Hard Drive and DVD Player Combos: Record and Play Back TV
Whether you want to record your favourite shows to DVD for posterity or copy a bunch of your most frequently played shows or movies to a hard drive for instant recall, you’ll do well with a DVD player/HDD recorder combo.
Whether you want to record your favourite shows to DVD for posterity or copy a bunch of your most frequently played shows or movies to a hard drive for instant recall, you’ll do well with a DVD player/HDD recorder combo. These have come a long way since their inception, with hard drives that can hold hundreds of hours of standard definition video and about 100 hours of HD. Of course, if you run out of room on the hard drive, you can always copy some material to DVD.
Not much more expensive than simple DVD recorders, these DVD HDD machines are becoming ever easier to use and increasing their compatibility with many Australian television systems. At this point, you can get a recorder with two digital tuners and a 500 GB hard drive for around $450. Recorders that include DVD recording are harder to find than those which are simply hard drive based, but there are certainly several capable units out there, a couple of which are listed below.
Panasonic DMR-XW385 DVD HDD Recorder with 320 GB Hard Drive
This is Panasonic’s newest entry in the DVD HDD recorder arena. Though it only has a 320 GB hard drive, that’s not much of an impediment when you remember that if there’s something you really want to keep, and your disk space is getting low, you can quickly copy it to DVD. Panasonic’s recorders are always well made and easy to use, and this unit is no exception. The remote can be a little daunting at first, but once you use it for a few days of surfing and recording, it’ll become second nature.
If you want to record video in HD, you’re looking at about 50 hours of recording time on the hard drive. Naturally, if you use standard definition quality video, perfectly adequate for comedies and such, you can fit up to 80 hours. Panasonic’s compression technology allows you to store up to a maximum of 214 hours of video on the hard drive, though the quality is mediocre at best. Realistically, you’re probably going to have a mix of standard and high definition video on your hard drive, so you can store about 15 football games or more than a season’s worth of shows.
Recording is as easy as can be on this unit, with helpful menus from which you can schedule recordings ahead of time and choose the recording mode. This unit will also connect to your television provider and download the next weeks’ worth of programming. This means that instead of figuring out what time an item of interest starts and stops, you can simply choose it by name, and the recorder will do the rest. There are even ways you can make sure it records the whole thing even if it runs late, handy for football games.
The Panasonic DMR-XW385 gives you a winning combination of aesthetics, recording quality and all around ease of use at a price that’s quite affordable compared to some other units.
LG RH397D DVD/HDD Recorder
This is an inexpensive and easy to use DVD HDD recorder with a smaller footprint than many of its competitors. It’s hard drive is only 160 GB, but this unit can’t record HD video, so you can still get quite a lot out of the available space. The built-in tuner allows you to record video in standard definition with many compression options to maximize space.
This LG unit has been widely lauded for its ease of use and is an excellent machine for someone new to the whole process of DVD and HD recording.
While there are still several DVD HDD recorders out there, they are quickly being supplanted by Blu-ray versions, which can make them harder to find than it would seem. However, with Panasonic getting ready to release a 500 GB version of its popular 385 model, and Sony updating its old single tuner recorder, you’ll have plenty of quality products from which to choose.