DVD recorder runs rings around tape

, posted: 27-Feb-2004 22:34

If you're looking for an affordable DVD recorder to replace your VCR, but want a well-known brand, the Philips
DVDR-75/691 could fit the bill. This next-generation dual format device records and plays "plus" DVD+R/RW discs, but also plays the "minus"

DVD-format R and RW discs. On top of that, it plays normal and Super audio and video CDs, as well as CDs with music MP3s recorded on to them. And like any DVD player, the DVDR-75/691 plays pre-recorded DVDs too.

Oddly enough, the manual said the review unit was for Region 3 (SE Asia), instead of Region 4 which encompasses NZ. It played discs from multiple regions without problems, however, and if you search Google, you'll find a "region free" hack for the DVDR-75/691 easily.

On top of that, you get Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1 channel surround-sound, and a host of connectors, including a front-panel "i. Link" (that is, Firewire or IEEE-1394) for digital video cameras.

There are also Component Video outputs, which split the video signal into separate outputs. Separate video signals give considerably better picture quality, but your TV set needs Component Video inputs of course. The Component video outputs on the DVDR-75/691 also produce a "progressive scan" picture. In simple terms, this means sending the odd and even lines that construct the TV picture together. Normally, TV pictures are "interlaced", with odd and even lines transmitted alternately.

The effect of "progressive scan" is much reduced flickering but, again, your TV set must support it. Cables for the TV aerial, Component Video and audio were included in the package, plus a single DVD+R disc. The only
thing I missed was a USB 2.0 port for video input and output for digital cameras and easy copying. The remote is the usual semi-successful attempt at creating functionality despite too many buttons, but it's no
worse than others.

Setting up the DVDR-75/691 was a no-brainer if you read the manual. The on-screen menus and symbols aren't totally intuitive, however, and Philips should move them to the centre of the screen as they disappear if the TV is in zoom or pan mode.

Although the Loewe Xelos TV set I used didn't have Component Video inputs, image quality from the S-Video output on the DVDR-75/691 was excellent, with vibrant colours and crisp picture. Recording quality beats VCRs hands down and there's no need to rewind, ever.

The DVDR-75/691 is a little slow to switch between recording and playback, a side-effect of the optical disc
technology. Even at the lowest-quality setting, which gives you six hours worth of recording time per disc, the picture is good enough for casual viewing.

The highest quality setting is very good, but provides only one hour recording time. The medium setting is adequate for most purposes, giving 2 1/2 hours at better than S-Video quality. Both the DVD+R and +RW discs recorded on the DVDR-75/619 played back on PC and Macintosh DVD players, which bodes well for compatibility.

Philips has lowered the price of the DVDR-75/691 to $999.95 from March 1, a low price for brand-name DVD recorders. Still, it's considerably more than most VCRs but, after you have tried a DVD recorder, tape just won't cut it anymore.

Philips DVDR-75/691


Philips New Zealand, 0800 477 999

Pros: dual format, Component Video output, Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1 sound, easy to use.

Cons: no USB port.

Rating: 8/10

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Nokia N9 reviewed

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