A personal video recorder (PVR) is an interactive TV recording device, in essence a sophisticated set-top box with recording capability (although it is not necessarily kept on top of the television set).

Like a VCR, a PVR has the ability to pause, rewind, stop, or fast-forward a recorded program. Because the PVR can record a program and replay it almost immediately with a slight time lag, what seem to be live programs can be manipulated as though they were recorded programs (which they actually are). A PVR’s capabilities include time marking, indexing, and non-linear editing. The PVR encodes an incoming video data stream as MPEG-1 or MPEG-2 and stores it on a hard disk within a device that looks much like a VCR.