Philips DVDR80 DVD+RW Recorder Reviewed

Philips DVDR80 DVD+RW Recorder Reviewed

A freestanding DVD recorder capable of using DVD+RW discs this unit is relegated to historical ranks

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More than six years ago DVD burst onto the scene, offering the best quality audio and video images available on a new, shiny, five-inch disc, looking very much like a CD. It was predicted that it would replace the aging VCR in just a few short years. However, at that time, it was perceived by some to have one serious, fatal flaw--it could not record. In the beginning, this was viewed as the possible Achilles' heel of the format. No recording ability was thought to be the death knell of any video format. Well, times have changed and DVD recorders are finally starting to make inroads with consumers. Philips, who is the leading proponent of the DVD+RW format, has come up with a terrific recorder that includes an easy-to-use, on-screen guide that makes recording a snap.

Additional Resources
• Read more Denon DVD-Audio and SACD player reviews here.
• Read audiophile source component reviews here including SACD and DVD-Audio players, turntables, DACs, CD transports and more.
• For a blog about tubes, turntables and the future of audiophila - check out AudiophileReview.com.

Unique Features - Philips developed DVD Plus ReWritable (DVD+RW) for both data and video content. Even though it uses a different recording method, it has been designed to work with DVD-ROM, and is also backwards compatible with most current DVD video players on the market. The DVD+RW format uses two types of discs: single-sided discs with a capacity of 4.7GBs, and dual-sided ones with a capacity of 9.4GBs. There are several recording speeds, ranging from a high quality (HQ), standard play (SP) mode of one hour with an image resolution of 500 lines up to an extended play (EP) mode of up to eight hours at an image resolution of 250 lines per side. Neither disc needs to have a special cartridge, like a DVD-RAM disc.

Philips' DVD+RW video technology is encoded in MPEG-2 with a variable bit-rate, which provides higher bit-rates as necessary so that no storage capacity is wasted, allowing for the optimum allocation of bits on the disc. In realtime video applications, it makes a provisional analysis of the input video, creating a target bit-rate that is typical for a selected playing time or level of video quality selected. Since DVD+RW uses a variable bit-rate, it can create longer recording times (up to eight hours) with superior image quality. Maximum recording can be further improved by using a lossless linking technique, which means there are no large blank spots on the disc, which can be up to 2kB wide between different video segments. This technique allows the writing process to be stopped or suspended, then resumed without making the discs incompatible with other machines. Additionally, lossless linking makes it possible to replace any individual 321d3 block (or recording unit) with a new one without losing compatibility with other DVD players or DVD-ROM drives.

DVD+RW video discs contain one or multiple menus (still images of recordings) that give information about the recording, such as playing time, program name, data and time, or recording quality level, and display a key frame representing a recording. The DVD+RW video recorder updates the menus immediately after a recording has been completed. DVD+RW discs offer complete interchangeability between home recorder and PCs with DVD+RW drives so material can be edited on a home computer and then played back on a home deck. Blank single-disc 4.7GB discs cost about $4.99 or less.

DVD+R is a "write-once" format that shares many of the same attributes as DVD+RW. Like DVD-R, DVD+R allows for home videos to be recorded once so that they cannot be accidentally erased at a later time. It is impossible to erase or overwrite a DVD+R disc. DVD+R is 100 percent compatible with Philips DVD players that play back DVD+RW, and 85 percent compatible with Panasonic and Pioneer DVD players that play back DVD-R. In terms of editing, PHILIPS DVDR80 DVD+RW RECORDER DVD+R discs can be edited until finalized, whereas a DVD-R disc cannot be altered after being recorded. According to Philips, it will only take about one minute to finalize a DVD+R disc, but it can take four to 15 minutes for a DVD-R disc to be finalized. Philips also notes that you can change picture indexes and apply favourite scene selection to DVD+R, but cannot with DVD-R. Prices for +R discs start at $3.99.

Installation/Setup/Ease of Use - The Philips DVDR80 is about as full-featured as you can get with a DVD recorder these days. First and foremost, it includes a 181-channel NTSC tuner so that it can act just like a VCR. It's clearly designed to replace the VCR--period! The DVDR80 also includes GemStar's GuidePlus+ electronic on-screen TV guide to facilitate the programming of your recorder. It lists programming up to three days out. Scroll over to a listing on the Guide and press the Record button on the remote. Just make sure that you have a +RW disc in the transport. You can set it up to record up to 15 programs. Keep changing the blank +RW discs, and adjust your recording time from M1 (one hour - highest quality) to M8 (eight hours - VHS quality).

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A feature unique to the +RW format and the DVDR80 is that it offers both component video input and component video output on the same deck. This makes it very easy to attach your satellite or cable box via component video to assure making the highest possible recordings (480p). As well, this model includes a satellite mouse that will quickly change channels to make recording quite easy. During the initial setup, you simply tell the system the brand and model of your satellite receiver. Progressive scan circuitry with 3/2 pull-down is also included for the highest quality recorded and played back DVD images.

This model also includes IEEE 1394 inputs, located on the front panel. This makes it very easy to attach your digital camcorder using i.Link for the best possible audio and video quality. Some basic editing capabilities are also included. If you are transferring home movies to DVD, it's best to use DVD+R discs, as they offer compatibility with most (if not all) DVD players. Simply follow the on-screen prompts to preserve your family memories.

Final Take - The beauty of the DVDR80 DVD recorder is that it's a perfect replacement for your aging VCR. It acts just like a VCR, with which you are already familiar. Instead of fooling around with VHS tapes that degrade over time, a single DVD+RW disc can be used and erased hundreds (if not thousands) of times. It's also a perfect medium for recording and storing your favorite TV shows. Simply press the Guide/TV button on the remote to pull up GuidePlus+. Using the centrally-located navigation or arrow keys, scroll over to the program that you want to record, and press the Record icon on the screen. By the same token, you can press the Timer button and program your recorder manually. Simply key in date, on/off times, and channel. You just have to remember to set the record quality via the system menu in either case. While you can set up recordings manually, using GuidePlus+ is extremely easy.

Not every DVD recorder includes front panel i.Link connectivity. Virtually all DV, Mini DV and DVD camcorders today include i.Link connectors to facilitate sharing your memories with friends and family. It's a single, slim cable that easily attaches to the front panel of the DVDR80. You can set up a table of contents, edit scenes, re-arrange scenes, and delete poor taping. Once you have your latest and greatest family epic arranged like Cecil B. DeMille, put a DVD+R disc into the recorder, sending those images from your camcorder to the DVD+R disc.

If you've been thinking about replacing your VCR with a DVD recorder, look no further than the Philips DVDR80. It includes all of the most desirable features required in a state-of-the-art DVD recorder today.

Philips DVDR80 DVD+RW Recorder
Progressive Scan
Real-Time Variable Bit Rate MPEG2 video encoder
2-Channel Dolby Digital audio encoder
GuidePlus+ on-screen 1V guide
IEEE 1394 Digital Video input
Component Video input
Component Video output
8-hour recording time
Favorite Scene Selection
Index Picture Screen for visual Table of Contents
Mouse for Satellite Receiver
Dimensions: 2.93"H x 17.2W x 13.3"D
Weight: 8.8 lbs.
MSRP: $799

Additional Resources
• Read more Denon DVD-Audio and SACD player reviews here.
• Read audiophile source component reviews here including SACD and DVD-Audio players, turntables, DACs, CD transports and more.
• For a blog about tubes, turntables and the future of audiophila - check out AudiophileReview.com.

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