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As you may have noticed this is not a short review, however I have tried to include many of the features of this product so please try not to give up before the end. Please bear with the abbreviations too. I have tried to explain their meaning on first use and hope you can keep with it. Enjoy.
Why did we want one?
Our video player had given up the ghost. Possibly it could've been repaired but with new ones so cheap and the chance that they will be obsolete in a year or two we decided to go for a dvd player instead.
Another problem we had had though was that all the video tapes we had bought lately seemed useless, even after just one use, so we decided to go for a dvd recorder.
But just to complicate things a bit our young children have some videos that they love to watch and I wasn't about to go out and replace them all with DVD versions. So this all led to the idea of getting a DVD recorder/VHS combi.
Next decision was which one. I'm not very technologically minded and found that many of the words baffled me. Also I had no idea what certain abbreviations meant. I spent a whole day trawling through internet sites, finding out what I could about various products, what they offered etc, and what all the jargon meant.
I looked around for reviews but found only one on this product. It had been written by PC World, and gave it top marks. But I did come across several reviews on similar JVC products saying how many problems they had. However we were impressed with it's specs so decided to take the chance.
What does it do?
As I said I do not understand all the jargon. All sites selling the product will give you full specs, but here is what I have established it does.
VHS...The unit contains a fully functioning Video. You can play all video tapes, including the small ones from camcorders. (Adapter needed, not included)
You can pause the video and view it frame by frame...if you have all day! Also you can rewind and fast forward it. Unlike most videos that tend to do two speeds, with the faster only being possible when the FF/RW button is kept pressed, this allows you to go up so 7 speeds, increasing each time the FF/RW button is pressed. Another button also allows you to rewind about 7 seconds, ideal if an annoying child shouts at the wrong moment.
There is a skip function, which allows you to skip a 30 second period, you can increase this up to 3 minutes. Ideal if the same child is now watching the video and it includes footage you would rather they didn't see.
You can 'program' the unit, by telling it what to do after rewinding, usually play. This is called the next Function memory.
Repeat Playback function allows you to play the video over and over...up to 100 times.
Recording is as most others, either in LP or SP, an ITR (Instant Timer Recording) function allows you to record for 30 minutes at the touch of a button and this can increase to 6 hours by repeatedly pressing it.
You can program the unit to record up to 8 programs, either using manual timing, which is ideal if two or three programs are following each other. Or by using Video Plus, where you enter the code from your TV listings. This is ideal if using PDC (Programme Delivery Control) which detects by signal when the programme actually starts and finishes so you do not end up with 5 minutes of the show before and missing the last 5 minutes of your favourite drama. Especially ideal if sports or news make the program run late.
Obviously you can check all your programming and change or cancel them at any time up to recording. You can also check the space left on a tape.
DVD...The unit is multi disc compatible, which basically means it accepts all types of discs. Whether your favourite film, a Cd burned on your computer full of your digital photos perhaps or a music CD it can be played here. Recorded discs must be region 2 though.
Playback is as you would expect, with FF/RW functions as video. An added advantage though is that you can also go direct to a particular point on the disc. This might be the start of a scene, song, recorded programme or even where you got to when last watching the dvd as it remembers exactly where you got to even if you have removed the Disc and watched others since. (I think I read it records up to 30 discs, but have not yet found this again in the manual.)
All expected features are available too such as angle selection, language and subtitles.
Recording, again is like the video, in the way you can set it or use the ITR. But unlike the video you can set the length of the recording on the disc. You can go from 1 hour to 8 hours on a normal 4.7gb disc. But the more you extend the recording amount the less the quality. Though having tested this the change was not really noticable. We tend to record on LP which gives 4 hours recording time.
This unit allows you to record on either DVD-R (You cannot wipe the DVD after so the recording is permanent), DVD-RW (This allows you to wipe and re-record) or DVD-RAM. (See below)
A DVD-RAM disc was a mystery to us, but being more expensive we guessed that there was something different about them. Also not all machines are RAM compatible, this one is, so investigation was needed. We finally discovered that with a RAM disc you can start watching something on the discs whilst still recording on it. It can be a previously recorded program or the one that you are recording at the time. This is very handy if you arrive home a few minutes after your favourite program has started. Provided you are recording it, you can start watching it straight away, so will only be a few minutes behind the real showing on TV. The technical term for all of the above is Live memory Playback.
HDD...This stands for Hard Drive Disc. It is basically a computer in your unit. The size in this particular unit is 160 gb which is a very good size and one of the largest you will find on the market at this present time.
Again you can record just as in VHS and DVD mode. With 160gb this unit has the ability to record up to 300 hours. Though you can only record up to 48 hours at a time.
Playback is also the same as DVD, where you are able to pinpoint where you would like to start viewing from.
The HDD is handy if you have set up a recording on DVD with PDC. If you are recording two sides and the first is running late meaning you will miss the beginning of the second recording, recording will switch to HDD.
One excellent feature that is not on many models is the twin tuner. This means that you can record on VHS whilst watching something on DVD or HDD, or record on DVD/HDD whilst watching a video. And although I have not yet found this information yet in the manual you can also record different channels on VHS and DVD/HDD at the same time. The only thing you cannot do is use DVD and HDD modes at the same time.
Another feature is the ability to set a guidance rating as such. Depending on how you set it the unit will either skip scenes or refuse to play at all. So for example you can set the rating to an equivalent of a PG rating and if your child attempts to watch a 15 or 18, they will not get very far. This is locked by a code which you can easily overide if you fancy something a little more risque or violent.
Something we have only briefly tried but quite unique is the ability for dubbing without connecting to external devices. This can be between HDD-DVD, DVD-VHS, and HDD-VHS. You can dub up to 32x the normal speed with the exception of VHS. PC Worlds' review commented on this but saying that it would be annoying as you couldn't do anything else whilst dubbing on VHS. I say simple...do it when you are doing something else....Durrr!
Lastly you can edit video content on a connected digital video camera. We do not have one so have not tried this.
What does it look like?
A stylish silver colour. Larger than the average DVD player but as most combis. A pull down cover at the front protects the buttons and VHS and DVD flaps. However this does make the display slightly hard to see. But not a major problem. The unit will say Hello and Goodbye when you switch on/off and a bright blue light indicates which mode you are using. An integral fan keeps the computer cool and this is not noisy at all.
With the unit you will also get....
a remote control and batteries
The remote control
Every function possible is on this, so you will not need to move from your chair at all. Oh maybe to put the tape/CD in or out. It might appear scary at first but the manual explains what all the buttons do.
Th is has to be the worst part of the product. The information is quite technical, with the exception of the diagrams for the remote control, so unless you understand all the jargon it is hard to grasp. Firstly it has a section on how to set the unit up, but does not take into account that alot of people these days have extras plugged in such as digital receivers and games consoles. It assumes everyone either has just a TV or that and a Satelite receiver. Also the information isn't in the order you would expect. You jump from mode to mode and it all seems to be in the wrong order. But if you are prepared to put the time in like we did you will succeed. We are still trying to figure some of it out but would say that if we were doing editing/dubbing etc we would probably understand the jargon anyway. There are other features also explained in the manual, too many to mention in this review but it can all be found in here........somewhere!
Being a relatively new product I have not yet seen this in the shops, but then they are naff round here! However I prefer to buy online as the difference in cost can be quite substantial, especially if you do a good search. We bought from Electrical Discount UK. The service was good and delivery within 48 hours. We also paid an extra £99 for an additional 5 years cover.So if you are planning to buy I would reccomend them. However here is a few others that you may wish to check also.
www.electricaldiscountuk.co.uk £457.86 + £3.99 p&p
www.internetdvdsdirect.co.uk £535 + free p&p
www.247electrical.co.uk £562.93 + £7.99 p&p
www.webelectricals.co.uk £499.99 + free p&p
We have been extremely happy with our purchase. Despite our fears regarding JVC we have not encountered any problems, and the manual might be slightly cuckoo but in reality it only took us an hour to set up and a couple of days to work out how it all worked. Our four children have given it the robustness test, which it has thankfully survived.