Recommendations for DVD recorder, $200 or less

Hi, we are in the market for a DVD recorder which would basically be used to transfer a whole lot of old videotapes of the kids, etc., to DVD. I’m posting here because I’ve gotten some good information on this forum in the past on CDR burning, plus I’ve been trying to do some homework on this online but the information is so vast and, in many cases, so conflicting that my eyes are kind of spinning.

First off, I would be a newbie as far as actually recording DVDs on a standalone DVD recorder. However, I have very extensive experience now in burning audio CDRs, using pretty much all the popular software there, so I do know the general parameters of putting stuff on recordable media at least with a computer (I considered doing this through a computer but decided for a variety of reasons to go with a stand-alone recorder), so I know about recording speeds, finalizing discs, using the proper media, types of media, etc. So I’m hoping to be able to pick up the knowledge I need to use a DVD recorder pretty quickly.

We are looking to spend $200 or less on this … this is my wife and my Christmas present to ourselves, and that’s about the sum total of what we have left after dealing with the youngsters … although we could go a little bit higher for the right unit.

As I said, we are primarily looking at this for archival purposes, for converting VHS and 8 mm videotapes to DVD. I can’t remember the last time we recorded a program off the TV to watch later, it’s probably been years. We are also not interested in copying any pre-recorded tapes … we’ve been replacing those slowly but surely with DVDs … so there won’t be any copy-protection issues.

I am not interested in something that has a lot of bells and whistles and extras as far as editing, creating chapters, etc., although I’m curious enough to maybe try my hand at some basic stuff. We’d pretty much be recording the tapes as-is, though.

I’d really like to have MP3, WMA, CD and CD-R audio capability as well, since we’ll probably be using this as our main DVD player as well as a recorder. I know one of the Lite-On units will burn audio CDs, but that’s not a big deal for me as long as the unit I get will play the audio.

I’m also willing to consider something that may be less user friendly than other units, if it has superior performance, because performance is what I’m looking for … and I define that as consistently good video and audio reproduction on recorded discs … even though I’m realistic in knowing that with the $200 or less price range I’ve set, one can’t expect the same level of performance you’d get with a really high end unit costing much more.

Here is one other thing, could be a drawback and would have to be taken into consideration. Right now, we do not have a TV with an S-Video input. I know we need to get one, but our thought was to do this first and get a new TV later. So I’d be looking for a unit that would either accept the setup we have now … cable input is coming into our DVD/VCR combo, then output goes to the TV … or would work OK with an RF converter, while bearing in mind that sometime within the next 6 months or so we’ll almost certainly be getting a S-Video compatible TV.

I’m also interested in information on the relative advantages or disadvantages of getting just a DVD recorder and patching a VCR into it to use for converting tapes, or having a side-by-side DVR/VCR combo. I’d certainly be willing to consider a combo if it could give me the performance I’m looking for, but I will say that if I had to do it over again with our current player (Sanyo DVD/VCR combo), I’d have gotten separate units because right now the VCR part is on the fritz and it’s a situation where if I were to put it in the shop, we’d be without both players.

I know this is a lot of stuff, but any help that anyone could offer would be greatly appreciated. Thanks! :slight_smile:

200$ or less?
Maybe a LG would be ok, they’re solid dvd recorders or a Lite-On, but for 100 more you could get a LG with 80gb hdd and support for burning most of the dvd formats like -R, +R,
DL etc.

First if you want to archive your HVS collection, I’d say: don’t get cheap. Buy what you need, anyway it won’t cost more than 300$ unless you go for a unit with a huge HD.

Best picture quality would be achieved with JVC standalone recorders. You can go up to 2h30 on 1 DVD with these, without much quality loss. That’s due to the LSI chip they use (AFAIK). But they don’t support CD-R writing I think.

If you don’t want to put more than 2 hours on 1 DVD, about all modern standalone recorders have good video recording quality, but the most reliable are probably the Panasonic and Pioneer units. LG units are very good quality-wise but seem to have lots of bugs. I’d personally suggest a Pioneer unit.

For really important stuff, VHS archival purposes, my trick is to first record with the standalone on a RW, then extract the DVD image (ISO) on the computer (with DVD Decrypter for example) and burning the image on top quality DVDR media (like Taiyo Yuden TYG02) with a very good DVD burner.

Why? Because standalone recorders firmwares aren’t updated very often, sometimes you can’t even update the firmware, so you loose the benefit of firmware improvements and the low-level writing quality is often lesser than what you can achieve with a PC DVD burner.

For my really important stuff I burn 2 discs on different media (most of the time 1 x TYG02 and 1 x MMC03RG20).

Of course, this is my approach, others may have a different one. :slight_smile: