Apex DRX-9000 Recordable DVD Player Reviewed

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Apex_DRX-9000_DVD_Player.gifHome video recording is one of the greatest conveniences we've seen in the past 25 years. The VCR broke new ground and allowed us to capture those special moments on television to watch at our convenience or share with friends. But even the highest quality recordings on videotape pale in comparison to a DVD recording, and a tape doesn't have the storage capacity, life expectancy, or ability to skip from scene to scene. Alas, though every owner of a DVD player would like to have a DVD recorder to replace an aging VCR, the cost of recorders has been beyond the reach of most devotees. But the price war has begun...

The first DVD recorders appeared three years ago at three to four thousand dollars. New units have already broken the thousand dollar barrier and are rapidly becoming sought after additions to home theaters everywhere. "America's choice" for DVD players, Apex Digital, has released a new DVD recorder destined to replace videocassette recorders and drive competitors into a price war. This new generation machine has hit the market for consumers seeking value oriented technology and everyone is taking notice.

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Unique Features - To reach a much lower price point, Apex built their new DRX-9000 with the single-chip LSI Logic DMN-8600 recorder processor. This cost effective chip is designed to carry out digital duties superbly while keeping the overall price down. So far, Apex has done a terrific job of providing consumers with inexpensive electronics that perform rather well. For DVD recorders to take off in popularity and replace VCRs, they need to retail under $500. The $399 retail price of the Apex DRX-9000 hits the mark perfectly, and so is set to capture a large share of the market.

Just like a VCR, the DRX-9000 has a 181-channel NTSC tuner for recording off the air programming. Television broadcasts can be recorded by pressing the record button or by scheduled time. This means the Apex unit with its built-in clock is even more akin to VCRs and may make electronic neophytes have flashbacks to the blinking 12 o'clock readout (although Apex gave their crock the sense to start running when powered up).

Another notable attribute of the DRX-9000 are simple editing tools that allow for adding a recorded DVD's title, title icons, chapter stops and write protect features. More on these features later.

Installation/Setup/Ease of Use - With all the connections available on the Apex, I found it rather easy to set everything up. Component video outputs on the DRX-9000 were attached to my Mitsubishi WS-65611 HDTV for progressive scan playback and an optical digital cable was connected to my NAD receiver for surround sound. To record cable broad casts and videotapes, I used the S-Video connection and stereo interconnects to attach my TiVo personal video recorder to the Apex and ran composite video and audio cables from my aging Mitsubishi VCR Once everything was connected, switching source components was easily achieved by cycling through the input selections with the remote control.

I have auditioned many Apex products in the past, and have yet to find a clear and concise manual for any of them. Apex DVD players and televisions are pretty simple in their design and operation, so a poorly written manual isn't much of an issue. But someone looking to program a DVD+R to record the "Best of the Walton's" to store forever may want a detailed explanation of how to navigate through the menu systems. It would certainly be helpful until recording becomes second nature. That's why I strictly use DVD+RW discs. They are more expensive than one-use DVD+R discs, but if I make a mistake or want to record over Uncle Zeke's fourth wedding reception where the kinfolk were greasing up pigs, I can just erase the disc and start fresh.

The playback features of the Apex unit are fine and negotiating DVD material using the remote control is straightforward. The on-screen display was adequate, but a bit cumbersome in finding my way through the maze of options. Video quality was exceptional with minimal flicker and motion artifacts while watching prerecorded discs such as Lord of the Rings and Toy Story. The superb picture and digital audio output (that presented a warm and dynamic 5.1 sound) wasn't what I expected from such an inexpensive machine. This is a big thumbs up in my book.

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