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I managed to get this from Currys for £30, so an absolute bargain! However, I was very disappointed, because the sole reason I bought this was to record programs from my Sky+ box onto this DVD recorder, but there was no mention of how to in the manual. Then when I tried to record a program, it wouldn't work saying that isn't any output available. I became very frustrated because I expected it to be able to record programs considering it is a DVD recorder.
However, there some positives. For example it is able to play DVD-R and DVD+R, which I was particularly happy about considering my PS2 was unable to do this. It was also extremely easy to install, although at times a red tinge does appear on the screen which means that I have to fiddle with the wires a bit to get of this, although this does happen rarely.
If you are able to get it at the price I got it at (£30), then seriously consider buying it. However, if you cannot, then I wouldn't bother because you'll probably be very disappointed with the product.
As you will have realised if you have read some of my reviews, I am on a quest to get a good, reasonably priced DVD Recorder so that I can archive some of the programmes I have recorded on my Virgin V+ box as well as transfer to DVD some of my home videos that I have shot over the years on Hi8 video tape and on standard VHS tape. This should be quite straight-forward but is turning out to be something of a challenge that I hadn't expected.
My first approach was to try one of the combi VHS/DVD machines but my one and only trial of a machine of this design was of a Daewoo. It turned out to be something of a lemon. Despite trying two of the same model it simply failed to do what it was supposed to do. I didn't try any others of this type as they were all far too expensive.
As my daughter had a VHS recorder she no longer needed I then abandoned the idea of a combi unit and went for a simple DVD recorder alone. One feature that I did want though was the ability to play disks containing DiVX encoded video files. I have a number of videos that I have shot on a Sanyo digital camcorder and which I have converted to DiVX on my laptop. I wanted to be able to show these on our TV.
My first purchase was of a Philips machine. That too turned out to be a lemon and after being returned to Philips for them to attempt to fix it, unsuccessfully, I eventually returned it to the retailer and got my money back. However, I still needed a machine and so with part of the refund I bought the Samsung I am reviewing here. I also have a Samsung TV so I was hoping that they would work happily together.
The DVD recorder is not a feature-rich as the Philips but it at least has the essentials. The main thing that it has an which was essential for me was an HDMI connection, to enable the highest quality video to be displayed on the TV. The Samsung offers up-scaling to 1080p although our TV only supports up to 1080i. No HDMI cable is provided with the machine so that is something you have to buy separately. As is usual with HDMI capable DVD recorders, you cannot record from an HDMI signal. This has been a requirement of the film cartels in order to try to prevent commercial DVD copying.
In addition to the HDMI output there are also a set of component video and video and audio jacks. There are also a set of stereo audio only jacks plus a digital audio jack but no optical audio output. The only inputs that the machine will accept for recording are two SCARTs plus a set of audio, video and DV inputs under a flap on the front of the machine beneath the DVD tray. I have hooked the machine up with a SCART connection to the Virgin V+ box plus a second SCART connection to the VHS recorder.
The machine will read and write pretty much the complete range of recordable and re-recordable DVD and CD disks. In addition it will accept JPEG, MP3 and DiVX encoded format disks though it will only write DVDs and CDs in standard video format.
The machine also has built-in TV tuners for both analogue and digital Freeview transmissions. The back of the machine sports the normal aerial input socket plus a loop-through to enable a single aerial to feed more than one device.
One of the first things I tried was simply to record a programme off air straight to a recordable DVD. The digital Freeview transmission provides the normal on-screen programme guide from which you can select a future programme that you would like to record. I did find that the programme guide update was very slow to refresh though I don't know if this a fault of the machine or of the TV transmission. However, the programme I wanted to record did eventually appear and setting it to record was relatively straight-forward.
The main thing that I needed to decide was what quality of recording I wanted. There is a Record Mode button on the remote for this but it seems only to function in certain situations. This is limited to when the information bar about the intended recording is displayed on the screen and this seems only to be when you are selecting the input source, even if that source is a TV broadcast channel! To change the recording quality you are forced to cycle through the various input sources. This is completely counter-intuitive and not very user-friendly.
There is a range of recording qualities available, however, from High Quality which enables only 1 ½ hours of video right through to Low Quality (long duration) which offer up to 8 hours. The quality difference is noticeable but even the lowest quality is acceptable.
However, if all this sounds odd, now we come to the really odd bit. In order to do a timed recording you have to switch the machine off! That caught me out the first time. I wondered why a programme I had set to record hadn't. Now, switching the machine off clearly doesn't actually switch it off; it goes onto standby because, at the appointed time it springs into life, the blue "Power On" indicator comes on and the recording starts.
Environmentally, switching things off when not in use is the recommended thing to do but in the case of entertainment equipment such as this, the best you can do is standby. OK, it still uses electricity but hopefully not so much. Consequently we got into the habit of switching it "off". Next time I came to do a timed recording the recording failed to start, until an hour later. Even though the machine was set to auto-adjust for daylight saving it had failed to do so, presumably because it was "off"! Not very clever!
As with all DVD recorders, you can assign a title to the DVD itself and to recorded programmes. The Philips machine enabled this to be done from the remote by treating the number keypad as though it was a mobile phone and to set the title just like texting. The Samsung has nothing so clever. It puts up a fairly clunky matrix on the screen and you use the navigation and OK buttons to select the letters, numbers and special characters from the matrix. This is far more time-consuming.
If, like we have, you also have a Samsung TV then each of the remote controls can be used to control the other device but the remotes for each are far from comprehensive so only for the most commonly used functions can you make use of a single controller. You still need both remotes for those functions which are not duplicated.
Overall, the best you can say about this machine is that it does do what it's supposed to do. However, the whole operation of the device is very clunky, unintuitive and lacking user-friendliness. The machine does look quite attractive in its all black livery and its reasonably compact size means that it doesn't take up too much shelf space below the TV.
At a price of just over £125 it is quite good value for money and so far it hasn't gone wrong, which puts it one up on the Philips! However, knowing what I know now, would I still have bought it? Probably not. Yes, it does the job. I just wish I didn't have to be constantly referring to the User Manual for instructions on how to do things.
Ive been using my rather old video recorder to tape tv programmes for donkeys years, and never really thought anything of these new dvd recorders. Then last christmas, i was given this dvd recorder by my grandfather. Its been sitting in my spare bedroom for over 2 months, as i really didnt think i would use it. Then comic relief was on tv, and so i decided it would be handy to record it.
So i decided to set this machine up. I got it out of the box, and after looking at the quick start up guide, i decided to give it a try. I have to say it wasnt as simple as it looked, and the instructions were rubbish. I sat for over an hour trying to get it to find the sky channels, and everytime it would come back with no channels found. Eventually using several other leads, and basically alot of trial and error, i managed to get the sky to work via the recorder.
Then it was easy, you pressed a few buttons and it was all ready to go. I havent worked it all out as yet, but i did manage to record comic relief onto the hard drive without any problems. The picture is great, and theres loads of hard drive space available. I think this is brilliant, as theres no more fiddling for videos, and its just a quick flick of the switch and its recording. The dvd player itself is quite light, and a nice black colour, its relatively thin, and looks good. The only things ive noticed is firstly, its quite noisy when you record something, also initially after recording some programmes, i found a strong smell of burning rubber in the room, very odd. Im keeping my eye on this problem.
However, apart from this, its been great, you can even use it like a sky plus box, where you can rewind live tv. Personally for the money i think this is great, and once you get it going, im sure you will love it as much as i do at the moment.