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The Best DVR - 2021

Last updated on December 9, 2020

We looked at the top 11 DVRs and dug through the reviews from 55 of the most popular review sites including and more. The result is a ranking of the best DVRs.

Best DVR

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Our Picks For The Top DVRs

Show Contents
Our Take
Experts Included
Pros
Cons
  Best Overall

Amazon Fire TV Recast

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Amazon

Fire TV Recast

Overall Take

Quick InstallationIf you have a compatible mobile device, this DVR even works when you're on the go.

Experts Included
DWYM Electronics Experts plus TechHive, ZD Net, The Verge, CNET, Tom’s Guide, PC Magazine and 5 more. Along with user reviews from Amazon and Best Buy.
Pros
" The Fire TV Recast also works with Alexa voice commands, so you can use the Fire TV voice remote or an Amazon Echo speaker to launch live channels, play your recordings, open the channel guide, delete recordings, and check on..."
Cons
"It's not like switching inputs is a ton of work, but it is an inconvenience. Not only does that mean keeping your TV remote around for changing OTA channels, but switching to your antenna input lacks any sort of programming..."
  Home Security Pick

TIGERSECU Super HD 2MP DVR

TIGERSECU

Super HD 2MP DVR

Overall Take

Most VersatileA remote control and a USB mouse are included with this DVR, but you'll need to purchase a camera separately.

Experts Included
DWYM Electronics Experts plus . Along with user reviews from Amazon.
  Best Basic

Tablo Dual LITE OTA DVR

Tablo

Dual LITE OTA DVR

Overall Take

Most EconomicalIf you're searching for a budget-friendly DVR option, this model is an excellent choice.

Experts Included
DWYM Electronics Experts plus TechHive, Top Ten Reviews, Digital Trends, Tech Radar, The Gadgeteer, Cord Cutter News and 1 more. Along with user reviews from Amazon and Best Buy.
Pros
" All told, you'll spend about $400 for the Tablo DVR, a hard drive, lifetime service, and a streaming TV device to watch on. That's cheaper than any roll-your-own solution, and comparable to TiVo's Roamio OTA DVR, which only works with..."
Cons
"It lacks internal storage."
  High-Tech Pick

TiVo MINI VOX Streaming Media Player

TiVo

MINI VOX Streaming Media Player

Overall Take

Handy Voice ControlsSave time with this DVR's attractive voice control, which allows you to pause your favorite show.

Experts Included
DWYM Electronics Experts plus CNET, Sound And Vision. Along with user reviews from Amazon, Best Buy and Crutchfield.
Pros
" The TiVo Mini is an easy way to give another TV in your home access to your TiVo DVR, live TV and streaming services. But if you're not in a hurry, you may want to wait till more features and..."
Cons
"Voice control adds little to program navigation. New Experience interface is sometimes cluttered and confusing."
Don't just take for granted what one reviewer says. Along with our own experts, DWYM analyzes the top expert reviews of the leading products and generates a score you can actually trust.
18

Products Considered

We identified the majority of the dvrs available to purchase.
11

Products Analyzed

We then selected the leading and most popular products for our team to review.

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55

Expert Reviews Included

In addition to our expert reviews, we also incorporate feedback and analysis of some of the most respected sources including: TechHive, Top Ten Reviews, Digital Trends, Tech Radar, The Gadgeteer.

35,985

User Opinions Analyzed

We also incorporate user reviews from the leading retailers including

Our experts reviewed the top 11 DVRs and also dug through the reviews from 55 of the most popular review sites including and more. The result is a ranking of the best of the best DVRs.

DWYM is your trusted roduct review source. Our team reviews thousands of product reviews from the trusted top experts and combines them into one easy-to-understand score. Learn more.

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The Best Overall

Amazon Fire TV Recast


Our Expert Score

7.7
11 expert reviews

User Summarized Score

8.1
1,129 user reviews

Our Take

If you already use an Amazon Fire Stick, this DVR offers a subscription-free way to view and record OTA content. It offers simple setup, as well as seamless integration with your Amazon Alexa device. Search functionality covers all shows, live or streaming.

What other experts liked

The Fire TV Recast also works with Alexa voice commands, so you can use the Fire TV voice remote or an Amazon Echo speaker to launch live channels, play your recordings, open the channel guide, delete recordings, and check on...
- TechHive
Initial setup takes only a few minutes after deciding where you want to put it. The Recast doesn't need to be near a TV -- there isn't a direct connection between the box and your TV.
- ZD Net
January 19, 2019 | Full review
Lets you record and watch OTA channels anywhere
- The Verge
November 14, 2018 | Full review
The Amazon Fire TV Recast antenna DVR doesn't charge any monthly fees. Its sophisticated program guide fits live TV channels seamlessly into the Fire TV interface. Setup is easy and out of home streaming to your phone works well.
- CNET
November 14, 2018 | Full review
This being an Amazon product, you can use Alexa to open the channel guide, schedule recordings and find programs by title, actor, genre and more. Doing so will display results not just from over-the-air programs, but from streaming services as...
- Tom's Guide
November 19, 2018 | Full review
The Amazon Fire TV Recast adds live broadcast television viewing and recording to your Fire TV or mobile device, without a subscription.
- PC Magazine
Setup is straightforward. Using the Fire TV Recast app for iOS or Android, you connect the box to your WiFi network – if you’re not using wired ethernet – and log in with your Amazon account. After that, it automatically...
- Slash Gear
November 14, 2018 | Full review
Low price for built-in storage with no subscription fees
- Tech Spot
Alexa integration works great.
- The Ambient
I like the Fire TV app for iPhone and Android. With it, you can stream the live broadcast TV shows, view recordings, or record TV shows from anywhere.
- CNBC
November 29, 2018 | Full review
The Recast takes that premise and makes it even easier. No accounts to create. No monthly billing for guide access. No external hard drives to deal with. You just buy the thing, plug it in, set it up, and start...
- Cord Cutters
December 7, 2018 | Full review

What other experts didn't like

The Fire TV Recast’s biggest drawback is that you need a Fire TV device to watch on televisions. Recast is incompatible with non-Amazon media-streaming devices such as Roku, Apple TV, Chromecast, game consoles, and most smart TVs.
- TechHive
It's not like switching inputs is a ton of work, but it is an inconvenience. Not only does that mean keeping your TV remote around for changing OTA channels, but switching to your antenna input lacks any sort of programming...
- ZD Net
January 19, 2019 | Full review
Mobile app isn’t nearly as good as Fire TV experience
- The Verge
November 14, 2018 | Full review
It's more expensive initially than many antenna TV options. You need a Fire TV device attached to your TV, and can only watch on two devices at once.
- CNET
November 14, 2018 | Full review
Requires a Fire TV device, Echo Show, or Fire TV mobile app. No way to watch from a computer. Even HD broadcast television looks soft on recent 4K TVs.
- PC Magazine
Mobile experience lacks features like scheduling.
- Slash Gear
November 14, 2018 | Full review
Mobile app isn't nearly as good as Fire TV experience
- Tech Spot
If you’re using the Fire TV mobile app, you’re a bit more limited in what you can do here. You can start and stop recordings, but there’s no scheduling. I also found some of the interface to be unnecessarily fiddly...
- The Ambient
The price is a little crazy. You need to spend about $300 to get up and running, which is a lot of money for what you get. That includes a Fire TV Stick that starts at $40, the Fire TV...
- CNBC
November 29, 2018 | Full review
If you're using Apple TV or Roku or Android TV or something else, then the Recast is not for you. It just won't work. That's a big limitation.
- Cord Cutters
December 7, 2018 | Full review

The Best Bang For Your Buck

Tablo Dual LITE OTA DVR

Our Expert Score

7.3
7 expert reviews

User Summarized Score

7.7
430 user reviews

Our Take

Instead of your television, this DVR connects to your router. That means you'll be able to stream your favorite content to any of your wireless devices. Perhaps the best feature is the ability to automatically skip the commercials to quickly get back to your show.

What other experts liked

All told, you'll spend about $400 for the Tablo DVR, a hard drive, lifetime service, and a streaming TV device to watch on. That's cheaper than any roll-your-own solution, and comparable to TiVo's Roamio OTA DVR, which only works with a single television.
- TechHive
The Dual Lite OTA lets you watch six shows simultaneously.
- Top Ten Reviews
The Tablo Dual OTA DVR still does its thing without a subscription, allowing you to manually set recordings and view a guide, albeit without the artwork, improved filtering, or remote viewing.
- Digital Trends
It does this by connecting to an HDTV antenna to grab over-the-air signals from your local station, and storing any show you select to an external hard drive - though, in the case of the new Tablo Dual Lite, it’s on you to provide both the external hard drive and...
- Tech Radar
March 27, 2018 | Full review
It has 2 built-in Over-the-Air ATSC Tuners, and has both wireless and wired network capability. Add a USB hard drive of your choice, and a storage capability that is incredible, since it supports up to an 8TB hard drive.
- The Gadgeteer
May 10, 2018 | Full review
The new Tablo Dual Lite comes without any internal storage. You can connect an external hard drive to store your recordings or use the Tablo cloud DVR.
- Cord Cutter News
March 29, 2018 | Full review
I didn't need an external hard drive for this Tablo review, thanks to those 64GB. I also didn't need an Ethernet cable, because the Tablo comes with one. It also comes with a power supply.
- Cord Cutting
February 12, 2019 | Full review

What other experts didn't like

Video and audio streams are inferior to broadcast quality
- TechHive
It lacks internal storage.
- Top Ten Reviews
It would be one thing if they squeezed in a 500GB or 1TB drive inside, but the included 64GB storage will do little for most enthusiasts looking for such a product. We figure most will need an external hard drive to make this viable longer-term.
- Digital Trends
The only thing missing is, of course, the antenna. Thankfully, I had a few lying around – it's an occupational hazard.
- Cord Cutting
February 12, 2019 | Full review

Overall Product Rankings

Amazon Fire TV Recast

1. Amazon Fire TV Recast

Overall Score: 8.8
Reviews Included: 14

TIGERSECU Super HD 2MP DVR

2. TIGERSECU Super HD 2MP DVR

Overall Score: 8.7
Reviews Included: 1

Tablo Dual LITE OTA DVR

3. Tablo Dual LITE OTA DVR

Overall Score: 8.0
Reviews Included: 10

TiVo MINI VOX Streaming Media Player

4. TiVo MINI VOX Streaming Media Player

Overall Score: 7.9
Reviews Included: 5

TiVo Bolt OTA

5. TiVo Bolt OTA

Overall Score: 7.8
Reviews Included: 13

ZOSI 4-in-1 DVR

6. ZOSI 4-in-1 DVR

Overall Score: 7.7
Reviews Included: 2

Tablo 4-Tuner Digital Video Recorder

7. Tablo 4-Tuner Digital Video Recorder

Overall Score: 7.5
Reviews Included: 8

TiVo BOLT VOX 3TB

8. TiVo BOLT VOX 3TB

Overall Score: 7.5
Reviews Included: 11

TiVo BOLT VOX 500 GB

9. TiVo BOLT VOX 500 GB

Overall Score: 7.3
Reviews Included: 10

Abowone 16 Channels Recorder Hybrid DVR

10. Abowone 16 Channels Recorder Hybrid DVR

Overall Score: 7.0
Reviews Included: 2

AVerMedia EZRecorder

11. AVerMedia EZRecorder

Overall Score: 6.7
Reviews Included: 5

Our DVR Findings


Amazon Fire TV Recast

What We Liked: If you already use an Amazon Fire Stick, this DVR offers a subscription-free way to view and record OTA content. It offers simple setup, as well as seamless integration with your Amazon Alexa device. Search functionality covers all shows, live or streaming.


TIGERSECU Super HD 2MP DVR

What We Liked: This hybrid DVR system can record ONVIF 2.0+ IP cameras and analog cameras at the same time. There’s also the option to use it along with a security camera to increase home safety. If you download the company’s app, you’ll even be able to view your cameras remotely.


Tablo Dual LITE OTA DVR

What We Liked: Instead of your television, this DVR connects to your router. That means you’ll be able to stream your favorite content to any of your wireless devices. Perhaps the best feature is the ability to automatically skip the commercials to quickly get back to your show.


TiVo MINI VOX Streaming Media Player

What We Liked: An add-on to your existing TiVo service, this DVR gives you access to DVR shows on multiple televisions in your home. That also includes the streaming services that come with your subscription, all in the same HD resolution where supported. And with voice control functionality, you can search and start shows from anywhere.


TiVo Bolt OTA

What We Liked: For those who want their shows in HD, this DVR is a solid contender. It also allows you to stream shows from Netflix and similar services, with a search function that works across both streaming and live TV content. Perks like voice control and a commercial skip mode are a boon for busy viewers.

Our Expert Consultant

Patrick Ward 
Editor-in-chief of High Speed Experts

Patrick Ward is the editor-in-chief of High Speed Experts, a broadband connectivity-, search engine- and IT-industry education blog that empowers consumers by open-sourcing information about tech services. He earned his bachelor’s degree in commerce with an emphasis on communications at the University of Sydney. His expertise spans the digital, emerging tech and telecommunications fields.

Our DVR Buying Guide

Back in the old days of cable TV — and by “old days,” we mean the mid-2000s — the role of the DVR was simple. The name stood for digital video recorder, and that’s what it did. It recorded video from your cable television to an internal storage device, allowing you to pause, rewind or record live television.

When it was first introduced, this was revolutionary. You could skip commercials! Pause for bathroom breaks! Make that must-see show wait until you were good and ready! The convenience was so great that cable and satellite providers started providing DVR service as part of their basic subscription, and most still do. People tend to use their provider’s service because it’s hassle-free and easily compatible.

These days, basic DVR features can seem quaint for cord-cutters who rely primarily on streaming services for their entertainment. But the pendulum has begun to swing back, as streaming subscriptions grow pricier and people are starting to realize that OTA (over the air) TV is still free for those with a decent antenna. But how do we make those scheduled network shows fit our busy lifestyle? Re-enter the stand-alone DVR.

“It’s worth investigating higher quality DVRs than the one you get with your cable box, since the better quality and user experience can make the additional investment worth it,” Patrick Ward, editor-in-chief of the IT education blog High Speed Experts, says.

But where should you start?

“Before purchasing your DVR, check the speed of your internet service,” Ward advises. “DVRs are increasingly using internet bandwidth, particularly when it comes to streaming.” He suggests making sure you have service that offers speeds of at least 200 megabits per second (Mbps) — 1000 Mbps is even better — if you regularly stream content, use an ultra-HD TV such as a 4K TV and have multiple devices plugged in at once.

Then, look at the options you want.

“If you have an HD TV, it is worth investing in a DVR that can also record in HD or your recorded shows’ picture quality will decrease on playback,” Ward says.

Far from sitting idle, TiVo and the other pioneers of DVR technology have been incorporating new technology to make their services relevant even to those with a streaming package. Today, DVRs offer all the modern conveniences you expect. There are models, for instance, that act as an all-in-one media device, allowing you to grab and record shows from your antenna but also giving access to streaming services like Netflix and Hulu. You can search for shows across both live TV and applications, issue voice commands through either the remote or Amazon’s Alexa assistant and even skip commercials.

Additionally, you’ll want to consider other options, such as two-tuner operation.

“Standard DVRs can only record a show or watch a show, not both,” says Ward. “With a two-tuner operation, you can watch a show while recording an entirely different show — useful if you have an overlap of favorite shows on at the same time slot.”

Other DVRs are somewhat more stripped down, but the main thing to remember is that you won’t be able to do much with a DVR alone. Nearly all of them require a TV antenna to access OTA content, sold separately. And if you want that content to be in HD, you’ll need an HD antenna. For Amazon’s Fire TV Recast, you’ll also need an Amazon Fire player or Echo Show with an active account.

How they connect to your TV also differs. Most run connections to your antenna, then deliver shows to your TV through an HDMI or another cable. The Tablo Dual LITE OTA DVR is a bit of an outlier, running through your wireless router which then delivers content to your TV.

There may also be a subscription cost to figure in, ranging from a few dollars a month to nothing at all. Considering that some DVRs can even let you record and watch from tablets or phones while you’re away from home, it can be a great option for viewers who don’t want to miss a thing.

DWYM Fun Fact

What do people DVR the most? If 2018 is any indication, dramas get a lot of play. Along with its rankings for live viewing, Nielsen keeps track of network shows that are played back within seven days of airing. In that category, the top five shows are all serious business, including NBC’s “This Is Us,” two hospital dramas (“The Good Doctor” and “New Amsterdam”) and the winner, NBC’s “Manifest.”

The DVR Tips and Advice

  • The first thing to do when buying a DVR is to get those glasses ready, because you’ll want to read the fine print. You’ll need an antenna to access the live shows for your DVR, and it’s best to buy the antenna first so you know what stations you can reliably pick up at your location. But that might not be all: Some DVRs will also require a subscription to start up. Those are typically the ones that allow you to access streaming services, so it can still be a great option for those that don’t already have it.
  • Most DVRs can accommodate more than one TV these days, which is great for big families. You can be watching the game in the living room while the kids record cartoons in the den, for example. Some might even be able to stream your OTA content to tablets or other devices for viewing while you’re on the go. All good perks, but make sure you’ve got enough tuners to handle all that business. In a nutshell, the amount of tuners you’ve got usually determines the number of different shows you can watch or record simultaneously. A family using a four-tuner DVR would be able to watch two shows on separate TVs while recording two shows for later, for example.
  • Then there’s storage. If you like to record a lot of shows, be aware there’s a limit. Many DVRs will come with a certain amount of internal storage; others might require you to buy hard drives or other expansions to the memory. Most will let you know the storage capacity in hours, but a rule of thumb is that one hour of HD programming will usually take up 6 GB.
  • What are the bells and whistles on your DVR? Do your research, because some features might be worth the price alone. Others, you might already have or need other devices to fully take advantage of.
  • Got an Ultra 4K TV? Make sure that not only your DVR supports that kind of resolution, but your antenna does as well. Essentially, your picture will only look as good as the weakest device you’re using to access it.
  • Finally, setup can be a headache when you’re dealing with this many devices. Don’t be afraid to call support for connection help. Pro tip: While it’s best to set up your antenna first, make sure that its ideal location is one that the DVR’s cords can reach.

About The Author

Avatar
Tod Caviness 

As a homeowner of seven years and a journalist for the past 20, Tod Caviness had to learn to be a handyman quick — or at least stock a garage like one. He's happy if he can log as many weekly hours on his stationary bike as he does on PS4 strategy games, but how-to sites on the internet win out over both of them.