DVD Recorders Are Not for Me

… apparently. A few weeks ago, I decided to get my first DVD recorder. Yes, I know, I’m a latecomer – but up to this point I just never had the urge to record DVDs 😃 So, as I’m also getting Sky+, I thought I’d do just fine with a model that doesn’t have its own hard drive, and as people kept telling me that “these days everybody has a DVD recorder, you can buy them for £49 at Tesco’s” I decided to go for a low-price Lite-On LVW5006. I got it from Argos for a pretty nice price and it arrived quickly.

From all the internet reviews I had read, I had the impression that this machine should have one specific advantage in its ability to deal with just about any type of medium I could throw at it. Lite-On have a pretty long list of compatible DVDs online and there was an even longer list delivered in the box. As I needed to buy some DVDs anyway to start migrating my VHS collection to DVD, I got a tub of a type that was on the list. It turned out that just about the only disc that worked reliably (about 90%, that is) with the machine was a DVD+RW of unknown manufacture that was delivered with the recorder. I ended up trying four or five different types of DVDs that I had around, and all of them had the same symptoms – if they were recognized at all, which happened on every tenth try or so, they worked just fine and I was able to record whole movies on them. Unless I made the mistake of taking them out of the drive, that is. In that case, for some unknown reason, the recorder never recognized the same disc correctly again, no matter how often I tried.

The lady at Argos was pretty friendly and had no problem taking back the machine, in fact they collected it the next day, and the money was back in my credit card account another three days on, so that was the good part of the transaction. Now I thought, next time I’m not going for the cheap option – I didn’t know whether the price was the real reason for the problems I’d had, but I didn’t want to go the same way twice. So I looked around a long time and finally decided to go for a Sony RDR-HX710. That one has a hard drive, it’s dual layer compatible and, which is apparently a rare thing, it’s compatible with DVD-R/RW media as well as DVD+R/RW. For some reason, most manufacturers seem to go for only one of these families.

It was a bit difficult to find a competitive price for the Sony in the UK, as for some reason it’s sold cheaper in continental Europe. Finally I found an internet shop called KRISH Audio Visual and they had the recorder for a nice price, because they were selling the “international” model that comes without the EPG (which I don’t need anyway). A few days later it turned out that apparently they didn’t have the recorder after all – they have friendly email contacts and they told me that Sony had problems delivering that model in any capacity, but that didn’t help me at all. I agreed to wait a while, as they were expecting new stock to arrive soon. Well, the promised time span passed and nothing happened. I contacted them again and they told me they hadn’t had any new deliveries and could I possibly wait even longer? I looked around again for alternate offers in the same price range, found none and agreed to wait a bit longer. Today I went back to their web site and was very surprised to find the recorder in their product list again! They had temporarily taken it out, which seemed a sensible thing to do, seeing as they didn’t have it at all. Now that it was back, I immediately mailed them and asked if that finally signalled the end of the wait.

The contact was happy to hear from me and he told me he was glad to be able to offer me the newest model instead of the boring old RDR-HX710 – the RDR-HX717 was now the recorder to buy, because it was an advanced version of the RDR-HX710 and it even came with EPG, for the same price! Luckily I was clever enough to look around for more information on this and I found that this is not really an advanced model of any other Sony… instead it’s some Philips machine that Sony buys and rebrands, and it has nothing whatsoever in common with their other models. While it does have an EPG I don’t need, it’s only compatible with DVD+R/RW, once again. It’s a model that’s only being sold in continental Europe so far, and it costs no more than €360 – the UK vendor wanted to charge me about 40% more by today’s exchange rate. So, six weeks or so have passed since I first tried to get a DVD recorder. I still don’t have one, and now I don’t really know which one I want. I want a 160GB hard drive. I want compatibility with all DVD media types, apart from -RAM. I want a component interface, firewire and dual-layer compatibility. I want a device that can be made region-free. That’s it, more or less… for some reason, this is vastly difficult to find. Tell me if you have any suggestions!

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