World Cup special: Best DVD recorders and PVRs

Capture the pain and the passion of this year's World Cup with a high-definition PVR

  • World Cup Special: Best DVD recorders and PVRs

    In just 10 short days, the 2010 FIFA World Cup will kick off in Johannesburg, South Africa, bringing joy and euphoric agony to every corner of the globe. For Australian football fans in the southern hemisphere, this means a fortnight of broken sleep, bleary eyes and botched workflows. By the end of the tournament, half the bleedin' country will resemble [[artnid:339842|a pitiless herd of shambling, brain-dead zombies|Zombie protestors infest Sydney to support violent video games]]. The things we do for love of the game, eh?

    But it doesn’t actually have to be this way.

    Armed with a PVR or DVD/Blu-ray recorder, you can schedule recordings of every World Cup match and then watch the action in the morning. Sure, it won’t be ‘live’, but neither is the original broadcast (there’s a five second time delay, natch). You’ll also be chronicling all the highlights for future posterity -- from the very first kick-off to the inevitable and deeply anticlimactic shootout finale.

    Being helpful chaps, we’ve assembled a list of the best personal video recorders currently troubling store shelves. All of these babies come with HD tuners; which means you can record and watch the World Cup in glorious high-definition (provided you have a HD TV). Many also provide oodles of storage space, so you don’t have to faff about with external HDDs or thumb drives.
  • [[artnid:340548|Kogan HD Digital Set-Top-Box with PVR]] (RRP: $89)

    The Kogan HD Digital Set-Top-Box with PVR is a simple, cheap and trouble-free way to watch the World Cup. The ability to record digital television programs (with the help of a USB-connected external hard drive or flash drive) is fantastic given the $89 price-point. You can even watch high-definition digital television on a non-digital TV — SBS HD, for example. The inclusion of time-shifting is also a big plus: this means you can pause live games when nature calls and rewind winning goals or dodgy penalties.

    Kogan is an Australian owned company, which means you’ll be supporting the Socceroos to the hilt -- Olé, Olé, Olé! Er, no. Hang on.

    Read our full review of the [[artnid:340548|Kogan HD Digital Set-Top-Box with PVR here]].
  • [[artnid:305061|DVICO TViX R-3300]] (RRP: $399)

    The DVICO TViX R-3300 is a versatile personal video recorder and set-top box. Sporting a built-in tuner for digital and analog TV, it also excels at streaming multimedia files from computers on a network. The DVICO TViX R-3300’s on-screen interface is a simple one, with easy navigation to the main television, video, music and picture viewing sections.

    Television picture quality from the in-built tuner is among the best we’ve seen, with consistently good reception. We couldn’t find any compression artefacts or distortion on our test recordings when we used the high quality mode: if you want to chronicle the World Cup glitch-free, this is the PVR for you. You'll need to install a hard drive to record TV, but overall the DVICO TViX R-3300 is a well-rounded product.

    Read our full review of the [[artnid:305061|DVICO TViX R-3300]].
  • [[artnid:347256|LG HR599D Twin HD Recorder / Blu-ray Disc Combo]] (RRP: $1379)

    The LG HR599D is a high-definition HDD recorder with a 500GB hard drive, twin digital HD television tuners and the ability to play Blu-ray discs. It also comes with integrated Wi-Fi (802.11n) and a front-mounted USB port with DivX support. In other words, no matter how you plan to watch the World Cup, the LG HR599D will fit the bill nicely.

    The LG HR599D is also a lot more user-friendly than the typical HDD recorder, courtesy of a helpful manual and intuitive menu interface. Unfortunately it lacks in-built editing tools, but seeing as the World Cup is on SBS, this shouldn’t be too much of a problem! (You can always sell it or attempt to exchange it after the final.)

    Read our full review of the [[artnid:347256|LG HR599D Twin HD Recorder / Blu-ray Disc Combo]].
  • [[artnid:328824|Foxtel iQ2]] ($200 + monthly subscription fee)

    The 2010 World Cup isn’t airing on Pay TV, but there’s no reason why you can’t use Foxtel's iQ2 to record it. The device is much more stylish than its [[artnid:201775|iQ|Review: Foxtel iQ]] predecessor with a glossy piano black finish. The buttons on the front are well laid out and the blue iQ indicator looks suitably futuristic. It’s also fairly compact considering it packs in a 320GB hard drive and no less than four digital tuners. You can watch one television channel and record two others simultaneously.

    Naturally, the Foxtel iQ2 grants users the ability to record all the Foxtel channels they subscribe to. You can also record, pause and rewind live TV. On the downside, subscribing costs $10 a month on top of your regular Foxtel fee.

    Read our full review of the [[artnid:328824|Foxtel iQ2 digital video recorder]].
  • [[artnid:348489|Telstra T-Box PVR]] (RRP: $299)

    The Telstra T-Box PVR is a viable alternative to the TiVo and other set-top box offerings. It comes with a 320GB internal hard drive and two high-definition digital television tuners (just in case you want to record Hangin’ With Mr. Cooper reruns at the same time as the World Cup).

    When connected to the Internet via Telstra's BigPond service, the T-Box PVR grants access to seven IPTV channels and BigPond [[artnid:342693|Movies on Demand]]: so you can watch Bend It Like Beckham in-between World Cup matches. Or something.

    A smooth and attractive interface makes the device easy to use without any prior experience, and download speeds are suitably zippy. The Telstra T-Box PVR uses 200GB for storing recorded free-to-air television -- the other 120GB is devoted to BigPond Movies downloads. Nonetheless, it has enough memory to record the FIFA World Cup 2010 in its entirety, several times over.

    Read our full review of the [[artnid:348489|Telstra T-Box PVR]].
  • [[artnid:346627|Sony RDR-HDC500 Full HD HDD/DVD recorder]] (RRP: $799)

    As the official sponsors of this year’s FIFA World Cup, Sony is touting the RDR-HDC500 directly to footy fans. It will allow you to capture all the action from South African in astonishing Full HD (it says so right here).

    The Sony RDR-HDC500 comes with a 500GB hard drive and possesses a very friendly user interface. The inclusion of a DVD recorder also means you can burn your favourite matches to disc – without using a PC. Other highlights include 1080p upscaling, a USB port for media playback, Bravia Sync, DivX support, a DTS Digital output and the ability to pause live TV. Unfortunately, the RDR-HDC500 doesn't have dual HD tuners or any fast dubbing options. Nonetheless it remains a reasonable option for chronicling the World Cup.

    Read our full review of the [[artnid:346627|Sony RDR-HDC500|review: Sony RDR-HDC500]] .
  • [[artnid:264761|TiVo HD]] ($699)

    The TiVo HD is a user-friendly PVR chock-full of interactive features, resulting in a device that's full of potential. It comes with everything you need to record World Cup matches, including a 320GB inbuilt hard drive and dual high-definition tuners. TiVo2Go’s cross-format copying feature allows you to transcode recorded television shows into iPod and PlayStation Portable formats – perfect for watching soccer on the go.

    The TiVo HD has one of the best user interfaces we’ve seen: it’s prettier, more feature-packed and more streamlined than the majority of PVRs, The electronic program guide segment of the interface is very easy to navigate and manages to cram plenty of program and channel info into a simple hideaway menu. The recording presets allow you to tweak plenty of options, including timer padding — so you don't miss out on injury time, for example.

    Read our full review of the [[artnid:264761|TiVo HD]].
  • [[artnid:329417|Panasonic DMR-XW350|review: Panasonic DMR-XW450]] (RRP: $879)

    The Panasonic DMR-XW350 is a great DVD recorder with a 250GB hard drive as well as YouTube and Google Picasa connectivity. It comes with two tuners for recording HD-TV to a DVD or the aforementioned built-in hard drive.

    Setting up the Panasonic DMR-XW350 is a synch. Once you’ve connected the antenna and the television and switched everything on, it’s a simple matter of selecting your state from the list and letting the built-in DVB-T tuner do the rest.

    The Panasonic DMR-XW350 uses a twin DVB-T tuner that can record two channels at the same time. You can also record HDTV content directly to DVD-RW discs – this is an option that many PVRs lack. [You forgot to shoe-horn a World Cup reference into this one. Pipped at the last minute! Etc. – Ed.]

    Read our full review of the [[artnid:329417|Panasonic DMR-XW350|review: Panasonic DMR-XW350]].
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