The VCR ain't dead yet
At first glance, the Philips DVDR600VR looks more complicated than Sony's recorder. It includes a VHS VCR and has an i.Link input, which is covered by an easy-to-lose soft-plastic plug on the right edge of the front panel. Unlike the i.Link inputs I've seen on some other recorders, the one on the Philips doesn't automatically control whatever device is connected to it, which means you have to manually start both the recording and the source playback. But that's not necessarily a bad thing, since some self-cueing/starting systems don't work with certain components, like a computer's i.Link output.
Aside from that, the Philips recorder is actually easier to use than the Sony. It records only on DVD+R/RW discs, and the built-in VCR makes dubbing from tape to disc or disc to tape a breeze.
The DVD-editing features are so simple that they take up only two pages in the manual instead of the usual ten. You can delete commercials as long as you make the recording on a DVD+RW disc. Unlike the Sony and JVC, though, the Philips doesn't let you do playlist editing - which means you can't change the order of recorded scenes unless you rerecord from an edited DVD in the sequence you want and then remove any gaps. But only budding filmmakers are likely to miss this feature, and they'll probably want to do more complex editing on a computer anyway.
Philips's symbol-based onscreen menu system - which reminded me of the cryptic graphics in foreign airports - took some getting used to. But you have to make far fewer menu choices during setup than with many other recorders, including the Sony and JVC in this group.
Like the Sony and JVC remotes, the Philips remote is simple to use, with the buttons sensibly arranged. But the Philips deck's mechanics were klunky sounding, especially in the VCR section. And the fan was noticeably louder than those in the Sony and JVC decks, though it won't wake you up if that episode of CSI: Miami you recorded put you to sleep again.
Copyright © 2013 Bonnier Corp. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.