Sony Personal Video Recorder

Sony PVR

Sony's new breed of set-top boxes with Personal Video Recorders

Sony has a variety of PVRs to choose from that cleverly integrate different ways to your entertainment system. They have add-on set-top boxes like the DHG line of PVRs, and the PSX is a special PVR made to work with your PSP. Of course, Sony's handheld game system itself is a sort of PVR in that it can play back MPEG4-encoded material which, of course, can be downloaded from any bit torrent. And then there is the ultimate home theater PC PVR solution, Sony's Viao TypeX.

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Most PVRs, when not accompanied by a subscriber service like TiVO or ReplayTV, are just a feature added to a cable or satellite box. The cable or satellite box PVR functions are generally second rate, with slow menus and certainly not as feature-rich as the subscriber services who specialize in making your PVR experience as convenient as possible. Another option is Sony's DHG line of PVRs that add an HD tuner. With a digital program guide and menu system setup for your local reception, you get all the functions of a full-feature PVR service like TiVo without the monthly fee.

The PSX is another PVR from Sony with special features that allow it to integrate with your PSP. Since the PSP can playback stored programming in MPEG4 format, the question has been how you get it to the PSP. PSX is one answer, although anyone with a PC and memory stick reader can do the same job. Convert your downloaded program to MPEG4 and then add to your memory stick and plug it into PSP. The PSX makes the process more fluid, allowing you to directly export from the PVR set-top box to the memory stick and then on to your PSP. Plus the PSX is a fully functional PVR.

In Japan, Sony has released the ultimate PVR for their Viao line of PCs no longer sold in the United States. The Type X PVR is a massive storage for television entertainment featuring 1TB of storage. Type X offers support for wireless networks, remote control and even a wireless keyboard, mouse and printer. Playing one channel and recording another will be no sweat for the Type X, as this unit will feature seven built-in tuners, making it a veritable recording media center.

Sony isn't the only consumer electronics brand to make personal video recorders that serve so many functions. But they would seem to have perfected it and, with options like the Type X and PSX, they're working toward wireless integration with your living room.