Standalone DVD Recorders vs. DVD/VCR Combo



Please help this poor, confused soul. I am looking for a DVD recorder, and am torn between a standalone unit and a DVD recorder/VCR combination unit. I do have several VHS tapes that I would like to convert, but I also want to be able to record from television directly to DVD (frequently, as I am currently a chronic taper). Is there a loss of quality by using a standalone DVD recorder connected to a standalone VCR? Will I get more out of having 2 separate machines that focus on one medium each rather than a machine that tries to do everything?

My search has led me to the Panasonic DMRES15S and the Samsung VR330. Both I can find for well under $200, which is what my budget will allow (I’d love to go for more, but the finances are keeping me back). Any suggestions would go a long way to relieving my frustration.

Sorry if this is a repetitious subject, as I didn’t find much information in the area. Thank you for your help.


That is an easy question I love to answer. Personally I would avoid combo units like a nest of angry wasps under a tree :slight_smile:

In my opinion, one of the best brands of VCRs to use for transfering your S-VHS or VHS tapes to DVD is JVC units, they have excellent picture quality, picture enhancements and handle old tapes quite well. Most of the time combo units are made up with poor components, particularly the VCR part, which often breaks down and has an average picture quality and tracking problems, particularly on old tapes. Avoid those. I have my old trust JVC HRS-7500 (now discontinued) and a JVC 5912 (for S-VHS playback) and a regular VHS/QuasiSVHS JVC and I use those to transfer old VHS tapes to my Toshiba DR4 and a Toshiba DR5 recorder and the DVDs turn out outstanding. I use a Toshiba DVD recorder because out of all the ones I tested, it was the one that preserved the most colour and brightness info with excellent accuracy, low noise and no excessive filtering - handles 3 and 4 hours recording quite well and outstanding tuner quality, nothing like the LITEON garbage or Panasonics.

You might be able to locate DR4s on eBay, the DR4 has a frame syncroniser/TBC, it locks on to even the worst tapes / signals. (But do not attempt to copy macrovision protected VHS tapes :slight_smile: it restricts it) All the other units I tested from Liteon, JVC recorders, Panasonic, Pioneer, etc…all had problems of their own either IRE errors, too much loss of detail (excessive softening filters), artiacts, etc. And I don’t work for Toshiba :slight_smile:


I have a JVC S5900U and a JVC S9900U. The 9900U kicks the pants off the 5900U for image quality. It is designed specifically for editing and has many extra bits for squeezing the max quality out of a tape. And that’s just on VHS, it’s even better on SVHS. They’ll have to pry that 9900U from my cold dead fingers, even though I rarely use it now.

So I second the vote for separate units if you’re serious about copying VHS.

I see the Panny S15 for close to $125 on sale in the stores fairly often. It’s a decent value. The Toshiba and Pioneer units are well-regarded for image quality.


I guess I’m surprised and not surprised. I’ve actually read a lot of good things about the Samsung VR330 combo. But then again, instinct tells me that a unit that does one thing well is better than a unit that does lots of things average. My first goal is to get my VHS tapes converted, but once I’ve done that, I’ll be recording from TV on a more ongoing basis. Anything else I should know before I make a purchase?


Once you convert your tapes to DVD, you most likely will not use the VCR again. I only time I now use my VCR is to record auto races.