PVRs: How to buy the best PVR PVR hard disk size, storage and memory

PVR capacity

A 150GB PVR would store around 75 hours of SD TV

At the heart of every PVR is a hard disk drive that is used to store the recorded TV (and radio) programmes. 

Hard disk capacity is measured in gigabytes (GB), and the larger the hard-disk capacity the more programming can be recorded before the disk becomes full. 

As a rule of thumb, if you divide the hard disk capacity by two, you’ll get an estimate of how many hours of standard-definition recording a PVR will hold. For example, a PVR with 500GB of hard-disk capacity would be able to store around 250 hours (500 divided by two) of standard-definition recording.

When the hard drive is full, you’ll need to delete some recordings to free up space before the PVR will be able to record anything else. 

Any recordings you want to keep can easily be downloaded to a separate VCR or DVD recorder if you wish.

Use our PVR product finder to search for a Best Buy PVR with the hard disk capacity to suit your needs.

Humax electronic programme guide

The electronic programme guide helps you plan your TV week

The electronic programme guide (EPG) 

The electronic programme guide, or EPG, is an on-screen display of the TV (and radio) schedule for the forthcoming seven days (or occasionally the next 14 days). 

PVRs have their own EPG layout, and some are much better than others. Ideally, it’ll be simple to navigate, clear to read and display several channels on screen at once. 

By scrolling up or down you’ll access other channels, and by scrolling left or right you’ll move forwards and backwards through the week to find the programme you want to record. 

Once you've found it, you’ll be able to read a brief synopsis of the programme and set the PVR to record it at the touch of a button. Most PVRs let you search for a programme, too, which is useful if you don’t know when it’s being shown.

When you're looking to buy a PVR, choosing one with a good EPG is crucial – a poorly designed one can have you pulling your hair out in frustration. 

We’ve seen some very good and some very bad EPGs – to find the best, see our PVR reviews.

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