Pioneer DVR-530H

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Pioneer DVR-530H

Pros

  • XP+ 15Mbps recording mode, 12x DVD writer, dual layer DVD-R compatible, excellent functionality

Cons

  • No DVD+R support, limited connection options

Bottom Line

The Pioneer 530H is an excellent recorder, bringing both ease of use and professionalism to the user. Some minor omissions prevent this recorder from realising its truly epic potential.

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Rather than focus on adding new features to the DVR530H, Pioneer has instead concentrated on improving quality, hard drive size, and recording speed. The DVR530H's copy and write speeds are lightning fast with its very impressive 12X speed DVD writer. It also has a 15Mbps recording mode.

With Pioneer's "one touch copy" button you can transfer recordings between hard drive and discs at the press of a button. For more versatility and control, however, you can use the standard copy feature, where you can set quality and edit the titles being copied.

Recording TV to the hard drive or DVD functions in exactly the same way as a VCR, with simple record/stop buttons that record the currently playing channel to whichever medium has been selected. The DVR530H comes with six quality modes for recording, ranging from the 15Mbps XP mode, which fills the 80GB hard drive in 18 hours, to the much lower quality Super Extended Play mode, which allows for up to 227 hours of footage to be recorded onto the hard drive. These modes can be selected via the remote or the on-screen menu system.

Timed recording, along with several other functions, can be found via the on-screen interface, which is clearly laid out and easy to navigate. Browsing and editing files is simple with Pioneer's practical menu design and large-buttoned remote. The 56-button remote may seem intimidating at first, due to the range of functions the DVR530H has. Some of the buttons are cramped a little close together, but overall it gives effective control over all elements in the device's arsenal.

The DVR530H has a slim build. The front panel sports a few basic buttons, an LED screen, and a status light that glows blue or orange, depending on whether the unit is in hard drive or DVD mode. The back panel offers multiple connection options, including AV, S-Video, component and composite outputs, as well as AV and S-Video inputs. A flip-down cover on the front panel reveals more AV inputs, as well as USB and DV (FireWire) connections. These can be used to transfer music, video and pictures to and from a PC or DV camera. Both the picture viewing mode and the music jukebox mode work perfectly well.

One other thing that impressed us was the quality of the operating instructions for the DVR530H. With over 100 pages of clearly written, well illustrated instructions, the manual is perhaps the most helpful we've come across. In addition to clearly and accurately describing how to use the device, the instructions offer information and explanations of important terms and concepts.

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