Which? uses cookies to improve our sites and by continuing you agree to our cookies policy.

How long will your PVR last?

Our survey reveals how PVR brands compare for reliability

PVRs, or ‘personal video recorders’, are a common living room fixture these days, with popular boxes supplied by Sky, Virgin Media and BT as part of their pay-TV services.

They’re undeniably handy, easily letting you record various shows at once, or whole series with a single click of the remote. Even so, you can’t depend on your PVR to save your favourite shows forever, as our latest reliability survey shows. Some models suffer from reliability problems just like any other gadget – and some brands more than most. Keep reading for the details.

Best Buy PVRs – the best video recorders you can buy

How long will your PVR last?

As part of our annual reliability survey, we asked 3,927 people about their current and previous PVRs. They told us whether their device had developed a fault and when it happened, which lets us compare different PVR brands and identify the ones that are more likely to develop an issue.

Through a combination of glitchy interfaces and broken hard drives, PVRs can be rather unreliable – in fact, our worst-performing brand in the survey, Bush, only managed to score a 66% reliability rating. Common PVR faults include boxes freezing up, recording issues and faulty remote controls.

When it comes to reliability, Manhattan comes out on top with a rating of 95%. Some 94% of Manhattan models remained fault-free over a five-year period, which is better than Panasonic (84%), BT TV (65%) and Sky TV (56%). Take a look at our Manhattan reviews if you’re shopping for a new device.

Panasonic and Samsung also performed strongly. An impressive 84% of Panasonic models are fault-free after five years, slightly higher than Samsung at 82%. We’ve tested a range of devices from both brands in our test lab, including this year’s Panasonic DMR-EX97EB-K. It’s a proven Best Buy packed with features.

TalkTalk didn’t do as well, though. After just a year of ownership, 25% of its models had something wrong with them. As a result, the customer score for the brand is just 50%. Bush was the worst of the bunch, however, with a customer score of 46% and a reliability rating of 66% for its PVRs. Only 58% of the Bush models included in our study were still working as normal after five years.

Which brand should I choose?

We have no trouble recommending Manhattan devices, as the brand has been rewarded with a reliability rating of 95%.

It’s also worth noting that Humax has the most Best Buy devices on record. Last year’s Humax DTRT4000 (right) is a solid Best Buy and it’s affordable at around £50. For your money you’ll get brilliant picture quality and a whopping 1TB hard drive, big enough for hundreds of hours of your favourite shows.

For more on picking the perfect PVR for you, see our guide to how to buy the best PVR or set-top box. Our page on PVR brands also has some more information on what to expect from Humax, Sky, Virgin Media and YouView.

The latest PVRs and set-top boxes on test

We recently tested the new Sky Q box (right) in our lab, and were so impressed by the £99 system that we awarded it with our exclusive Best Buy title. The small box serves up fantastic picture quality and sound is excellent too. It becomes the first Sky set-top box to support 4K Ultra-HD content. See how it scored by heading over to our Sky Q review.

To see the full range of PVRs and set-top boxes that have passed through our test lab, take a gander at our PVR reviews page. There, you’ll find the latest details on Sky Q, and models from big-name brands including Bush, Panasonic and Humax.

Back to top