Friday, April 08, 2005

The VCR is dead - long live the DVR

A vulnerable moment (left alone by a momentarily distracted wife in an electronics store during a sale) has led to the invocation of Bell's Law and the addition of a shiny new Pioneer DVR-520H to the home theatre setup.

Living in the heat and humidity of Singapore has not been kind to our VCR tape collection. Many of the pre-recorded tapes purchased more than 10 years ago are unusable. There is also the palpable shock of switching from the clean high resolution picture provided by a DVD. Going back to the old grainy VCR and waiting for the thing to rewind, only to miss all the great sound coded on the equivalent DVD is just too much.

We have had DVD's and players since the format was first released, but the VCR was the only available device to do time-shifting. Being in Asia, there is no TIVO or G-code recording. Definitely created a sense of deprivation.

DVR's with hard disk recording and built-in DVD burners started showing up last year, but at ridiculous prices. By the Chinese New Year sales this year, things had calmed down enough to punish the plastic and bring home a new toy.

After looking at all the various flavours of DVR available here, I decided it really came down to a choice of UI and remote. In other words, it is digital recording, so there won't be much difference in the actual recording, just in how easy it is to program and operate.

The Pioneer DVR series quickly emerged as the most sensible and practical package. It really is a pleasure to use, with just a few key presses to set up a future recording event, to retrieve a recorded program, and to burn a permanent copy.

Highly recommended.

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