- Dual Media Recording technology, exceptional user interface, Flextime recording functionality, incredibly simple and well-integrated features, the list goes on...
- Flextime must be manually activated, recording modes use non-standard labeling
Philips' DVDR560H is the best DVD/Hard Drive recorder we have reviewed to date. It outperforms the competition in nearly every way, delivering unprecedented levels of flexibility and functionality.
Price$ 899.00 (AUD)
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The new Philips DVDR560H recording unit is, in a single word, outstanding. It manages to differentiate itself from the competition in every aspect, whether through near-perfect implementation of standard features, or innovative new functionality and performance. To top it off, the DVDR560H comes with a highly affordable price tag.
The big draw card of the recorder, however, is the new Dual Media Recording functionality that it boasts. Powered by Philips' SmartAlgoTM technology, Dual Media Recording is designed to guarantee that discs recorded on the 560H will have the highest levels of compatibility and quality on other players, regardless of the media type used. Using adaptive and 'self-learning' technology, the software selects the most appropriate write strategy for the media type, ensuring that the finalised DVD will be compatible with all existing players.
We tested Dual Media Recording by recording a program onto a DVD-R with the 560H, and then playing it in various other players. Impressively, the quality was excellent on other devices, and the DVD-R disc was fully compatible with every player we tested it on. This was true even for the Philips DVDR725H, which only supports DVD+R discs, and has in the past refused to even recognise DVD-R media. This is a big step for an industry that has traditionally been plagued with incompatibility problems, and by circumventing a huge portion of these, Philips has created a recorder which is truly able to distinguish itself from its rivals.
This trend of excellence is continued in almost every other aspect of the player. A minimalist front panel sports only a few basic buttons, putting a large emphasis on the remote, which fortunately is well designed and responsive. An intuitive button layout combines with a concise, yet informative on-screen interface to deliver the most impressive operation of a recording unit we've encountered. The level of integration between various features is simply outstanding, making controlling the DVDR560H both simple and incredibly effective at the same time. Titles can be recorded, copied, edited, stored and played effortlessly, while the on-screen display provides relevant and useful information, such as the length of the current recording compared to how much total recording time is available.
Very rarely, however, do we encounter a recorder that manages to combine such ease of use with very high level functionality. The Philips DVDR560H has accomplished this, providing powerful and flexible recording at the touch of a button. In addition to its Dual Media Recording technology, the 560H delivers impressive PVR functionality via its Flextime feature. When enabled, it freezes the picture and begins recording to the hard drive, to a maximum of three hours. Users can resume playback from the moment they paused it at any time, and can even fast forward or rewind through the recording while it's still being captured. While this doesn't replicate the Time Shift Buffer functionality of a true PVR (in the case of Flextime, foresight is needed if the user wishes to rewind programming), it does provide the user with the ability to pause live TV in order to answer the phone, make dinner, or any other number of unexpected interruptions, and then resume playback without having to wait for a recording to complete. The only fault we could identify with this feature was that it needed to be switched on before rewinding was possible, and even then, we could only rewind to the point where we enabled Flextime, meaning that rewinding on the fly wasn't possible. Regardless, we found that when used with a little foresight, for example at the start of a live sport's broadcast, the functionality was excellent.
Copying and editing titles was a breeze with the 560H; in our tests, we were able to record several hours of television onto the unit's 160GB hard drive, cut out and merge the parts we liked, and write them onto a DVD effortlessly. This simplicity was continued with the timer function, which is one of the best we've seen, courtesy of the recorder's stand out interface. Philips offers six levels of recording quality, labeled M1, M2, etc, up to M6. While we found this range to be more than adequate (we were able to fit almost six hours onto a single disc at the lowest setting, and capture incredibly sharp and clear images at the highest), we were slightly disappointed to note that the standard Extended Play, Long Play, Standard Play naming formats had not been used. While barely more than a pedantic observation on our parts, new users may have trouble identifying which quality to use.
Finally, Philips has placed their recorder squarely in the centre of any home entertainment setup, with an impressive array of connection options. We found DVD playback to be exceptional when connected to our 32 inch LCD display via component output. Digital optical audio output is supported, along with coaxial, while a flip down panel on the front of the unit reveals AV and DV inputs, allowing footage recorded on digital video cameras to be edited and stored on the hard drive or DVD. S-Video and AV inputs and outputs are provided on the back panel.
In conclusion, there's very little we can say about this unit without returning to our opening statement. The DVDR560H is simply an outstanding model. Its combination of innovation, ease of use, powerful recording options, connectivity and affordability place it firmly at the top of the pile. We had to work quite hard to identify even the smallest faults in its design and functionality during our tests, and even then they were largely insignificant. This product comes with our most enthusiastic recommendation.
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