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Top five best PVRs of 2017

By Callum Tennent

We’ve rounded up the very best PVRs from our testing, so you can pick a model that combines great picture quality with handy features.

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A PVR may seem like the type of product that doesn't require too much thought. Surely it either records or it doesn't? However, it's not that simple - your choice of PVR will affect a wide variety of factors , including the picture and sound quality of the shows you record. It's important to choose wisely, and that's where Which? can help.

In the table below we reveal the very best models from our testing. Every PVR goes through our rigorous lab tests, so you can be sure that any model we recommend offers top-quality playback with useful features and will be a breeze to use.

Only logged-in Which? members can view our recommendations in the table below. If you’re not yet a member, you can get instant access by taking a £1 trial to Which?

Best PVRs of 2017

Humax HDR-1800T
Today's best price £138.00
Which? score 78%
Reviewed Dec 2014
Best Buy
Features and versatility:
4 out of 5
Ease of use:
4 out of 5
Picture quality:
5 out of 5
Sound quality:
5 out of 5

A comparatively affordable model, this PVR has a slightly smaller hard drive but shares many of its predecessor's other features. This PVR is our best on test.

Humax HB-1000S
Today's best price £99.00
Which? score 77%
Reviewed Apr 2014
Best Buy
Features and versatility:
4 out of 5
Ease of use:
4 out of 5
Picture quality:
5 out of 5
Sound quality:
5 out of 5

This is a Freesat HD set-top box with Freetime. By pairing it with an external hard drive we effectively turned it into a PVR, so we could compare it with more expensive alternatives. Freetime enables you to scroll back through the TV guide to access a host of on-demand content. It also gives access to more than 180 TV and radio channels, and there are no monthly subscription fees. This diminutive device scored as a Best Buy.

Panasonic DMR-EX97EB-K
Today's best price £199.00
Which? score 76%
Reviewed Apr 2016
Best Buy
Features and versatility:
4 out of 5
Ease of use:
4 out of 5
Picture quality:
5 out of 5
Sound quality:
5 out of 5

An all-in-one PVR that has a 500GB hard drive and can record to DVD, this device isn't cheap, but there's plenty here for your money. It looks slick and scores very highly.

Humax HDR-2000T/500GB
Today's best price £159.00
Which? score 76%
Reviewed Apr 2014
Best Buy
Features and versatility:
4 out of 5
Ease of use:
4 out of 5
Picture quality:
5 out of 5
Sound quality:
5 out of 5

You can use this PVR to access more than 60 channels without a subscription - including a number in high definition - via the free TV service Freeview. You can also connect it to your home network to watch catch-up TV. When we put it through our comprehensive lab test it scored very well.

Humax HDR-1100S
Today's best price £169.97
Which? score 76%
Reviewed Dec 2015
Best Buy
Features and versatility:
4 out of 5
Ease of use:
4 out of 5
Picture quality:
5 out of 5
Sound quality:
5 out of 5

This Freesat PVR packs in twin tuners, meaning you can record two channels at once. There's a 500GB hard drive, which can hold around 300 hours of SD shows, and it's also connectable to the internet, so you can use dedicated apps or stream content from your home network. It has plenty of features, and is rewarded with a very high test score.

Panasonic DMR-HWT130EB
Today's best price £169.99
Which? score 74%
Reviewed Jun 2014
Best Buy
Features and versatility:
5 out of 5
Ease of use:
3 out of 5
Picture quality:
5 out of 5
Sound quality:
5 out of 5

This PVR certainly looks great, but it also has the lengthy specification list and a hard drive big enough to store over 250 hours of TV to back it up.

Not found the product for you? Browse all of our PVR reviews.

Why Which? testing is different

We buy every PVR and set-top box we test, and we look at models of all types, TV platforms and price, including Freesat, Freeview, BT TV, Sky TV, TalkTalk and Virgin Media boxes, costing from £50 to £300. We speak to manufacturers and scour the market to make sure we test all the most popular models that you'll find in the shops or online.

Which? doesn't only tell you about the Best Buy PVRs and set-top boxes that we recommend, we also tell you which models to avoid with our Don't Buys. If a PVR or set-top box has an issue we feel is so bad it must be a fault, then we will buy a new version and retest it. We'll also speak to the manufacturer to find out what it plans to do about the problem.

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