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DVD recorders: This generation’s VCR

By The Vann’s Editorial Team
Last revised October 12th, 2009

A DVD recorder? What do you need with one of these? Your VCR is still wheeling tape like a champ.

While this might be true — the function and convenience of your VCR doesn’t change — DVD recorders sport a variety of technological advancements that distinguish them as much from VCRs as DVD technology distinguishes DVD from VHS.

First, a DVD Recorder delivers superior video and audio quality in comparison with your VCR. Not only will movies, TV programs or home digital movies recorded on DVD retain the resolution level of the original, but subsequent recordings (i.e. copies of the first recorded DVD) will be much truer to the original and, over time there, wear and tear from playback will be dramatically reduced.

Second, with the right features and format-support, a DVD Recorder also gives you the ability to record television programs. Record your favorite show when you’re out and about, or record a program at the same time you’re watching something else you’ve recorded earlier, on the same disc. You can even start watching a program that you’re still recording before the machine has finished making the recording. You can also transfer all your VHS tapes to a digital format so that they last longer.

Third, a fair number of available DVD recorders include a hard drive. What’s that mean? You can record programs to your built-in hard drive and not store them on a DVD until you’re sure you want to keep them. You also get great functionality that lets you pause or rewind a TV program while you’re watching it. Then you can jump right back to where you were when you’re ready! With some hard-drive-equipped units, you’ll also get TV Guide On Screen. TV Guide On Screen is an interactive, eight-day programming guide that lets you see what’s on now and what will be on in the future! Plus, it allows for easy and intuitive scheduling and management of your recording.

Fourth, recording itself is easy, and lacks some of the pitfalls of VHS recording. For example, with DVD recording, there’s no risk of accidentally recording over content already on the disc, or of unexpectedly running out of space during recording because it was difficult to estimate the remaining space. Also, in general, DVD recorders are still just as simple to operate as your VCR, if you want them to be — you can throw in a disc and hit record when your program comes on and you’re all set.

Finally, once you have some material recorded on DVD, you have access to features that you simply cannot get with VHS. Imagine random access to video chapters without rewinding or fast-forwarding, or onscreen multilingual subtitles and labeling, or even creating playlists or menus.

Ooh, one more thing — a quick note on the disc formats available. A DVD-R or DVD+R Disc can only be recorded on one time, just like a CD-R. DVD-RW or DVD+RW discs can be recorded on many times — you can record and erase and record again numerous times (think CD-RW). A DVD-RAM Disc, typically housed in a highly protective cartridge, can be recorded on up to 100,000 times. A DVD-RAM Disc will only play in a unit designed to support the format.

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