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

Sky PVRs and set-top boxes rated

By Callum Tennent

Article 7 of 9

When you think of TV in the UK, Sky may well be the first name that comes to mind. It's the most popular service out there, but does it have the reliability and customer service to back it up?

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Sky is the most popular subscription TV service in the country, and it's easy to see why. Tonnes of channels, 4K viewing and a host of neat features make its PVRs an appealing choice.

However, just like with most other subscription services, while the number of subscription packages may be varied, your choice of boxes is not. That's why it's so important to make sure that you know what you're getting before signing up for a whole year or longer.

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

Popularity is no indicator of quality. Not only have we put the latest Sky PVRs through our exhaustive lab tests but we've also gone out of our way to find out just how reliable they are in the real world, too.

We got in touch with hundreds of Sky TV subscribers to find out what they honestly make of the box they use every day in their homes. They told us how often they break, why they break, and just how happy they are with the thing when all's said and done.

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Sky PVR and set-top box overview
Sky 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 25 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 25 August 2017.


Member Content

How much do Sky PVRs cost?

That depends on which Sky PVR you're going for. Unlike some other TV providers, you can choose from either of Sky's latest PVRs regardless of which channel bundles you opt for. This is good news for those not looking to splurge, because one is significantly more expensive than the other.

The Sky Q 1TB box costs a very reasonable £20, whereas the Sky Q 2TB set-top box costs a wince-inducing £199. Both those figures include set-up from an official Sky engineer. If you're already with Sky and using an older box, like the Sky+ box, then you can pay a reduced cost to upgrade – £20 and £65 for the 1TB and 2TB Sky Q boxes, respectively.

Then you of course need to factor in your monthly subscription cost, which can range anywhere from £22 to £81.50 per month.

Choosing the best Sky PVR

As mentioned above, you have two key choices: do you opt for the Sky Q 1TB box, or the Sky Q 2TB box? The choice isn't as simple as the name suggests, though, as more changes than just the hard-drive sizes.

The 1TB box can record three channels at the same time (while you watch a fourth), store up to 500 hours of standard-definition television, comes with a basic hard-buttoned remote, and can access the whole range of standard and high-definition channels available.

The 2TB box, on the other hand, can record six channels at the same time (while you watch a seventh), store up to 1,000 hours of standard-definition television, and is the only choice if you want to watch 4K Ultra-high definition shows. The remote also has some touch-sensitive controls and connects to the box via Bluetooth, meaning you don't need to be aiming directly at it for it to work.

Be sure not to be confused by Sky's marketing, too. While the company may often refer to its devices as 'set-top boxes' they are all in fact PVRs, meaning all of them can both view and record live TV.