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Bungee DVD
Turn your PC into a personal video recorder
Bungee DVD
Pinnacle Systems
Windows Me/XP
PVRs, DVRs, whatever you want to call them -- they're a great idea. How could they not be? Those of us who prefer to tape Buffy the Vampire Slayer and watch it at our convenience over clearing our schedules at the same time every week are already dependent on our VCRs. So how could we not love the idea of a personal (or digital) video recorder, which does the same thing without having to deal with stacks of videocassettes?

Here's a quick primer on DVRs, in case you didn't know: Rather than recording onto a physical, removable medium, a DVR records to a built-in hard disk. While it's great that you don't have to worry about Junior sticking kielbasa into the tape slot anymore, there are other advantages as well. The most highly touted is timeshifting, the ability to pause live television; rather, you press the pause button, the image freezes, and the DVR automatically starts recording from that point. When you restart your TV viewing, the DVR keeps recording until you catch up. An extension of this is the ability to watch the first part of a program while it's recording the remainder.

As Steven (the dude from those Dell ads) might say, "Sweet!"

(Speaking of ads, the 30-second skip-ahead function is a thing of beauty. The same feature has been available on VCRs for years, but on a VCR it uses the fast forward function. There's something to be said for instantly blipping out, say, those annoying Subway ads featuring Jared. No wonder ad and TV execs are not-so-quietly freaking out.)

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