Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Despite Big Technical Drawbacks, Home DVD Recorders May Spur Christmas Sales By 27% For Electronics

Every year companies compete for the Christmas dollar. This past couple of years, home computer sales have slowed somewhat, but the DVD recorder likely promises to spur electronics holiday sales by an estimated 27%.

Since the introduction of 2005's Windows XP Operating system, littke real excitement has spurred home computer sales except to replace older or broken units. While not technically that great of a product, the home DVD recorder is rapidly replacing the old VCR and becoming this year's electronics hot item.

But not only is the picture quality of many DVD recorders only marginally better than standard VHS vcrs at the slower speed, but jerky computer download type images noticeably lacking in detail are often common. Usually only at the 4hr or less recording speed setting are home DVD recorders able to offer a very good image quality. And with massive user manuals that nearly take a technical mind to read, the home DVD recorder is in most cases nowhere as easy to program or operate compared to the old vcr. One of the few advantages is that blank DVDs are sometimes as low as about 28-30 cents each on sale these days, compared to about a dollar for sale priced VHS tapes. And a stack of recorded DVDs is only a few inches tall or wide, compared to 2 and a half feet tall for VHS tapes. VHS tapes seem cheap enough, but too many will puch you out of living space. DVDS are both cheaper and far more compact.

Some Samsung models havve done a fairly good job combining relatively simple ease of operation and picture and sound quality for home DVD recorders, while others like Toshiba are of good quality, but a real headache to program. Sylvania offers some units for a very good price, but the tuner quality is sort of cheap . But the programming ease and picture quality is good enough at the 4hr speed when hooked up to cable to be presentable and worthy. At the 6hr, 8hr or even 10hr recording speeds the picture quality really suffers.

Back in 2004-2005, JVC offered some very good quality models with twin tuners able to record both a VHS tape and a DVD of different programs at the same time. But at a $599 retail price, and some defective units made in China when manufacturing was shifted from Japan, the JVC quality name suffered somewhat with buyers. Now achjeaper priced new unit in the $300 price range only offers a single tuner and gives up one of JVC's best features in the older unit.

Home computers with a TV tuner appear to be one of the best ways to produce good quality DVDs of TV shows. But the Microsoft Media Center software has real limitations with the supplied Sonic Solutions software, but unless you have the Sonic Encoder software, the DVDs will not play on any unit but a computer. Aftermarket software like DVD Santa will produce a high quality and resolution 720 by 480 pixel line two hour disc. But a two hour disc takes all of two hours to write, compared to the less good Microsoft /Sonic software. And the Microsoft supplied software also features sound that is not really even stereo, but a sort of double mono. By comparison both the DVD Santa software for the home computer offers great quality Dolby Steroe sound qality. How Microsoft could overlook this important feature is amazing. Great sound quality is a major part of the DVD experience.

A few years ago JVC introduced home SuperVHS vcrs able to record 400 resolution line pictures on normal recording tape with the SuperVHS ET recorders. So far few home DVD recorders have been this good, often only recording at 250 resolution linesand with a picture with technical playback glitches similar to a cheap low resolution computer download image. You can buy one of the new DVD recorders and struggle through the user's manual to get an image hardly better than a standard VHS image, and some cable TV programs may even fail to record as the players sometimes think that a program is copy protected when it is not. You ultimately have to decide whether this is the year to buy a DVD recorder or wait until lower priced, easier to use, better picture quality units are the rule, not the exception. But if you love collecting TV shows, DVD recording is a viable new alternative.


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