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PVRS and DVR reviews

Last updated: 21 October 2015

A PVR (personal video recorder, also known as DVR or digital video recorder) lets you pause, rewind, replay and record your 'can't miss' TV shows. We lab test and review the latest models to help you find the best PVR for you. Our PVR buying guide explains the features to look for.

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Our expert testers give every PVR a thorough workout to help find the models that:

  • are the easiest to use
  • are best at full series recording
  • have the best EPG (electronic program guide)
  • offer the biggest hard disk capacity
  • cost the least to run.

Our interactive comparison tool helps you find out which models have a dedicated Netflix button, which support 4K or Ultra HD, and which let you record to external storage. Our Recommended list will help you see quickly which models come out on top.

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Brand

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List of brands we tested in this review.

Price

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The prices shown are recommended retail December 2015 however you should be able to find most of these models for a lower price if you shop around.

enter value/s in increments of 1 between 189 and 949

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4K resolution
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Ultra-high Definition (also called 4K) could be the next 3D in the sense that there's a lot of hype, but virtually no content available yet. UHD TVs have a lot more pixels than an HD TV, but they also cost a lot more. This is one of those features that may turn out to be a nice feature to have, but shouldn't be a factor in your purchasing decision.

Freeview plus
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FreeviewPlus features include the ability to display of all TV networks' programs without the need to change channels, a search function and the ability to enjoy catch-up TV channels such as iView, 9Now and SBS On Demand.

Record directly to external storage
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Recordings can be recorded directly to an external drive, however you may need to have the drive connected to the PVR to view the video delivering a certain amount of copyright protection.

Test results

Ease of use
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Ease of use We look for an auto-tuning system that's informative and simple to use. We make instant recordings and check the menus for ease of understanding, navigation and clarity. We also play back recordings to check the quality and range of functions that are possible. We look at the front panel controls to see to what extent the machine can operate various tasks without using the remote control, and look at the quality of information conveyed via the front panel display.

enter value/s in increments of 1 between 0 and 0

EPG
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For EPG performance, we assess: Onscreen information for simple or well organised layout of times, channels and program titles. How easy the characters are to read – considering the size, contrast, font, colours, background. The quality of descriptor words, phrases or symbols and that selections stay on screen long enough to read. Which keys to use and whether there's support for one-button recording. Whether the EPG delivers instant, or near instant program information updates.

enter value/s in increments of 1 between 0 and 0

Series recording
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We test series recording by using the Series link feature on the PVR. We note any discrepancies with the end and start times and penalise PVRs for any truncated footage or dropouts, as well as for any times where the Series link feature fails to locate a program within the scheduled period.

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Features

Dedicated Netflix button
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The dedicated Netflix button on the remote will excite binge watching enthusiasts – you are sent to the Netflix opening screen with a single button press.

Recordings can be copied for viewing elsewhere
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Recorded programs do not have DRM protection so you can move the video footage onto a USB device and watch it wherever you like.

Specifications

Hard disk capacity (GB)

enter value/s in increments of 1 between 500 and 2000

Included in this review

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  • Overall score
  • Recommended
  • EPG
  • Remote
  • EPG recording
  • Series recording
  • Timer recording
  • Ease of use
  • Standby energy
  • Standby power (Wh)
  • In use power (Wh)
  • Good points
  • Bad points
  • Price
  • Brand
  • Model
  • Annual running cost
  • Recordings can be copied for viewing elsewhere
  • Record directly to external storage
  • Wi-Fi direct
  • Bluetooth
  • Smartphone mobile scheduling app available
  • Dedicated Netflix button
  • Optical disc player
  • 4K resolution
  • Freeview plus
  • IceTV support
  • HbbTV
  • USB ports
  • USB 3.0 port
  • Ethernet port
  • Memory card reader
  • Composite video RCA output
  • Component video RCA output
  • Stereo audio RCA output
  • HDMI output
  • Digital audio coaxial
  • Toslink
  • Wireless LAN adaptor
  • Stream video to app
  • Favourite channels
  • Supports standard EPG
  • Auto padding
  • Ad skipping
  • Dimensions (cm, H x W x D)
  • Weight (kg)
  • Hard disk capacity (GB)
  • Timeshift time limit (hours)
  • Number of digital tuners
  • Country of origin
  • Contact
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