I just realized something strange. I used to use PIP — picture in picture — all the time. Now, I almost never use it. I started wondering what made the difference, and it hit me; we bought a DVR, a digital video recorder. The subscription-based TiVo has defined the market, but we use a no-fee unit that has a hard drive and a DVD-writer for archiving.
So why did a DVR stop my PIP use? When we only had a VHS recorder, it was a hassle to find the right tape — and then the location on the tape — for the shows we had recorded. And we didn’t always remember what we had taped. So we watched a lot more “live” TV. When the commercials came on, we’d fire up PIP, and surf the other channels until the show came back. Except when we’d get caught up in some other show and missed the start of what we’d been watching.
With the DVR, we can skip the commercials quickly and get back to the show. And we can find the shows that we have recorded easily, and just as easily delete them after we’ve watched them. So we almost never watch TV broadcasts in realtime. So if there’s no interlude for commercial breaks, there’s no motivation to check out what’s on the other channels. And no need for PIP.
DVRs have also helped me get more sleep. Many of the shows I like are on between 10 and 11 PM here on the East Coast, but I try to get to bed at 10. The DVR lets me watch the shows I like one night later, earlier in the evening.
Have DVRs or other new technology changed your viewing habits? Let me know; send me a message at email@example.com.