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DVD recorders are an alternative to the VCR. With affordable prices, DVD Recorders are within reach of most pocketbooks. Check out some current suggestions DVD recorders and DVD Recorder/Hard Drive combo units. If you are looking for a DVD Recorder that also includes a VCR, check out my list of suggested DVD Recorder/VCR Combinations.
Many manufacturers are no longer making new DVD Recorders for the U.S. market. Some that still do are selling the same models that they introduced two, or more, years ago. Also, some of the following units listed may be officially discontinued, but may still be available at local retailers, or from third party sources, such as eBay.
Although DVD recorders have been abandoned by most consumer electronics manufacturers, Magnavox is not only still carrying the torch but has come out with some innovative features on its 2015/16 models.
The MDR-867H/MDR868H are DVD/Hard Drive recorders that include 2-tuners, which allow the recording of two channels at the same time (one on the hard drive, and one on DVD) or the ability to record one channel and watch a live channel at the same time. However, there is a catch - the built-in tuners will only receive over-the-air digital and HD TV broadcasts - it is not compatible with cable or satellite, and does not include reception of analog TV signals.
On the other hand, you can record programs in high-definition on the hard drive (DVD recordings will be in standard definition) and you can dub non-copy-protected recordings from the hard drive to DVD (HD recordings will be converted to SD on DVD).
If you find that the built-in 1TB (867H) or 2TB (868H) hard drive storage capacity is not enough, you can expand either unit via a compatible USB hard drive - Magnavox suggestions the Seagate Expansion and Backup Plus Series and Western Digital's My Passport and My Book Series.
Another innovative feature is the inclusion of both Ethernet and Wi-Fi connectivity.
This allows consumers to watch live TV received by the MDR867H/868H's tuners or hard drive recordings, and even download up to 3 recorded programs from the hard drive onto compatible smartphones and tablets using a wireless home network using a free downloadable app (iOS/Android.
However, it must be noted that despite network connectivity the MDR868H does not provide access to internet streaming content, such as Netflix.
The MDR868H can record and play (DVD-R/-RW, CD, CD-R/-RW) discs.
Home theater connectivity includes HDMI and Digital Optical audio outputs. For connection to older TVs, a set of composite video/analog audio outputs is provided.
For analog recording, the MDR868H provides two sets of Composite video inputs, paired with analog stereo RCA inputs (one set on front panel/one set on rear panel), as well as a front panel S-Video input (very rare these days).
The MDR865H starts off with a built-in ATSC tuner for reception and recording of digital and HD TV over-the-air broadcasts.
The MDR865H also features both 500GB hard drive for temporary video storage, and DVD-R/-RW format recording. DVD/Hard Drive cross dubbing of non-copyprotected recordings is provided.
However, any recordings made in HD will be down-converted for recording onto DVD. On the other hand, when DVDs (either commercial or home recorded) are played back, 1080p upscaling is provided via the HDMI output.
One added feature is that the hard drive storage capacity of the MDR865H can be expanded using the provided USB port. Magnavox suggests the Seagate Expansion and Backup Plus Series and Western Digital's My Passport and My Book Series.
Connectivity includes an HDMI and digital optical audio output for connection to HDTVs and home theater systems, as well as a set of analog video/audio outputs for connection to older TVs. Of course, an RF connection connects loop is provided for reception and pass-through of over-the-air TV signals. The MDR865H is not compatible with cable or satellite, except through the analog AV inputs.
For analog video recording, the MDR865H provides both composite and S-video input options, along with analog stereo audio.
Here is a budget-priced DVD recorder with very practical features. For less than $120, the Toshiba DR430 offers DVD-R/-RW and +R/+RW format recording with Auto Finalization, a front-panel DV-input for connecting digital camcorders, and an HDMI output with 1080p upscaling. In addition, the DR430 can also play back MP3-CDs, as well as standard audio CDs. However, the DR-430 does not have a built-in tune, so it is necessary to use an external cable or satellite box to record television programs. If you subscribe to cable or satellite and use a box, and have an HDTV to access the 430's 1080p upscaling video output capability, then this DVD recorder might be a good match for your entertainment setup.
DVD Recorder/Hard Drive combos are now an endangered species in the U.S., so if you are looking for one, the Magnavox MDR-557H is one of only a few choices left. This unit has a built-in ATSC/QAM tuner for reception of digital over-the-air broadcast TV signal and select unscrambled cable signals. The MDR537H also features a huge 1TB hard drive for temporary video storage, DVD+R/+RW/-R/-RW format recording, DVD/Hard Drive cross dubbing, iLink (DV) input for copying video from compatible digital camcorders, and video upscaling to 1080p on playback via HDMI output. If you are looking DVD recorder/Hard Drive combination, definitely check out the Magnavox MDR-557H.
The Panasonic DMR-EZ28K is a great entry-level DVD recorder that includes an ATSC tuner. This allows the reception and recording of over-the-air digital TV signals, which replaced analog signals, effective June 12, 2009. In addition to an ATSC tuner, the DMR-EZ28K also includes other great features, such as compatibility with most DVD recording formats, a DV input for recording from digital camcorders, and 1080p upscaling via HDMI output. Another bonus is Panasonic's enhanced playback quality on discs recorded using the four-hour LP mode. When comparing the LP mode playback on Panasonic DVD recorders and most other brands, you can tell the difference.
This DVD recorder has been officially discontinued but may still be available via clearance outlets or third parties.
The Panasonic DMR-EA18K an entry-level DVD recorder that requires an external tuner, such as a cable box, satellite box, or DTV converter box, to receive and record television programming. However, the DMR-EA18K does include compatibility with most DVD recording formats, a DV input for recording from digital camcorders, USB and SD card slot for digital still image playback, both progressive scan component video outputs, and 1080p upscaling via its HDMI output. Another bonus is Panasonic's enhanced playback quality on discs recorded using the four hour LP mode. The EA18K can also play Divx files. When comparing the LP mode playback on Panasonic DVD recorders and most other brands, you can tell the difference.
Price - Oddly enough, this fairly dated piece of technology is often outrageously expensive on online marketplaces. This is due to their waning relevance. However, you can still find reasonable deals out there so be sure to compare prices before buying if budget is a concern for you.
Design - Given that DVD recorders are on their way out, their designs haven’t exactly been a priority for manufacturers. As such, they tend to be clunkier than newer technology out there. Still, most are slim enough to stow away in a drawer until you need it.
Additional features - At their most basic, DVD recorders can replace a VCR, but newer models have several neat features that offer distinct advantages. For example, some have multiple tuners, which allow you to record multiple channels simultaneously (one to the DVD and one to the hard drive). Other DVD recorders have Ethernet and Wi-Fi connectivity, though it’s important to note that this doesn’t mean they can support streaming content like Netflix.