A DVD recorder is a standalone unit that performs similar functions to a VCR: records video/audio signals from any analog source. At the same time, DVD recording offers much better performance and versatility than any VCR.
The industry of standalone DVD recorders is still not very mature and awaiting for that major breakthrough, DVD recorder reviews can get you more confused. We provide complete information about DVD recorders that helps you to buy the best DVD recorders available in the market today.
You can think of a DVD recorder as a standalone unit that is similar to a VCR, but performs much better.
DVD recorders can record video-data from any analog source, if the material is not write-protected: VCR, TV (via incorporated TV tuner) etc.
Some of the best DVD recorder feature an i.Link™ or FireWire input to connect directly to your camcorder.
The Playback Function
DVD recorders are also excellent players. They can play any commercial DVD or CD and CD-R/RW media. Most of them support MP3 and MPEG files or digital photographs. But there’s no DVD recorder 100% sure to play discs that were recorded on another standalone unit, or on a computer DVD burner.
On the one hand, this is due to the various recording formats. If your unit records in DVD-R format, your discs will probably playback on most DVD players. But if you record DVD-RAM discs, they will only playback on the unit they’ve been recorded.
On the other hand, even if you record DVD-R media, that are said to be the most compatible, they may not playback on other units due to laser pick-up and disc design.
Just like DVD players, DVD recorders are usually regionally-encoded for DVD playback. If you mind that, you can choose a multi-region unit.
The Video Quality
Any DVD recorder will offer better video quality than a VCR. DVD recorders that playback in progressive scan mode offer flicker-free image and eliminate unwanted effects like image-blocking or motion artifacts.
All DVD recorders feature four or five recording modes, which allow you to juggle with two features: video quality and disc-space. Using a lower-quality recording mode will eat up less space on the disc. The lowest video quality can be even worse than watching a VHS tape. A disc recorded in the best quality mode will feature only one hour of video.
But you have to decide the recording mode according to the potential of the original material. If you record from VHS tapes, HQ recording mode is no use. No DVD recorder can enhance the quality of the original. If you transfer video-footage from your camcorder, originally recorded at 500 lines of resolution, it may be wise to choose the best quality recording mode. If you go for EP or SLP, you will lose some video quality.
DVD recorders cannot record HDTV signals, because of the laser-wave length and the limited space on standard recordable media today. The blue-ray technology will solve this problem in the near future.
What Are the Features You Can’t Do Without?
Again, there’s no straight answer. It only depends on your personal needs. For instance, take recording formats. They all have pros and cons. You must see what media your old DVD player supports, or what you can share with your family and friends. Sharing your personal recordings may not be as important as the possibility to edit them at wish.
If you’re undecided, you can always choose a combination unit, or a multi-format one. At present, there are decks that combine DVD-R/RW with DVD+R/RW recording, or DVD-R/RW with DVD-RAM.
If you just want to transfer your VHS-tape archive to DVD support, you can opt for a VCR/DVD combination recorder. Of course you can record from a VCR anyway, but with a combo unit is much simpler (one-touch two-way dubbing and other handy functions).
If you find that too many of your favorite TV shows are programmed at impossible hours, then a DVD recorder with TiVo will help. TiVo service is enough for seeing a show once, and then erasing it to make room for another, but not if you want to keep a favorite episode forever. As DVD-RAM recording format can replicate some TiVo functions, you may never need to pay for a TiVo box & service, Just pick-up a standalone unit that uses DVD-RAM format. If added an IR blaster, you can program recordings on different channels.
Sometimes a DVD recorder with built in hard disk drive (HDD) is better for TV recording. The shows come in on the hard drive while you’re away, according to your settings. Afterwards, you can watch, record (on permanent discs or on re-recordable media), and erase from the hard drive to make room for something else. Your options are wider than ever. Incorporated hard drives can be 40GB to 400GB of capacity.
Last but not least, if you want to make your own home movies, you should look into one of those units that have a FireWire port (i-Link or IEEE-1394), to hook your camcorder. Altogether, don’t ignore the possibility to apply some advanced editing functions. DVD-RAM, and even DVD+R/RW media, offer more versatility for this reason.