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033 EHC 09 LG DR4810 DVD
>>Reviews DVD recorder
RGB-ing served? Jason Glenn discovers that not all DVD recorders are
PROBLEM THAT SEEMS TO BE becoming increasingly common plagues LGs first DVD recorder the lack of an RGB input. Not only that, but the only S-video input is on the front panel. This means that the unless you are happy to have a cable jutting out of the front of your sleek DVD recorder every time you want to record on it you will have to make do with composite video signals. As RGB signals are now commonplace (even though a large number of people are unaware that their TV has this capability), this seems baffling. After all, the Scart sockets can output RGB. At least theres an i.Link DV-input for dubbing from a digital camcorder to DVD, though again,
What we like about this recorder Ease of use Plenty of editing options Decent playback picture What we dont like about this recorder No RGB input Poor recording quality Uncompetitive price
66 ESSENTIAL HI-FI & HOME CINEMA
some rivals offer DV-output as well. If we were looking at a recorder for 150 the limited connectivity could be explained by the ultra-low price. As it is this deck is not especially affordable and there are many out there that undercut it by a wide margin. But enough ranting, lets see what else this deck offers. Its good looking to start with, although not as slim as many decks out there. There are component video outputs (though they do not offer progressive scan), optical and electrical digital audio outputs and the usual composite and stereo audio connections. Playback options include picture search at 2x, 4x, 8x, 16x and a mind-boggling 100x normal speed. You can program playback, repeat discs, chapters or sections of a title, watch frame-by-frame or in slow motion and zoom in or out of the picture for closer scrutiny. The recording options are more interesting. LG has opted for the DVD-RW format, which brings the enhanced editing convenience of discs in VR mode into play. Its worth mentioning that this deck offers just three recording options, HQ (one hour on a standard disc), SP (two hours) and LP (four
hours). A timer is built in, covering up to seven events over a one-month period, but although you get PDC, there is no VideoPlus option. The flexibility of DVD-RW VR mode recordings is quite impressive and is the major benefit of DVD-RW over the rival DVD+RW format. Editing in VR mode is, to put it in technical terms, non-linear, meaning that you can make full use of blank areas on the disc. If you erase small sections of other recordings, the resulting spare disc space can be used to make a new recording. You do not get this flexibility with DVD+RW (the blank sections remain embedded in the original timeline and can only be recorded over in their original position). The downside of this editing flexibility is that VRmode recordings are not compatible with many standard DVD decks. To increase such compatibility (if you want to share recordings with friends or use on another DVD player) you have to use DVD-RW discs in Video mode. Accessing the features on this deck is assisted by the impressive onscreen menu system and the overall user experience, despite a rather busy remote, is a pleasant one. The same can be said for DVD playback. Making use of the RGB Scart output the picture is bold with
Key Features Plays DVD, DVD-R, DVD-RW (Video and VR modes), DVD+R, DVD+RW, CD, VCD, SVCD, CD-R, CD-RW, MP3 Records DVD-R and DVD-RW Three recording modes Seven-event, one-month timer with PDC One-touch recording Editing features Zoom Virtual surround Connections 2 x Scart (RGB output only) Component video output S-video in/out composite video in/out Optical and electrical digital audio output Stereo audio input DV input RF aerial in/out Dimensions 430(w) x 76(h) x 383(d)mm
The front S-video and DV sockets are the only means of inputting signals better than composite video
Electrical digital audio out Component video out AV in
Dual Scart (not RGB in) S-video out
lively colours. This isnt the best you can get on a DVD deck, however, as there is none of the illusory depth that you find with top-notch performers. Sound is also good if you set up a decent surround sound amplifier and speaker system you are rewarded with a dynamic audio performance. But this is a DVD recorder and it will live or die on its recording performance and sadly, the judgement is a thumbs down. This has a lot to do with the absence of an RGB input (and even a convenient S-video option). In HQ mode the picture is good, but it does not have the clean colours and razor sharp quality of a good RGB feed. The result is that pristine signals from a digital set-top box look inferior to the original broadcast even when recorded at HQ mode. In SP mode you start to get problems with artefacts and blocking, but these are minimal and the increased recording time makes this the most convenient option. The problems are exacerbated in LP mode, where the recordings begin to appear disappointingly like VHS quality.
Audio recordings are fine for the most part, but we occasionally detected a hint of lip sync problems. The bad news is that this deck not only fails to live up to the possibilities of the format, it also fails to match the performance of other recorders out there, some of them much less expensive. Playback of DVD movie discs is okay with the DR4810 performing on a par with most
Sales 5544 Web www.lge.co.uk
LG opted for the DVD-RW format, which brings the editing convenience of discs in VR mode into play
100-150 DVD decks save for a kind of overall dullness to the image. LG has put in a half-hearted effort. It has produced a DVD recorder that fails to take advantage of the latest technology for recordings and, as such, it is a rather incongruous machine. Its price isnt low enough to offset these problems, either, making it unlikely to find its way onto many shortlists. We can only hope that LG has a long think about its next DVD recorder and takes a little more care to ensure that it can perform adequately in both playback and recording modes.
EASE OF USE LOOKS FEATURES PICTURE SOUND VALUE
VERDICT It makes no sense to omit an RGB input on a DVD recorder. The result is a deck that is hamstrung, incapable of performing as well as it should.
Philips DVDR70 Panasonic DMR JVC DMR-M1
ESSENTIAL HI-FI & HOME CINEMA 67
0604wv04 LG DR4810
nother budget DVD recorder arrives from the Far East, this time from Korea's LG Electronics. The main surprise is that it is not a DVD+RW machine as used by Philips and its growing army of Chinese clones. Nor does the LG use DVD-RAM as championed by Panasonic. This is a pure DVD-RW deck, as featured in machines from Pioneer and Sharp. The question is, does this sleek but affordable deck have what it takes to beat the competition?
DVD recorder 300
The first DVD recorder from LG is affordable and bursting with outputs and editing options. Ian Calcutt looks for the catch
FEATURES Records: DVD, DVD-R, DVD-RW (Video and VR modes), DVD+RW, DVD+R, CD, CD-R, CD-RW, VCD, SVCD, MP3; playlist editing; nonlinear editing; user definable thumbnails; three recording quality modes (1-4hr on single-sided, single-layer DVD-R/RW); 7-event/1-month timer recording; PDC; one-touch recording; two-level picture zoom; picture-inpicture; six bookmarks; parental lock; virtual surround; dynamic range compression; auto installation; program, random, repeat, intro; A-B repeat play; five-speed forward/reverse search; four-speed forward/reverse slow motion; frame advance; dimensions: 430(w) x 76(h) x 383(d)mm; weight: 5.5kg SOCKETS Front: stereo audio line in; DV/composite/S-video in Back: two Scarts (composite in, RGB out); component video output; S-video output; composite video in/out; stereo line in/out; optical & electrical digital audio output; RF aerial in/out CONTACT 5544 www.lge.co.uk TEST DATA DVD PLAYBACK Video jitter: 3ns (very good) Signal-to-noise ratio: Composite: -67.1dB (average) S-video: -72.4dB (good) Component: -72.6dB (good) Chrominance AM/PM: -64.7dB/-63.1dB (good/good) Chroma crosstalk: -58.2dB (good) Frequency response at 5MHz: Composite: -4.23dB (below average) (S-video): -4.18dB (below average) Component: -4.14dB (below average) Audio jitter: 190.8ps (very good) RECORDING Chrominance AM/PM: (SP): -53.6dB/-56.9dB (good/good) Frequency response at 5.8MHz: HQ: -2.05dB (average) SQ: -2.08dB (average) LQ (VR mode): -12.96dB (good) LQ (Video mode): -2.12dB (excellent) For a full explanation of test data, see page 126
into the front of the recorder. Hardly a neat or ideal solution. This machine only seems equipped for basic recording, perhaps from analogue terrestrial at best, but this means you will miss out on widescreen broadcasts and the extra channels available as the digital switchover marches on.
This is a fast disc spinner. It's quick at navigating through menus and chapters and the picture search options are smooth running and extensive, progressing through x2, x4, x8, x16 and even x100, or in small chunks for ad skipping. There's also a picture-in-picture option so you can keep an eye on current broadcasts while playing a disc. The seven-event timer lacks VideoPlus and GuidePlus but includes Programme Delivery Control, while the quick one-touch record has more increments than the typical 30min steps. However, the DR4810 only has three recording modes: HQ (1hr), SP (2hr) and LP (4hr). There is no fine adjustment for fitting other lengths on a disc to best effect (so 90, 150 or 180min recordings will not look their best) and the 4hr maximum is well below the industry standard of 6hr, or in Philips' latest revisions, 8hr. Backed by the DVD forum, the DVD-RW format is designed for re-editing, if you format in VR mode. The main benefit of DVD-RW is its non-linear editing. For example, if you have 20min spare and erase 10min from elsewhere on the disc, you can then make a continuous new 30min recording (DVD+RW cannot do this).
The DR4810 is not the slimmest recorder at 76mm high, but like Sony's recorders, it has an almost square footprint that makes it a tight fit in many AV racks or TV cabinets. The remote control is a little cluttered, looking like Pioneer's current design, but there is a sensible variety of sizes, shapes and colours to differentiate the buttons. The socketry looks ample at first: a flap covers the bottom half of the front panel and reveals inputs such as S-video and DV camcorder input. The back carries two Scarts, dedicated S-video out and component video out. But here the good news runs out. For starters, this is not a progressive scan product (unlike JVC's range) and astonishingly, the best input quality you can feed into the Scarts is only composite video. We've got used to many DVD recorders, especially Japanese brands or entry-level models, not bothering to add RGB video in (for optimum connection to Sky, Freeview and digital cable boxes), but the DR4810 doesn't even offer an S-video Scart. There is the front S-video socket but that would mean having an S-videocompatible digibox and connecting it with three cables permanently sticking
You can also create a playlist to select parts of a disc without deleting any of the original. However, if you format a DVD-RW in the alternative Video-only mode, you can't edit your recording (except to erase programmes) but the disc will have greater compatibility in other players. You can change a disc's format from VR to Video but reformatting will erase any recordings. The recorder also supports non-rewriteable DVD-R discs for Video mode. The onscreen menus for both set-up and disc recording are uncluttered and have
The front panel is your only S-video input option
Cluttered but generally okay
No RGB or S-video input via Scart? Whats going on?
98 June 2004 I WHAT VIDEO AND WIDESCREEN TV
very user-friendly icons. If you are new to DVD-RW it can be quite hard to grasp the differences between modes and formats but at least the DR4810 makes things reasonably easy to operate.
Commercial DVD playback is not bad on the DR4810 colour is a strong point but it lacks the sparkling edge and dynamic flourish that even circa-100 players or entry-level recorders can deliver. As for recording, the HQ and SP modes have some of the usual strengths of digital recording, namely very stable pictures with faithful, clean colour and punchy contrast. SP should be the main all-purpose setting as it fits two hours on a disc. While it's reasonably sharp, the detail levels are not as high as HQ and look soft compared to 2hr modes on rival recorders. The digital encoding is less effective, too. Areas of fine tone show a banding effect (called contour blocking) and skin tones sometimes have an ugly pasty look or a green tinge to them. LP mode is softer again, like VHS, and with poorer contour control. None of these problems
is helped by the lack of RGB input, which may have improved matters. Audio is good, given the machine's budget status. Off-air stereo TV recordings sound fresh (though with our review sample, slightly out of sync), and it serves well as a carrier for digital surround and CD playback.
Sleek casing; easy to use
G DVD-RW and DVD-R G Three recording quality G Playlist editing G DV input G 4hr maximum G Optical and electrical G Component video G VideoPlus
Scart input doesnt accept RGB or S-video
The DR4810 started very promisingly, with its clean looks, easy user interface, DVD-RW support and copious output choices. However, it falls down with its weak picture performance, limited recording modes, possible lip-sync issues and inadequate inputs that make it virtually useless for recording from digital TV in a convenient, high quality fashion. It may be fairly cheap but there are better machines available from prominent discount stores for little more than 200. A DVD recorder needs to connect to the outside world in as many ways as possible and make decent digital recordings from all sources. Hopefully, LG will sort out these points in time for its proposed DVD-RW/hard-disk combi
PICTURE (RECORDING) PICTURE (PLAYBACK) SOUND FEATURES EASE OF USE VALUE ALSO CONSIDER.
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digital audio output output
PHILIPS DVDR70 Superb picture quality and offers more editing features than its MiCO or CyberHome clones Reviewed: Oct 03 PANASONIC DMR-E60 Versatile DVD-RAM recorder with Timeslip simultaneous playback and recording from a RAM disc, plus DVD-R compatibility Reviewed: Oct 03
Mediocre recording options and picture quality hinder this nicely-priced DVD recorder
June 2004 I WHAT VIDEO AND WIDESCREEN TV 99
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