Equipment photos by Tony Cordoza
The so-called "war" between the competing recordable DVD formats has been overblown from the start. As replacements for an aging VCR, any of them would suffice, because all of them do about equally well at capturing images and sounds when you use their highest-quality recording modes. And since the DVD-RAM, DVD-R, and DVD-RW formats are all recognized by the DVD Forum, the industry group that oversees the development of DVD technology, DVD-RAM and the DVD-R/RW "family" are best thought of as friendly rivals rather than enemies. (The DVD+R/RW family is the only true "enemy," since these formats originated outside the Forum and have neither its approval nor endorsement.) Toshiba's D-R1 is the first DVD recorder we've seen that records on all three DVD Forum-sanctioned formats.
|INPUTS 3 composite/S-video with stereo audio; FireWire (i.Link); RF (antenna)
OUTPUTS component video (switchable interlaced or progressive-scan); 2 composite/ S-video with stereo audio; coaxial and optical digital audio; RF bypass
DIMENSIONS 3 inches high, 17 inches wide, 12 3/4 inches deep
WEIGHT 9 1/4 pounds
MANUFACTURER Toshiba America, Dept. S&V, 82 Totowa Rd., Wayne, NJ 07470; www.tacp.toshiba.com; 800-631-3811
• Records on DVD-RAM and DVD-R/RW discs (Video mode only)
• Built-in library function for recorded DVD-RAM disc contents
• Progressive-scan video output with 2:3 pulldown processing
• FireWire (i.Link) input for DV camcorders
• 181-channel cable-compatible TV tuner
DVD-RAM is the most versatile of the recordable DVD formats, especially if you want to do video editing, although the discs are compatible with the smallest percentage of players. So it's not surprising that it takes 25 pages in the D-R1's owner's manual to describe all the DVD-RAM editing features. Let's just say that it includes all of the DVD-RAM features I've discussed in previous articles and test reports on DVD recorders (most of which are on our Web site). Key among them are the ability to define segments - Toshiba calls them "chapters" - of a recorded program ("title"), to fine-tune a chapter's start and stop points, to re-order or delete chapters, and to merge chapters or even titles.
If you plan to pass discs you record to others or to play them on different players in your house, you'll probably want to record on DVD-R or -RW discs, which are more widely compatible than DVD-RAM. I was a little surprised, though, that the D-R1 doesn't record DVD-RW discs in both the format's Video and VR modes but only in the Video mode - which is akin to how commercial DVDs are recorded. The VR mode, though less universally compatible, is far more versatile for editing. So when you record on a DVD-RW blank, your editing options are limited to what you can do with a DVD-R disc - which means you can add or delete titles before the disc is finalized, but that's it. (Of course, you can erase the disc and rerecord it, something you can't do with a DVD-R.)