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I bought the MD 80857 from Aldi just over a month ago and have pretty much mastered all of its features.
Set up is easy with inputs at the front for temporarily connecting a vcr or video camera as well as everything you need at the back: six sockets for Dolby 5.1, co-ax (to a home cinema amp), s-video, scart (in and out), TV co axial (in and out), video and audio sockets.
Firstly the MD80857 acts as a video recorder but uses the DVD recorder or 160 GB hard drive. I can't see any reason to use the DVD recorder as programs can be transfered later, so I always record on the hard drive. At 160 GB you can get 34 hours at high quality (HQ), which means no more looking for a spare video tapes. You also don't need to look for a space to make your recording. A DVD will only record slightly over 1 hour at HQ.
My TV picture is not as good as a DVD so I do most of my recording at "LP" which gives you 102 hours and this is as good as my TV picture. However when I go onto digital TV I will probably use "SP" most of the time for 68 hours or 2 hours on a DVD. If I want to copy a film to a DVD then I choose the quality to match the length of the film.
"EP" you get 4 hours on a DVD or 136 hours on the hard drive but I can see the difference here. It isn't that it's grainy, like an over used video tape, but rather pixelly like a lower quality computer download. "SLP" is not worth bothering with at all as it's worse than VHS video.
As a video recorder it has a TV tuner that is easy to initially set up, with Nicam stereo, VideoPlus+ and PDC. The latter doesn't appear to work in my area. Timer recording is a doddle to do. Once recorded you can edit the program name.
A major fault is that the MD80857 needs time to change channel on timer recording. I wanted to record BBC2 up to 9PM and then C4 from 9PM. I've never had a problem doing this on a VCR using 2 programs. This machine didn't change channel and recorded BBC2 for both programs. A little trial and error and I found you need a 2 minute gap from one program finishing to the next one starting. An easy way around this is to use your satellite/cable box to change the channel for you.
Another problem is that when the timer switches on the MD80857 "takes over". I have mine connected via Scart and when switched on the TV changes to the AV channel. I can get around this by not using the Scart and using my Amp but the Scart is connected to a video sender. A minor fault.
My VCRs have always had the ability to show teletext when the TV has been on channel 0 and the teletext matches the VCRs channel. If you're watching the TV via the MD80857 then you have no teletext.
The MD80857 also acts as a DVD player. As such it has all the features you need including Dolby 5.1 and DTS. I have mine connected to a Sony AV control centre via the co-ax cable orange plugs). Although it is region 2 out of the box it is easy to make multi-regional.
It will also play avi files (the most common video download filetype) which are much better quality than VCDs. I can get around 90 minutes of TV on one CD as avi but only 70 minutes as VCD. It does not play mpg which is the other common download filetype. The picture slide show is pretty good and it plays mp3. All these types of files can be transfered to the hard drive but playing them back is
The coolest feature is "Time shift". Press a button to switch this on and at any time you can pause live TV, rewind, replay in slow motion (down to 1/16 speed), fast forward through adverts as far back as when you started time shift and as far forwards as the live TV has reached.
On reason I bought the MD80857 was to transfer home video to DVD as well as have recorded TV on DVD rather than video. I assumed that you would be able to edit out adverts and put chapters in the DVDs. Well you can do this but it only works on this machine.
I recently recorded a film, with adverts, on C4. You cannot transfer part of the film to DVD - just the whole recording. Once on the DVD you can insert chapter points and tell the recorder to skip these, in effect editing them out, but other DVD players don't see these and only "see" one long chapter. If I want to edit recorded DVDs then I will have to get a "proper" DVD recorder for my computer.
There are a couple of errors in the manual which is othrwise easy to read.
Despite what I consider faults I wouldn't hesitate to recommend the Tevion MD80857.
Edit: After 8 months my dvd recorder stopped recognising blank dvd-r discs and so I had to take it back to Aldi for a complete refund. At this time the price had dropped to £200 (from £240) but I got my £240 and decided to buy a different model. I have changed some if the criteria because of this