EDITING AND OPERATION A basic set of DVD+RW editing features is provided, among them the ability to add chapter markers and to delete selected chapters (the two functions you need to remove commercials). However, I couldn't find any means of permanently altering the playback sequence of chapters within a recorded title or the sequence of titles on a disc. The best you can do is dub segments to disc in the desired playback order and then remove any unwanted parts with the chapter-removal function. But unless you're really into editing, you won't have to worry about this.
While the recorder conveniently finalizes any disc you make using the YesDVD feature, this also means you can't alter the disc except by erasing it entirely. But the feature is likely to be of most interest to those who just want to preserve camcorder or TV material as conveniently as possible.
I am still mystified by how YesDVD determines "natural scene breaks," since the chapter markings it put into my test footage (an opera dubbed from laserdisc) only rarely coincided with what were obvious scene or musical changes. Still, it was consistent in its decisions - a second Yes-DVD created from the same material ended up with chapter markers in the same places (to within a second). All the chapter markers were spaced within 3 minutes of each other. So even when a scene isn't specifically marked, you'll find it easy to cue it up manually by starting with a nearby chapter marker.
YesDVD also selects excerpts from the footage on the disc and creates three 1-minute music videos from them, which you can select though the interactive menu it creates. The synthesized music comes in three different styles, one of which is automatically assigned to each of the videos on every YesDVD you make. One is pop (imagine the worst kind of background music you've seen in an industrial video), another jazz (very bad lounge-type soft jazz), and the third "classical" (an extremely cheesy arrangement of Schubert's Ave Maria). The automatic editing was poor, at least in the pop video, with most shots lasting far too long.
The one-size-fits-all approach makes the feature of dubious value, though the videos made from my opera disc ended up being unintentionally hilarious. The best thing I can say about the music videos is that while you can't prevent the YesDVD system from making them, at least you don't have to watch them.
The AutoPlay feature interested me more than YesDVD, and it makes the VR2940 appealing just as a DVD player - after you turn AutoPlay on in a setup menu, any DVD's main program starts automatically. For the most part, it worked flawlessly, vaulting over the FBI warning, preview trailers, and even the opening menus from a number of movies ranging from Citizen Kane to The Stepford Wives. It also skipped over menus created by YesDVD.
The system, rightly, did not skip over the semi-faux Reebok ad at the beginning of the sports comedy Mr. 3000. It wasn't infallible, however. With Disney's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, the system came to rest on the speaker-assignment instruction page of the movie's THX optimizer program (Title 8, Chapter 1). I had to start the movie via the main menu. But this was one of only two weird results I got from the 22 movies I tried - a pretty good batting average.
BOTTOM LINE GoVideo has a corporate history of stirring things up (it introduced the first dual-well dubbing VCR). The easy-to-use VR2940, with its innovative YesDVD and AutoPlay features, may restore some of the excitement in DVD recorders, a relatively new product category that is already showing signs of settling into predictability and me-too-ism.
In The Lab
Maximum-white level error .................... 0 IRE
Setup level ..................................... +7.5 IRE
Horizontal luminance response (re level at 1 MHz)
3/4/5 MHz .............................. ±0/±0/-0.45 dB
6/6.75 MHz .............................. -0.91/-1.6 dB
Onscreen horizontal resolution ........... 540 lines
In-player letterboxing ............................. good
The GoVideo VR2940's video and audio performance was basically good. Progressive-scan output was very good with DVDs made from film sources (no color-upsampling glitch, smooth diagonals), but as usual, those made from video sources (like many music-video DVDs) looked rougher, with frequent jagged diagonals.
Also as usual, recorded DVD image quality was primarily determined by the recording mode selected, with the top two modes (providing 1- and 2-hour maximum recording times) producing dubs equal or nearly equal in quality to the best signal sources. Horizontal resolution fell by half in the 4-hour mode (from 540 lines to around 270), leading to a distinctly softer picture, and vertical resolution also fell by half in the 6-hour mode. Video encoding artifacts such as blocking and mosquito noise were detectable in the 4-hour mode and were obvious in the 6-hour mode, with distracting effects on moving images. I'd recommend the 6-hour mode only for program material in which the soundtrack is of primary importance or that mainly consists of still frames (like Ken Burns documentaries).
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