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Before You Buy a Set Top DVD Recorder

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DVD Recorders are starting to replace the VCR as the method of choice for recording TV or Video. There are many different types of DVD Recorders available, ranging in price from $150 to upwards of $1,000. Below will be a guide to what you will need to know before buying a Set Top DVD Recorder.

Set Top DVD Recorders that record to DVD disc only

These DVD Recorders are the least expensive, and are most similar to a VCR. Pop in a DVD, hit record, and you're on your way to recording DVDs. What to look for in these machines is: Component video output, IEEE 1394 (Firewire) input, multi-format recording and the ability to play back multiple formats (CD-R, CD-RW, DVD-R, DVD-RW, DVD+R, DVD+RW, DVD-Video). When done recording, the DVD must be "finalized" in order to be played back. This process usually takes 4-5 minutes.

Set Top DVD/HDD Recorders

These machines record to both a hard drive and to DVD. The hard drives come in sizes from 40GB to 400GB! Typically the larger the hard drive, the more expensive the unit. TV shows or Video can be first recorded to the hard drive and then recorded to DVD. An Electronic Program Guide is typically included so that users can program recordings days or weeks in advance. Some of these devices include TiVo functionality as well.

Video and Audio connections

When purchasing a DVD Recorder, you want to match up the inputs on your TV and/or A/V Receiver with the outputs on the recorder. For example, if you're connecting to an analog TV, you wouldn't want a recorder with HDMI, because you couldn't connect to the TV with HDMI, only analog cables (RCA or S-Video).

Other Choices

Some people have large collections of VHS movies and want to be able to watch them. The VCR is still available with DVD Recorders and DVD/HDD Recorders. Known as "Combo" machines, a DVD/VHS Recorder is a good choice for watching VHS tapes, while still being able to take advantage of recording to DVD. Many manufacturers also offer VHS/DVD/HDD Recorders for the ultimate in recording options. Record a VHS tape to a hard drive, do some basic editing and record to DVD, all in one machine!

Which is right for you?

When deciding on what Set Top DVD Recorder is best for you, think about what your needs are and how much you want to spend. You have three choices for a Set Top DVD Recorder: DVD recording only, hard drive and DVD recording, or a combo unit; either VHS/DVD or VHS/DVD/HDD. The amount you spend will vary depending on which choice you make.
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