A DVD recorder with hard drive is two digital recording devices for television or video all in one unit. One part of this unit is a DVD recordable drive.
The DVD formats that it can record to depends on the unit as not all of the recordable or erasable formats such as DVD-R, DVD+R, dual layer recordable DVD, DVD-RW, DVD+RW, or DVD-RAM are compatible with or supported by the recording drive. The other part of the machine is a hard disk drive. The hard disk drive offers much higher storage capacity than the recordable or erasable DVD media. The size of the recording drive once again depends on the individual unit and can vary substantially.
The main purpose of a DVD recorder with hard drive is to record television programs, similar to what a VCR is able to do. The television program recording can be made directly to recordable or erasable DVD or to the hard drive. Recording to the hard drive allows the recorded television video to be edited to some degree and then copied onto a DVD. Camcorders could also be connected to these units and the video saved either directly to a DVD or to the hard drive first which would allow for some basic editing before creating a DVD version of the camcorder recordings.
The DVD recorder hard drive units were an improvement over the DVD recorder only equipment and some DVD recorder with hard drive units can function as a digital video recorder or DVR but without subscription fees. This feature made these hard disk DVD recorders very popular with some, but in the end, they never really gained much momentum or widespread use in the marketplace. As time went on, consumers tended to prefer hard disk drive only recorders (digital video recorders or DVRs, personal video recorders or PVRs) with their many features and low subscription fees and felt no need for the DVD recorder function. The drop in demand for recorder-hard drive units combined with the fact that content producers did not want unauthorized copying of high quality digital television content, which was possible with the hard disk DVD recorders, led to manufacturers no longer producing these units in large quantities. In North America the DVD recorder and hard disk drive units are fairly rare and not widely sold as of 2007; although in Europe and Asia they are still more commonly available.
The DVRs or PVRs available nowadays, do allow copying of recorded television programming but generally only in low quality formats, such as to VHS tape.