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Ok so I'm no "techy", so my review may miss out loads of the technicalities of this machine, all those little do's and don'ts that it does and doesn't!!, because to be honest I don't understand them!!
I bought this machine as a replacement for a decrepid video recorder, with the thought that it would drag me kicking and screaming into the 21st century, and to some extent it has.
The basics of the machine are that it records from your tv or camcorder onto either its in built hard drive or a DVD-R or DVD-RW. I cannot remember the size of the hard drive and strangely it is not in the technical spec in the user guide - what it does say is that it records 17 hrs at Fine quality and 34 hrs at Standard Quality (there are 2 lower quality settings plus numerous manual options, but I find the two lower inbuilt ones too low quality) I think it may have been 80Gb, but don't quote me on that! You can also copy from HD to DVD and vice versa.
I currently find the best way to go, is to record from the tv to HD, then if I decide the film, programme,or whatever
is worth saving I then copy it to a DVD-R and keep it. THe DVD-R 's can also be finalised to be watched on other people's players, although that seems to be a slightly contentious issue, they work fine on my Mum's player but my sister's seems to have trouble with the majority of them freezing at some point.
Basically it is a very easy machine to work. It has videoplus, and and easy timer set function, so recording is a breeze. Copying on from the HD to DVD is also really simple. In fact all the basic functions that you need are really simple. The one thing I think it is missing is that you cannot name discs/recordings from teletext, which I understand you can on other DVD recorders. I didn't think this would be a big problem, but now understand that it would make life heaps easier. As it stands you have to input the name one letter at a time as you did on old mobile phones when writing SMS before they put on that predictive text thing. Takes Ages!!!!!! and should you want to name chapters or anything (if you were making a recording of a camcorder tape for example) you could be at it for weeks!!!!
The user guide is fairly easy to understand although I did have to read some of it through a couple of times.
The other thing to note is that this is a DVD- machine only. It only plays and records to the minus type discs. Again I didn't think this was any issue, but I have noticed since that some PC DVD recorders are now only writing the + type discs, which might make this recorder a little less future proof than some others.
However, it does really depend how you are going to use the machine and how much money you are willing to spend. I really wanted a DVD recorder to replace a video recorder, and at the cheapest price I could get and I wanted one with a Hard Drive (I paid £349 at Richer Sounds in early December 2004). For that purpose this machine is ideal and good value. It does exactly what it says it will, and if you only plan to play your home made DVD's on your own machine you will have absolutely no coasters (well I haven't had any yet) For sharing them it is worth keeping a copy on the hard drive until the person has checked their DVD works ok.
Finally this recorder also has a digital out for hi-fi connection, to appreciate all that 5.1 surround sound, as well as analogue stereo outs, and video and s-video out. It has two scart connectors, one for your tv and another for your digital box or VCR, and a second audio/video input on the front (s-video or standard composite video and stereo audio (in other words the red white yellow connections (!)) and it plays Vcd, SVcd, CD, CD-R/RW (WMA, MP3, JPEG and CD-DA (no idea what the last one is but it says it does in the user guide)
The playback picture and sound seem really good, but I am no expert, so I cannot say that I would absolutely know the difference without seeing machines playing back side by side.
I hope this review has helped a bit if you are interested in a DVD recorder. But as I said I am no techy, so if I've missed out something important then write a comment and I'll do my best to answer. If you have enjoyed the review please rate it(bottom of the page helpful, not helpful, etc!) to help my ratings and to earn me pennies to buy dvd's!!!