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HEAD-TO-HEAD BUSH DVHS1 & LG DV1000 DVD/VCR COMBIS

 

COPY

The one feature that would be absolutely guaranteed to sell DVD/VCR combis by the container ship load is absent from both the Bush DVHS1 and LG DV1000 and thatís the ability to copy DVDs to tape. Obviously itís never going to happen, at least not on Ďlegitimateí products sold in the UK, so for the combi concept to work there has to be another compelling selling point? If there is itís not immediately apparent and the only logical justification for shoehorning two such disparate technologies into a single box is to save space.

 

In that context both machines score reasonably well, theyíre both about the size of a normal VCR and thereís also something to be said for simplifying the back panel connections Ė just one cable is all it takes for a basic setup -- though there is a price to pay! Neither machine has S-Video or RGB outputs, presumably to keep it simple and reduce cost, that and the fact that a VHS deck is only able to output a composite video signal, so at a stoke the picture quality of the DVD player is compromised. Connection to a 5.1 decoder might also prove difficult for some users as neither machine has an optical bitstream output they do however have coaxial digital connections.

 

Whilst weíre on the subject of plugs and sockets, Bush has included a SCART cable in the box and both machines have front-mounted AV terminals, which makes copying home videos a good deal easier.

 

Both VCRs are NICAM stereo types but thatís about as interesting as the Bush DVHS1 gets. The LG DV1000 has only a handful of extras and they include auto tuning and Video Plus+ timer (with PDC) and you can rightly deduce that itís a great deal easier to set up and use for time-shifting than the Bush machine. The DVHS1 is a real throwback to the bad old days when you had to manually tune in the stations, and itís not that easy either as the on-screen display has a habit of disappearing during the setup.

 

DVD features are similarly limited and again itís the Bush machine that draws the short straw. In addition to the basic replay options both machines have a picture zoom (and shrink mode in the case of the DVHS1) the DV1000 also has MP3 replay and a 3D sound mode. Theyíre both firmly locked to Region 2, with no immediate prospect of handset hacks.

 

Operationally thereís not much to choose between the two, common features are simultaneous off-air record and DVD playback, both VCRs can replay NTSC tapes and DVDs (region 2), and thereís a similar set of DVD and tape picture search facilities though once again LG come out on top with forward and reverse slow-motion (forward only on the DVHS1) on both tape and disc, the DV1000 also has a Commercial Skip function which fast forwards through ad breaks in 30-second increments.

 

VCR replay quality on the DVHS1 is a little disappointing, the picture soft and colours are slightly over saturated, itís okay for timeshifting TV programmes but it doesnít quite make the grade as a serious home cinema component. The DV1000 is only slightly better and the colour stability on our sample was a bit shaky with the occasional flicker. It tended to disappear altogether during fast picture search.

 

When playing DVDs on the Bush machine the picture looks slightly dark and contrasty, itís possible to offset this to some extent with the TVís picture controls but a fair amount of detail is lost in dark scenes and shadows. The DV1000 turns in a quite respectable DVD performance, the contrast range is still a little narrower than we would have liked but the picture still manages to look crisp and subtle shades and skin tones donít look too bad at all.

 

Background hiss levels on the VCR sound tracks are pretty much the same, which is to say itís always there and can be heard during quiet passages but itís no worse than average for a budget stereo VCR. Thereís also little to choose between the stereo analogue outputs when playing DVDs, noise levels are controlled and Dolby Surround soundtracks come across reasonably well with a satisfactory balance between the loudest and softest sounds. Audio CD sound quality on both machines is fair though thereís just a little more depth and a fraction less background noise on the DV1000ís output.

 

At first glance the extra £50 or so being asked for the LG D1000 seems like money well spent. It buys a number of potentially useful extra features and noticeably better AV performance, from both the VCR and DVD decks. However, the most interesting thing to have come out of this side by side comparison is that neither machine is as good as a separate VCR and DVD player, and that includes budget models that together would cost less than the £200 being asked for the Bush DVHS1, and £250 would buy you a very decent setup indeed. It also begs the question, how many people actually want or need to buy a DVD player and VCR at the same time? If saving space is a consideration than itís worth know that there are a growing number of compact DVD players coming on to the market, including a superb little machine from Bush, and thereís no shortage of small NICAM VCRs to choose from.

 

So where does that leave these two machines?  Theyíre simply not good enough for home cinema but there is, perhaps, one application where the combi might have a role and thatís in the bedroom, or possibly the kids room, where space normally is at a premium and the smaller screen sizes and unsophisticated sound systems will mask the picture and sound shortcomings of these two machines.

 

BOX COPY 1

If you still need convincing that combination DVD/VCR players are not the instant problem solvers theyíre made out to be then hereís a few things to think about.

 

DVD is still a work in progress and the specification for both players and discs are evolving all of the time. It is more likely that you will want to upgrade your DVD player than the VCR, say, which on average has a five to seven year life cycle. Itís a bit too early to say yet but it is quite possible that many owners will be tempted to replace their DVD players more frequently, possibly every three to five years, to take advantage of lower prices, improved specifications, performance and features. Remember, recordable DVD is becoming more affordable or maybe you just want a player with a hackable region lock. It will be that much more difficult to justify an upgrade if you have built your home cinema system around a combi setup. There is also the possibility of one of the main components failing Ė the whole box of tricks will have to go in for repair if one or the other decks fail, and the same thing will happen if a fault develops in a shared system, like the controls, front panel display or power supply.

 

 

BOX COPY 2

Considering whatís going on inside a combi DVD/VCR it is amazing how simple the Bush and LG units are to use. A lot of complications are avoided by the two machineís control systems by keeping the DVD and VCR functions separate, in other words, depending on the mode you can only control one set of functions. However, both machines can do two things at once, such as record a TV programme whilst playing back a DVD. You can also switch between VCR and DVD playback but for some reason on the LG machine only the picture changes but the audio channels always carry the DVD soundtrack. There may well be a switch function buried somewhere in the menus but itís not immediately apparent and the LG instructions are quite hard going. 

 

The design of the remote handset and on-screen menus also helps take the sting out of driving two AV devices at once. A lot of the controls, particularly the transport functions, share the same handset keys and the on-screen menus are separate entities. The front panel displays can get a little confusing though, and itís not always obvious what the VCR is up to whilst watching a DVD. 

 

VERDICT

 

BUSH DVHS1
Features                       3/5
Performance                  2/5
Ease of use                   3/5
Value for money            4/5
Overall rating            3/5

 

What's good?

Combi deck convenience

Front AV sockets

Straightforward controls

Supplied SCART

 
What's bad?

Mediocre VCR picture

Average DVD performance

No MP3 or DVD+RW replay

Manual installation

No S-Video/RGB/optical bitstream out

 

Overall comment
Generally, it does neither job particularly well, just about okay for occasional bedroom duties

 

Contact Bush 020 8787 3111

Key Features
DVD/VCR Combi

NICAM sound

Front AV sockets

Picture zoom

 

 

VERDICT

 

LG DV1000

Features                       4/5
Performance                  3/5
Ease of use                   4/5
Value for money            3/5
Overall rating            3/5

 

What's good?

Combi convenience

Smart looks

DVD replay

Front AV sockets

Easy setup


What's bad?

Cluttered handset controls

No S-Video/RGB/optical bitstream out

Lacklustre VCR replay

Combined skip/search buttons

 

Overall Comment
A reasonable attempt to combine two diverse technologies but it fails to shine on either count

 

Contact LG Electronics 01753 50047, www.lge.co.uk

Key Features
DVD/VCR combi

NTSC replay

Auto installation

3D spatial sound (DVD)

 

BUYERíS GUIDE EXTRA INFO

 

BUSH DVHS1
Price                 £199

Verdict  3

Comment            lacklustre DVD/VCR combi that does neither job particularly well

Reviewed            109

 

TECH SPEC

VCR:    VHS LP/SP, NICAM, stereo hi-fi sound, 8-event/31-day timer, NTSC replay, 

DVD: Region 2, PAL/NTSC replay, multi-speed replay, 2-stage zoom & shrink, SCART cable included (not DVD+RW)

 

AV in/out (2 x SCART), composite video, mixed stereo and coaxial bitstream (phono). Front: AV inputs (phono)

 

procorion

 

 

LG DV1000

Price                 £250

Verdict  3

Comment            DVD/VCR combi, fairly average performance

Reviewed            109

 

TECH SPEC

VCR: VHS LP/SP, NICAM stereo hi-fi, Video Plus+ with PDC, auto tuning, NTSC replay, commercial skip

DVD: Region 2, PAL/NTSC replay, MP3 replay, multi-speed replay, picture zoom, 3D sound

 

AV in/out (2 x SCART), composite video, mixed stereo and coaxial bitstream (phono). Front: AV inputs (phono)

 

procmediamatic

 

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R. Maybury 2002, 0908

 

 

 

 

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