Thomson DTH 250
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Thomson DTH 250E Addendum
Thomson DTH 250
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0402wv38 Thomson DTH 8000U
ON TEST: THOMSON DTH 8000U
Run of the mill
Small buttons are the remotes downfall
Thomsons first DVD recorder is a standalone DVD+RW deck but will it cause Philips sleepless nights? Ian Calcutt puts it through its paces
The welcome price crash in DVD recorders is mainly being spearheaded by Philips with its DVD+RW models and a number of South-East Asian companies that have licensed this technology. Frances Thomson is also part of the +RW alliance and has swapped the hard drive from its Digital Media Recorders for a DVD+RW drive to create a standalone DVD recorder, the DTH 8000U. With Philips DVDR70 selling for less than 250 online and MiCOs model going for 200, we need to find out whether this Scenium-branded Thomson deck delivers anything extra to justify its cost. (switchable between RGB and S-video in or out respectively), optical and coaxial digital audio outputs, plus a wired infrared remote extender for controlling digiboxes. At the front theres a USB port for transferring JPEG and MP3 files using a memory card reader to DVD. The handset is the same as current Thomson DVD decks and suffers from disc transport keys that are too small and similar in size and shape. It is otherwise an improvement on previous Thomson remotes and will also control various brands of TV and digibox. The modes are numbered 1-6, which is okay for 1-4 as that equals the maximum number of hours in each mode, but Mode 5 equals 6hrs and Mode 6 is the 8hr setting, which could be confusing. Worse, to change quality you have to delve through four levels of onscreen menu. Given that theres even a spare unused key on the remote, youd think Thomson could have made it easier to use. For timer setting, Thomson includes its usual NaviClick system that pulls programme names from
WHATS GOOD Very good recording in top two recording modes; improved 6hr quality WHATS BAD Relatively pricey; 8hr mode best avoided; NaviClick can be unreliable; PICTURE (RECORDING) PICTURE (PLAYBACK) SOUND. FEATURES. EASE OF USE. VALUE.%%%%%.%%%%%.%%%%%.%%%%%.%%%%%.%%%%%
The front input panel includes a USB port
Tuning and set-up are painless, while the onscreen menu is laid out helpfully and includes footnotes to explain what each setting is for. There are six recording quality modes, enabling between 1-8hrs on a single-sided, single-layered DVD+R (use once) or DVD+RW (rewritable) blank disc. Like Philips DVDR80, the DTH 8000 pushes the maximum recording capacity to 8hrs, which is 2hrs more than most DVD recorders. Although the 8hrs mode is not recommended, it means that the 6hrs mode has a relatively better quality.
You could stand the DTH 8000U next to Thomsons recent DTH 7500 Digital Media Recorder in a spot the difference competition. Even the price is the same. With its identical, minimalist, mirrored fascia, the alterations are largely internal the DVD drive now being recordable but the hard disk taking a leave of absence. Connectivity is ample, with separate composite and S-video inputs and outputs, two Scarts
Thankfully, both Scarts are RGB enabled
VERDICT A good quality DVD recorder and player but expensive compared to rivals, considering what its limited features
54 February 2004 I WHAT VIDEO AND WIDESCREEN TV
FEATURES Plays: DVD, DVD-R, DVD-RW (Video mode), DVD+RW, DVD+R, CD, CD-R, CD-RW, VCD, MP3, JPEG; records: DVD+R, DVD+RW; six recording quality modes (1-8hr on single-sided, single-layer DVD+R/RW); 16-event NaviClick TV/timer recording guide with SmartTimer & PDC; disc library; screen saver; parental lock; three zoom modes; SRS virtual surround; AV Link; auto clock; display dimmer; time base corrector; black level shift; digital set-top box control; multi-brand TV/digibox remote control; program, random, repeat, A-B repeat play; five-speed reverse search; three-speed forward search & forward/reverse slow motion SOCKETS Front: stereo audio line in; composite and S-video in; USB (1.1); card reader port Back: two Scarts (RGB & S-video in/out); S-video input/output; composite video input/output; stereo line in/out; optical and coaxial digital audio output; RF aerial in/out; IR extender output DIMENSIONS 430(w) x 76(h) x 370(d)mm WEIGHT 4.5kg TEST DATA DVD PLAYBACK Video jitter: 2ns (excellent) Signal-to-noise ratio: -71.82dB (good) Chrominance AM/PM: -70.4dB/-67.1dB (excellent/very good) Chroma crosstalk: -56.6dB (good) Frequency response at 5MHz: (S-video): -2.69dB (average) (composite): -2.53dB (average) Audio jitter: 3925.6ps (terrible) RECORDING Chrominance AM/PM: -57.3dB/-57.1dB Frequency response at 5.8MHz (S-video): Best (1 hr): -6.7dB; High (2 hr): -6.6dB; Good (3 hr): -6.7dB; Normal (4 hr): -59.9dB; Basic (6 hr): -67.2dB; Low (8hr): -71.1dB CONTACT www.thomson-europe.com
analogue channels teletext pages. This shows listings for one or two days ahead and makes programme selection a simple one-touch process. Unfortunately, its erratic, with access to data being very hit and miss. There is a manual timer alternative, but no handy VideoPlus. You can program up to 16 timer events and choose PDC (programme delivery control) as well as SmartTimer, which adjusts the recording quality to fit an overrunning programme on the disc. With analogue terrestrial TV recordings, the DTH 8000U will automatically name the broadcast. You can also edit or enter manual programme titles, while the titles of up to 200 programmes are stored in its Disc Library so you can find what disc things are recorded on. Although DVD+RW is not set up for extensive re-editing in the way that DVD-RW and DVD-RAM are, you can delete programmes using the Thomson without erasing the whole disc, but you cannot divide programmes as on Philips decks. You can select a frame grab for the disc menu, add or remove chapter marks and choose to hide certain chapters from playback.
However, our DTH 8000U preview sample had no apparent way of making chapter edits compatible with other players, leaving the disc to play in full without changes. Thomson tells us, however, that final versions will enable this feature. A remaining drawback is the slight time delay that makes using any connected digital set-top boxs programme guide very frustrating there is seemingly no way to see a proper live feed from the box without putting the recorder into standby.
There are no great surprises in the performance. Its rare to see a digital video device of any kind that makes lousy recordings, at least in the upper quality modes. The top two settings (Best and High, for 1 and 2hrs maximum per disc) are respectable. The 3hr option is labelled Good in the menu, which is true by and large, unless the scene becomes fast-moving. The lower three modes (Normal, Basic and Low, for 4, 6 and 8hrs in turn) are much softer on overall detail and handle rapid movement poorly, especially object outlines.
The 8hr quality is particularly rough but colour and contrast remain strong throughout and, as mentioned, the 6hr mode is better here than on most other current recorders. Pre-recorded DVD playback is generally well above average, with faithful colour reproduction, clean outlines and a fair amount of detail. However, it can be rather grainy and skin tones may look pasty at times. This is not a hi-fi lovers machine for CD listening, while its surround sound movie playback is fine for typical uses but do not hook this machine up to an expensive AV system.
The likes of Philips, Panasonic and Pioneer are several generations on in their development of DVD recorders, and it shows. The DTH 8000H is a retrograde step, especially after Thomsons impressive Digital Media Recorders and you dont get much for your money compared to Philips offerings. If all you want to do is make simple recordings on DVD, then the DTH 8000H is adequate, but you can do better elsewhere
PHILIPS DVDR80 What Videos award-winning budget DVD recorder has a superb picture quality and GuidePlus for easy timer setting Reviewed: Dec 03 PANASONIC DMR-E60 A versatile DVD-RAM recorder with write-once DVD-R recording for low-cost compatibility Reviewed: Oct 03
February 2004 I WHAT VIDEO AND WIDESCREEN TV 55
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