Spend one day without a DVR – I did

With all the talk of antenna TV and all the articles on this blog, I realized it had been years since I’d spent an entire day without a DVR. Maybe even as long as a decade, unless you count hotel room stays. So, last weekend, I decided to spend a day watching TV without a DVR… just depending on what was on live antenna TV.

At first, I was struck by the additional clarity I saw with programs off the antenna. In the past, it didn’t seem like that much difference between satellite-delivered and antenna-delivered programs. Then I realized that the TV’s off-air picture settings were a little different from the satellite picture settings. I set them both so they were the same, but with a 46″ TV it was clear that there was just a little more pop, a little more sharpness from most channels. In some cases that wasn’t a good thing; I was able to see a lot more of the artifacts that come from HDTV compression, especially on live feeds from news programs. I got used to it, though.

It was about 25 minutes and one large soda later that I began to feel a bit antsy. I began looking left and right, determined to make it to the next commercial break. Without a DVR I have to remember to plan better. Everything came out ok, as they say, so after that I limited my soda consumption a bit to take better advantage of my circumstances.

I was fine for a while. I actually enjoyed seeing commercials I hadn’t seen at first, but quickly realized that the same commercials repeat over and over and over and over and over… to the point where it really began to frustrate me. I kept nervously pushing the imaginary fast forward button, and of course nothing happened.

By midday, I was getting used to the routine, and that’s when the phone started ringing, people started coming to the door and people in the house started talking. Even though I was, by then, engrossed only in an episode of Star Trek that I had seen about a kajillion times before, I found myself wishing for that pause button, paying a little extra attention to moments I knew woudn’t come again.

Yes, live TV without a DVR is an experience with which I had become completely unfamiliar. Knowing that you can’t pause really makes you focus on the TV. I wasn’t inclined to touch my phone, not even once, and I found myself entranced with every moment whether important or not, treasuring it as if it were a sunset I would never again witness. This is how I remember watching television in my youth, I realized. This is how television was meant to be watched.

I dare all of my blog readers to try it. It’s an eye opener. I happily returned to the land of the DVR, but I gained new respect for live TV, and for every fleeting moment that I could never replay.

About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 6,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.