Sony VRD-MC3 DVDirect

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Sony VRD-MC3 DVDirect
  • Sony VRD-MC3 DVDirect
  • Sony VRD-MC3 DVDirect
  • Sony VRD-MC3 DVDirect
  • Expert Rating

    3.00 / 5


  • Easy to use


  • Some DVD or HDD camcorder features only work exclusive with Sony models, AVCHD camcorders not supported

Bottom Line

The Sony VRD-MC3 DVDirect is an easy to use standalone DVD creation and transfer device which is only let down by its incompatibility with some non-Sony products

Would you buy this?

What do you do if you want to transfer your video footage from a camcorder to a DVD, but you don't own a PC? One possible solution is to use Sony's new DVDirect multi-function DVD recorder. This handy little device can take videos from Mini DV, HDD and DVD camcorders, memory cards, as well as any device that outputs video via composite or S-Video and burn them to a DVD disc. However, with some transfer features exclusively compatible with only Sony cameras, not all users will walk away with the most efficient experience possible.

The great advantage of using a device such as the VRD-MC3 is convenience. Sony has strived to make the DVD transfer procedure as painless as possible, and they've certainly achieved their goal. A quick start guide comes packaged in the box, and following the simple steps within this pamphlet makes most tasks easy. There are four main functions: recording from a DV camcorder, video recording, photo recording and recording from a DVD or HDD Handycam.

Recording from any brand DV camcorder (Mini DV or Digital 8) couldn't be simpler. It's just a case of plugging a firewire cable (not included) into your camcorder on one end, and the VRD-MC3 on the other. The device will detect the connection automatically, and ask if the user wants to copy the tape to a DVD. Once this is confirmed the VRD-MC3 will rewind the tape automatically, and proceed to play it back while simultaneously recording. A small screen on top of the device lets the user know what's going on.

After you've finished recording the segment, you can stop the DVD dubbing process. You can then add recordings from another tape if you wish, or eject the DVD. The VRD-MC3 will prompt you to select whether you have completely finished with the DVD, as it requires finalising. If you have, then the finalising process will kick in, which lasts a few minutes, and after that you're done. It's such a simplistic process that we find it hard to see how anyone can go wrong.

A similarly simple process is available for Sony HDD and DVD camcorder owners. If you own a Sony model, then you can simply connect via USB and the VRD-MC3 will transfer the video footage over at high speed, using up to 16x recording. For a large hard disk this can save a lot of time. However those with other brand cameras don't have it quite so easy. You can connect via either S-video or composite (VCRs and other external video devices are also supported here), however the automatic rewind and record features available to mini DV users are absent here. Furthermore, when running in this mode, the VRD-MC3 converts the digital video to analogue and back to digital again. While this doesn't have a severe impact on the image quality, it alters the format of the video when it records to the disk, stretching footage and adding strange borders of noise. In contrast, using a Sony DVD camcorder we were able to dub a perfect DVD copy. Even worse, new Sony High Definition camcorders using the AVCHD format aren't compatible either. This means that unless you own a Sony DVD or HDD camcorder, you can't take advantage of the easy copying features.

The final operating mode enables photos to be transferred to DVD. This is done using the Memory Stick Duo, SD, xD and Compact Flash slots on the side of the unit. Photos can simply be copied to the disk, or more interestingly, combined into a slideshow with music. This is a convenient feature for anyone who wants to make backups of their precious photos.

All the various modes end up with the creation of a menu screen and chapter selection, which is quite nifty. It's also possible to set the system to insert chapters automatically after a set timed period, and to alter the recording quality to squeeze more onto a disk. The DVDirect can also be connected to a computer for use as an external DVD writer, though at this price, it's a little expensive if that's all you need.

Overall, we very much like the idea behind the DVDirect, but just wish it was compatible with more devices. If you own a Sony camcorder, or want to record from DV tape, then you'll be fine, otherwise you may want to look elsewhere.

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