PVRs: How to buy the best PVR What features do the best PVRs have?

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Freeview+

When buying a Freeview PVR, look for the Freeview+ symbol. All new Freeview PVRs should have this and it means that they offer several features that make recording easier and more accurate. At present, these are: accurate recording, series link and split recording.

Accurate recording 

Alters the recording start and stop times if a programme starts early, runs late or is rescheduled, so you don't miss it. It's not completely foolproof, however, as it relies on the broadcaster updating the electronic programme guide. 

If your PVR lets you, it’s wise to add a few minutes of extra time to the beginning and end of a recording to stay on the safe side.

Series link 

Allows you to easily set the PVR to automatically record all programmes in a series so you don't miss an episode. 

When you first programme the PVR to record an episode it’ll ask you whether you want to record the whole series – click ‘yes’ using the remote control and it’ll grab them all when they’re shown.

Split recording 

Allows you to record a programme that is split in two – for example, films that are shown before and after the news – without recording the programme in between.

Trailer programming

In future, PVRs will offer 'trailer programming' – you press a button on the remote control when you see a trailer for a programme you like the look of, and the PVR automatically adds it to its recording schedule. 

Eventually, PVRs will learn to recognise the types of programme that you like and recommend shows that you may like to record.

For help choosing an HD PVR watch the Which? buyers' guide video

Twin tuners

It makes sense to buy a PVR with two digital TV tuners, as this allows to you to record two programmes at once, while watching a third programme that you recorded previously. 

Some PVRs will even let you watch a programme live while you're recording another two. The most versatile twin-tuner PVRs can be found in our PVR reviews section.

Combination DVD and PVR recorders generally have a single digital tuner. This means you can't record two digital programmes at the same time and can only watch one programme and record another if you also own a digital TV with its own tuner. 

They’re also generally more complicated to use than good standalone PVRs. If you need both a PVR and a DVD recorder, we would recommend buying two separate devices, unless space is an issue. 

Use our DVD recorder reviews to find the best standalone and combination DVD recorders. 

Recording radio

Digital TV gives you access to both TV channels and digital radio stations. The EPG shows the upcoming schedule for both TV and radio, and most PVRs will also let you record radio programmes in exactly the same way as a TV programme. If this feature appeals, make sure the PVR you buy has this feature.

Power consumption

Low standby power consumption is desirable, as a PVR is likely to be left in standby continually so that it can receive EPG updates and be ready to record selected programmes. 

We measure the standby and running power consumption of all the PVRs we test. Use our PVR product finder to find one that’s kinder to the environment and your pocket.