Ultimate set-top boxes for World Cup recordings

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The 2018 World Cup is currently being broadcast on BBC and ITV channels. This is great news as we don’t have to pay for an expensive subscription to watch a match, just the standard TV license fee. 

However, that doesn’t mean it’ll be easy to catch all the World Cup 2018 games that you want to. Even if you don’t have a day job.

The solution? A PVR, a set-top box that will record them for you. Their popularity has dwindled over the years as more of us hooked onto catch-up and streaming services like Netflix. But they are the best way to make sure you don’t miss any of the action during the 2018 World Cup.

Here are the models you should check out.

Humax FVP-5000T

Humax is one of the main names in the world of PVRs. Put a FVP-5000T under your TV and you have one of the best hubs for home entertainment money can buy. 

There are three models to choose from. The entry-level model has a 500GB hard drive, but there are 1TB and 2TB versions if that is just not enough for your TV habit. 

A multi-tuner array lets you record up to four programmes (or matches) at once and the 2TB Humax FVP-5000T can store a massive 500 hours of HD content. Or 1000 at SD quality. 

The Humax Live TV app for iOS and Android also lets you set recordings using your phone, and even stream TV to it directly. 

As it uses Freeview Play, the Humax FVP-5000T lets you access all the major UK catch-up services, as well as Netflix and YouTube. 

Humax HDR-1100S

Is the Freeview signal weak in your area? You need a Freesat PVR like the Humax HDR-1100S. This uses a satellite dish instead of a standard antenna to receive the TV signal. 

Integrated Wi-Fi also lets you access catch-up services, plus YouTube and Netflix. 

Like the Humax FVP-5000T you have a choice of 500GB, 1TB and 2TB models. You just have to decide how much you want to store. Want to keep the entire 2018 World Cup for posterity, including all the pre-match prattle? Look for the 1TB version. 

You can record two programmes at once using the Humax HDR-1100S, and check out the TV guide and set recordings using the Freesat phone app. 

Panasonic DMR-HWT250EB

The Panasonic DMR-HWT250EB is a sleek-looking alternative to the Humax FVP-5000T. But what’s different?

It’s a Freeview Play and Freeview HD recorder, so you get the same channels and the same access to secondary services like YouTube and Netflix. It only lets you record two programmes at once rather than four, but also has a few extra tricks. 

The Panasonic DMR-HWT250EB can play 4K video through its USB port, a great extra for those with 4K TVs. It also has special long play recording modes that chip down the amount of room World Cup matches with take up.

You can fit up to 684 hours of HD content on its 1TB hard drive, instead of the 259 hours you’ll get directly capturing the Freeview HD feed. 

BT YouView+

You might guess you’ll need some sort of subscription to use a BT YouView+ box, but you don’t.

YouView is an alternative to Freeview Play, an interface that combines normal Freeview channels with streaming services. These include Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and YouTube. 

If you want to dig deeper you can get the YouView+ box as part of a BT TV subscription, which unlocks access to extra channels like BT Sport and Comedy Central. 

However, for the World Cup fans out there one of the main appeals of the BT YouView+ box is its low price when bought solo. At just £125 this is a bit of a bargain. 

It “only” has a 500GB hard drive, which can store 300 hours in SD quality or 125 in HD. But that just means you’ll have to juggle your recordings library more. For the tech-heads out there, this box is actually made by PVR master Humax. 

There’s also an Ultra HD version of the YouView+ box, for those with 4K TVs. 

Sky Q

If you want the best TV recording experience, check out Sky Q. This may be overkill if all you want to do is watch the World Cup. But once you’ve tried this service, it’s hard to go back. 

Sky Q lets you watch TV and recordings on your phone or tablet, and stream content to other Sky boxes around the house. It’s the multi-room PVR. 

Get the top-end 2TB Ultra HD Sky Q box and you can record a massive six programmes at once while watching a seventh. You get a high-tech Bluetooth remote too. 

There is, of course, a bigger investment involved than with a standard set-top box, though. You’ll pay £20 a month for the basic Sky TV package and the top-end PVR box of dreams comes with a £199 up-front setup cost. A Sky Sports sub costs an additional £20 a month, if the BBC and ITV coverage does not quite sate your sports appetite. 

But Sky Q really is something special. 

Virgin Media TiVO

If Sky looks too pricey to you, Virgin Media is your other subscription option. All Virgin Media TV packages now come with an advanced Virgin Media TiVO V6 box. 

It’s significantly better than most stand-alone set-top PVRs. First, it can record six programmes at once (and lets you watch a seventh). It’ll play Netflix and YouTube at 4K resolution and the 1TB hard drive can store 500 hours of SD TV, or 100 at HD quality. 

You can stream TV and recordings to a phone or tablet too. 

But is it that much cheaper than Sky Q? You’ll pay £22 a month for the basic Mix TV package, which offers 150 channels including Sky One, Fox, and of course the terrestrial channels we need for the World Cup. There’s a £20 “set up” fee too, but that’s a lot less than the £199 you’ll pay for Sky’s Ultra HD 2TB box.

TechRadar's World Cup coverage is brought to you in association with Honor.