Sometimes an excellent operating system can be made even better
- HDMI cable included, easy to find recordings
- No timeshift function, analogue tuner
A good design and delivers on the features it includes. However buyers should be aware of the omissions: time shift of live TV is not supported and the device includes an analogue rather than digital tuner.
Price$ 749.00 (AUD)
Samsung's DVD-HR735 is a DVD recorder with a built in hard disk. The product looks smart, is relatively easy to use and performs the functions it offers well. However it lacks the ability to time shift live TV and does not come with a digital tuner.
When we set up the DVD-HR735 we were surprised by the remarkable similarity to Samsung's DVD-R135. The devices look virtually identical, come with near identical remote controls and perform in a nearly identical manner. The addition of hard disk functionality can enable a number of new features to be added to a video recording device, however in this case the primary benefit the hard disk brings is extra recording time. A secondary benefit is that the hard disk drive and DVD can operate independently, allowing simultaneous recording and playback.
The most significant feature that could have been added by Samsung is the ability to time shift live TV. This is one of the great features of many hard disk recorders, and is often described as the ability to 'pause' live television. So for example, should the doorbell ring during your favourite program, simply hit pause, come back later and start off from the same point. Some machines also constantly record the channel that's being watched in a buffer. This allows the recording of a program you just watched. The DVD-HR735 has neither of these features and they are significant omissions.
The second feature that has been left out is the same as we saw in the DVD-R135, and that's the lack of a digital tuner. This means that all the benefits of digital TV are lost, such as better picture quality, EPG functions and more channels. Samsung doesn't include a great range of inputs either, so if you want to connect an external set top box you can only use composite or S-Video cables.
It's a shame Samsung hasn't addressed these omissions, as the DVD-HR735 is a decent recorder. Coming in an attractive black and silver combination Samsung has got the aesthetics spot on. Setting up the device is made simple, with an easy to use automatic channel scan. What the recorder may lack in inputs it makes up for with outputs. Everything is covered here including component, optical, coaxial and HDMI. And Samsung are one of the few manufacturers who actually include an HDMI cable in the box.
Recording can be started by setting times or by using the quick shortcut buttons on the remote or main unit. The DVD-HR735 includes a 160GB hard drive, which can save about 38 hours of recording at high quality. At this level it's hard to discern much difference between the quality of the original and the recording, but then it's coming from an analogue signal so the quality isn't all that high to begin with. Videos still look acceptable using default quality levels, which give about 72 hours of recording. Using extended recorded modes, however, things take a downturn with noticeable compression artefacts.
The DVD-R135 will also record direct to either DVD-R or DVD-RW, but this isn't such a useful feature when you have a hard drive at your disposal. Of far more use is the ability to transfer from the hard disk to DVD. This is a slightly less intuitive process than we would have liked but once you've done it once it's fairly simple. When it comes to playing back recorded scenes from hard disk or DVD Samsung has included an incredibly easy to use list system, which previews the footage in a corner window. Each recording is time stamped and is labelled with an editable file name.
One feature that Samsung include on all their new DVD players and recorders is fast playback with audio. This means when you use fast forward it is still possible to hear the sound at 1.5x speed. Samsung suggest this is helpful for when you want to hear all the news, but just don't have the time to sit through the whole thing. We tested it, and it works, but unless the audio is very clear it becomes hard to work out what is being said; and everyone sounds like they've just inhaled helium.
Of course the DVD-HR735 can be used as a regular DVD player, for which the quality is decent. It also plays data discs containing MP3s, JPEG photos or DivX videos. This isn't the best implementation we have seen, but the interface was generally easy to follow and all the files we tried worked.
The features included in the DVD-HR735 are well implemented by Samsung. However buyers should carefully weigh up the omission of the ability to time shift live TV, and the fact that this device does not include a digital tuner.
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