The Learning Curve
The table (click here for PDF) listing each recorder's functions, including editing procedures and capabilities, related to the disc formats hasn't changed much from the one for our first DVD-recorder comparison nearly two years ago. Editing DVD-RW in VR mode and DVD-RAM is more complex than editing DVD+RW or DVD-RW in video mode, but it's also more versatile. Editing the write-once DVD+R and DVD-R discs is simpler but offers even less versatility.
Any kind of editing on a DVD recorder can involve a lot of button pushing. We don't have the space to cover the nitty-gritty of the procedures here, but that should take second-billing to the types of edits you can do anyway. The best way to familiarize yourself with these procedures and other features is to download the manuals for the recorders, which are usually available on the manufacturers' Web sites. If you're willing to slog through the mass of material, it'll save you a lot of head-scratching later when you discover you can't do something you thought you could. It'll also help you make the right decisions about which format to use for what job - for instance, using the inexpensive DVD-R or DVD+R discs for permanent storage and DVD+RW, DVD-RW, or DVD-RAM for temporary storage or editing.
DIMENSIONS 17 inches wide, 3 inches high, 11 1/4 inches deep
WEIGHT 8 1/2 pounds
MANUFACTURER Panasonic Consumer Electronics, Dept. S&V, One Panasonic Way, Secaucus, NJ 07094; www.panasonic.com; 800-211-7262
If you want to edit DV/Digital8 camcorder footage without buying a computer or learning computer-based video editing, the Sony RDR-GX7 has some unique powers, at least among this year's models. If you're more interested in compiling extensive archives of broadcasts and cablecasts or are a heavy-duty time-shifter, the Philips DVDR 80, with its channel-changing IR blaster and easy-to-use program guide, is the way to go. The Panasonic DMR-E60 makes it easy to display slide shows of digital still-camera photos on your home theater system and offers an interesting array of TiVo-like features as well. All three models show that DVD recorders are becoming more versatile as their prices, and the prices of blank discs, come steadily down. But that's business as usual in high-tech electronics.
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