Before buying your dvd recorder, it is important to make sure you choose the right type. Although your budget may affect your final decision, it is important that you understand what features are available, and how they affect you.
1 - Digital or not ?
Starting in 2008, and ending in 2012, all TV in the UK will go completely digital. This process is called the digital TV switch-over and it's going to happen TV region by TV region. To find out when this will affect you, type "digital switch-over" into google. If you currently use Sky or cable, then you probably wont need to get a recorder with an internal digital, or freeview decoder - but if you dont use sky or cable, and dont intend to - then at some point, you are going to benefit from getting a digital/freeview recorder.
2 - Hard drive recorder ?
Many dvd recorders now come with a built in hard disc drive. Quite simply, this is just an internal memory within the machine, that allows you to record directly to the machine, without using a blank dvd disc.
You can hold your own little "library" of programms on the hard drive, and watch, keep or delete them at your leisure. You can also download from the hard-drive to a blank dvd disc, this is great if you want to keep a copy of it, or just free up some space on your hard drive.
Hard drives come in various capacities, usually 80GB, 160GB, or 250GB. The bigger the hard drive, the more you can record onto it. Be wary of manufacturers "record upto" times. These figures are based upon using the lowest possible recording quality.
3. still need VHS ?
Still got video tapes lying around ? Many people go out looking for a combination machine that will allow them to transfer their old tapes over to DVD. This can be a viable option if you have stacks of old tapes, but if you only have a few - it may be easier to simply connect your old VCR into the back of your new dvd recorder to transfer them over, then you can remove the VHS completely.
4. Connections ?
Scart has been around a while now, and has become the standard connection, and is the perfect connection for the standard CRT (tube) TV. However with the arrival of new lcd Tvs and Hd ready Tvs, it is worthwhile looking at better connection options. Component is a good option, and will help to get a better signal to your screen, but HDMI is the best connection for you if you have a new HD ready flat panel TV. Look for various audio outputs if you intend to link to a home cinema sound system.
5. Extra features.
There are many extra features available on some models, that you may find useful. For example, if you have a camcorder you want to record from - look for inputs on the front of the unit to save you clamoring around the back of the machine. Some models have inbuilt card slots, so you can easily record from your camera's memory card. If you have a new HD ready tv, look for an HDMI socket and upscaler - this will take your standard dvds, and add extra lines to give you a crisper and sharper image.
6. Whats in the pipeline ?
You may have heard of the new high definition dvd formats that are starting to hit the market, Blue Ray and HD dvd. These are new technologies that are only just becoming available, and are currently very expensive. As time progresses these prices will drop, and you will soon see machines that are able to play, and eventually record, High definition DVDs.
7. Another option ?
One final thing to consider, if you already have a top end dvd player - and just want something to record, you may want to consider a PVR. These are just a hard disc drive, without the DVD. You can record, watch and delete what you want. Most of these units have an inbuilt digital tuner - so its a bit like Sky plus, but with freeview.
Before you spend your hard earned cash - the best people to ask about a particular unit, are people that have already bought one. Look for customer product reviews, the ebay review section is a good place to start.
I hope you find this guide useful, and educational. Remember that consumer electronics is a very fast moving market, and changes all the time. This means that it is hard to keep bang upto date with everything, but it also means you may get a bargain on a fantastic machine, simply because it has been superceded by a new model.
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