages each come with a Genie DVR included in the price.

The Genie can record only five shows simultaneously (the lowest number of any DVR on our list), but it has a respectable amount of storage optimized for HD and 3D content.

Sports fans will enjoy how the Genie interacts with NFL SUNDAY TICKET. You can program your DVR with a “mix channel,” which allows you to watch up to eight live sports programs simultaneously.

For the 4K HD lovers, DIRECTV offers additional Genie Wireless Minis that can deliver 4K HD movies and shows on up to four TVs without the clutter of cords.

So stop dealing with a dated DVR to save money. The Genie will grant your wish for dynamic TV at no extra cost.

For more on the Genie DVR and why we chose the HR54 over the Genie 2, check out our full review.

Fire TV Recast from Amazon

Best for OTA TV

The specs

  • Cost: $279.97 one-time charge (at time of writing)
  • Simultaneous recordings: 4
  • Storage space: 1 TB
  • HD storage: 150 hrs.


Pros

  • No subscription fees
  • User-friendly on-screen guide
  • Voice control through Alexa

Cons

  • Fire TV Stick requirement
  • No commercial-skipping feature

If you’re into antenna-TV instead of cable TV, that’s okay—our feelings aren’t hurt. And more importantly, you can still get a DVR to record your local channels, like ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, PBS, and The CW. Of all the OVA DVRs out there, we recommend Fire TV Recast.

To use the Fire TV Recast, you’ll need an HD antenna and a Fire TV Stick. Sorry Roku and Apple TV fans, your streaming device is no good here.
Other than the restricted device compatibility, the Fire TV Recast comes close to being the dream OTA DVR. It has a beautiful on-screen guide and no subscription fees. It even works with Alexa through the Fire TV voice remote or Amazon Echo.

The Fire TV Recast can also rewind and pause live TV. It doesn’t have much of a commercial skipping feature, though. You’ll have to jump forward 30 seconds at a time, which might wear out your thumb during three-minute commercial breaks.

There are other good OTA DVRs out there if this one doesn’t scratch your itch. Tablo and TiVo Bolt OTA each have their own fanbases.

But even if the Fire TV Recast isn’t perfect, we still think it’s an excellent alternative to TiVo and Tablo thanks to its mobile compatibility and lack of subscription fees.

What to consider when you get a DVR

DVRs with lots of bells and whistles are neat, but the core of any DVR is that it can record multiple shows and keep those stored long enough for you to enjoy them.

And except for TiVo, most DVRs work with only one TV provider. Make sure the DVR you want comes from a provider that services your area.

Simultaneous recordings

Human beings might not be good at multitasking, but DVRs are. Depending on how many tuners a DVR has, it can record several shows at once and even let you watch something at the same time.

Most DVRs include at least four tuners, which means you can record up to four shows simultaneously. Some old DVRs might have fewer, though, so check that feature if you’re not going with one of our top five DVRs.

Pro Tip: You can’t beat the Hopper 3 for this feature. It can record sixteen shows at once, which is perfect if you have a huge family that can never agree on a show—or if you happen to be a professional TV watcher.

Storage

Want to hang on to your favorite shows longer? Going for more storage space can help with that.

With enough storage, you can keep hundreds of HD episodes on your DVR for a rainy day. With too little storage, you’ll have to either part with those shows sooner or settle for lower-quality SD recordings.

To avoid either of those nightmarish outcomes, aim for a DVR that has at least 1 TB of storage. That will hold about 150 hours of crisp HD video and save you from having to delete old recordings very often.

Storage space vs. hours of storage

You may have noticed some discrepancies above where certain DVRs have the same storage space but different hours of HD storage. One reason for this could be differing video compression software.

Video compression software takes the video you saved and encodes it to be much smaller. When you want to play it, the program will decompress the video for viewing. It’s basically just a more efficient way of storing video.

Availability in your area

Most providers offer their own DVRs. If you want a DVR we recommend, check to see that its provider is in your area. The reliable features of the Contour Record 6 won’t help you much if you don’t live in a Cox service area.

Want to see which providers from our top five DVRs are in your area? Enter your ZIP code below, and we’ll let you know.

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Start recording

Recording shows and watching them whenever you want is one of the best features of cable TV—don’t miss out just because you don’t have a great DVR.

Let us and your fellow readers know what you think of your current DVR in the comments below.

DVR FAQ

How can I record TV without a DVR?

Sorry, you can’t! DVR stands for Digital Video Recorder, and since all TV is digital these days, a DVR is the only thing that will cut it.

How can I record streaming TV?

Most livestreaming TV providers offer a cloud DVR, which you can schedule to record your favorite shows.

Philo, PlayStation Vue, and YouTube TV let you keep an unlimited number of shows for a limited period.

Hulu + Live TV, fuboTV, and Sling TV have limited storage, but you can keep shows as long as you like.

How does TiVo work without cable?

TiVo Roamio OTA VOX connects with an HD antenna (sold separately) which receives OTA signals.

OTA DVRs like this are handy for recording shows on locally broadcasted channels—no monthly payments necessary.

About the Author

Rachel has spent the past two years at CableTV.com writing articles that demystify hidden fees, DVRs, sound systems, and more. She makes door-to-door DISH and DIRECTV salespeople uncomfortable with her in-depth questions—but if that’s what it takes to get you the best TV experience, she’s happy to do it. In addition to writing for CableTV.com, Rachel’s work has been featured on Today.com, TechGuySmartBuy.com, HowtoWatch.com, and SatelliteInternet.com.

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