Top 5 DVRs of 2020
Five DVRs that add maximum flexibility to your minimum-activity moments.
Data effective 11/05/19. Pricing and speeds are subject to change. Not all offers available in all areas.
Why you’d want a DVR
Do you love TV but don’t have a schedule that lets you watch your favorite shows when they air? You need a DVR.
With the recording and storage power of a good DVR, you can keep up with everything you like to watch, and then some. 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
|HD storage||Get the DVR|
|Best third-party DVR|
|TiVo||6||300 hrs.||View on Amazon|
|Best basic DVR|
Contour Record 6
|Best included DVRGenie||DIRECTV||5||200 hrs.|
|Best OTA DVRFire TV Recast||Amazon||4||150 hrs.|
|Good for cheaper TiVo|
|TiVo||4||75–150 hrs.||View on Amazon|
|Good for multi-room |
Fios TV One
|Good for cord-cutters|
Tablo Quad OTA DVR
|Tablo||4||Up to 4,000 hrs. (external)||View on Amazon|
Data effective 11/05/2019. Pricing and speeds are subject to change. Not all offers available in all areas.
- Hopper 3 DVR from DISH—Best overall
- TiVo EDGE—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 EDGE 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
- 4K Ultra HD capability
- Commercial auto-skip function
- Mobile viewing and control
- Multiview sports bar function
- Netflix and YouTube app integration
- Remote finder button
- Voice control with Alexa
- 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.
Best third-party DVR
- 4K Ultra HD capability
- Amazon Video, Netflix, and Hulu app integration
- Commercial auto-skip function
- DOLBY ATMOS® Sound
- Mobile viewing and control
- QuickMode™ for faster viewing
- Remote-finder button
- Voice control through TiVo VOX remote
- 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 EDGE
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 EDGE 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 EDGE 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 don’t wanna spend 400 bucks on a DVR, the TiVo BOLT VOX has less storage (500 GB–1 TB) but it’s $100–$200 cheaper than the EDGE.
Either way, the TiVo EDGE is an expensive option, but it’s worth it for TV fans who want all the best DVR features.
Contour Record 6 DVR from Cox
Best basic DVR
- Live TV fast-forward feature
- Scannable display screen
- TV show and movie recommendations
- No out-of-this-world features
- Required Cox Contour subscription
When it comes to features, the Contour Record 6 looks naked next to the tricked out Hopper 3 and EDGE. 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
- 4K Ultra HD compatibility
- Live TV restart for select shows
- Multiview sports bar function with NFL SUNDAY TICKET
- Picture-in-picture viewing
- Fewer at-once recordings and storage than our other recommendations
- Required DIRECTV subscription
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
- No subscription fees
- User-friendly on-screen guide
- Voice control through Alexa
- 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.
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.
Honorable Mentions: other top DVRs for 2020
If our picks don’t scratch your itch, there are other good DVRs out there. Here are three devices we like that didn’t make the cut.
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.
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.
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.
And if your TV appetite demands that you have all the shows, the Tablo Quad OTA DVR uses only external storage—up to 8 TB hard drives, or 4,000 hours of HD content.
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.
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.
How much does a DVR cost?
First you’ll need to decide what kind of DVR you need. There are different ones for cable/satellite customers, streamers, and cord-cutters.
Cable and satellite TV providers often include the DVR device and DVR service in the cost of the TV packages—others charge a fee for one or both.
It’s the same with livestreaming TV service providers. Most include cloud-based DVR at no extra charge, while others charge a fee.
If you’re a cord-cutter and plan to use an over-the-air (OTA) antenna to get free TV, you can buy a DVR straight off the shelf. In these situations, you buy the DVR outright, just like the antenna.>
How can I record over-the-air TV?
To record over-the-air (OTA) TV, you’ll need an OTA antenna (we recommend the Mohu Leaf) and a compatible DVR (we like the Amazon Fire Recast and the Tablo Quad OTA DVR).
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?
How does TiVo work without cable?
OTA DVRs like this are handy for recording shows on locally broadcasted channels—no monthly payments necessary.