View Full Version : Confused about DVD Recorders

Perry Holbrook
09-06-2010, 12:46 PM
We're putting a play room together for the grandkids when they visit. One of the additions will be a TV with a DVD player. We would like too have a library of their favorite shows that we have recorded for them. So I started looking at recording DVD players. Most include a VCR also to allow recording old tapes to DVD, which would also be useful.

As I have started my research, seems like there are 2 types, one has a tuner and the other doesn't. Reviews have lead me to believe: The no tuner one says that you have too be watching a show on TV while you are recording. Others seems to have some sort of problem when playing one of the recorded DVD's on another player. Sounds like recording full HD format is also a problem. All the manuals seems to be very hard/complicated to understand.

Can someone recommend a recording DVD machine that they have experience with, or at least explain some of this to me?


Leo Kluger
09-06-2010, 1:49 PM
Consumer Reports has some great articles on this topic... You can often access them online for free, via your local public library website.

Look for an online service (which they might subscribe to) called EBSCO, which includes full text of hundreds of magazines...

Dan Hintz
09-06-2010, 1:58 PM
To add to your woes, do not expect to transfer copyrighted material to DVDs...almost every pre-recorded tape out there uses some form of MacroVision, which will prevent you from copying directly to DVD.

Jeff Bratt
09-06-2010, 5:20 PM
The information about the "no tuner" recorders is correct - these can only record the show that you are actively watching, and generally can't be set to record automatically - I would not buy one of those. DVD recorders are relatively cheap and you can record programs off the air (or cable) and save them to writable DVDs. If you try to copy from a copyrighted VHS tape or another DVD, then you will run into copy protection troubles. DVD recorders do not record in HiDef - that takes a BluRay recorder, and those are still relatively expensive.

There are multiple formats for recordable DVD discs, but if you are recording them on one player, then playing back on the same player, and not trying to exchange them with someone else, this is less of an issue. Most decks will use either the DVD+R or DVD-R discs. I use DVD+R (write once) or DVD+R/W (erasable) disks because those formats did what I wanted, but I don't recall the exact details right now. The "write-once" disks are available in dual-layer style to allow greater recording capacity - I think rewritable discs are only single layer....

Single layer disk hold an hour of video at the highest quality setting - double layer disks hold about 1:45. You can about double those recording times with a little decrease in quality, but at the longer-play settings the video quality steadily deteriorates as you cram more video onto a single DVD.

I have a Sony DVD recorder, but there are lots of good choices - shop around.

Many people are using hard-drive based video recorders to record and watch their favorite shows at a convenient time - and these are generally easier to program and use, but some require a monthly fee to your cable company or subscription service (like TiVo). They won't save programs on DVD though, so you might run out of room if you wanted to store lots of programs.

If you could program your VCR to record programs, then a DVD recorder works pretty much the same way. If you couldn't program a VCR, you'll probably also have trouble recording to DVDs...

Jerome Hanby
09-07-2010, 2:16 PM
I'd advise you to purchase a cheap DVD player with a USB port that can play movies off of a hard drive. Phillips makes one, last one I bought was about $50. Get a Hauppage Win-TV card for your PC and purchase a copy of Magic DVD ripper for your PC. You can use Magic to convert your current kiddie DVDs to an AVI format. You can use the Win-TV to capture any VHS tapes from your VCR. You should be able to convert any Kids move to less than a 1 Gig file. Purchase one of the USB powered drives, I use the WD passport drives, I think last one I purchased for about $50 for 320 Gig. Then put all the original DVDs and VHS tapes away in a safe place and let them watch their shows from the hard drive. I do not condone copying material you don't own, but I don't see anything wrong with handling material that you have purchased anyway you need in order to view it.

This all takes a little work up front, but the end result is no more lost or damaged DVDs or Tapes and no clutter from stacks of DVDs and tapes around the player.

If you already store all your media on a local PC, then the WDTV-Live is a sweet little box to be able to watch it from any TV in your house. If you want to store all your media and access if from all over your house but you don't want to dedicate a PC (and the power to run it 24/7) My Book World network drives are a cheap way to serve up the video AND they can do drive mirroring so you have a chance to save all your work on the movies if you have a drive fail. One caveat, although WD will never tell you this, it can take a little technical savvy to recover the data on those mirror drives if you have a failure...

Cliff Rohrabacher
09-07-2010, 3:33 PM
Get a playstation 3.
It's a up-converting DVD and a blue ray player and a gaming console plus you can store your photos on it and use it to create slideshows.