A Region Free DVD Recorder Buying Guide

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A Region Free DVD Recorder Buying Guide

DVD recorders can be a very versatile element of a home cinema system. In addition to their main functions, to play and record DVDs, they seem to have an ever-increasing number of features, allowing consumers to record directly from TV, watch and record home movies, view digital photos, listen to music, and more. However, one thing many DVD players cannot do is read DVDs from other regions of the world. DVDs and DVD players are coded according to their geographic region, and a player cannot read DVDs from regions outside of its own.

Fortunately, region free DVD recorders are available. They can read DVDs from all regions, and some can record region free discs, which are readable by DVD players across the globe. Region free DVD recorders have their own set of optional features in addition those on regional DVD players. Buyers should research their range of choices, which help potential buyers to make an informed decision about which DVD recorder is right for them.

Breakdown of DVD Regions

DVD players and DVDs have different formats according to their geographic region. Region One includes the US and Canada; Region Two is Europe, Japan, the Middle East, Egypt, and South Africa; Region Three includes Taiwan, Korea, the Philippines, Indonesia, and Hong Kong; Region Four is comprised of Mexico, South and Central America, Australia, New Zealand, the Pacific Islands, and the Caribbean; Region Five is Russia, Eastern Europe, North Korea, India, and East and West Africa; and Region Six is China.

Prior to the division into regions, there were three dominant formats: National Television System Committee (NTSC), Phase Alternating Line (PAL), or Sequential Colour with Memory (SECAM).

The regions and formats are incompatible; on the whole, discs and VHS cassettes from one region or format cannot be played on players from another region or format.

Advantages of Region Free DVD Recorders

Region free DVD recorders have the unique capacity to read all discs, regardless of their region. In addition, many have built-in converters to play NTSC formats.

Many region free DVD recorders can record from sources in different formats and write discs in different formats, allowing the user a lot of flexibility. Some are able to record region-free discs that can be played on any DVD player.

When purchasing a region free DVD recorder, buyers should check that the recorder is optimised for their region’s format, which may be an issue when converting some material.

DVD Recorders and the Digital Switchover

Between 2008 and 2012, all television in the UK switched to digital format. This is called the digital TV switchover. Older analogue DVD recorders should still be able to record and playback digital programming from a digital TV or box.

However, digital DVD recorders with twin-tuners have a number of advantages. They allow users to record from one channel whilst watching a different one; users have the ability to pause and rewind live TV programming; and controls such as recording and on-screen programming guides are at the touch of a button. What’s more, they can convert older televisions to the digital format without any additional equipment.

DVD Connectors

DVD players come with a variety of sockets, inputs, outputs, slots, and more. The following chart outlines the most common connectors.

Connector

Description

Digital Coaxial Output

Carries sound, Dolby digital and DTS, via digital signal

Optical Output

Also carries sound, Dolby digital and DTS, via optical signal; numbers after Dolby, such as 5.1, indicate the number of speakers, with the ".1" indicating a subwoofer can be used

HDMI

High-Definition Multimedia Interface; required for optimal transmission of high-definition signals from DVD player to target component, provided target component is HD-equipped; to convert to SCART or other format, a converter or special plug is needed

I-Link

For transferring files from a digital camcorder; also can be used for transferring from digital cable box or satellite with FireWire output

SCART Socket

DVD recorder to TV; RAR SCART cables carry better picture quality than S-video or composite connectors; for high-definition, HDMI is necessary (see above)

Composite Video

No audio; standard-definition video transmission via one channel

S-Video

No audio; standard-definition video transmission via two channels for better quality than composite

Component-Video Output

No audio; standard-definition video transmission via three cables for better quality than composite and S-video

Memory Card Slot

To read and record JPEG files, as well as digital video files from camcorder

Not all DVD recorders have all of the connectors. Consumers should prioritise HDMI outputs and a component-video output, since these allow for high-quality signal transmission.

Recording Formats

There are different kinds of recordable DVD discs available. Choosing between them is largely a question of what the DVD recorder is capable of writing.

DVD+R, DVD-R, DVD+RW, DVD-RW

DVD+R and DVD-R discs can be recorded only once; they are inexpensive and play in most computers and DVD players.

Some DVD recorders can burn rewritable discs (DVD+RW and DVD-RW). Information can be recorded, erased, and recorded again, up to 1000 times. However, these discs are more expensive and can only be read by certain DVD players.

There are two notable differences between +R/+RW and -R/-RW. When a -R/-RW disc is inserted for recording, the recorder searches for a blank space to record the information, while with +R/+RW formats, the recorder starts at the point where the disc left off. Navigation of +R/+RW discs is performed through a menu with thumbnails for each recorded section.

In practice, neither -R/-RW or +R/+RW is superior; however, users should be consistent with which format they deal with, and realise that not all players are compatible with different formats.

Dual-Layer Discs

DVD-R DL and DVD+R DL are dual-layer discs, which allow twice as much information to be recorded on them as their single-layer counterparts. Dual-layer discs may not play on all DVD players.

DVD-RAM

DVD-RAM are rewritable discs that can be be written and erased even more than DVD+RW/-RWs, and are the most sophisticated version of writable discs. They feature random-access capability, and allow simultaneous recording and playback. These are the best kind for on-disc editing. However, only a limited number of DVD recorders can play back DVD-RAM format, so users should exercise caution.

Optional Features for DVD Recorders

DVD recorders come with a wide range of optional features. Consumers should prioritise their needs by deciding how they plan to use the DVD recorder.

Audio Playback

Most DVD players can play CDs and CD-Rs. Newer generations may also include an MP3 player, or be capable of playing Super Audio CDs, which are extremely high quality compact discs.

Camcorder Connection

Some DVD recorders allow users to connect their camcorders, allowing for easy access to home movies and recording to a disc. Alternatively, DVD recorders may have a memory-card slot.

Digital Video Express (DivX) Playback

DivX is a common format when downloading movies from the internet. It delivers excellent quality, takes up little space, and costs about as much as pre-recorded DVDs. With DivX playback, users can take advantage of the wealth of movies available for download and, once burned to a disc, watch them on their DVD recorder.

DVD-VHS Combination

For those with extensive VHS collections, a DVD-VHS combination unit is a way for them to still watch their favourite videos. In addition, they can transfer material from VHS tapes to a DVD disc.

Buyers should note that region free DVD recorders may not have conversion capability for VHS tapes.

Dual Deck

A dual deck has two DVD drives, allowing users to record material from one DVD onto a blank DVD. DVD+R and DVD-R discs can be recorded only once; they are inexpensive and play in most computers and DVD players.

Hard Drives

Many DVD recorders also feature a built-in hard drive, which allows users to record programmes from the television and play them later, without ever having to burn a disc. Memory capacities vary: common ones are 80GB, 160GB, or 250GB. Manufacturer claims about recording length in hours is often misleading however, since these data are based on the lowest-possible recording quality.

High-Definition Upconversion

Many newer DVD recorders have a built-in capability to upscale standard-definition images to high-definition. This is especially desirable for those who have a high-definition display on their television; the picture is better than it would be if it were transferred using a component or composite standard-definition interconnect.

Where to Buy Region Free DVD Recorders

Region free DVD recorders are available for purchase at electronic supply shops and home cinema dealers; they can also be bought online, through Internet merchants or auction websites like eBay. Shoppers should do their research, talk to salespeople, and read expert and customer product reviews, before deciding on a specific model.

How to Buy a Region Free DVD Recorder on eBay

eBay has a wide selection of new and used region free DVD recorders, all at competitive prices. Starting from eBay’s home page, type keywords, such as "region free DVD recorder" into the search bar. eBay lets you refine your original results by certain limiting factors, like item condition, price range, and delivery options. If you haven’t found what you’re looking for, try browsing eBay Shops.

Before Bidding

Always read the product description carefully before placing your bid. Pay close attention to product specifications, and make sure it is intended for converting to the UK’s PAL format. Find out whether the seller accepts returns, and look at shipping conditions and costs, since they are in addition your bid.

Finally, check your seller’s positive feedback rating and look at comments from previous customers: this helps assess how reliable and knowledgeable they are when it comes to home cinema electronics. Once you’ve received your item, you can leave constructive feedback for them in turn.

Conclusion

DVD recorders are source components in home cinema systems that allow for playback and recording of DVDs. Although DVDs and DVD players across the world are divided into regions and formats that are mutually incompatible, region free DVD recorders are able to read discs from any region. Many of them also convert between different formats, and some can record region free discs that can be read by any DVD player worldwide.

In addition to the region-free options, DVD recorders have a wide range of other specifications and optional features. These include different types of connectors, such as HDMI or component-video outputs, high-definition upgrading, built-in hard drives, DVD-VHS combinations, camcorder connectability, and more.

When shopping for a region free DVD recorder, the choices can be overwhelming. Therefore, consumers should inform themselves ahead of time about product specifications and options. This helps consumers find a region free DVD recorder that best fits their needs and price range.

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