VCRs, Part 2
are the next step in portable-recording technology
John “jaQ” Andrews
Last week I wrote about
the joys of Digital Video Recorders, or DVRs.
Another option for
moving beyond the VCR is the DVD recorder, which uses DVDs instead of a
hard drive to store your favorite television programs or home movies.
In some ways, the DVD
recorder is a much more direct evolution of the VCR than the DVR is.
You’re still recording to a removable medium, so you can lend your
recording to someone else or play it easily wherever you have a DVD
player. You can also choose either rewritable discs, if you plan to
watch something once and then reuse the media, or record-once discs, if
you want to archive something and make sure no one can tape over it.
Most low-end DVD
recorders don’t offer the pause-live-TV and advanced recording options
that DVRs do. You can get those features if you spend several hundred
dollars. On a budget, though, you’ll be setting the channel and time
manually just like an old VCR — or, if you’re lucky, you can set a VCR+
One thing to make sure
of is that you have the correct media. There are several different types
of recordable and rewritable DVDs, and in most cases your recorder will
support only one format for recording. There’s little difference between
the formats (DVD-R/RW, DVD+R/RW and DVD-RAM), so just worry about
matching up the player and the media.
This column is about
bargains, so I went out and bought me the cheapest DVD recorder I could
lay my hands on: the CyberHome DVR 1600. It cost me $99.99 on sale at
one of the big home electronics stores around here. And I must say, so
far I’m pretty pleased.
It uses DVD+R and
DVD+RW discs for recording, but can read pretty much any DVD format out
there. It can also read CDs and has software to play straight CD audio,
MP3 audio, video and photos.
Setting up a recording
is almost identical to the process on a VCR. You set the date, time and
channel you want to record, and you’re pretty much done. The program
screen shows you what’s currently on the channel you select, so you’re
not only able to ensure that the channel is correct, you’re entertained
I chose a random time
and ended up taping Andromeda. While the quality of the show itself was
debatable, the quality of the recording was superb — leaps and bounds
ahead of my creaky VCR, even on a middling quality setting. (The higher
quality, the less time you have on your DVD. I chose LP, which gave me
about three hours to play with.) I chose to have the recorder set
chapter marks every ten minutes, just for the heck of it, and that
worked flawlessly as well.
The DVD+RW I used
played just fine on my other DVD player, a GoVideo model. If you were an
early adopter and got your DVD player just as they were coming out, you
might have less luck playing a home-recorded DVD on it, but otherwise
you shouldn’t have many problems. DVD-Rs and DVD+Rs do need to be
“finalized” before they can play on other DVD players, so make sure you
select that step before lending one out.
This DVD recorder has
gotten bad reviews online, but so far I’ve been pleasantly surprised. I
own a very cheap CyberHome DVD player as well, and I’ve always been
happy with that. If this new gadget falls apart in a couple weeks, you,
my loyal readers, will be the first to know.