PVRs & set-top boxes

Best PVR brands

by Lewis Skinner
Which brand of PVR should you choose? We give you the lowdown on the main brands to help you choose the best PVR for you.

Just want to see great PVRs? We show the models worth buying with our Best Buy PVRs.

PVR brand reliability

We survey thousands of Which? members every year, asking about the products they own. This means that we can reveal the brands that produce solid, reliable products, as well as the ones that will let you down.

PVRs are generally unreliable products, and are especially prone to software problems. Buying one from a brand towards the bottom of our table can mean you end up missing out on the programmes you want to watch, and if your PVR breaks down it can completely clear out your library of TV shows and films.

47% - 81%The range of reliability scores for PVR brands

Nearly half of owners told us they had experienced their PVR freezing or locking up. Other problems include issues with the recording and playback function, and remote controls no longer working.

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Which? members can log in to see the PVR brands behind the ratings. If you're not already a member, you can take a Which? trial.
BrandAverage test scoreCustomer scoreReliability rating
73%77%

This brand offers a good range of PVRs, with a variety of hard drive sizes. All PVRs use the Freeview service to deliver free-TV channels, in both strandard and high definition. If you have a large Blu-Ray collection you may want to consider one of the models that combines Blu-Ray playback with PVR funtionality.

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67%74%

This brand's PVRs are tied directly to its own subscription service. The top-of-the range model is one of the main attractions to this brand, as it can suggest shows you may want to watch, based on previous viewing habits.

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73%74%

These PVRs are for use with Freeview and Freesat services. But, just because this brand isn't as familiar as others available, that doesn’t mean it isn’t good. The company’s products are highly regarded and it's one of the manufacturers selected by the YouView service to supply its boxes.

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71%61%

A subscription-based service offering a mixture of live, catch-up and premium channels. Unlike its competitors, this brand uses a combination of Freeview broadcasts and broadband-based services to deliver its full range of TV offerings.

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67%51%

The introductory prices for TV, broadband and phone bundles from this brand are some of the most tempting. Depending on which you opt for, you'll be sent a set-top box or a PVR, both use the YouView TV service, so you get access to Freeview channels, but only the PVR can record shows to a hard drive.

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78%67%

A well known brand that was one of the first companies in the country to offer PVRs. It's small range of models includes two PVRs which can be used to access free-TV via the Freesat service and pay-TV with a monthly subscription.

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Key

Member Content

Choose the best brand of PVR

Which? has a wealth of information on Britain's favourite tech brands. Every year we ask Which? members to tell us about the technology products they own - from how happy they are to recommend a brand, to how reliable the products are. This year nearly 11,000 Which? members told us about more than 57,000 devices.

We calculate a brand's reliability and its customer score based on the results of an annual survey. This year we had enough respondents to report on popular high street PVR brands, such as Panasonic and Humax, as well as TV subscription services, including Sky and Virgin Media. The most reliable brand has a score of 81%, compared to 47% for the least reliable brand.

Our reliability surveys help Which? to uncover common headphone problems that can affect owners over time. Combined with our extensive lab tests, this means we can recommend the best PVR for you to buy.