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Don't Buy PVRs and set-top boxes

by Callum Tennent

Don't Buy PVRs and set-top boxes are difficult to use and picture quality is poor compared with Best Buys. With our rigorous testing and detailed reviews, we can help you avoid the duds.

Put us to the test

Our Test Labs compare features and prices on a range of products. Try Which? to unlock our reviews. You'll instantly be able to compare our test scores, so you can make sure you don't get stuck with a Don't Buy.

Buying a Don't Buy PVR or set-top box is like setting up for disappointment. A program guide that's impossible to navigate, a useless remote or a program flat-out failing to record can all conspire to ruin your evening. At Which? we'd much rather you go for a Best Buy PVR instead, and skip the irritation.

Log-in or join Which? to unlock the Don’t Buy-rated PVRs on this page.

What makes a Don't Buy PVR or set-top box?

Our extensive lab tests represent real-life living room scenarios to reveal which PVRs and set-top boxes are worth paying for and which are ones you should avoid. Some cheaper models may appear to be a bargain, but often you'll end up spending more money in the long run - for example on energy use and replacement models.

Don't Buy models fail on the picture quality front, are tricky to use and searching for a specific programme is a chore. Remote controls that come with Don't Buys are generally poorly designed and PVRs will be missing popular playback features.

Unique PVR testing by Which?

Which? tests PVRs and set-top boxes from all the biggest brands on the market. Various models from names like Humax, BT, Goodmans, Panasonic, Sky, Virgin Media and more are all bought and tested, free from bias.

  • We judge every PVR on more than 300 criteria to cover every possible angle, from the number of tuners to the ability to add subtitling.
  • Each of those figures receives an individual weighting to give the PVR or set-top box a score out of 100 so you know which are top-notch and which to ignore.
  • We purchase every device we test, and they all spend the same amount of time and attention in our independent test lab. The result is a review that you can trust to lead you the right way.

In the event that a PVR is declared a Don't Buy you can be certain that it should not be bought under any circumstance. the price may often be tempting, but we work hard to uncover higher-scoring machines in the same price bracket. You should never be stuck for choice.

Which? is independent – we work for you, the consumer, so you can be sure that our product recommendations are influenced only by our test results. We're not influenced by third parties and we don't accept freebies from product manufacturers or retailers. We buy all the products that we test ourselves, so our advice helps you to make the right choice first time and avoid costly mistakes.

To find out which laptops are Don’t Buys and which are Best Buys, join Which? today.