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DVD Recorders Buying Guide

It's safe to say that the era of the VCR  is slowly drawing to a close and the era of the DVD  is now solidly entrenched, especially since recordable DVDs  have became available.  With so many DVD recorders  out there, there is surely one for every wallet.  So whether you are looking to time-shift your favourite television programmes or edit and archive some home video footage, today's DVD recorders can get the job done. 

Choices

DVD/VCR Combos 

This is perfect for those of you who aren't quite ready to say goodbye to your VHS tapes just yet.  

  • Watch and record DVD and VHS on the same player.
  • Look for models with integrated HD support or integrated hard drive

DVD Recorder 

These players are great for users looking to upgrade their DVD playing capabilities with no strings attached to VHS tapes.

  • Play and record DVDs in various formats.
  • Look for HD upconversion for the latest in technology.

DVD/ Hard Drive Recorders 

These high-end recorders are great for those digital gurus looking to do some editing and archiving work.  

  • Edit, record, archive, and watch TV programmes, DVDs, and home videos.
  • The hard drive can store hours of recordings, making it a great alternative to TiVo. 

What to Look For

With so many recording formats, capabilities, inputs, and outputs, it can be tricky for the average user to understand just what they are buying.  We want to make it easier for you. 

  •  Recordable Disc Formats:  Pick a recorder based upon which formats your hardware will use and which best suits your needs.
    • DVD-R  or DVD+R :   Write it once.  These can't be erased or re-written and are the most common format of compatibility with DVD players; almost all models will play these kind of discs.
    • DVD-R DL  or DVD+R DL :  These write it once dual-layer media discs can store twice as much video as single layer DVD-R discs.
    • DVD-RW  or DVD+RW :  As the re-writeable sibling of the DVD-R, these discs are compatible with many DVD players, especially the newer models.  
    • DVD-RAM :  This is a re-writeable format with excellent random access capability.  This would be the best format to use for on-disc editing, though DVD-RAM discs are only compatible with special recorders that support them.
  • Recording Capabilities:  Recorders can increase the amount of video they can fit on a disc by compressing the data more severely. Picture quality drops correspondingly, however, so this specification should not be considered in isolation. If you anticipate needing to record large blocks of programmes at high quality--for example, the full multi-hour evening broadcast of the Summer Olympics--buy a DVD recorder with a hard drive.  Such models allow you to record at the best image quality, and then archive the recording to multiple discs at a later time.
  • Component-Video Output:  This allows the highest picture quality when connected to a display with component-video inputs , especially if the recorder and display support progressive scan.
  • High-Def Upconversion:  If you plan to use your recorder with a high-def LCD  or plasma  display, finding a recorder that offers HDMI output  will be essential for the quality of your images.  Many recorders now offer HDMI output and in-unit scaling to upconvert your images.
  • Front-Panel A/V Inputs:  Having audio/video inputs  on the front of the DVD recorder will make it much more convenient for connecting external devices, such as a camcorder .

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