• New Patreon Tier and Early Access Content available. If you would like to support AVForums, we now have a new Patreon Tier which gives you access to selected news, reviews and articles before they are available to the public. Read more.

PVR Purchase Advice Please

sam8364

Standard Member
HI Guys,

I have spent a day reading reviews etc and I am still no closer to working out what will suit my needs. I have a non-digital TV which I do not want to upgrade. However, I am going to get a decent aerial upgrade so want to enter the digital TV age and also retire the faithful old VCR and £20 DVD player.

If I tell you what I am looking for perhaps some fine person can point me in the right direction.

Minimum

1. As a minimum to be able to record one channel and watch another
2. A HDD of reasonable size but it does not need to be massive.
3. Ability to transfer recordings from HDD to DVD and maintain quality.
4. Ability to plug in old VCR to DVD and copy some old tapes over to DVD
5. Freeview+ functions
6. To be able to record on HDD whilst watching a DVD
7. Support for a 4:3 TV (i think I have read some boxes only work well with widescreen)
8. Not to be constantly crashing, freezing or otherwise screwing up.

Desirable:

1. To be able to record to either HDD or DVD directly (i.e. not to always have to transfer from HDD to DVD)
2. To be able to record two channels and watch another
3. Decent EPG and quality remote

Not worried about:

1. Being able to use unit as a media hub for mp3 etc
2. HD / HDMI
3. Design of the box, brand name, latest model.

My TV has a AV input and 2 x SCART and is a beautiful CRT 20" dinosaur which I intend to keep until it croaks its last.

I do not want to spend more than is necessary but equally, I would rather pay a bit more and get something that works well. I am guessing the best solution will be a HDD unit and DVD unit that can talk to each other for purposes of recording from HDD onto DVD

Any advice would be gratefully received.

Sam
 

Gavtech

Administrator
HI Guys,

I have spent a day reading reviews etc and I am still no closer to working out what will suit my needs. I have a non-digital TV which I do not want to upgrade. However, I am going to get a decent aerial upgrade so want to enter the digital TV age and also retire the faithful old VCR and £20 DVD player.

If I tell you what I am looking for perhaps some fine person can point me in the right direction.

Minimum

1. As a minimum to be able to record one channel and watch another
2. A HDD of reasonable size but it does not need to be massive.
3. Ability to transfer recordings from HDD to DVD and maintain quality.
4. Ability to plug in old VCR to DVD and copy some old tapes over to DVD
5. Freeview+ functions
6. To be able to record on HDD whilst watching a DVD
7. Support for a 4:3 TV (i think I have read some boxes only work well with widescreen)
8. Not to be constantly crashing, freezing or otherwise screwing up.

Desirable:

1. To be able to record to either HDD or DVD directly (i.e. not to always have to transfer from HDD to DVD)
2. To be able to record two channels and watch another
3. Decent EPG and quality remote

Not worried about:

1. Being able to use unit as a media hub for mp3 etc
2. HD / HDMI
3. Design of the box, brand name, latest model.

My TV has a AV input and 2 x SCART and is a beautiful CRT 20" dinosaur which I intend to keep until it croaks its last.

I do not want to spend more than is necessary but equally, I would rather pay a bit more and get something that works well. I am guessing the best solution will be a HDD unit and DVD unit that can talk to each other for purposes of recording from HDD onto DVD

Any advice would be gratefully received.

Sam

Welcome to the forum Sam

The first hurdle to overcome is a standard limitation: If you want DVD recording facilities, and its very obvious you do and that it is not optional, then you need a DVD recorder, and they never have twin tuners [ Bar an expensive twin tuner unit that is based on satellite reception and requires a dish]

To have the ability to watch another channel requires another tuner. That could be from an additional Freeview box , or perhaps ideally a PVR. [ A twin tuner HDD recorder. ]

This may seem over-the-top but a DVDR and PVR work very well together to provide very flexible viewing / recording/ archiving.

A second point to make is that it is usually possible to record direct to DVD with any DVDR, but it is strongly recommended against for a variety of reasons.
In practice you will find that the transfer process offers an otherwise impossible flexibility and is straightforward.

Once you have absorbed these points above, then more detailed recommendations can be given once your approach is decided.
 

sam8364

Standard Member
I think that makes sense to me and thank you for taking the time to help.

I had figured that the best solution would probably be two boxes. It does not seem over the top as I currently have three (VCR, DVD player, Digibox).

This leads me to a couple more questions...

1) From what I can make out from reading this forum, if I want on occasion to transfer from HDD to DVD then it is best to do this through a RGB scart output. However, most PVRs have one RGB output and one composite (which I think I understand is lower quality). This would presumably then mean I would need to do cable swapping to achieve a decent quality DVD recording?

2) Why is it usually not advised to records stuff directly to DVD?

3) If it is possible to record directly to DVD from live Freeview, does the DVD recorder need a Freeview tuner itself or can the signal somehow be fed from the PVR. If so does this affect the recording / viewing capabilities of the PVR whilst the DVD recording is being made?

4) On the basis that my best option is 1x PVR and 1 x DVD recorder (and on the basis of my criteria on my initial post) what do people think are the best purchase options?

Cheers

Sam
 

Rodders53

Distinguished Member
A single-tuner HDD / DVD recorder might suit you as long as you can accept the single tuner limitation. The better ones allow lossless transfer from HDD to DVD. (I have an analogue HDD/DVD recorder from Panasonic which I've found to be good).

1)
If you opt for PVR and DVD-R you will get some degradation when copying. Plumbing the PVR TVout to the DVD-R 2nd scart (presuming this accepts RGB in like my Panasonic) and the DVD-R TV scart to the TVs RGB input will allow you to record in RGB. Alternatively you could use s-video which some (eg my Humac 9200T) will output on the 'VCR' scart.

2)
Recording direct to DVD is perfectly OK - but you can edit the HDD recording to remove trails, adverts etc.,. and sometimes more - such as setting chapter marks (depending on recorder). Thus recording onto HDD is 'better'. You may also get a 'bad disc' and lose the recording if you are very unlucky.

3)
I use the Panasonic to record a 3rd programme when Humax is already recording two. I do this using the TV's freeview tuner or a Sky box which are both connected to it. Sky recordings are RGB, but the Tv only gives composite out. Both give me acceptable recordings. The recording quality setting used (XP,SP,LP,EP has a bigger effect).
 
Last edited:

Gavtech

Administrator
I think that makes sense to me and thank you for taking the time to help.

I had figured that the best solution would probably be two boxes. It does not seem over the top as I currently have three (VCR, DVD player, Digibox).

This leads me to a couple more questions...

1) From what I can make out from reading this forum, if I want on occasion to transfer from HDD to DVD then it is best to do this through a RGB scart output. However, most PVRs have one RGB output and one composite (which I think I understand is lower quality). This would presumably then mean I would need to do cable swapping to achieve a decent quality DVD recording?

No - that is not necessary... provided you have a decent quality DVDR which has RGB passthrough and Feedthrough switching. The units can be daisy-chained with fully wired scarts , and this provides the facility to watch from either device, or copy, all in RGB.

Assuming the example of a DVDR and PVR setup... it is possible to record three separate channels and simultaneously watch a DVD/ or watch a recording previously made on the DVDR/ or watch a recording previously made on the PVR/ or or watch a recording previously made on the PVR whilst copying a a recording from HDD to DVD on the DVDR whilst recording two channels on the PVR.
I'd say that is pretty flexible.
2) Why is it usually not advised to records stuff directly to DVD?


Recording to HDD can be regarded as more or less 100% reliable.
Recording to a DVD can be regarded as a bit of a lottery and has obvious size limitations.
More importantly , you can edit and sort material for laying onto discs efficiently [ collecting series for example] You can change the degree of compression... and can edit out garbage. [ topping and tailing and adverts]
3) If it is possible to record directly to DVD from live Freeview, does the DVD recorder need a Freeview tuner itself or can the signal somehow be fed from the PVR. If so does this affect the recording / viewing capabilities of the PVR whilst the DVD recording is being made?

See above...The recorder does not need to be in the unit - it can be anywhere... but it is the only sensible solution to have it integrated as this provides proper and convenient timer control and the flexibility as described above.
4) On the basis that my best option is 1x PVR and 1 x DVD recorder (and on the basis of my criteria on my initial post) what do people think are the best purchase options?

Cheers

Sam

Given your earlier specifications - the model DVDR for you is the Panasonic EX769

I will defer to the experts in the PVR field to give you recommendations for a twin tuner device.

Gentlemen?
 

grahamlthompson

In memoriam
Here's my twopennorth

Freeview pvrs Topfield 5800/5810 Humax 9150/9200/9300 no experience of vestels but they seem to be quite liked by their owners.

Freesat pvr - Humax Foxsat-hdr.

One word to the OP using a 4:3 TV with digital TV is going to be a bit disappointing as most of the output is 16:9. So unless you don't mind distorted pictures or black bars a widescreen TV would be a good idea.

Also bear in mind your existing aerial may be fine for digital depending on where you live, especially if your local transmitter has stopped transmitting analogue. Don't be fooled by the ad blurb about digital aerials there is no such thing. Before you do anything try out a digital stb it's more likely to work fine than not with your existing aerial
 

sam8364

Standard Member
Thanks for the ongoing advice chaps.

The Panasonic EX769 seems to be a single tuner HDD and DVD in one. I assume this means if you are recording from Freeview you cannot watch another channel?

Would a simple Freeview box addition be the best solution or would I be better with a dual tuner PVR and seperate DVDR.

Just run by me again what outputs/inputs I need to look for to make sure I can link this all together? I think The suggestion above was that you have the aerial going into the PVR from there by scart RGB to the DVDR and then back out of the DVDR into the TV. This would then allow me to record on either or both and still watch a seperate channel on the TV?

Ideally I would like to spend the £200-£250 mark on the setup. I know this is not much in the grand scheme of things but it is the flexibility I am after rather than the need for a media hub and HD output. Will this be enough money?
 

fernandez

Distinguished Member
Would a simple Freeview box addition be the best solution or would I be better with a dual tuner PVR and seperate DVDR.


Ideally I would like to spend the £200-£250 mark on the setup. I know this is not much in the grand scheme of things but it is the flexibility I am after rather than the need for a media hub and HD output. Will this be enough money?

Panasonic EX769 around £225
Humax PVR-9300T PVR around £170 Vestel models around £100

Have you had a look in this section?
PVRs and VCRs - AVForums.com
 

Gavtech

Administrator
Thanks for the ongoing advice chaps.

The Panasonic EX769 seems to be a single tuner HDD and DVD in one. I assume this means if you are recording from Freeview you cannot watch another channel?
Yes - correct. [ Obviously you can watch whatever your TV can receive- but if that is only soon-to-be-switched-off-analogue - then its no alternative]
Would a simple Freeview box addition be the best solution or would I be better with a dual tuner PVR and seperate DVDR.
A simple tuner box is obviously cheaper but will not offer the huge convenience and flexibility of an additional PVR.
My feeling it is very much worth the additional investment - but all fiscal decisions are personal.
Just run by me again what outputs/inputs I need to look for to make sure I can link this all together? I think The suggestion above was that you have the aerial going into the PVR from there by scart RGB to the DVDR and then back out of the DVDR into the TV. This would then allow me to record on either or both and still watch a seperate channel on the TV?

Both the aerial system and the scart signal delivery system are simple daisy chains.

Incoming aerial through all devices - ultimately to the TV.

Scart chain[ Must be fully wired types for RGB] - 2 scart leads - from PVR to DVDR to TV - {1 connection only on TV. }
Ideally I would like to spend the £200-£250 mark on the setup. I know this is not much in the grand scheme of things but it is the flexibility I am after rather than the need for a media hub and HD output. Will this be enough money?

Not for both devices given prices shown by fernadez
 

sam8364

Standard Member
Ok thanks, this is all becoming clearer. Looks like I may need to find some more beer tokens from somewhere.

I have been looking at the reviews of all the PVRs mentioned and there are clear leaders - HUMAX, TOPFIELD and PANNASONIC but for each one reviewed by customers there are a substantial majority who have had ongoing disasters with them and are really unhappy.

If I am going lay out several hundred pounds I only want to do it once and it almost seems as if the technology is not yet stable enough - is the digital switch over coming too soon?

Almost makes you err towards the evil Sky empire (although I have no wish for a dish on my house)

arrrrgh!! choices choices

P.S. Thanks Graham for the advice on aerials. Alas my current aerial is stuck on the loft - worked fine for about three years with analogue. Now I am starteing to lose a reliable signal even for analogue and the digital signal is next to useless. I am going to get a new aerial on the roof.
 

fernandez

Distinguished Member
I have been looking at the reviews of all the PVRs mentioned and there are clear leaders - HUMAX, TOPFIELD and PANNASONIC but for each one reviewed by customers there are a substantial majority substantial majority who have had ongoing disasters with them and are really unhappy.

If I am going lay out several hundred pounds I only want to do it once and it almost seems as if the technology is not yet stable enough - is the digital switch over coming too soon?

Almost makes you err towards the evil Sky empire (although I have no wish for a dish on my house)

All that "substantial majority" proves is that more people post when things go wrong than there are those who post when things are going fine.
If the product was that bad no-one would buy it and it would quickly disappear from the market.
There are many complaints about Sky too but there are still over 9M customers so, it can only be assumed, that the majority are satisfied
 

sam8364

Standard Member
That is a very fair point. Your post also highlighted my earlier mistake where I should have said, "substantial minority" not "majority".
 

Gavtech

Administrator
One of the principal functions of this forum is troubleshooting when things go wrong, so naturally it attracts those with problems and can skew impressions.

Don't worry about this.
The 'turkeys' are well known and no one will be directing you to such equipment here.

Most gear is reliable and major problem-free.
 

nvingo

Distinguished Member
...I had figured that the best solution would probably be two boxes. It does not seem over the top as I currently have three (VCR, DVD player, Digibox)....
Does this point to experience with Freeview ?
Since the ability to record to DVD appears to be your priority, I would look to one of the recommended DVDR/HDD recorders (Panasonic, or Sony/Pioneer, or Philips) as the initial upgrade path. The digibox would continue to serve live programmes to the TV, whilst the DVDR does its thing recording or copying.
If then you see the need for a PVR (record two additional programmes not necessarily destined for DVD archiving) then consider replacing the digibox with one of the recommended PVRs - I'd suggest the Humax 9150 which has fewer superfluous (in your current scenario) connections than the 9300 - out of those currently available.
 

YellowSphere

Prominent Member
Just to offer a slightly different spin on this, if I had a budget of £150 for a PVR and £200ish for a DVD recorder, I'd buy the PVR and put the £200 aside to dip into whenever I want a DVD of something I've recorded. Most things recorded from television worthy of recording are probably going to be available on DVD.
 

The latest video from AVForums

SVS Prime Wireless Pro Powered Speakers - Review Coming Soon
Subscribe to our YouTube channel

Full fat HDMI teeshirts

Support AVForums with Patreon

Top Bottom