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PHILIPS DVDR-1000, £1300

The future has arrived but it has a few rough edges! The Philips DVDR-1000 is not the first DVD video recorder (that was the Pioneer DVR-1000, launched in Japan 18 months ago) but it is the first concerted attempt by a major manufacturer to reach the mass market, though with a £1300 price tag it's probably not going to take off overnight…

 

When discussing recordable DVD it is customary to delve into the messy and confusing business of formats. Life's too short, suffice it to say that the DVDR-1000 uses the slightly anarchic DVD+RW system (i.e. not officially sanctioned by the DVD Forum but backed by the likes of Ricoh, Sony, Thomson and Yamaha), however the main selling point is that discs recorded on this machine will play on most recent DVD players – more on that in a moment.

 

It's big and heavy, a little larger than a typical first generation DVD player but the designers have tried hard make it look unthreatening (the remote is rather busy though). The motorised flap covering front panels sockets and secondary controls is a hoot and it mostly lives up to Philips stated aim of  'adding a record button to a DVD player'. 

 

There is little doubt that recordable DVD will eventually replace tape but the differences go way beyond the physical makeup of the blank recording media. First some familiar points of reference; a standard 4.7Gb single-sided disc holds between 1 and 4 hours of video and sound (conventional stereo and 2-channel Dolby Digital). The 1-hour HQ mode is best suited to archiving digital camcorder footage (it has a FireWire digital input for a direct connection); SP mode gives 2-hours recording time and provides similar picture quality to normal DVD. LP mode lasts for 3-hours, Philips say it is better than S-VHS and the picture in the 4-hour EP mode is claimed to be somewhere between VHS and S-VHS. Double-sided 7.4Gb discs that have to be flipped, double the current recording times and these should be available soon.

 

Disc navigation is good. The machine generates a visual menu of stills from the start of each new recording and it has a full set trick play options (slomo and picture search up to 32x). Chapter markers are automatically inserted every 6 minutes or they can be put in manually. Chapter markers can also be used to crudely 'edit' recordings, to make the player split or divide recordings or skip marked sequences like commercial breaks.  There are also some familiar VCR features, like Video Plus+ and manual timers, NICAM sound and easy set-up for off-air recording of terrestrial and satellite broadcasts. DVD features are fairly ordinary and include a zoom that forces the player into still mode, standard stereo and digital bitstream outputs and it comes with a multi-brand TV remove.

 

Unlike a VCR things happen quite slowly, it takes around 20 seconds after switch on before the machine will do anything useful and after making a recording you have to wait what seems like an age for the machine to update the disc before it can be played. Our early sample crashed several times when erasing recordings.

 

Recording picture quality is impressive, in HQ and SP modes it can be hard to tell off-air recordings apart from live broadcasts, though the occasional picture or sound glitch, slightly reduced colour depth and some smearing of fast-movement occasionally gives the game away. LP and EP modes are good, definitely better than VHS but texturing and craggy colours are characteristic of a highly compressed digital recording, however with so little noise the picture looks very clean. Replay of pre-recorded DVDs is fine, at least as good as Philips current mid-range models as was the sound quality, on both the stereo and bitstream digital outputs. We tried recordings made on the DVDR-1000 on eight DVD players; it refused to play on three of them including one old-timer and two brand new models.

 

Recordable DVD gets off to a promising start, obviously the price is going to have to come down a very long way before it can be considered a mainstream product or an alternative to VHS but apart from some minor reservations about compatibility and sluggish operation the technology is living up to expectations, with hopefully even better to come. However, as it stands we have to say that the DVDR-1000 is mainly of interest to determined early adopters with very deep pockets.

 

VERDICT

 

Philips 020 8689 2166, www.philips.co.uk

 

Ratings

Overall              4

Picture Quality            4

Sound Quality            4

Features                       4

Ease of Use                  3

Build Quality                  4

Value for Money            3

 

DETAIL

Without the usual visual cues and things like tape used/time remaining indicators managing recordings on a DVD+RW disc become very important. Philips has come up with bar-graph type front panel and on-screen displays that show how much of the disc has been filled. It's not too bad once you get used to it but it could have been made a little clearer using coloured graphics for example, or Philips could have followed the PC convention and used a pie-chart. Otherwise the on-screen status and mode displays are standard Philips items; suffice it to say you need to keep the instruction manual close to hand in the early days…

 

Quote

'Recordable DVD gets off to a promising start, obviously the price is going to have to come down a very long way before it can be considered a mainstream product'

 

DVD BUYERS GUIDE XTRA INFO

 

PHILIPS DVDR-1000    

£                                  £1300

VERDICT                      4

STATUS                       

COMMENTS            A good start but room for improvement

TYPE                            DVD+RW

5.1 OUT                        N

OUTPUT                       Dig

COMP’NT VID            N

SCARTS                       2

ISSUE                          97

 

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Ó R. Maybury 2001, 1709

 

 

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