GOLDSTAR DV13i, £800
Twin-deck VCRs have had a short and somewhat chequered
history, the first ones appeared in 1990; a US machine called Instant Replay
made a brief appearance, followed a few months later by the Amstrad
Double-Decker, then it went quiet until Goldstar launched the RDD-10i in 1993. This
had 8mm and VHS decks and was aimed squarely at video movie-makers, though it
could still be used as a normal home-deck VCR. Last year Goldstar uprated the machine
with a Video Plus+ timer. This latest version marks a distinct move upmarket,
with a Hi8 deck, stereo sound, NICAM, plus up to the minute features like PDC
and auto-installation. The price has gone up too, from £630 for the RDD-10i, to
just under £800.
The new machine is very similar to one that has been on sale
in Europe for the past eighteen months, made by Goldstar but badged for the
German TV manufacturer Loewe. Itís still targeted at camcorder owners with
features like the 5-scene edit controller and title generator, but the stereo sound
system takes it into home cinema territory.
The two tape slots sit side-by-side, behind a hinged flap. The
associated transport keys are beneath, arranged in circular clusters and duplicated
on a squat remote handset. The Intelliset auto installation system is very
efficient, in addition to tuning and station naming it also takes care of the
clock, which it checks periodically against PDC data. There are two SCART AV
sockets on the back panel, but no line-audio output sockets, which could be a
disadvantage on some AV set-ups. It doesnít have a front AV terminal either,
though it could be argued thereís no real need for one, at least as far as 8mm and
Hi8 camcorder owners are concerned. It does have manual recording level control
though, and thatís a comparative luxury these days.
It is very easy to use, the menu-driven on-screen display
take care of most secondary functions, including the simple editing system.
This is ideal for cutting out wonky scenes in holiday movies, or putting together
short productions. AV performance is fair to middling, resolution on the VHS
deck is approaching 250-lines, noise levels are fairly average and colour
registration is a bit hairy, but trick-play stability is good. Hi8 resolution
is around 340-lines, some way below what you might expect from mid-range
camcorder but itís sufficient for respectable-looking VHS copies and editing. VHS
stereo sound is reasonable, though thereís a fair amount of background hiss on
both sets of soundtracks.
Fine for quick and simple camcorder edits, fair to middling
stereo hi-fi sound, auto-install, Video Plus+ with PDC, multi-speed replay,
index search, intro Scan, instant timer, repeat play, record search, auto play,
auto head cleaner, 5-scene edit controller, child lock, auto switch-off, audio
dub, manual level control
SCART AV in/out, microphone (minijack), RF bypass
x 99 x 390mm
Goldstar, telephone (01753) 500400
...none, but other Hi8 decks include:
* Sony EVC 500, £700
* Sony EV-C2000, £800
* Sony EV-S9000, £1600
Picture quality ***
Sound quality ***
Ease of use ****
Build quality ****
Value for money 75%
GOLDSTAR F-191 ĎFINITí, £500
Itís difficult to know what to make of the Finit. Could it
be a homage to Scandinavian style supremos Bang and Olufsen? Maybe itís some
sort of tongue-in-cheek design exercise, or possibly a genuine attempt to break
the mini-system mould? Itís definitely different, audio systems that can be hung-on-the-wall
are very few and far between...
The sleek low-profile cabinet houses a CD player, cassette
deck and AM/FM radio, though you wouldnít necessarily know it from the outside.
Both decks are concealed behind motorised covers, that glide open at the touch
of a button, very sexy... At least it would be if they opened sideways, or
downwards, as it is unless the unit is standing (or mounted) at or above chest
level, you have to crouch down to peer under the flaps, to load and unload
tapes and discs.
Despite the classy looks the specification is fairly
routine. The CD has a 20-track memory, with the usual random and repeat
functions. The tape deck has an auto-reverse mechanism, Dolby B noise reduction
and CD syncro recording facility. The only real surprise is the tuner, which
has an RDS (radio data system) facility. RDS is used to transmit a variety of useful
information, including station identification, programme details and traffic
news but for some unaccountable reason Goldstar only use to show the name of
the station being received, what a waste!
Audio facilities are in keeping with the cosmetics, sparse.
Thereís no tone controls as such, just four sound presets: flat, pop, rock and
classic, plus a switchable bass enhancer. It has only one auxiliary line input,
and no headphone socket. It comes with a remote control and AM loop antenna.
All kippers and curtains then? Well, thereís another little
surprise, it doesnít sound too bad, not at all what you would expect. Itís
mostly down to the largish speakers, they deliver a bright, open sound, and
despite being so close together, produce a fair-sized soundstage. Bass output
is a bit lightweight though, even with the booster switched in, and the
equaliser presets might as well not be there for all the good they do.
In fact thereís no need to shift it from the flat setting at
all and the components appear well matched. Hanging it on the wall spreads the
sound out slightly, and helps re-inforce the weak bass a little. But is it for you? Difficult one that. It
scores well as a eye-catching mini hi-fi, for small rooms, bedsits and the
downstairs loo, and the wall-hanging bracket is a very neat idea but itís seriously under-equipped for
AV use, and the price is a bit steep for what it is; thereís no shortage of
useful mini systems on the market for a lot less than £500.
Looks, good sounds okay, but is this what your walls have
been waiting for?
Features CD with 20-track
memory, repeat & random play; auto-reverse tape deck with Dolby B noise
reduction, CD syncro record; AM/FM tuner with 30-station memory and RDS station
ident display; remote control, 4-mode equalisation (flat, pop, rock, classic),
bass boost, floor stand and wall brackets supplied
aerials, power supply, line-audio (phono)
x 334 x 138 mm
LG Electronics UK, telephone
* Sharp CD-C770H, £380, HE31 75%
Sound quality ****
Ease of use ****
Build quality ****
Value for money 75%
R. Maybury 1996 XXXX