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This was the first DVD recorder I ever purchased and did so based partly on the brand name, Sony, and partly on the features of the machine. It is fully compatible with all other electronic devices including VHS machines, AV receivers (such as Freeview boxes, top-up tv boxes etc). I have the device connected to my digital television via a Freeview box so I can record programs playing on the Freeview box whilst watching another channel on my television.
The machine is silver and is quite large, sitting about 2 1/2 inches high on slightly raised legs. It is about 17 inches wide across the front. I find the size a little too large and bulky, it looking rather like a VHS player. The front display is partially black and clear plastic and is quite visually attractive. There is a centrally placed disc tray with smaller buttons at the right top hand of the machine.
I was attracted by the fact that you are able to play a wide range of discs on this machine:
DVD, DVD+R/RW, DVD -RW , DVD-R , MP3 , VCD (video CD), CD, CD-R, CD-RW, SVCD, JPEG Image CD
It will play commercial DVDs marked Region 0,2,4 and mine will also play some marked as Region 1 DVDs too, although it is not supposed to!
It records dual format on the following disc types:
DVD-RW, DVD-R, DVD+R, DVD+RW
These must be 12 cm discs, not 8 cm.
When you insert a disc the machine scans it and formats it ready for recording. This is quite lengthly and I find that I need to get everything prepared at least 15 minutes prior to recording. I have even put the machine on a half hour before because it takes so long to scan new discs and also goes through a strange 'warm-up' procedure when you initially switch it on. This is infuriating and is the worst aspect of the recorder. It actually drives me mad waiting and a quick, last minute decision to record a TV program is out of the question.
It has an inbuilt Videoplus feature similar to that on many VHS machines. This feature is a timer which works by keying in the code number listed in your TV guide into the timer feature. It then automatically records the program during this time. This is a fast, simple way to set up a recording. Unfortunately it does not take into account program delays or over-runs and therefore is not always accurate.
Recording is fairly simple once the disc is set up. The machine automatically creates a title marker at a time specified by you in the set-up. This is either at 5, 10 or 15 minute intervals and makes playback much easier - you can start playback at any given point in the recording. There are several options of what quality to record at which determines how many hours recording you can get. Standard quality is 120 minutes. I find the quality of the standard recording to be reasonable although they can look a little soft on larger televisions.
The recorder comes with a remote control. This is a large square, bulky plastic block with a slide panel that has a lot of tiny buttons on it. It is difficult to know what buttons do what and there is no explanation of this in the user guide. Even now I tend to use only a few of the main buttons!
The instruction manual may as well be in a different language as it is so difficult to follow. The set up chapters provide illustrations which become more difficult to understand as more and more equipment becomes involved in the connection routes! The menu set-up instructions are a nightmare to follow and seem to assume you already know what you are doing. There are chapters dedicated to each feature of the device but I find that there are huge gaps in the explanation and also the lay out of the manual is difficult to follow.
There are two scart sockets on the back of the machine as well as an ariel R/F in out socket, line 2 out sockets (stereo and s-video), line 4 out (audio), and a digital out socket. I find the amount of potential cable connections daunting and I have a messy area around my television!
Overall I find the recorder a little dissapointing. The main reason for this is the fact that it can take a while to get a disc ready for recording. I also find the noisiness of the machine unacceptable with a fan on the back of the machine whirring and the start up sounds of the inner mechanisms being jerky and clicky. Whilst the machine has been reliable and has stayed in perfect working order I feel I would have preferred to have purchased a different model.