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KCL VIDEO DISC RECORDER, £700

Remember the Video CD format? It sort of slipped out and slotted in between laserdisc and DVD, it didnít hang around very long and was last heard of in the far east, where it was still doing quite well in the movie piracy business. The reason it didnít survive was simple, picture quality was pretty awful and you needed two discs to hold a normal-length movie. Now itís back, this time as an aspiring home recording format.

 

The KCL Video Disc Recorder, marketed in the UK by Lektropacks, is a sort of step up from an audio disc recorder -- it does that as well by the way -- in that it records video (and audio) on to blank CD-R and CD-RW discs. It has built-in MPEG-1 and II encoders that can create VCD and SVCD recordings, VCD discs can be played on many DVD player. Itís not an alternative VCR however, thereís no tuner or timer for example, so it can only record from another video source, such as a VCR or surprise, surprise, DVD player, and because it only works with analogue video signals thereís no problems with digital copy protection.

 

Outwardly it looks much like any normal budget DVD player and itís absurdly easy to use. Just pop in a blank disc, select the recording format (CD-Audio, VCD or SVCD) and press record. You can add recordings to a disc (up to 74 minutes in CD-A and VCD modes, 37 minutes in SVCD), and play them back on the machine, but they have to be Ďfinalisedí (no more data can be added and a table of contents is written) before they will play on another machine.

 

MPEG-1 picture quality was pretty dire when Video CD was around, and if anything itís even worse on this machine, low bitrate MPEG 2 (SVCD) is even worse. The image in both cases is riddled with severe motion artefacts, itís okay when nothing much moves in the picture, and still frames look very good indeed but if anything in the picture moves, or the camera pans the picture just pixellates.

 

VCD recordings made on the KCL recorder could be played on a random selection of four DVD players we had in for test and ironically the picture quality was slightly better than on the machine they were made on. SVCD recordings are not supposed to play on DVD decks but we found that they would on a couple of test machines, if you waited long enough, but the quality was so poor as to be not worth the effort.

 

Sound quality is not too bad but it was slightly out of sync on our sample, just enough to be really annoying. Audio CDs, from an analogue source are okay, similar to what youíd get on a CD-A recorder, but obviously not as good as a digital copy, made on a PC or a CD-A recorder with digital input.

 

All in all a bit of a disappointment and, sorry to say, all rather pointless. Look at it this way, it costs five or six times as much as a VCR yet picture quality is inferior and it has fewer facilities and for a couple of hundred pounds more you could get a DVD recorder with vastly superior picture and sound quality.

 

Verdict 2/5

 

Lektopacks, 08700 711911, www.lektropacks.co.uk

 

Overall              2

Picture Quality            2

Sound Quality            4

Features                       3

Ease of Use                  3

Build Quality                  3

Value for Money            2

 

DETAIL

The giant silvery handset is a fearsome looking thing, more like a weapon than a remoteÖ Itís smothered in lots of little buttons and apart from the cursor and transport keys the control layout is very confusing, and not helped by the operating system, which takes a bit of getting used to

 

DVD BUYERS GUIDE XTRA INFO

 

LETROPACKS VIDEO DISC RECORDER

£                                  £700

VERDICT                      2

STATUS                       

COMMENTS            poor picture quality, stick to VHSÖ

TYPE                            CD-A/CD-R/CD-RW

5.1 OUT                        N

OUTPUT                       N/A

COMPíNT VID            N

SCARTS                       1

ISSUE                         

 

---end---

R. Maybury 2001, 1311

 

 

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