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It was while packing last year, ready to move house, that we first realised that every record of our children's lives was recorded on Video Tapes, and that not only was there a possibility that the tapes would have started to deteriorate, but also who, in the future, would have a VCR on which to watch our treasured recordings.
Once we had settled in our new home, we looked into this problem in greater detail. I looked into the possibility of linking the output of our VCR into our home computer, and then transferring the contents of each tape onto DVD via a DVD writer.
There appeared to be various options available but each required a DVD writer for the computer, a Video Capture device to connect between the VCR and computer, and suitable software to enable the editing out of any bits we no longer wanted to keep, and to allow for the addition of titles.
The process seemed to be quite labour intensive and rather slow - there must be an easier way.
I found various companies on the Internet who offered a service to transfer recordings form Video Tape to DVD but that meant paying out for each tape to be transferred and the cost, for our collection of more than 30 video tapes to be transferred to DVD and for multiple copies to be made for each of our children, was quite prohibitive.
The solution appeared after more research. A combined DVD writer and VCR. More research showed that several manufacturers produced these so we needed only to comapre specifications and costs to select the unit which would best serve our requirements.
We finally settled on this Toshiba model and after some comparison of suppliers we placed an order with LX Direct at a total cost of just over £170
The unit was delivered within three days as promised, and the box contained the following...
● Remote control with two R6 (AA) batteries ● RF cable ● Owner's Manual ● Quick Guide ● Registration card
The Owners Manual is very straightforward and easy to follow (and suprisingly all written in English), so in very little time I had the unit unpacked and installed.
There are two scart sockets on the rear of the machine - one for connection to the TV (AV1) and the other for connection to any input source such as VCR(?), Camcorder, or as in my case, the Sky+ Box (AV2)
Also on the rear panel there connections for antenna in, antenna out, digital audio out, audio out, s-video out, and component video out, providing a useful, though somewhat limited, range of input and output options.
The front panel offered, in addition to the usual control buttons - record (DVD), play (DVD), stop (DVD), program up/down, , on/off, open/close (DVD tray), record (VCR), stop (VCR), play (VCR), fast forward (VCR), rewind (VCR), eject/stop (VCR) - a button to enable switching between DVD and VCR operation, and a dubbing button to enable VCR to DVD (or DVD to VCR) duplication. The front panel also has a drop down flap concealing S-video input (AV3) and Video-in (AV3) plus Audio-in (AV3)
All front panel control buttons are easy to operate and the printed legends are easy to read. There are three front panel LEDs - standby/mains on, DVD/VCR, Record - these illuminate to indicate which function has been selected.
The Features/Specification of this machine are clearly presented on the manufacturer's website, the following is a summary..
Blu Ray Playback : No Blu Ray Recording: No Compact Flash Card: No DTS Decoder: No DVB-C: No DVB-S: No DVB-T: No DVD Audio Playback: No DVD Player / Recorder: DVD Recorder DVD+R Playback: Yes DVD+R Recording: No DVD+RW Playback: Yes DVD+RW Recording: No DVD-R Playback: Yes DVD-R Recording: Yes DVD-RAM Playback: No DVD-RAM Recording: No DVD-RW Playback: Yes DVD-RW Recording: Yes DVI Interface: No Digital Tuner: No DivX Playback: Yes Double Layer Recording: No Electronic Program Guide (EPG): No Ethernet: No Firewire IEEE-1394 Interface: No HD ready: No HD-DVD Playback: No HD-DVD Recording: No HDMI Interface: No HDTV: No IPTV (Internet Protocol Television): No Integrated VCR: DVD + VHS MP3 Recording: No MPEG4 Recording: No Memory Stick: No Multimedia Card: No Number of Scart Interfaces: unknown PCMCIA Interface: No Progressive Scan: Yes Real Dolby: No Secure Digital Card: No Show View: No Smart Media Card: No Super Audio CD Playback: No Super Video CD / Video CD Playback: Yes Table / Portable: Table USB Interface: No W-LAN Connection: No xD-Picture Card: No
The user manual expands on several of the features as follows...
DVD mode VCR mode ■ Recording up to 8 programmes: You can programme the unit to record up to 8 programmes, up to a month in advance. Daily or weekly programme recordings are also possible. ■ One-touch Timer Recording: You can set your required recording time easily. Every time [REC I] (DVD / VCR) is pressed during recording, the recording time will be increased by 30 minutes up to 8 hours. The recording automatically stops when the recording time you set is finished. ■ Dubbing mode You can copy a DVD disc to a videotape or copy a videotape to a DVD disc. This function will be available only if the DVD disc and the videotape are not copy protected. ■ Left channel stereo recording This unit can record the sound of the Left channel monaural input as Left and Right channels automatically (available only for AV3 jacks on the front panel). DVD mode ■ Automatic Chapter marker setting: Chapter markers will be added to recordings as you set them in the Setup menu before starting to record. ■ Automatic Title menu making: The unit creates Title menus automatically when finalising discs. ■ Automatic Playlist making (VR mode): The unit creates a Playlist automatically after recording. ■ Automatic finalising (Video mode): You can finalise discs automatically at the end of the disc space if you set this in the Setup menu.
Playback ------------- DVD mode
■ Theatre surround sound: When the unit is connected to an amplifier or a decoder compatible with Dolby Digital or DTS, you can enjoy theatre-quality surround sound from discs recorded with the surround sound system.
■ Chasing Playback during Recording and Simultaneous Playback and Recording: You can play the already recorded part of the current recording or another title during recording.
■ Quick search: You can easily find the part you want to watch using the search function. Search for a desired point on a disc by title, chapter or time.
■ Playback from Original or Playlist (VR mode): You can play back titles using either the Original list or a Playlist.
■ Virtual Surround System: You can enjoy stereophonic space through your exciting 2 channel stereo system.
■ Playing back an MP3 disc: You can enjoy MP3 files which are recorded on CDR/ RW.
■ JPEG Picture Viewer: JPEG files formatted on CD-R/RW can be played.
■ Reproducing DivX® data You can enjoy DivX® files which are recorded on DVD-R/RW or CD-R/RW.
● Official DivX CertifiedTM product.
● Plays DivX®5, DivX®4, DivX®3, and DivX®VOD video content (in compliance with DivX CertifiedTM technical requirements).
VCR mode ---------------
■ Quick search for what you want to watch You can easily find the part you want to watch using the Index or Time search functions. An index mark will be assigned at the beginning of each recording you make. For Time search function, you can go to a specific point on a tape by entering the exact amount of time you wish to skip.
The unit is compatible with DVD-RW discs which are recordable repeatedly, and DVD-R discs which are recordable only once. Also, this unit allows you to record to the video cassette tape. You can choose either one for your convenience.
The feature I was most interested in was the ability to transfer recordings from VCR to DVD, so after I had set up the unit and tested it for playback using both VCR and DVD I read through the section of the user manual concerned with 'Dubbing'
I found reading through this section easier than I had expected, and by following the clear step-by-step instructions I had successfully transferred the entire contents of the first E240 Video Tape to DVD within 30 minutes.
It was very easy to start/stop the copying process as I edited out the unwanted bits from my old video tape, and it was also very easy to label each newly recorded session on the DVD.
The newly recorded DVD can be played back straight away to check that all is OK and any mistakes are easily deleted - I was using standard DVD -R disks so the deleted recordings still take up space on the DVD even though they will not be played back, to properly delete recordings and utilise the space freed up I would have to use DVD-RW disks.
To make my new DVD playable on other players (including my PC) the DVD had to be finalised, this is a simple menu option which does not take very long but completes the dubbing process.
I have to say that I am very pleased with my new combo VCR/DVD - it does everything I wanted it to do and I thought that the price I paid for it was reasonable. It takes up less space than the two machines it replaced, it looks good, it works well as a DVD player, VCR player, DVD recorder, VCR recorder (only tested, don't anticipate using this feature).
This week I tried out recording from the Sky+ box to DVD - I have to say that I was not over impressed with the recorded quality but on further investigation I came to the conclusion that this was due more to the output quality of the Sky+ box than the recording quality of the combo unit.
The playback quality of pre-recorded DVDs is as good as any DVD player I have seen, with good colour and image retention when paused.
In conclusion, I would be happy to recommend this item to potential purchasers, I would guess that anyone looking at this item as a potential purchase will be wanting it for transferring VCR to DVD as I did so I can honestly say it does the job, and it does it well.