05 January, 2006

I added a DVD Recorder to my home entertainment system

See the bottom of this post for an update posted May 16, 2006.

I bought a CyberHome Progressive-Scan DVD+R/+RW Recorder (Model DVR1600) yesterday, at Best Buy (not online, although the link to the product is provided here, for your reference). After tax it came to $97, plus change.


I got it so I could more quickly move my home DV tapes to DVD (firewire port included), but an added bonus is being able to burn TV shows (and of course, shows from the ReplayTV). I have a few DVD+RW’s lying around that I can re-use. In this way I can share interesting stuff that I see, they can return the media to me later for re-use.

I tested it out last night, and it works great. It has about $250 worth of features for a hair under $100. It was fun to finally have a home entertainment center device that has a ‘format disc’ option. <grin>. I used it to delete the season premiere of Smallville (previously recorded to the DVD+RW by having downloaded it, from my ReplayTV DVR, to my PC, then burned via Roxio, after converting the MPEG to the proper format).

The only hiccups I have so far is that I need to pick up another S-Video cable (thought I had one lying around) and the coax that it came with (for the built-in TV tuner) is non-shielded, so it picks up interference. Aside from that everything works as good as or better than I imagined it would.

For example, it has a more dynamic editing capability than I had anticipated. During recording, one can hit the OTR button (as on a VCR), and add increments of 30 minutes, to the recording time. One can pause the recording actively, or – and this is cool – one can hit the ‘CM Skip’ (stands for ‘commercial’, but they never explicitly say it) button to have the machine pause the recording in 30 second increments, for the obvious benefit of skipping commercials. The caveat is that, for that feature to work, one has to actively watch the recording. However, after recording, one can use the A (begin selection) and B (end selection) buttons to select blocks to delete. In this way, one can edit out all the commercials, from the comfort of the couch and remote control.

The coaxial connection is a pass-through – not an output of the DVD player – and thus one can record a show, via the tuner, and still use the TV or other components without interference. I like that a lot. DVD players should not have the ability to export their product via coaxial anyway (purist in me), and this way I do not have to suffer through a coaxial video output even by mistake. So, I have my cable TV cable connected, from the wall, to this DVD recorder, then out to my ReplayTV DVR, and then into my TV. Thus, I can record one show, on DVD, while simultaneously recording another show, on my DVR. Welcome to the world of two DVR’s in one entertainment center!

When using the menu, it places the video source in a picture-in-picture, so you can modify the options while still viewing the source material.

It uses DVD+R/RW, which I have several of anyway, since that is also the format of my two PC’s’ burners. I prefer +RW, because a) I can re-use them, and b) they do not need finalization prior to playing in standard DVD players (“standard DVD players” that can play DVD+R/RW discs, that is). Were I to use DVD+R discs, I would need to finalize them, prior to lending them to someone, or likely they would not be able to be played in the person’s player. Also, all editing needs to be done, prior to finalization.

I love it.

Update: May 16, 2006

I no longer love it. In fact, it's a pretty lousy device. The DVD's often do not play in my PC's, because the menu system is non-standard or somesuch. If you buy this device, think of it as a replacement for your VHS VCR only, and even then for the express purpose of watching TV shows, then deleting them. Discs I lend to others, to play on their home DVD players, rarely function for them, even if their devices support the format of the disc (DVD+R, DVD-R, etc.). You've been warned.

No comments: