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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.

Put us to the test

Our Test Labs compare features and prices on a range of products. Try Which? to unlock our reviews. You'll instantly be able to compare our test scores, so you can make sure you don't get stuck with a Don't Buy.

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

Today's best price £97.90
Which? score 79%
Reviewed Apr 2017
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 eagerly-awaited followup to another popular Freesat set-top box from the biggest name in the market. Three years on from its predecessor this is a model worthy of carrying on the mantle - sign up or log in to see the full review.

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.

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.

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.

Today's best price £163.97
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.

And here's two to avoid

For what is a fairly simple product, there's an awful lot of PVRs and set-top boxes on the market right now. The vast majority will do a very serviceable job, with a select handful truly excelling.

Then you have the two models listed below - one a PVR, the other a set-top box - which perform worst in our testing, and by some distance. Do yourself a favour and stay well clear.

Two models to avoid

Typical price £35.00
Which? score 50%
Reviewed Sep 2016
Features and versatility:
4 out of 5
Energy use:
4 out of 5
Picture quality:
5 out of 5

A cheap, simple set-top box from a familiar brand name, this device falls some way short of being a cost-effective alternative to a smart TV. We ran it through our comprehensive TV box test so that you don't have to - sign up to find out what model we're talking about.

Typical price £154.00
Which? score 49%
Reviewed Apr 2014
Features and versatility:
4 out of 5
Energy use:
4 out of 5
Picture quality:
4 out of 5

This Freeview PVR has a 500GB hard drive, so you can store around 240 hours of TV on it. It's more expensive than previous PVRs from the brand that we've seen, which is inexplicable considering how poorly it performed in our tests. In fact, it's the worst we've reviewed. Read the full review to avoid making the mistake of purchasing it.

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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