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Well, it had to happen, and Samsung has done it first. A DVD machine that has an aerial socket round the back to allow recording from a broadcast TV signal – it’s what the home cinema world has been anxiously waiting for. Isn’t it? Well, not quite. Recording is a feature of this machine, but not in the manner we’ve all been hoping for. A first from any major manufacturer, Samsung presents the world’s first DVD-VCR. Yes folks, that’s right, the visual equivalent to your multi-functional mini hi-fi system, this little baby has a DVD tray and cassette unit all in one making it possible to not only play back DVDs (not record onto them – we repeat, this is not recordable DVD technology), but also to record on to, and then watch, video cassettes. Serving as a multi-functional unit, the SV-DVD1E raises many questions, particularly ones of legal concern. Yes, for all of those curious as to whether you can borrow a bunch of DVDs from your mates and make yourself picture-perfect VHS copies of all your favourite movies, this machine will quite easily record from disc to tape. The ‘how to’ is even dealt with in the instruction manual. What the SV-DVD1E won’t do is scupper the Macrovision encoded data found in nearly every studio-produced DVD movie, preventing such copying from occurring. A big disappointment for all the would-be pirates out there, but still, this machine does serve one simple yet desirable function that no other piece of kit on the market can: the need for only one unit below your television. In essence, this marvellous little box really is two separate machines working in harmony. Looking at the DVD player first of all, this really is nothing Samsung should be ashamed of in light of its other machines in the DVD range. Filled with all the normal features you’d be looking for in a digital player, such as parental lock, zoom function (usable in VHS mode too R
11; now there’s a first!) and recall markings, this is a player that can do nothing but please. Able to pump out a picture quality that will easily justify why you won’t be watching any pre-recorded videos on this machine, the DVD1E is a natty piece of equipment. Guided by an on-screen menu that was clearly designed for customers of The Early Learning Centre, the only grumble we can find about this is that it has a frustratingly long layer change on most DVDs. As for the VCR, well, it’s actually quite a clever little piece of kit, even if it does seem horrendously prehistoric next to the digital delights of its Siamese counterpart. Again, as with the DVD player, it has all of the basic clever little functions that we take for granted on these sort of units. For instance, assembled editing is possible, allowing you to smooth edit on to a VHS (bad wipes consistently being the bane of home video enthusiasts), and the nifty little audio dubbing feature allows you to wipe the sound from a pre-recorded cassette and replace it with your own musings. It’s a shame then that no one at Samsung thought about the problem that has been facing cable customers for years, and which makes itself present here – it’s not possible to record a TV programme whilst watching a DVD because the two units will not function simultaneously. This may seem like a minor quibble, but if you’ve been instructed to record EastEnders for your loved one and can’t find anything else on TV to distract you, watching a DVD is a frustrating no-no.