5 tips for buying a digital TV set top box

5 tips for buying a digital TV set top box

5 tips for buying a digital TV set top box

Thinking about jumping headfirst into the HD digital revolution? Does Foxtel, TiVo and PVR mean anything to you or is it all a bit too much? We list the five best tips for buying a set top box.
Digital TV is here, and in case you hadn't noticed the TV advertisements for Freeview channels like One HD, you may need a set top box. There's lots of confusion and questions flying around right now about the hardware you'll need and compatibility.

To make things easier, we've put together a big feature explaining everything you need to know about buying a set top box - specifically, a personal video recorder (PVR) you can use to receive and record digital TV

We've listed a big feature table comparing 10 different boxes, including TiVO, plus a list of features to look for. We've also decoded Freeview, explaining what it is, and what you need (hint, you don't need a Freeview box).

Here we've listed 5 issues to consider when you're buying a digital TV set top box. For the entire feature, look for the new issue of PC Authority, on sale now in your local newsagency.

1. Remote scheduling

Forget to record the big game before heading out for a romantic dinner? Remote scheduling can come to the rescue - the IceTV website lets you schedule recordings from the Web, and even an iPhone.

2. Ease of Use

The TiVo is the PVR you'd buy your Nana - it's flexibile yet user-friendly and it gives you the best chance of catching the end of your favourite shows. The jack-of-all-trades computer media centres and Beyonwiz set top boxes are probably best left to the gadget freaks.

3. Free vs Pay: Foxtel vs Freeview

The Foxtel iQ2's extra tuners are attractive, but otherwise PVRs that record only free TV are just as good if not better. The real question is do you want to shell out at least $50 per month (plus installation) for Foxtel channels and the iQ2. If you do want Foxtel, the iQ2 is a no-brainer.

4. Movie downloads

Almost every PVR is blessed with an Ethernet port, but most providers are still fleshing out their Video on Demand platforms for delivering movies via the Internet as well as over the air. So far, TiVo's deal with Blockbuster is the one to watch, along with Telstra's Bigpond and Apple's iTunes on computers.

5. Set Top Box vs PVR

If you simply want to watch Digital TV, a $49 SD or $99 HD set top box from the likes of DGTEC will do the trick. If you want to record shows, pause TV, skip ads or access Video on Demand, be prepared to pay at least $650 on a Personal Video Recorder.