While I was working on this review, my friend Rob - a filmmaker who has a day job as a video editor at MTV - asked if I could recommend a DVD recorder to help him get rid of his bulky collection of VHS tapes. In true New York style, I started my reply with, "Have I got a deal for you . . . ." Actually, I have three DVD recorders for anyone who wants to free up some shelf space or preserve home videos on durable, easy-to-navigate discs. All three are capable decks with very similar recording quality (click to view "in the lab" PDF), and they share many essential features, like VCR Plus+ timer programming. But the Philips DVDR600VR ($500) and the JVC DR-MX1 ($1,000) also have VCRs, making it easy to dub from VHS tapes to DVDs. And the Sony RDR-GX300 ($400) makes up for its lack of a VCR with some surprising alternative capabilities.
Top to bottom: Phillips DVDR600VR DVD/VHS recorder ($500), JVC DR-MX1 DVD/VHS/hard-disk recorder ($1,000), and Sony RDR-GX300 DVD recorder ($400).
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