Set-top boxes: The Group Test

Set-top boxes: The Group Test

T3
  • Whether streaming catch-up TV, downloading recent blockbusters or scouring the schedules for a classic episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm or The Wire – or Snog Marry Avoid, if that’s more your thing – the amount and quality of classic content available to the discerning telly viewer has never been greater. With all telly services including a built-in PVR, you need never watch anything at time of broadcast again. Sky has long been the digital TV don, but Virgin Media and BT Vision are fighting back with new services and set-top boxes. If you’re averse to their costs, Freeview and Freesat offer HD content and an increasing range of catch-up TV for no monthly sub. The choice is wide and impressive. What’s yours to be?

    Panasonic DMR-BS880E
    £699 (£78 standard installation)
    Type: Freesat, Blu-ray playback
    Tuners: 2
    Capacity: 500GB
    HD/SD recording time: 76 hours (HD) 212 hours (SD)
    Love: Good Blu-ray player/recorder attached to a decent PVR. Option to archive programmes to disc. Impressive build quality
    Hate: Not much HD. Feels overpriced. Sluggish operation. Iffy EPG and remote
    Panasonic DMR-BS880E review I Link: Panasonic

    Humax HDR-FOX T2
    £300
    Type: Freeview HD
    Tuners: 2
    Capacity: 500GB
    HD/SD recording time: 125 hours (HD) 300 hours (SD)
    Love: Easy to use. Hassle-free setup. Impressive Smart TV Portal. No monthly subscription. One more HD channel than Freesat. Web widgets
    Hate: Plasticky remote. No movies on demand – at least not yet…
    Humax HDR-FOX T2 review I Link: Humax

    Virgin Media Tivo
    £199 (£40 Installation, XL Package £33.50 per month)
    Type: Cable
    Tuners: 3
    Capacity: 1TB
    HD/SD recording time: 150 hours (HD) 500 hours (SD)
    Love: Wide range of on-demand content. Built-in modem. Redesigned EPG. Intelligent recommendations
    Hate: Expensive, especially when including sport and movies from Sky
    Virgin Media Tivo review I Link: Virgin Media

    BT Vision+
    £Free (£90 without broadband.) BT Vision Gold £12.50 per month + Broadband £30
    Type: Freeview with IPTV
    Tuners: 2
    Capacity: 160GB
    HD/SD recording time: TBC (HD) 80 hours (SD)
    Love: Easy to use. A very decent amount of on-demand content
    Hate: Very little in the way of HD, and HD movies are both expensive and have to be downloaded to hard drive before viewing. Small hard drive
    BT Vision+ review I Link: BT

    Sky HD+ 1TB Box
    £From free (This box £249)
    Type: Satellite
    Tuners: 2
    Capacity: 1TB + 500MB Anytime
    HD/SD recording time: 240 hours (HD) 740 hours (SD)
    Love: Excellent range of HD content. Fantastic 1TB box. User-friendly interface. Growing choice of 3D
    Hate: Costs soon mount up. Slow downloading times on Anytime+
    Sky HD+ 1TB Box review I Link: Sky

    • http://media.t3.com/img/resized/sk/xs_Sky_HD1TB_610.jpg
    • http://media.t3.com/img/resized/bt/xs_BT_VisionPlus_610.jpg
    • http://media.t3.com/img/resized/hu/xs_Humax_HDRFoxT2_610.jpg
    • http://media.t3.com/img/resized/pa/xs_Panasonic_DMRBS880E_610.jpg
    • http://media.t3.com/img/resized/vi/xs_Virgin_MediaTivo_610.jpg
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