A few years ago I was looking for a product which could play both my DVDs and my rather large collection of VHS tapes in one unit, and this was the product which I purchased on e-bay to do the job.
It plays both the tapes and the disks with no problems, automatically switching from one to the other with no difficulty and a minimum of fuss.
The 4 heads on the VHS player ensure a good quality playback, even on some of my older tapes, which were sitting in boxes for years! The DVDs are predictably of higher quality, but then that would be the case with all comparisons of this type.
The remote control unit is also fairly straightforward, switching from DVD control to VHS at the flick of a button, and the menus available for timers, long play/standard play, scene selection, record/transfer etc, are all displayed clearly and are simple to understand, even lacking the instruction manual in my case.
The best feature for me though, was the ability to copy some of my old home movies onto DVD, which has allowed me to have a number of permanent copies of ancient family history, which might otherwise have been lost. If there is a better reason to purchase a machine of this type, then I can't think of it.
This has proved to be a reliable and worthwhile purchase, and I am sure that anyone with a similar collection of old VHS memories begging for a home on DVD would have no hesitation in agreeing with me.
Reasons for purchasing
I had about 300 recorder video tapes of some key moments that I wanted to keep. Having had them stored in cardboard boxes for about 5-10 years, I was worried about the degradation of their quality so decided to invest in a dvd-recorder rather than a dvd-writing service.
After some research between this and a hitachi model I opted for this. My primary requirement was to copy from VHS to DVD and this does it perfectly, it is real time which means you cannot use either function as you have to play the video tape in order to write it to the dvd for permanent retention.
The unit is a matt silver colour with the DVD unit on the left and the VCR unit on the right. The respective load/unload buttons are the the right of each of these units. The on/off button (A big silvery button) is located on the bottom left along with a hidden panel of control for things like external unit interfaces and channel selector button. This selector only allows you to switch the channel up or down. The playback and recording buttons are located on the bottom right of the unit and provides the following:
- switching between DVD/VCR mode
- Timeslip function
- Record, Rewind, Stop, Play/Pause, FF
- Record from DVD to Video
- Record from Video to DVD
The display is an LED display between the Channel selector and DVD/VCR selector button
The remote control is pretty standard using a wheel like setup to provide access to all the features. It is plastic in light grey, The buttons are all a dark grey rubber and the controls are conveniently located, such as viewing controls 1/3 of the way down and then the menu controls beneath that. The channel selection keys are in the normal 1-0 layout (like a touch tone phone or mobile) located at the top of the remote. The power button is a big red circle so you cannot mistake it for anything else and is very easy to locate in the dark.
The recording and transfer controls are placed at the bottom of the remote control. The main criticism I have of the remote control is that you have to press the buttons quite hard. For example if I want to use super fast forward, I have to keep the forward button pressed which can lead to finger fatigue.
If you are anything like me then you will mostly use this with the lights turned off, so the layout and different shapes of the buttons really help you distinguish which button you need to press in order to operate. The device uses small and big round buttons, for play/stop/ff/rewind/eject and long round-ended buttons for menu operation. It uses short fat buttons for record, display and setting record speed.
Also on the unit itself the control buttons are dome shaped. So if you are trying to fast forward you get an indentation when you keep the button pressed and it can hurt if you have a lot to fast forward (VCR only). I would use the remote for controlling the unit.
Inputs and Outputs
The unit has ports on both the front and the rear of the device. On the rear you will find:
- 2 SCART
- 1 RF/coaxial input
- 1 RF/coaxial output
- 1x S-Video output
- 1x composite video/audio input
- 1x composite video/audio output
- 1x component video/audio output
On the front, behind a discretely hidden panel:
- 1x composite audio/video
- 1x IEEE-1394 DV input for easy connection with a camcorder, second VCR, or other device (this is also known as a FireWire interface)
- 1x S-Video input
These don't mean too much to me as I am not very technical, but I use the RF coaxial and SCART connections to connect to the TV and my digibox.
DVD - The DVD recorder can only use DVD-R, DVD-RW and DVD-RAM for recording and you can use the following recording speeds:
- SP (standard)
- LP (2x standard speed)
- EP (3x standard speed)
- XP (0.5x standard speed)
With a DVD-RAM disc you can use timeslip recording which lets you watch a programme from the beginning whilst it is recording. I don't have any DVD-RAM discs as they can be quite expensive so have never used this function and for me I cannot see any benefit of this as I usually record programmes when I am away from the house.
VCR - The video recorder provides recording speeds of SP and LP on standard VHS cassettes
Enough about technical specs!
The Good and the Bad
- you can record different channels to dvd or VCR at the same time due to twin tuners
- can watch one while the other is recording
- can record DVD to VHS and vice versa
- when I go on holiday and I record twice as much than a single recorder unit
- the instruction manual is quite comprehensive taking you through each function and the menu using screenshots. For most of the features though the manual is unnecessary and the device is very intuitive
- DVD interface for recording names is tedious - doesn't use qwerty keyboard and you have to scroll a-z|0-9 to spell words and use numbers
- is noisy when it is turned on, even when it is not recording or playing
- on my model if you are recording to DVD you cannot access the menu in VCR mode. Not sure if this is a defect on my unit only or a general feature ;o)
The device is not region free as I have not gone to the extent of getting it converted, so currently my DVDs are only for the UK region.
This device has proved a very frugal purchase (it was approx £240 from EmpireDirect) as it has enabled me to convert all of my VHS collection to digital media. I have saved more by purchasing this unit than I would have paid to have them professionally digitised. At the moment I have stored all the recorded DVD in a binder, but this has given me immense benefit. Not least being able to preserve my valuable recordings but also make my collection portable to any other kind of digital media I wish.
I do think that in this era of fast technological advance that the VCR part of this is now out of date and in future I think I would purchase a combi DVD recorder with Hard disk drive. However, I am yet to find a model with dual digital tv receivers which puts me off replacing this model at the moment...come on Sony - you've done remarkably in providing a DVD-R/HDD with dual tuners, but how about dual digital tuners?
Thanks for reading - I would be more than happy to answer any question on this if you post me a message. This is also posted on CIAO.
© jupiter28 2008