Last night I had my first stab at recording using the CyberHome DVR 1600 DVD Recorder. The first hurdle was getting the right kind of disc – my first glance at the manual let me to believe that both DVD-R and DVD+R formats could be used for recording, but upon purchasing a pack of DVD-Rs and double checking the manual, I realised that I would have to return the DVD-Rs for some DVD+Rs.
The discs are cheaper than I was expecting, actually. A spindle of 25 cost £12.50, which is not much more than a spindle of CD-Rs. This price doesn’t include any permanent storage, of course, though if you’re like me, you have shedloads of old CD jewel cases lying around the house. Additionally, these are not rewriteable discs, which means that you CAN record multiple programmes on them, but you can’t record over a previous programme. If this confuses you, then think of it as a notebook and pen, whereas a DVD+RW is a blackboard and chalk.
The actual recording process was fairly simple. You are presented with the choice of recording at five different quality levels. You can only get 2 hours on a disc at DVD-quality mode, though there is an even higher quality level available which offers half of this. For recording a broadcasted TV signal, either of these would probably be overkill. The lowest quality level (super long-play) claims to be equivalent to a VHS recording, and gives you 6 hours per disc. At this quality level, the media is cheaper than equivalent VHS tapes.
One missing feature which I found highly disappointing on this model was that there seems to be no way to put channel markers in at arbitrary points. I was hoping that I’d be able to dump a channel marker at the end of each advert break, but so be it.
Additionally, you can rename each title, but it seems that you are limited to very few characters. Hence, last night’s film will be remembered as BRINGING OUT TH.
The unit also defies convention by requiring recordings to be programmed with start time and duration, rather than the usual start time and end time. Whoever made this decision should be fired.
CDs didn’t render cassette tapes obsolete all on their own, as they didn’t have the recordability. However, when coupled with a home computer used as a media centre, cassettes don’t really offer any advantage anymore. Likewise, DVD recorders won’t render VHS recorders obsolete, but a DVD recorder with an integrated hard drive would. That is, as long as the manufacturers don’t DRM it up to the eyeballs. If there are too many restrictions on what you can do with it, then people will hold onto their VHS recorders simply because they aren’t being obstructed at every turn.
In conclusion, I feel that DVD recording has a lot to offer, though naturally if you are using the cheapest unit on the market, then there will be snags. The way that you want to use it also affects whether it is cheaper or more expensive than using VHS.