- Ease-of-use, supports a range of multimedia; including camcorders, VHS tapes and digital photos, portable design
- Some camcorder recording options only work with Sony products
If you need a fast way to make DVDs without a computer, the VRD-MC5 is a relatively cheap and user-friendly option. Unfortunately, its unashamed bias towards Sony-branded camcorders slightly lessens its charms.
Price$ 299.00 (AUD)
The DVDirect VRD-MC5 is primarily targeted at camcorder owners who want to make DVDs of their footage without using a PC. Perhaps you find computer technology to be scary and unknowable, or maybe you require an easy way to burn discs while on the road. Whatever your reason might be, the VRD-MC5 offers a quick, easy and affordable solution to making instant DVDs. It can also be used to create slideshows of your digital photos or record media off your VCR and TV; making it quite versatile. Unfortunately, Sony has put several restrictions in place to 'entice' you to use its own range of camcorders. This naturally drags down the overall usability of the device; particularly if you're in the HDV camp.
The VRD-MC5 is Sony's second stab at a portable DVD recorder, following in the footsteps of the VRD-MC3 DVDirect. One of the criticisms we levelled at the previous unit was its lack of high definition support. Thankfully, this issue has now been resolved – with a rather significant catch. To take advantage of HD recording, you'll need a Sony AVCHD camcorder. Furthermore, it only supports HDD and memory stick models; meaning HD Mini DV owners are out of luck. Otherwise, the VRD-MC5 supports a variety of SD formats, including Mini DV, HDD, flash memory and er, DVD (this isn't as silly as it sounds, as it allows you to make backups of your DVDs, as well as 'super-size' 8cm camcorder discs).
Using the VRD-MC5 is a blessedly simple affair. Indeed, we don't think Sony could have made the process any easier. By following the quick start up guide, practically anybody will be able to quickly transfer their footage via the composite, S-Video, USB or DV connections (depending on the hardware at hand). When transferring video from Mini DV, the VRD-MC5 detects the connection automatically, and will ask if the user wants to copy the tape to a DVD. Meanwhile, HDD and Memory Stick models are given a range of transfer options, allowing users to either select specific clips or burn new content only. A 2.5in LCD screen on top of the device helps you keep track of your footage.
Annoyingly, we could not get the USB connection to work with non-Sony camcorders – another self-serving decision on the conglomerate's part. Otherwise, we experienced no problems burning our media to disc; including VHS and analogue camcorder tapes. This makes the VRD-MC5 a very handy device if you plan to transfer old video technology (just don't expect the quality to improve during its transition to DVD).
At 193x65x222.5mm, the VRD-MC5 isn't something you can throw in a bag and forget about it, but it remains more portable than a notebook or fully-fledged DVD recorder. As such, it could prove invaluable to videographers who need a fast way to produce DVDs on location – such as selling recordings at a sporting event. Unfortunately, there are no inbuilt editing capabilities, so you can't add effects or transitions to clips.
All up, the Sony VRD-MC5 is a handy little product. It won't do anything that a good PC can't, but it does get the job done with a lot less fuss. Up to six hours of standard-definition video and 95 minutes of AVCHD video can be burned onto a single DVD+R/+RW disc (for SD footage, this is boosted to 12 hours when using a DVD+R double layer disc). For still pictures, a memory card, Memory Stick, CompactFlash and multi card slot are all present on the device.
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