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Personal Video Recorders (PVRs) review


Hi again,

you might have read my reply before I subsequently updated it - with the suggestion that you buy another HDR1003S. Apologies for that !


You are very welcome. Starting a few minutes early works, but you will need to add 30 or more minutes to the end because of the late starts and ridiculous number of commercials, especially overnight where a 2 hour padding might not be enough.


There are several PVRs with more than two tuners. The one which comes to mind is the Humax 4Tune. So far the only problem we have had is that it loses its memory from time to time and needs to be reset. I have the same problem and just wish I had a reset button too!


Have a Panasonic recorder which has always worked satisfactorily, apart from when programs start late. Most of my watching is ABC and SBS and even here i sometimes miss the end of a program although I do set it to start a minute earlier and finish a few minutes later. For commercial channels I give it 15-20 minutes to be safe. But it means that it is hard to record 2 programs in a row. Solution: a recorder that senses start and end of programs. Possible??

My other bugbear is editing. I’m in an art appreciation group and I edit away the ads as well as the extra minutes recorded, usually filled with self promotion, for the class. The editing process is very slow and cumbersome.


There is really no reason why a PVR can’t use the data embedded in the broadcasts to determine when a program has finished and the next has started, but from our testing experience, most simply use clock time instead. This explains why we don’t often see 100% scores for timer recording or series recording in our tests. Before/after padding is a throw-back to analog TV days that we should now be able to do without.

Editing of recordings seems to be regarded as a niche requirement nowadays, judging by the low incidence of manufacturers supporting it. In the current market, the choice seems to be Panasonic or nothing. An alternative is to get a PVR that allows recordings to be copied without protection to another device, and then use eg editing software on a PC.

Personally, I have a Humax 4Tune set for 3min early start, and 10min late end as the default. If I’m recording from a commercial network, I’ll often push the late end out to as much as 90min. The contents of its drive can be browsed from my desktop computer, and I can copy across programs to be edited there.


We had a Humax PVRSmart SD PVR and a PC broadcast receiver and software, and both edited easily and quickly. SD files are much smaller than HD ones. When HD started the new HD products I encountered (PVRs as well as PC) all had clumsy and/or sloooooow editing.

Even PC’s can struggle editing 4 GB files (re-linking the edited pieces together when they are mid-HDD sector/allocation unit can be a challenge and is usually* addressed by copying parts back together). Further with a PVR, a user would expect to be editing while recording multiple services with the performance limitations of the processors, memory, and HDD bandwidth.

  • another technique is to make product specific index tables that describe the finished recording, but those are not portable nor do they save capacity as the original has to be maintained excepting for trimming the beginning and ending segments, at most.


Something that needs to be added to all PVRs - a backup battery for time AND settings. My Topfield will not re-start recording if there is a power hiccup or short outage. It can’t remember where it let off if it was recording.

I’m not sure if my Panasonic will restart a recording if there has been a power hiccup/outage as I have never had this happen to test.

Basically, PVRs should return to where they where when there was a power hiccup/outage.
Surely a matter of adding this function to the programming of the control ASIC?


I’ve got a Topfield with IceTv. IceTV seems to iron out a lot of the ‘bugs’ with TV stations changing program times and so on - and my brother claims Fetch does the same. It might be worthwhile trying both and doing a add on to the PVR test pointing out the added value in the EPG services such as IceTV.


We look for, and use, supported EPGs other than the Free-To-Air one during our tests. Performance is then reflected in our scoring. I’ll see if we can put together an article on the competing EPGs.

In our current update underway now, we have two of the latest FetchTV products. We won’t be testing any further Topfield PVRs, as they are no longer available in Australia.


My sentiments exactly. A one hour show condensed to 45 minutes


I always add a further ten minutes, at least, to the recording time so I can be sure to get the ending when recording 10, 9 and 7… as you say, ABC and SBS pretty much run to advertised times.


So it appears that I’m not the only person who edits their recordings!

For the benefit of anyone else who does the same, I thought I’d mention that I use the software VideoRedo for editing the files that I copy from my Beyonwiz PVR to the PC.

It includes a handy feature that scans the file to detect the possible places for the start and end of the show as well as ads within it. It is by no means perfect but having suggested edit locations dramatically speeds up the process of editing. The final smaller files can then be pushed back to the PVR or viewed elsewhere.


Scott, one more feature I find handy (remembering because I just used it) is the ability to program your PVR remotely. That is, using a browser or app on your phone. When I hear about a program that I might be interested in, I set it to record from wherever I am.


Our updated PVR buying guide and PVR review (member content) is now available. Many thanks for the comments and feedback in this thread :+1:


I have one, it sits on top of the TV cabinet and I reckon it is probably still recording on the same schedule my “ex” set it to before we parted ways. Wonder if those shows from 5 years ago are still running? I don’t use it. I don’t watch television … but the topic made me wonder … I’ve shifted house twice, and always wired it back in and had it running. Hard drive would have to be full by now …


Think of all the ex-traneous material you will have recorded.:grin:


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We rarely use our PVR’ nowadays as with digital streaming and catchup services and the advent of internet enabled TV’s it just doesn’t seem worth the trouble to put up with the hassle of working thru menu’s and EPG’s with their nearly always buggy software. Most TV’s will reliably record to a USB connected hard drive.

PVR’s in my opinion are another relatively recent technology that like the DVD will quickly become consigned to history.


Counterpoint - My partner has 2 PVRs and can record 8 programs at once, and sometimes does. There is insufficient time in life to watch everything she records, but record she does. We think of it as a video library where can pick and choose and delete at convenience.

Everything is not on catch-up, many ISPs have congested service with buffering problems, and the main good of a PVR is they allow commercial skipping so we do not have to endure the hour+ of commercials often embedded in an otherwise 1 hour movie.


The built in recording ability on the TV allows ad skipping, and there are no ads on netflix.

And quite frankly there is too much reality TV ‘garbage programming’ like cooking, dating and house renovation & america protecting the free world’ type shows on TV which the very thought of watching turns my blood cold.

So other than ABC and SBS I don’t want to bother recording what is on the commercial networks in fact we I rarely switch them on.