Saturday, January 29, 2005

Settling in with the new Sony DVD/HDD Recorder

I’m still getting to know my new Sony RDRHX900 DVD/HDD recorder but already have found a some features I love and one that could be better. The Hard Disk Drive (HDD) is awesome for time shifting especially as we don't have anything like TiVo in New Zealand. If simply using the HDD as a time shift device there are features that represent a major advance over tape (even digital);

  • Huge Recording Capacity: Although the maximum capacity of the 160gb HDD is 204 hours the SP quality I regard as best for everyday use reduces this to 68 hours. Thats still plenty and to be free of the 4 hour VHS maximum is great but there is one limitation:
    • Timer Capacity: For me the provision of only 8 program timer slots is a pity. It has 20–50 times the record capacity of a VCR but has the same number of timer slots. There are ways around this allowed by the huge recording time but its still a limitation for long periods of unattended recording.
  • Quality: Essentially there is no difference between the live and “off disk” recorded picture quality. I think the sound is also better than the TV/former VCR, probably due to better quality NICAM decoding.
  • Title Index: The title and indexing features are a huge advantage over tape. Instant search to the beginning of the title is awesome. The index shows a thumbnail, channel, record start/stop time and length. If keeping a show you can add a title or choose the thumbnail image.
  • Play from current or beginning. This is great if you watch a title then stop for a break or maybe watch another DVD/recorded title. When you return to the former title you can choose to play from the point where you last stopped or from the beginning. The great thing is that this is remembered per title. I taped a 4 hour motor sport programme and watched it over several nights and returning to the “last seen” portion was effortless.
  • High Speed Scanning: There are 3 “Fast Forward/Reverse” speeds and the fastest is about 1 minute per second. Great for getting to the beginning of that title or skipping adverts as are the chapter marks insert every 6 minutes.
  • Perfect Freeze Frame/Slow Motion: Digital still/slowmo is far better than seen from any analogue tape.
  • Chasing View\Watch title while recording another: Its great to be able to watch a title off the HDD while another title is being recored to the HDD at the same time. Can only wonder at the volume of data being processed while doing all this simultaneous decoding/encoding!

So far have enjoyed all this without even recording a DVD :-)