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World Cup 2014: Best PVRs to catch all the action

Five personal video recorders that won't let you down

by Mark Hodgkinson Jun 8, 2014


  • We brought you are catch-all ‘How not to Miss a Minute of the World Cup’ article just recently but now it’s time for a more focussed look at the best Personal Video Recorders with which to do it.
    Naturally, this being AVForums, it should go without saying that all the devices listed below are HD capable, so you’ll be viewing in the highest possible quality!

    The YouView platform has been a grower for us. From promising beginnings somewhat limited by operating software shortcomings, things have definitely got better. The latest recorder in the range is the Humax DTR-T1010 2TB, which is merely a storage-enhanced version over the existing models

    It has both the main World Cup catch-up services, i.e. BBC iPlayer and ITV Player and in terms of its recording capabilities, the DTR-T1010 2TB is extremely solid and reliable and includes excellent implementations of time-shifting, ‘ad-skipping’, chase play and series record so it’s an excellent candidate for watching a recorded – or partially recorded – match.


    The big omission, as far as the software is concerned, is the lack of padding options but we’re sure both the ITV and BBC will keep on top of updating the EPG (Electronic Programme Guide) to ensure the Accurate recording feature of Freeview+ will ensure that those matches that run over time will not be cut off in their recording prime.

    On a more positive note, the app for mobile devices – available on iOS and Android - allows you to set recordings from outside the home. We found the overall package provided by the Humax DTR-T1010T to be generally excellent, particularly with the on-demand integration, so we have no hesitations in proposing it as a potential World Cup Recorder.
    Most have excellent mobile apps, these days.
    There’s perhaps no PVR better equipped for the Wolrd Cup than Virgin’s TiVo box.

    It’s clever enough to know when you’re selecting a live event to record and will automatically ask if you would like to add extra time to the end of the timer. It also has 3 available tuners, so there’s little likelihood that you’ll have any recording clashes and there’s the excellent TV Anywhere app available for iOS and Android that will allow you to stream action from the BBC and ITV to your mobile device.

    There is also a dedicated app for BBC Sport which will be carrying almost endless coverage of the 2014 tournament, with live streamed games, all the highlights, alternative commentaries and much, much, more. Of course, TiVo is also home to all the major UK catchup services too, so you can access BBC iPlayer and ITV Player to see any games you forgot to record. The TV Anywhere app does allow you to set timers from outside the home, however, so there is really very little excuse unless you want to save room on the harddrive.

    The TiVo software also carries an (almost) unique facility to record on nominated key words, too, so you would probably need a lot of HDD space should you choose to enter, ‘2014 FIFA World Cup’ under Wishlist searches but at least you’d know you’re definitely not going to miss out on any of the action.

    It was the Sky+HD Box that was responsible for raising public awareness of the PVR in the UK.

    In fact to ‘Sky Plus it’ became the vernacular for setting a programme to record and features like series record quickly became favourites with the user base. Sky has since gone on to dominate the subscription TV market in the UK and now reaches more than 10 million of us.

    Fortunately Sky hasn’t rested on its laurels and continues to push the boundaries, both with their broadcast content and apps for PC’s and mobile devices, thus opening up the World Cup second screen experience and the extremely recent deal struck with ITV to add its channels to Sky Go couldn’t have been better timed for Brazil.

    Since its first iteration, the Sky+ Box has grown massively in its capacity for storing programmes. With hard drives as large as 2TB installed in the latest Sky+ HD boxes, users can hoard around 350 hours of HD programming, which is more than enough to take care of the 96 hours-worth of games with room to spare for the horror of extra time and penalties.

    Sky’s fairly radical overhaul of its homepage also means that the relevant catch-up services are more accessible than ever and the nation’s favourite PVR is another excellent choice for sports fans.
    iPlayer and ITV Player will be hammered these next few weeks
    The Humax HDR-2000T is a compact and rather plain little box but connectivity options are quite comprehensive, although there's no built-in WiFi. Generally speaking, menus and user interfaces are a doddle to follow and this is the first Freeview HD PVR to provide access to their new App store. For an emerging platform the range of apps and services is not bad and includes, crucially, the BBC iPlayer but you’ll have to record any games you want to see shown on ITV.

    Possibly the best feature built in to the 2000-T is its capability to stream recordings from off its HDD to other devices boasting DLNA compatibility. In effect, if you have something that fits the bill situated in another room, it gives you a chance to catch-up on games from any room around the home.

    And an excellent PVR it is. There are lots of nice touches, such as being able to set global record padding, to prevent you missing the beginning or end of a game, and customisable time skipping so you don't have to watch the ads. You can even a create your own special World Cup folder and lock it down so nobody can delete your precious action.

    All in all, the HDR-2000T stands up as proof that Humax has been producing quality Freeview recorders for years and it’s a very good alternative to the YouView box mentioned above.
    The combi players will let you take in a movie in between matches
    You can’t watch football absolutely all of the time, much as you might like to.

    So why not get yourself a PVR that doubles up as Blu-ray disc spinner to let you take in a movie between games? The Samsung BD-H8900 is one such all-in-one solution Connectivity options aren’t that plentiful but we guess most will be satisfied with an HDMI port, digital optical audio and a couple of USB ports.

    Samsung’s PVR smart TV platform is very much geared toward content discovery so if you’re watching a lot of footie, it will know, and keep you up to date with upcoming games and related content – which there will be masses of!.



    It also scores highly in having the BBC iPlayer and ITV Player amongst its comprehensive set of catch-up and streaming service and you also get access to the previously mentioned festival of football that is the BBC Sport App. There’s also a great app for your mobile device allowing you to set remote recordings and stream action around the house.

    As a Personal Video recorder (PVR), the BD-H8900 is a very creditable candidate. The only real niggles we have is that you can’t access the EPG whilst watching a recording and said guide has had a misguided design overhaul, making it less usable than in generations past. Other than that, it’s a flexible recorder offering all the features you would expect including dual recording, chase play and series records.

    So there are our Top 5 candidates for sure-footed World Cup recording duties, not long to wait until you can switch them in to action now!

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