Ready, Set, Record!

New technologies for time-shifting TV have been multiplying in recent years, making the VCR seem as old-fashioned as the Victrola. Most people know about TiVo and ReplayTV - hard-disk video recorders that seek out and store programs based on your viewing habits. But now there's also PC software like Snapstream's BeyondTV 3 that lets you capture shows on your computer hard drive. From a home-entertainment perspective, however, the most intriguing new TV time-shifters are DVD recorders. Not only do they offer some of the same video-recording features as VCRs and hard-disk devices, but most also have a high-quality progressive-scan component-video output for watching DVD movies.

With all of the developments in digital video recording, I'm ashamed to say that I'm still a sucker for appointment TV. I guess I like having something concrete to look forward to. The Sopranos at 9 o'clock on Sunday night? I'm there. It wasn't until my two-year-old started asking at all hours of the day to watch The Wiggles - a foursome of grown men in colorful shirts who sing songs and dance with dinosaurs - that I thought about upgrading to a DVD recorder. Fortunately, there are plenty of options (see our "Shopping Made Simple" guide).

For the roundup here, we've included two representatives from familiar companies - the Toshiba RD-SX32 ($600) and the Yamaha DRX-2 ($600) - and the LVW-5005 ($300) from a company you probably haven't heard of before, LiteOn. All three models will leave your VCR in the dust, but they get the job done in distinctly different ways. PDF: Features Checklist PDF: Recording/Editing Options