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Best PVR and set-top box brands: which should you buy?

BT TV PVRs and set-top boxes rated

By Callum Tennent

Article 5 of 9

With the rise of BT Sport, BT TV is a subscription service rapidly being picked up by thousands. Are the PVRs and set-top boxes that accompany the service any good, though?

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Watching TV over the internet is on a seemingly unstoppable rise, and BT TV is at the front of it. With a BT TV box in your living room you can watch a huge number of channels, as well as catch up with TV on demand. But is the hardware as future-proof as the service it provides?

Satellite TV set-up is a hassle, and cable TV isn't available to everyone. The internet, though? We've all got that, so it only makes sense that TV providers should start using it, too. BT TV is delivered almost exclusively over the internet, via an otherwise traditional-looking PVR or set-top box.

While that may eliminate a range of traditional weaknesses with subscription TV, it of course introduces a number that never existed previously. Not only do we put BT TV boxes through our extensive lab testing but we also survey real-life BT TV subscribers to find out how they feel about using the devices.

Want to see other brands, too? Head over to our PVR and set-top box reviews.

This year we heard from over 200 BT TV subscribers who told us all about their PVR, including how long it stayed fault-free for, what went wrong with it (if anything) and also how likely they are to recommend it to a friend. You don't get much of a choice when subscribing to BT TV, so this exclusive information is more important than ever.

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BT TV PVR and set-top box overview
BT PVR and set-top box overview
Number tested in the past three years 2
Number of Best Buys
Average test score
Brand reliability rating
Customer score (%)
Loyalty score
Typical spend
Should I buy one?
Table notes Average test score based on results of models tested in the past three years (as of 29 August 2017) that are still available. The customer score and brand reliability rating are based on a Which? member survey conducted in July 2017 of 2,531 PVR and set-top box owners. The customer score is based on whether members would recommend the brand to a friend, and reliability is based on members’ experience of that brand. Table last updated 29 August 2017.


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How much do BT TV PVRs and set-top boxes cost?

As with similar services like Virgin Media and Sky you can't just pop down to the shops and pick up a BT TV PVR off the shelf you'll need to take out a subscription with BT TV, after which an engineer will visit to get everything set up for you. That's a plus if you like the peace of mind granted by the professionals sorting everything out, but a pain if you're technically adept and don't want to wait around all day for an engineer.

You'll be charged £9.99 for the set-top box to be delivered to your home, then a potential £50 installation charge (depending on what sort of package you take out).

Beyond those initial fees there's then of course your monthly subscription. There's myriad options, from a basic entertainment package to super-deluxe 4K bundle find out more about the available choices on our dedicated BT TV provider review page.

Choosing the best BT TV PVR or set-top box

There are three BT TV boxes available, but which one you get is decided solely by the subscription package you sign up to.

The YouView+ Ultra HD box functions like a standard PVR, allowing you to watch, pause, rewind and record live TV in HD and, where available, 4K. It also offers a wide array of apps and players, like Netflix and BBC iPlayer.

The YouView+ box functions exactly the same, only there's no 4K Ultra HD available.

The third choice, the Mini YouView box is a set-top box rather than a PVR. You can pause and rewind live HD TV but you can't record it. It's also a fair bit dinkier and more compact than its flashier siblings.