PVRs: How to buy the best PVR What is a PVR?

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Personal video recorders, or PVRs, record television programmes. They're also sometimes called DVRs, or digital video recorders. 

Unlike video recorders or DVD recorders, which use removable tapes or discs to store programmes, a PVR records TV to an internal hard disk. 

This means that a PVR's storage capacity is huge - more than 100 hours of programming is typical, and the largest can store more than 500 hours worth of standard-definition TV before the hard drive is full. 

There's also no degradation in picture and sound quality when you record a programme - when you play it back it's just as good as watching live TV.

Find the best PVR for your and avoid the worst with our Best Buy PVRs.

Sky satellite, Virgin cable, Freeview or Freesat?

You'll need to buy a PVR that suits the platform you use if you want to record TV. Some PVRs are designed for pay-TV services, such as Sky TV (Sky+HD), Virgin Media, BT and TalkTalk, and a whole host work with free-to-air services from Freeview or Freesat.

If Freeview is available in your area you can buy a Freeview PVR and save yourself the monthly expense of a cable or satellite-based service. If not, consider a Freesat PVR and Freesat satellite TV service instead. You'll get a different selection of channels depending on which service you opt for, though both provide a number in high definition.

Some also feature YouView or Freetime, where the electronic programme guide (EPG) not only shows current and future TV listings but can also roll back to show past listings and let you select and watch them if available on catch-up TV services, such as BBC iPlayer.

Find out more about the different TV services and their PVRs in our guide to BT vs Sky TV vs TalkTalk vs Virgin Media.

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