Options on recording programmes on TV

We aren’t stopping at the VCR, even though it may be gone.
There are many ways to record TV. None of these require you to keep a cabinet full of tapes. You may not even need additional devices if your TV has the right features.

Our guide will help to evaluate your options, decipher the jargon, find the best device for you.
Explained: Personal video recorders (PVRs).

PVRs can record Freeview channels to a hard drive. Here’s an overview of everything you should know.

A PVR allows you to record multiple programs at the same time – sometimes as many as seven – while simultaneously watching another.
All of them can record Full HD TV.
These devices have electronic programme guides built in, which allows you to choose what to record or watch.
They usually have a hard drive built-in, which can store 500GB to 2TB (2,000GB).
A 500GB hard disk can store around 125 hours HD footage, 250 hours of SD content, and up to 500GB.
Some of these connect to the Internet, giving you access to streaming apps such as Netflix and iPlayer.

DVD recorders

A DVD recorder (sometimes called a DVDr) is a device that records TV programs onto a recordingable DVD disc. A DVD disc typically holds only one to four hours worth of footage. It is best to buy a DVD with a built-in drive if you plan on using it as your main TV-recording system.

While they were once very popular, their availability has dropped sharply over the last ten years. Because PVRs are so popular, it’s likely that you won’t be able to find a new model. And we don’t test them.

Record TV programs for long-term storage
You can share recordings and photos with family members and friends


Only one program can be recorded at once
HDTV can’t be recorded by most DVD players.
They are usually more difficult to use that PVRs
You can only record Freeview channels
There are few in existence today.

Combo PVR/DVD recorder

A PVR/DVD combo combines the hard disk storage capacity a PVR has (typically 250 or 125 HD), with the option of burning your favourite recordings to DVD. They are a great option if you’re looking for the best of both, but like DVD recorders they are rare.

Large internal hard drive
Can I archive to DVD


Recording one programme at a while is common
A standalone PVR is easier to use.
Few are available

These are more complicated than standalone PVRs. We recommend that you purchase two separate devices for PVR and DVD recording if space is an issue.

How to make your TV a PVR

Some cases may not require you to purchase a PVR. Modern smart TVs include a built in PVR function. It requires USB TV hard drives, or memory stick to be able to use it. This then plugs into one the USB ports on your TV.

Only broadcasts received locally by the TV’s Freeview/Freesat will be recorded. The TV won’t have the ability to record any content from external devices like an Amazon Fire TV Stick or Sky set-top boxes.

Your TV’s tuner count will limit what you can record. A TV with only one tuner will limit your ability to record the same program you are watching. If you have two, you can watch and record both the same show. There are many benefits to this, however. You don’t need to limit your hard drive size like with standalone PVRs. You can attach any size drive you choose, and they are also much cheaper.