TiVo operates as a digital video recorder that includes a hard drive and a video encoder to record television signals into data that can be stored and later watched. A TiVo also requires a CableCARD that connects a digital cable signal to the device to allow it to record.
A TiVo records data in the same manner as data stored in a computer hard drive. This allows users to record shows into their TiVo DVR and watch them again at any time. As needed, users can delete data from the DVR hard drive to free up space for another program. Depending on the system setup, TiVo users can also move their recorded data to a different storage medium, such as a DVD.
TiVo has produced a range of DVR models that fall into generations or series. Early TiVo DVRs were generally produced by third party companies, such as Sony, while later generations of the product were produced in-house. Each TiVo DVR can store data in five different quality settings. At high quality settings, a TiVo DVR may record for a shorter length of time compared to lower quality settings.
TiVo, founded in 1997, became one of the first companies to offer DVRs to the consumer.