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Before You Buy a DVD Recorder


Buying a DVD recorder is actually a rarity now. For TV, most people have moved on to DVRs. When it comes to storing personal memories, many use their phones or other digital recording devices and keep everything on their PCs. While consumer DVD recorders aren't used very often, they do serve several purposes. Depending on what you're looking to save or record, there are several considerations you should make before purchasing a DVD recorder. Let's take a look at each of these considerations and hopefully help decide the best device for you.


Every DVD recorder will use different DVD recordable formats. Most cover all of them but for whatever reason, some manufacturers have chosen not to support all of them. DVD recordable media comes in several flavors:

  • DVD-R
  • DVD+R
  • DVD-RW
  • DVD+RW

You can read about each type here. Again, the majority of of recorders will accept all formats be be sure before you buy the recorder or the disks you'll be using.

Internal Hard Drive

Many of today's players come with internal hard drive space. This can be used for capturing TV, VHS content or content from your digital recording devices and allowing you to make simple edits before burning a disk.

Whether you need hard drive space will be determined on your usage of your DVD recorder. If you know you'll want to capture several videos and edit them together before burning then you'll probably want to make sure the recorder you buy has several hundred gigabytes of space. As well, if you think you'll be capturing television programming the same rule applies. More than likely you'll want to record the entire show before burning and possibly even edit out the commercials. In this case, an internal hard drive is absolutely necessary.

TV Tuner

Several of today's DVD recorders come with built-in TV tuners. Usually, these are either ATSC (ClearQAM) or NTSC tuners. There's yet to be a DVD recorder made with a built in CableCARD tuner. While that doesn't preclude recording premium cable content, it's a more involved process.

If you intend to regularly record either standard-definition cable content or over-the-air (OTA) signals, buying a DVD recorder with a built-in tuner might be your best option. These devices typically also ship with a small hard drive to store the recorded shows to until burning. Many also simply burn each show you record directly to disk much like a VCR writes directly to the tape. Either way, buying a unit with a built-in tuner means that you won't have to connect another device to your recorder. You can simply run your cable or antenna wire directly to the unit and start programming your recordings.


DVD recorders have become relatively cheap at this point, of course, depending on the options you want. If you're looking for a device that will simply capture family memories quickly and easily, you should be able to find one for under $100. If recording TV is your goal, you may pay upwards of $250 to get all the bells and whistles such as a hard drive and TV tuner. This is one of those cases where while price can indicate more quality, as long as the player performs the task you're looking to accomplish, you can save money by not getting features you don't need.


While not many companies are still producing consumer DVD recorders, if you take your time you can find the recorder that will do the job you need completed at a decent price. Be sure and look for a recorder that will record in the format you want, has the features you need and will create disks playable in other players and you should be all set. The next step will be learning how to connect your new player to your TV or set-top-box!

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