DVD Recorders
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DVD Recorders

We all knew the day would arrive when digital recording would move out of the studio and into our homes. RIght now a good DVD RW (reader/writer) are a bit on the expensive side but if you can afford it this is the way to go. For most people waiting a couple of years will see a decrease in the price and increase in many of the features. Let's look at the features you should be sure of before you purchase a DVD-RW.

There are basically two types of DVD recorders out there. One is tied to your computer. Very often discs produced on these units will only play on the recorder or other PC based DVD drives. They may not play on your stand alone DVD player. You don't want to build up a collection of discs that won't play on the same device that plays your regular DVDs.

The second type of recorder just becoming popular is the AV DVD recorder. Phillips has a nice one out there, the DVDR985 which sells for about $900. There is also the Panasonic DMR-T2020 which will run you about $700. You want to make sure that any unit you purchase can accept input from the same sources as your current VCR.

Okay, lets gets down to the features you will need.

bulletRecording modes. This refers to the bandwidth and compression of the material being recorded. The greater the recording time the less the quality. The typical modes currently are:
bulletDigital Video (DV) one hour on a normal DVD-RW disc. The best.
bulletDVD about 2 hours
bulletS-Video about 3 hours
bulletVCR mode about 4 hours
bulletTimes will vary with media. Double sided double density discs can greatly increase what you can record.
bulletRecording source. This should include cable and satellite.
bulletConnection to your PC via IEEE1394 firewire. You may want to transfer the recordings between your PC so you can add menus, extras, commentaries by means of DVD authoring software
bullet5.1 audio outputs so you can enjoy full digital surround sound. Of course this means the source you use to record has to have 5.1. Many cable networks such as HBO now carry material with 5.1 sound. Some have DTS so you may want ot hold out for one of these.
bulletVCR Plus. This permits you to set the unit to record just like your VCR.
bulletDubbing. The legalities of this feature are still under debate. Just promise you will only make legal backup copies of material you own, right?
bulletThe ability to watch one part of the disc while you are recording on another. Many recorders don;t have this but you may find it useful to have.
bulletCompatibility. Will the discs you make play on any DVD player? This is important if you want to turn your home movies into DVDs to send to the grand parents.
bulletHigh quality outputs. Make sure it can outout by means of component and composite video.

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