Red button! Red alert!

You can’t proclaim a passion for gadgetry if the concept of recordable DVD has passed you by. At long last, the Philips DVDR-1000 has touched down in the Middle East. Is this really the end of VHS?

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By  Justin Etheridge Published  December 12, 2001

Introduction|~||~||~|The suspense is over. The first working DVDR-1000 unit to land in the Middle East, complete with red record button, made a temporary visit to Philips’ HQ before winging its proud way over to the CHARGED labs. Eagerly, we set about our task.

Make no mistake, right from the start: this is very much Philips’ own technology. Don’t expect, therefore, to be able to record onto the ‘write-once’ DVD-R discs, compatible with rival launches from Pioneer and Panasonic (DVD-RW and DVD-RAM respectively).

Instead, the device records onto DVD+RW media, rewriteable discs that cost approx. $30 and can hold up to four hours of video. Sources tell us that discs with an eight hour capacity should be available in late 2002.

What you can expect from Philips is reliability. Our review unit functioned flawlessly, and only such hassle-free experiences will decide the forthcoming format war.

Note also that Philips is forging its own path with proprietary, ‘write-once’ DVD+R technology. Philips confirmed that the DVDR-1000 would support DVD+R discs when they are made available for general release (we are unable to test the claim for ourselves at this time).

Basics first and, as a DVD player in its own right, the DVDR-1000 is a very capable machine. Picture quality is simply fantastic.

Forget any fears of a box that overstretches itself: unwelcome noise was minimal and colours were crisp and accurate. Our standard test selection of DVDs, viewed through RGB and S-video alike, was as enjoyable as ever.

Audio performance, whilst more than acceptable, was a little less engaging. Nonetheless, the DVDR-1000 is easily up to the challenge of multichannel sound.

||**||Touch of a button|~||~||~|So what about recording? Sure enough, the DVDR-1000 excels like no other. Gone is the instability of VHS recordings, polluted by excess noise.

But will the results of your recording stand up to Hollywood’s finest? Unfortunately not. Then again, pitting home-movies against commercially available DVD discs is hardly a sane comparison.

A more pertinent test is, of course, DVD+RW versus the best of VHS recordings. And Philips comes out a clear winner.

Getting down to aesthetics, and consumers familiar with the Philips range will be forgiven for thinking that this is the DVD-1010. The two units are purposefully similar, although the latter lacks that all-important addition: the red button.

Simplicity is key here. The DVDR-1000 is a remarkably tidy box, with clean metallic lines and very little paraphernalia.

Functionality, it seems, is paramount. If you like your devices user-friendly and down-to-earth, then you’ll be overjoyed. Of course, you may be disappointed if you’re expecting visual fireworks.

A touch of the sombre button marked ‘panel’, however, and the lower half of the front face slowly opens. Flap goes up, flap goes down… Those of you more easily entertained than others will toy with the motorised panel for a fair while at least. And, after this euphoria has died away, you’ll be pleased to note that several controls and inputs have been placed at the front for easy access.

Beware: the panel isn’t disengaged even if you plug in your digicam. Accidentally attempt to close the panel and the DVDR-1000 will simply squash your leads until you come to the rescue.

||**||Time to take the plunge?|~||~||~|An i.Link connection makes that digicam hook-up possible, allowing you to record precious camera footage directly onto DVD. Composite video, S-video and stereo audio inputs are all present and correct, with two Scart sockets situated at the rear (only really useful if you’re planning to move/return to Europe in the near future).

Perhaps the single greatest omission is that of a digital audio input, leaving only analogue/stereo audio connections. Multichannel replay, however, is comfortably catered to by coaxial and optical outputs.

A brief word about the Philips interface: excellent. Each recording is known as a ‘title’, and divided into chapters, just as a typical DVD disc.

The DVDR-1000 automatically creates a chapter mark every five minutes, allowing you to skip to your destination relatively quickly. The result is a look and feel that is as convenient as any of today’s DVD players.

Ultimately, the DVDR-1000 achieves each of Philips’ objectives. Hardly the most flamboyant of devices externally, it’s nonetheless a work of art inside.

The first to deliver this technology, Philips earns some much-deserved kudos. But therein, as they say, lies the rub: rival formats, specifically DVD-RAM and DVD-RW, are poised to make an entrance as early as 2002. With this imminent competition, many will prefer to wait and see.

For the rest of us, however, who have waited long enough for recordable DVD, the Philips DVDR-1000 is more than a timely release. It’s a well-specified, well-executed, masterpiece and certainly the future of home theatre... at least until the next big thing…

For more information, contact:
Al Ghandi Electronics, Dubai, UAE (+971) 4 337 6600
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