Around the year 2000, TiVo -- a set-top box with a hard drive for recording live TV -- revolutionized the way we watch TV. Think about it: For the first time, we were truly in control of content, recording television for later, skipping past commercials, and storing a catalog of shows we wanted to keep on a hard drive for viewing any time we please. It was a revolutionary step over the old VCR, and businesses like Netflix, Hulu and other streaming video services sprang from a new mindset of watching what we want when we want. The name "TiVo" even became synonymous with DVRs in general; many cable and satellite subscribers own a set-top box that is a digital video recorder, but not all of those devices are actually TiVos.
More than a decade after its introduction, TiVo is more sophisticated than ever: The TiVo Premiere has enough storage space for hours of HD video, replaces the cable box, and provides access to various web video services like Netflix and Hulu [source: TiVo]. While TiVo charges a monthly fee for its services, many cable companies are eager to have that money for themselves -- that's why they'll offer you a DVR cable box of their own. While these DVRs focus on cable services rather than the range of functionality of the TiVo, cable companies do their best to bundle services in an effort to make package deals appealing.