You are reading this article because you either are ready to move out of the Stone Age and say good bye to your old VCR or you already own a DVD player and are looking to upgrade to something else. Perhaps you even have a DVD recorder or DVR already and aren't satisfied with your purchase. Whatever your needs are, there are plenty of options available at a variety of price points. Let's first discuss the which model style might be best for you.
: '''Note''': The basic DVD player is the simplest of all the models available and it is strictly for watching DVDs and playing CDs. They DO NOT record. To learn more about them, please see the DVD Player Buying Guide. You might also be interested in the Portable DVD Player Guide.
* '''Progressive Scan -'''- A must-have feature on any DVD recorder. The technology works at a faster refresh rate and renders images better to create more stable, brighter, and crisper images.
* '''Formats''' -- DVD recorders can support a wide variety of file formats. You really only need the format support for those formats that you use most. To learn more about the different ways you can record DVDs, learn from this About.com tutorial. It talks about the differences between DVD-R/RWs, DVD+R/RWs, and DVD-ROMs.
** '''Audio Compatibility'''
*** Dolby Digital Surround Sound, DTS, and multichannel surround sound are all good to have especially if you have an advanced home theater set up.
*** '''Digital Audio Outputs''' -- Connect your DVD recorder to your digital speakers. Look for both coaxial and optical outputs for the most versatility.
*** '''Analog Audio Outputs''' -- Connect your DVD recorder to your analog speakers.
** '''Video Compatibility'''
*** '''Component Video''' -- The second best transfer. If you must go analog, go with this.
*** '''S-Video and Composite Video''' -- Links analog video camcorders (8mm, Hi-8, VHS, VHS-C) to DVD recorders.
** '''Titling Functions''' -- Now you can add simple titles to your DVD segments.
** '''Menu Creation Feature''' -- Add a menu at the beginning of a disc so that you can hop to specific chapters.
** '''Aspect Ratio Control''' -- Ability to switch between 4:3 and 16:9 (widescreen) is a nice feature that you'll definitely want if you have a big screen TV.
** '''Picture Control''' -- Zoom, black level adjustment, and multi-angle capability are other features that may be included on DVD recorders.
** '''Programming''' -- Some recorders use VCR Plus or Gemstar to program recordings on DVD/hard disk recorders.
** '''Simultaneous Record and Play (aka Time Slip)''' -- This features allows you to record one thing while playing another. Look for this on DVD/hard disk recorders.
* '''Storage Capacity and Compression Settings -'''- Lower compression levels make for better quality recordings, but they also take up the most storage space on the disk drive.
* '''IEEE 1394 FireWire (aka iLink or DV Input)''' -- The best transfer from digital camcorders to DVD recorders.
* '''Variable Bit Rate (MPEG-2) Recording''' -- The machine will analyze the data and record it with varying intensities depending on the complexity of the scene. Uses less data with better picture quality, but with a slightly longer recording time.
* '''Video Pre-Processing Circuitry''' -- Analyzes the video before converting it to digital, often improving shoddy picture or sound quality.
* '''Linear Editing Features''' -- Pick and choose which parts of your video to transfer to DVD by just forwarding through the tape until you're at the proper spots.
* '''Simple Non-Linear Editing Features''' -- Pick which parts of your tape to record, and choose which order they go in.
* '''Hard Disk Space''' -- Many DVRs have a lot of memory. The more the better since you won't even have to record onto a DVD until you want a separate archive.