Freeview PVRs - some basic questions

Danny

Legendary Member
Location
York
I am thinking of getting a PVR in time for this years TDF but have a few basic questions:

1. How big a hard disc should I get? They seem to typically have hard discs which are 160mb or 320mb, which are supposed to enable you to record "up to" 100 or 200 hours of programmes respectively. Do you only achieve the maximum recording time if you record in some very low quality mode or do they just have standard way of recording all programs? And would I ever want to record more than a 100 hours of programs?

2. If you buy a PVR does this replace your Freeview set top box? And what happens if you already have a Freeview digital TV?

3. I am intending to get one of the Which magazine best buys - which come down to a choice between models by Humax, TVonics, Hitachi, and Ferguson. Does anyone have strong views about any of these one way or the other.
 

PaulSB

Legendary Member
Danny said:
I am thinking of getting a PVR in time for this years TDF but have a few basic questions:

1. How big a hard disc should I get? They seem to typically have hard discs which are 160mb or 320mb, which are supposed to enable you to record "up to" 100 or 200 hours of programmes respectively. Do you only achieve the maximum recording time if you record in some very low quality mode or do they just have standard way of recording all programs? And would I ever want to record more than a 100 hours of programs?

2. If you buy a PVR does this replace your Freeview set top box? And what happens if you already have a Freeview digital TV?

3. I am intending to get one of the Which magazine best buys - which come down to a choice between models by Humax, TVonics, Hitachi, and Ferguson. Does anyone have strong views about any of these one way or the other.
I can really only comment on No.1. We have a 160 hard drive on our Freeview and it is usually at 80/85% capacity. This is mainly because we record films we may want to watch in the future - I recently deleted something from Christmas 2008 and got a row from my good lady. Being able to store films is very useful but does lead to a having a lot of stuff you may never watch.

The choice is probably between having a small HD and plenty of discipline or a large HD and just filling it with anything you may fancy watching in the future.

I can't comment on the models but did research Humax about 12 months back and decided I would buy a Freesat recodable from them when the priced dropped a bit more. Which? recommended Humax.
 

ColinJ

It's a puzzle ...
I've got an analogue PVR with a 160 GB drive. I can adjust the recording quality but normally leave it on best because that is near-DVD quality. I can get about 55 hours on that setting.

I'm recording the Giro d'Italia on the next lower setting which would give me about 100 hours total recording time. I can tell the difference but can put up with it. I tried the settings below that and they look horrid - like going back to crappy VHS quality but with digital artefacts on top! :tongue:

I have noticed the hoarding instinct. With plenty of recording time, it is tempting to build up a store of programmes to watch when there is nowt good on the box. Every now and then I purge the drive. If something didn't get watched in 7 or 8 months then I obviously wasn't that bothered about it. Having said that, I recorded The Last King of Scotland around about October 2009 and haven't watched it yet but will definitely watch that before deleting it.

My PVR has a dvd recorder built in. It's handy for letting friends/family have copies of programmes that they've missed but it doesn't get that much use. For me, it's a nice-to-have rather than a must-have feature.
 

Davidc

Guru
Location
Somerset UK
I have a Samsung one, works but not very user friendly.

Like most it just records the material at the same qualty as it comes in off-air so no control over how much space is used on the HDD - that said 320GB has never gone over 60% full, and that only because I only remember to go through and delete stuff about once in 6 months. What Colin says above is true here as well - hoarding and recording things we'll never watch just in case we want to numb our minds on a bad TV night.

The DVD recorder built in is useful so we can transfer anything we want to keep onto DVD-R

Generally good machines, vastly better than VHS in every way EXCEPT that losing one VHS tape would lose 4 hours of recordings, a hard drive dying would lose the whole lot.
 

HelenD123

Veteran
Location
York
I have a cheap Daewoo model which has been fine, although I did need to get a better aerial fitted but that would apply to any Freeview box. I use it as my Freeview box so can't comment on 2.

Mine's either 80 or 160 GB and that seems enough to have the same hoarding tendencies as everyone else! There's no option to select recording quality.

My parents have the Humax and it seems to take longer to display the TV schedule than mine does.
 

marinyork

Resting in suspended Animation
Location
Logopolis
Danny said:
I am thinking of getting a PVR in time for this years TDF but have a few basic questions:

1. How big a hard disc should I get? They seem to typically have hard discs which are 160mb or 320mb, which are supposed to enable you to record "up to" 100 or 200 hours of programmes respectively. Do you only achieve the maximum recording time if you record in some very low quality mode or do they just have standard way of recording all programs? And would I ever want to record more than a 100 hours of programs?

2. If you buy a PVR does this replace your Freeview set top box? And what happens if you already have a Freeview digital TV?

3. I am intending to get one of the Which magazine best buys - which come down to a choice between models by Humax, TVonics, Hitachi, and Ferguson. Does anyone have strong views about any of these one way or the other.
1. The stated is a typical. It's actually based on bitrates which are readily published and available all over the internet. So for example BBC1 in the not too distant past BBC1 used to use a substantially higher bitrate than nearly all other freeview channels so you'd get fewer hours of BBC1 on your hard drive than other channels. They've fiddled around with the bitrates quite a bit the last year though so things are changing. As for quality there are various freeview channels with lower bitrates and or lower res. You might as well get a 320Mb. You may want to record more than 100hrs of programmes, people with PVRs who watch series frequently do this. People also stack up films and never get round to watching them :ohmy:.

2. Yes. You can use the other if you want to. People will need spare boxes, relatives etc anyway.

3. Which don't know what they are talking about. Humax and Topfield have long been considered the best maker of freeview PVRs. I'd say you're best off getting one of the updated hummys. There are plenty of other half decent PVRs if you want to spend less, I used to have a vestel clone.

P.S. there's nothing god given special about humax, infact when their PVRs first launched the software wasn't up to much it's just that they kept on developing the software and grafting away whereas the makers of other PVRs were putting in basic stuff, so it looked marvellous in comparison.
 
OP
Danny

Danny

Legendary Member
Location
York
Thanks for the responses.

I'll probably go for the large hard disc. While I would strenuously deny any accusations that I am a hoarder I know that I would not be disciplined enough to weed out old programs regularly.
 
I havea Panasonic DVD recorder with built in freeview and HDD.73 hours storage in normal mode,though can get more but picture quality soon goes downhill.It's one of the best things I've ever bought,though if I was buying now I'd probably go for a normal PVR with a decent sized HDD and twin tuners.
73 hours soons fills up if like me you tape whole series of programmes and don't start watching them til series is complete,+ the odd film and the normal stuff I record week by week.
Good thing with the DVD is you are able to very easily make a hard copy of anything you might want to keep/lend to others.
 

soulful dog

Veteran
Location
Glasgow
We've got 2 Humaxes in our house (PVR9150T and the PVR9200T) both have 160GB hard drives and we've been pretty happy with them both. The only slight negative is that as someone else mentioned, the programme guide doesn't load immediately, it can take a few minutes to populate, longer for the full two-week programme guide to load for some of the channels.

The newer model PVR9300T has a 320GB hard drive, but I've never come near to filling the 160GB drive so far. I do tend to delete things as soon as I've watched them but I've got 12 films and 10 one hour programmes saved in case I ever get round to watching them - and I've still got just over 100GB free.

Most PVRs are twin tuners so you can record two things at once but you can't always watch a third channel at the same time, as some aren't available. If you've already got a TV with freeview built in, it just means that you can definitely watch any other channel you want even if you are recording two things at the same time on other channels.

The reason I went for a Humax instead of the Topfield was down to the very helfpul hummy forums: http://www.hummy.org.uk/. Useful if you want to copy recorded programmes from the Humax to your PC, which I've done so I can save them without filling up the HDD on the humax and burn them to DVD if required.
 
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