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HITACHI DV-W1E, £600

 

We can’t even begin to imagine what was going through the minds of the Hitachi boffins who conceived the DV-W1E. It’s just too bizarre; whatever possessed anyone into thinking that the world needed a DVD/twin-deck CD recorder? Yet having spent a while playing with this truly weird machine it does start to grow on you.

 

The official line is that someone at Hitachi thought it would be a great idea to combine two fast-growing consumer technologies, that Hitachi just happens to be involved with. Well, that makes complete sense to us and we can’t wait for an integrated microwave oven and vacuum cleaner… On a completely unrelated matter it is worth noting that twin-deck CD copy machines are very big business, especially in some far-eastern markets, if you get our drift... Now, if one of the decks in a twin deck machine were to become a DVD player as well – something that’s very easy for a manufacturer to do -- it would make the whole thing look a lot more respectable. 

 

We’re still not fully convinced, but see what you make of it. The DVD part, which uses the left hand deck, looks as though it is based on the popular DV-P250 DVD player, complete with the novel Disc Navigation feature plus Dolby Digital and dts decoding. Disc Navigation, as you may recall generates a visual index of what’s on a disc with a display of still images taken from the start of each chapter. There are one or two other extras worth mentioning, like super fast 120x picture search in both directions (that’s in addition to 2x, 10x and 30x), two-speed slomo, 2-stage picture zoom and spatial sound.

 

The CD recorder section can record onto audio CD-R and CD-RW media from a music CD in the DVD deck or from an external source, (this can be analogue or digital). The recorder makes very good use of the TV display and turns what can be a quite complicated business – like compiling an album of favourite tracks from several discs – into an absolute doddle. The machine automatically recognises and tests blank discs when they are loaded, all you have to do is move an on-screen highlight around to make track selections and choose between real time or 2x fast dub. Time readouts show the length of each track and how much is remaining, so you can make best use of the space available. When the disc is full up it can be ‘finalised’, a process that takes around two minutes and makes the newly recorded disc playable on any normal CD deck.

 

Operationally the DVD side of things is a bit of a mixed bag and it takes a while to get used to the various on-screen displays and menu options. The remote is a bit odd too, with no less than three ways of changing replay speed (+/- speed buttons, jog/shuttle dial & fast fwd/rev picture search/track skip buttons).

 

Picture performance on the DW-1E has a lot in common with the DV-P250; images are sharp with natural looking colours. Small details are crisply resolved across the contrast range. Image stability is excellent at all replay speeds and layer change is a touch under a quarter of a second on most discs.

 

Dolby Digital decoding is very clean across all channels, ditto dts; Dolby Pro Logic soundtracks have no more than average levels of background hiss, so all in all a very fair set of results, but you’re not going to buy one of these things just to watch movies, now are you? In theory copies of CDs are clones and should sound identical to the original, in practice we could detect some slight differences on recordings made in real time, more so at 2x speed, but you need to listen long and hard to spot them. The most obvious flaw is highlighted by the sometimes big variations in sound levels when recording tracks from different CDs. There is a manual level control of sorts for analogue recording from an external source but it could really do with some means of storing a setting for each CD track. The result is that on a compilation CD you can end up reaching for the remote or jumping up and down to adjust the volume every few minutes.

 

If you’re expecting a clear cut yea or nay from us on this machine you’re going to be disappointed. As a DVD player its fine, but not for £600. CD recorders start at under £250, you can get competent twin deck models for £350 or thereabouts, there’s even a 3-disc multichanger/recorder on the market from Pioneer for less than £400, so from that point of view it’s not exactly a bargain either, but neither is a fair comparison. This is a truly unique product and if you like what it can do – and it does everything very well -- then the price might not seem so steep.

 

Contact Hitachi 020 7849 2000

 

BOX COPY 1 – REMOTE VIEWING

The handset is a real whopper, over 9 inches (that’s 23.5cm to you young ‘uns) from tip to toe, which might be some sort of record. The buttons are a good size, well laid out and easy to identify, the jog/shuttle is a bit awkward though, a bit too sensitive and  working through a recording a frame at a time is quite hard to do.

 

THE HARD FACTS

HITACHI DV-W1E                

OUTPUTS

SCART             1

S-Video             1

RGB out                        yes

Optical digital            yes

Coaxial digital            yes

5.1 decoder                   yes

 

EXTRA FEATURES 20/30

Region 2, PAL/NTSC/PAL 60 replay, Dolby Digital, dts & PCM decoders, multi-speed replay, Disc Navigation, 2-stage picture zoom, spatial sound, CR-R/RW recorder

 

GOOD POINTS

AV performance, easy CD recording

 

BAD POINTS

Price and who wants such a weird combination of features?

 

Ease of use            4

Picture  4

Sound               4

Features            4

Overall  4

 

 

BUYERS GUIDE EXTRA INFO

Price                 £600

SCART 1

S-Video 1

Digital out            coaxial, optical

Decoder            Dolby Digital & dts

 

Good Points

AV performance, easy CD recording

 

Bad points

Price and who wants such a weird combination of features?

 

Rating

3

---end---

 

Ó R. Maybury 2000, 1405

 

dim435/330/81

 


 

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