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If you or anyone in your family is still married to their physical media, grabbing one of the Best DVD/VHS combos is a must. These massive, versatile machines are the best way to bridge multiple generations of physical media without separate, dedicated players.
A couple of things to bear in mind when looking for a proper DVD/VHS combo apart from the price are whether or not there is a built-in tuner and the overall quality of recordings. A built-in tuner will allow you to record TV, without one, you'll be forced to connect to a cable or DTV converter box. In terms of quality, ideally, you'll want a recorder that's capable of 1080p, but those can be on the slightly pricier side.
No built-in tuner
DVD Recorders and DVD Recorder/VCR Combos are getting very hard to find, but the Funai ZV427FX4 is one that may still be available. This unit is tuner-less, which means that you need to connect an external tuner (such as a cable or satellite box) the unit's AV line inputs for recording TV programs to either DVD or VHS. On the other hand, if you have a digital camcorder, the unit also has a conveniently located front panel DV (firewire) input.
The Funai ZV427FX4 DVD recorder/VCR combo can record in the DVD-R and DVD-RW disc format, which is compatible for playback on most DVD players. Of course, you can still record and play VHS tapes. You can also dub from VHS-to-DVD or DVD-to-VHS, provided the content being dubbed is not copy-protected.
For playback flexibility, the ZV427FX4 is compatible with DVDs/CDs/Kodak CD Picture Discs, and VHS tapes, as well as providing both progressive scans out via the component video outputs and HDMI, and 1080p video upscaling via HDMI.
It must be noted that, as with most DVD recorder/VCR combos, in order to record TV programs, you must connect a Cable/Satellite or DTV Converter Box to the ZV427FX4 as it does not have a built-in tuner.
Progressive scan feature
Compatible with JPEGs and MP3s
Reliant on remote for inputs
The Philips DVP3345V Combo DVD Player/VCR is one of the few still readily in stock. It's a convenient all-in-one player with a sleek design that offers a great deal of convenience. If you still have a significant collection of DVDs and VHS, the DVP3345V can play just about any variation of CD and DVD formats along with VHS tapes. On top of that, it can handle MP3 media files and JPEG so you can watch home videos and listen to music in your living room.
Last, but not least, the Progressive Scan feature means the DVP3345V can optimize the image quality of your media, resulting in a sharper picture and fewer lines on the screen.
No TV Tuner
The Magnavox DV22MW9 is a fairly simply DVD/VCR combo player and recorder that can handle CDs, DVDs, and VHS. You can view and record videos with little to no distortion, and it includes Progressive Scan for a sharper picture image.
On the audio end, it supports Dolby Digital for improved sound quality, supporting surround sound for home theater setups. The Magnavox is also compatible with video, S-video, and digital audio coaxial inputs/outputs along with the standard analog.
HD Component output
Remote is a bit small
Slow before recording begins
This product was discontinued several years ago and is only available on a used basis now. However, the RC897T DVD recorder/VCR combo has the ability to record most DVD formats and play most DVD and CD formats. Using the VCR section, the consumer can both record directly to VHS or dub non-copy protected video content from VHS to DVD or DVD to VHS.
The incorporation of an HDMI output and video upscaling function is a nice touch that makes the RC897T a good match for an HDTV. The RC897T has both analog and DV video inputs, as well as a USB input for digital image and music file playback. This unit also complies with the DTV transmission requirements, with its built-in ATSC tuner, which allows reception of digital TV signals.
While it may not be around for much longer, the best surviving VHS/DVD combo remains the Sanyo FWZV475F. It is comparatively expensive to its peers but boasts in-line recording, as well as HDMI output for 1080p upscaling.
Robert Silva started reporting on consumer electronics in 1998. Since 2000, he's focused more closely on home entertainment and home theater technology. Since studying electronics in high school, he's been a fervent electronics and audiophile hobbyist.
Built-in tuner - A built-in tuner allows you to record TV programs, which many people find to be a handy feature in DVD recorder/VHS VCR combo devices. Without a built-in tuner, you’ll have to connect a Cable/Satellite or DTV Converter Box.
Price - If you’re on a budget, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a low-cost DVD Recorder/VHS VCR combo device. Since supply is shrinking, prices of remaining units (some of which can be nearly a decade old), are getting very expensive, sometimes as much as two to three times higher than their original selling prices. Look out for used units, which can be cheaper and still functional.
Recording mode quality - Some of Panasonic’s devices, though largely discontinued, have an enhanced 4-hour recording mode that lets you record sporting events and longer movies onto DVD with the same video quality as the 2-hour recording mode. Depending on your intended use, this can be a very handy feature.