How can I record one channel while watching another?

Tape and DVD recordingA common question for those that have moved over to Digital TV… “How can I record one TV channel whilst watching another channel?”

The simple answer is that you need two tuners – one for recording, and one for watching something else.

Two digital TV tuners?

It’s probably best to take Freeview as an example. If you want to watch one Freeview channel whilst recording a different Freeview channel, you would need two Freeview tuners.

This could be a combination of the following:

  • A TV with Freeview built-in, and a DVD recorder with Freeview built-in
  • A DVD recorder with Freeview built-in and  a Freeview box connected to your TV
  • A TV with Freeview built-in and a video recorder connected to a Freeview box
  • A Freeview hard-disk recorder that has two tuners built in (Known as a Twin-tuner PVR)
  • A Freeview hard-disk recorder that only has one tuner built in,  and a TV with built-in Freeview
  • A Freeview hard-disk recorder with just one tuner built in,  and  a Freeview box connected to your TV

Freeview Suggestions:

If you’re looking for a simple solution that allows you to record one show whilst you record another, then consider a Freeview PVR. PVR stands for ‘Personal Video recorder’ and it’s a box that records TV shows on a hard-drive that’s built into the box. Typically, they can record hundreds of hours of telly, and don;t use videotape or DVDs.

You should look for a Freeview Recorder (PVR) with twin-tuners, such as the excellent Humax PVR9300T, pictured here. A box with lets you watch one channel while recording a second channel without the need for a Freeview-enabled TV or a second Freeview box.

Humax Freeview PVR

A Humax Freeview PVR hard-disk recorder

Sky Suggestions:

Get a SKy+ or Sky+ HD box. These are probably the most well-known PVRs on the market in the UK. These are twin tuner PVR boxes and will let you record one satellite channel whilst watching a different satellite TV channel. They also let you pause and rewind live TV, and support Series Link, so you don’t miss an episode of your favourite show. More  on Sky’s Sky+ pages

More information:

29 Comments

chris cSeptember 3rd, 2010 at 12:14 pm

At last the advice I needed.
Thanks

NotLockeNovember 12th, 2010 at 3:15 am

I agree with Chris. Lots of confusing, conflicting info out there on this topic. Even product manufacturers themselves mislead consumers by claiming their dvd recorders have twin tuners and have freeview +, thereby making you think you could watch one channel and record another, but this is not the case. I very nearly bought one too. Thanks to this page I will now re-assess my purchasing criteria.

Rita IrelandDecember 15th, 2010 at 12:16 am

Can I obtain an up to date TV with built in freeview, plus built in DVD recorder which will record one channel while watching another? Am driven mad at present by separate TV, DVD, freeview box with 3 remotes and unable to record and watch 2 separate channels. I am a technophobe.

ROGER BRUNDLEJune 25th, 2011 at 8:45 pm

Can I link a standard sky box with a twin tuner to be able to watch one digital channel whilst recording another and is there a twin tuner that will copy a recorded programme to a separate dvd or video?

John TAugust 4th, 2011 at 9:35 am

I have an old Goodmans GDB3 freeview box. What I like about this box is that the EPG (elecronic programme guide) lets you browse through the other channels without interrupting the channel your watching. The channel you’re watching continues in a small window in the top right corner.
I have another Goodmans freeview box GDR10 which has a similar function but the channel changes when you browse to other channels.
Does anyone know of another freeview box like the GDB3, which lets you watch one channel while browsing other channels?

Dick BNovember 19th, 2011 at 4:31 pm

I have a Freeview hard-disk recorder with one tuner built in (2 scarts), and a separate Freeview box (also 2 scarts). I have tried several combinations of wiring but don’t seem to have managed to get the right combinations! Any helpful suggestions?

TV and TechNovember 20th, 2011 at 11:26 am

1. Connect Hard-disk recorder to TV using SCART lead
2. Connect Freeview box to TV set using SCART lead
3. Connect TV aerial to Hard-disk recorder
4. Connect TV aerial to Freeview box

Tony LJanuary 15th, 2012 at 11:10 pm

I have a TV with built in freeview. Is there any advantage in getting a twin-tuner PVR? or is a dvd recorder with freeview built in the most effective?
Thanks

TV and TechJanuary 15th, 2012 at 11:58 pm

Tony – There are several advantages to a twin-tuner PVR, for example:

1. Twin tuner lets you record two different channels at the same time
2. PVRs support things like series link, live pause, live rewind
3. PVRs can hold hundreds of hours of TV (no messing with changing DVDs)

Tony LJanuary 20th, 2012 at 9:29 am

Sorry for the delay…. thank you for the advice, very helpful

P CooperJanuary 22nd, 2012 at 5:41 pm

Hi

I own a Panasonic DMR-BW880EBK PVR Hard drive with twin Digital tuners. The HD recorder allows me to record two Hard drive Freeview Digital channels at the same time. Unfortunately I can only record the programmes in a mode called DR which is a (Direct Recording mode) It is the equivalent of recording in SP. This means my hard drive space capacity is reduced because it only allows me to record in DR mode. The instruction manual states if I want to record in EP or LP mode I must connect an external device.

My TV is a Samsung HD Smart TV with digital Freeview built in. I class that as an external device, and I’ve tried all sorts of connections in an attempt to record the TV’s Freeview digital programmes onto my Panasonic hard drive recorder. I want to record digital Freeview programmes in LP mode. Thus extending the space capacity on my H-Drive recorder.

Is it possible to record the Freeview programmes directly off my TV onto my H Drive recorder. if so how do I do this??? My flat screen TV has 4 HDMI connections with No scart connections??

Thanks

PC

TV and TechJanuary 22nd, 2012 at 5:48 pm

Most TV sets don’t output the Built-in Freeview tuner in a way that an external recorder can use. You’d need to check your TV’s manual to see if it’s possible on your model.

Failing that, I guess you could try a test using a cheap £20 Freeview box, connected by SCART

Janet ChittyMarch 1st, 2012 at 10:37 am

My Mum currently has a tv with built in freeview and uses a VHS recorder to record one programme whilst watching another.
She is 83 and gets very flustered if new technology is introduced.
Can you recommend the most simplest thing I can do to so that she can continue to watch and record please?

TV and TechMarch 1st, 2012 at 3:58 pm

You mention that her TV has Freeview built-in. This will enable her to watch TV, so no problem there.

As for recording, there are a few options, but keeping it simple:

1. If she prefers video tapes and is comfy with her video recorder, then you can connect a cheap Freeview box to the recorder, so that she can record Freeview onto the video. It can be a bit fiddly, as sh’ll have to remember to get the Freeview box on the right channel for each recording

2. The alternative, which might be better, is to get a Freeview PVR to replace the video recorder. These have a built-in hard disk, so no messing with tapes. They also support Series Link for easy recording.

Dave MorganMarch 7th, 2012 at 2:49 pm

A different scenario here, we’ve already got an HDD recorder so have no need for another – does anyone know of a standard (non-recording) freeview box with twin tuners that we can connect to our existing system.

We’ve already got a single tuner version that we want to move to another TV in the house but as we’ve just lost the analogue signal I’ve been looking for a basic replacement that will allow us to record one channel and watch another.

Many thanks in advance for any suggestions.

TV and TechMarch 7th, 2012 at 3:38 pm

There are no non-recording Freeview boxes with two outputs on the market. If you don’t want an HDD recorder, you could get two small Freeview boxes, one for viewing, and one for recording.

B TinMarch 18th, 2012 at 11:18 am

In simple terms, how can I make sure I can both record tv and watch a different channel with Freeview? I’m looking into buying a box and am confused as to which to get. Thanks.

TV and TechMarch 18th, 2012 at 11:26 am

Get a Freeview PVR with two tuners

B TinMarch 18th, 2012 at 11:35 am

Sorry, but what is a PVR? Thank you.

CarolMarch 27th, 2012 at 3:19 pm

Thanks B Tin, for asking my question, what is PVR, also what is Freeview+ is it the tv,recorder or both?

TV and TechMarch 28th, 2012 at 12:20 pm

PVR stands for Personal Video recorder. It’s a set-top box that contains a hard drive for recording TV shows. They can record hundreds of hours of TV and don’t use tapes or DVDs. They also support pausing live TV, and things like series link. Sky+ is probably the most well-known PVR on the market.

TV and TechMarch 28th, 2012 at 12:22 pm

Hi Carol. As above. If you’ve heard of Sky+ or TiVo, they are PVRs. They record TV onto a built-in disk-drive.

Freeview+ is a type of Freeview PVR, so is a box that records Freeview shows onto a built-in hard-drive

SueApril 1st, 2012 at 7:08 pm

I have a sky+ box but can not record another channel as I only have a single input from the wall
[ I live in a flat] if I buy another pvr will I be able to watch one channel on my sky box and record a different channel on the other box also can I record twoprograms and watch a third as we do now with the analouge

TV and TechApril 2nd, 2012 at 7:30 am

I assume you mean a Freeview PVR? If so, then yes, a Freeview PVR connected to a TV aerial will let you watch one Freeview channel while you record a different Freeview channel.

WongApril 6th, 2012 at 8:31 am

Will my Panasonic TX-26LMD 70A TV, which is HD ready, need a separate box to get Freeview? I cannot find anything to tell me if it is a digital TV or not.

TV and TechApril 6th, 2012 at 11:45 am

The Panasonic TX-26LMD70A has a built-in Freeview receiver, so should be able to get the Freeview channels. If you’re not sure how to get Freeview on this TV, refer to the manual

DavidMay 9th, 2012 at 9:43 am

I have a samsung tv with built in freeview HD, I also have a freeview recorder (non hd) how can i use the recorder when i want to and watch the HD channels from my tv when i want to, without having to take my aerial out of the tv and put it in the freeview box?

KenJune 25th, 2012 at 7:59 pm

I live in Portugal and have sky tv, I have no subscription and only watch the freeview channels, on a normal Pace sky box. I also have a Sony DVD Recorder (RDR HXD 995/250GB Hard drive), with freeview, I can only tape the channel that I am watching. Is there any way that I can watch one channel whilst taping another? I have tried to retune the recorder but can only get the one channel obviously it cannot use freeview as it is not available in Portugal. I know that I could use a sky+ box but then would have to pay a sky subscription, is there another solution, and what equipment would I need?

D.StocktonOctober 16th, 2012 at 4:27 pm

New TV has built in EPG and USB for recording.
Recordings and watching are very high quality, and my Wife and are very different in what we watch, and listen to
Whatever you record you have to watch ,so we turn the TV OFF. I know I could buy a twin tuner PVR but if there is a way of keeping this High quality bult in system by adding another, I would like that a lot more, could anyone advise on this.

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