2019’s Best DVRs: A Buyers Guide
Top 5 DVRs of 2019
|DVR||Provider||Simultaneous Recordings||Hours of HD Storage|
|2||TiVo BOLT VOX||N/A||6||450|
|3||Contour Record 6||Cox||6||250|
|Hours of HD Storage||500|
|DVR||TiVo BOLT VOX|
|Hours of HD Storage||450|
|DVR||Contour Record 6|
|Hours of HD Storage||250|
|Hours of HD Storage||200|
|Hours of HD Storage||150|
Data effective as of 12/4/2018
1. DISH Hopper 3 HD-DVR
The Hopper 3 offers an impressive 2 TB of storage, but where it really shines is in its simultaneous recordings. No other DVR on the market has this many tuners—a mind-boggling sixteen—which should completely erase any fear you have of scheduling conflicts.
DISH also has some incredible features that outshine the competition. Love your Echo Dot? DISH has integrated Alexa with the Hopper 3 and the Joey receivers you connect to extra TVs in your home, so you can watch hands-free from whatever room you’re in.
But what about watching on the go? Well, with Hopper 3 you can watch your live and recorded TV from any device. Whether it’s a phone, tablet, or TV, you’re good to go.
The Hopper 3 also features modern must-haves. With the commercial auto-skip function, you don’t have to worry about fast-forwarding too far. And app integration means you don’t have to switch remotes to watch Netflix or YouTube from your TV.
And for those who are always losing things, the remote-finder button is a nice final touch.
2. TiVo BOLT VOX
Best Third-Party DVR
If you want a fantastic DVR but don’t want to stick with one provider for long, the TiVo BOLT VOX is the best third-party solution. With up to six tuners and 3 TB of data, the TiVo BOLT VOX stacks up against the competition—and that’s even before all the special features.
Like the Hopper 3, BOLT VOX can be enjoyed on multiple screens and voice controlled. You can auto-skip commercials and stream with your favorite apps too.
A fun feature of the BOLT VOX is QuickMode™, which plays recorded shows 30% faster to help you binge more in less time. Don’t worry—it will correct the audio, too, so you’re not left listening to squeaky voices.
Just keep in mind that BOLT VOX is built to work with cable TV, and not with fiber TV or satellite TV providers. You’ll also need to get a CableCARD from your TV provider to decrypt its signal, which will cost you about $2–$4 a month.
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. Prices like that don’t make TiVo BOLT VOX the cheapest option, but it has cool features, which makes it a good fallback if you don’t want DISH.
3. Contour Record 6 HD-DVR from COX
Best Basic DVR
While the Contour Record 6 HD-DVR doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of the Hopper 3 or BOLT VOX, its six tuners and 2 TB of data make it a solid DVR.
Even though you can’t watch your recorded TV shows from your tablet or phone, Cox does have one app that will let you set recordings from your phone and another that will let you watch certain live or on-demand shows on the go.
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 new system update from Contour, 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.
4. Genie HD DVR (HR-44) from DIRECTV
Best Included DVR
If you’re hesitating to get a DVR because of the extra monthly fees, the Genie from DIRECTV is the one for you. DIRECTV’s all-inclusive packages come with a Genie DVR.
While the Genie can record only five shows simultaneously (the lowest number of any DVR on our list), it does have a respectable amount of storage that is optimized for HD and 3D content.
Sports fans will also 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 wireless mini-clients that can deliver 4K HD content to four TVs without the clutter of cords. If you’ve been dealing with a dated DVR, the Genie will grant your wish for dynamic TV at your fingertips.
5. TiVo T6 from RCN
TiVo has been leading the charge among third-party DVRs for years, and the T6 is one of the few available through a major cable provider. Though it might not be as cutting edge as the TiVo BOLT VOX, the TiVo T6 has 1 TB of storage and can record up to six shows at once, which is still miles ahead of a lot of providers’ DVRs.
You’ll also have the capability to stream or download recorded shows onto your smartphone or tablet, which is a handy feature most provider DVRs don’t offer.
If you like to find new shows or stream, you’ll also enjoy the recommendation and app integration features of the T6.
So, while it’s not the newest technology, the T6 is still a great option if you have RCN because it’s more affordable than buying your own TiVo and paying for a TiVo subscription every month. The T6 is well rounded, gets the job done, and has some cool extra features to boot.
What should I consider when choosing a DVR?
Availability in Your Area
Because most providers offer their own DVRs, be sure the DVR you’re interested in is offered by a provider in your area before you set your heart on it. The solid 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.
Provider DVR or Third-Party DVR
Some providers offer outdated models of DVRs, which just won’t do for someone who wants a lot of storage or recording options on their DVR. If this is your situation, consider forgoing high monthly equipment rental fees and buy a third-party DVR instead.
The FCC requires cable operators to offer a CableCARD, which usually costs $2–$4 per month. You can install this in a third-party DVR to watch and record the channels included in your TV package.
If this is an option you’re interested in, check out the TiVo Bolt VOX. It is 4K compatible, has 3 TB of storage, and can record up to six shows at once. Top that off with its fully integrated streaming apps, and the TiVo Bolt VOX checks about all the boxes for a DVR lover. Now you just have to decide if the big price tag is worth it.
Rent or Own Your DVR
With DISH, you can snag a Hopper 3 online, and it will pay for itself in a little over a year. That’s a good deal, considering that DISH contracts last two years.
But most other provider DVRs are tricky to track down online. If your heart is set on owning a DVR, you’ll probably need to go with a third-party DVR like the TiVo BOLT VOX.
If your favorite shows air at the same time, don’t worry—most DVRs include about six tuners, which means you can record up to six shows simultaneously. Some outdated DVRs might have fewer, though, so check that feature if you’re not going with one of our top five DVRs.
The Hopper 3 can’t be beat in 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 just happen to be a professional TV watcher.
Want to hang on to your favorite shows for longer? Going for more storage 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.
You’ll also want to be sure your DVR has ports to connect to your home theater, HDTV, external hard drives, or anything else you might need for your entertainment. Older TVs or outdated audio equipment may not be compatible with newer DVRs, so pay close attention to a DVR’s port specs to avoid issues.
Some DVRs can integrate streaming services like Netflix, YouTube, and Hulu so you don’t have to switch between remotes to watch all your favorite shows. The Hopper 3, TiVo BOLT VOX, and TiVo T6 all have this feature.
Recording your shows and watching them whenever you want is one of the best features of cable TV—don’t miss out on it simply because you don’t have a great DVR. Let us and your fellow readers know what you think of your DVR in the comments below.