- DVD recorder, very well-designed feature set
- Poor remote, UI needs work
Even though its user interface is below par, the JVC makes up for it with a very cool set of features--including DVD recording--in this powerful combo device.
Price$ 599.00 (AUD)
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Although a little rough around the edges, JVC's DR-MV1S is a very impressive product overall. It's more than just a DVD-VCR combo--it happens to have a DVD recorder as well, and even has some rudimentary timeshifting functions. From a feature perspective, it's a very cool product, although its usability is often questionable.
Like so many devices in this category, the DVD player and VHS player are worlds apart, with different interfaces and generally poor integration between the two. The VHS player settings and control are decidedly retro, with very basic settings. The VHS tuner works well, however, and our test recording produced very good results. You can even record to VHS while watching DVD--or vice versa.
Although more advanced than that of the VHS, the DVD menu is still quite crude and slow to navigate, which is unfortunate since you'll likely be using it a lot if you plan to do a lot of burning on the device. The problems are exacerbated by the buttons on the JVC remote, which are spongy and unresponsive. The remote's one redeeming feature is its SMS-like correlation of numbers and letters, which makes "typing in" program names that much quicker.
While the GUI and remote may leave something to be desired, the capabilities of the JVC do not. It can record video onto DVD-RAM, DVD-R and DVD-RW, with full rewriting capabilities on DVD-RAM and DVD-RW. A list of programs recorded go into an editable Navi, in which you can give individual programs names, categorise them or delete files from a rewritable disc. When a DVD-R or DVD-RW disc is full, you can finalise it (which takes about 7 minutes) to make it playable in standard DVD players. The names you give to programs in the DVD Navi appear in the DVD menu of the finalised disc. The menu of finalised discs is a straightforward list of programs recorded on the disc, along with their recording times. It played perfectly on several DVD players we tested it on.
There are four compression modes that you can record to a disc in (from one hour per disc to six hours), and we discovered that even the low-bit-rate EP mode delivered a decent representation of the recorded video, rivalling that of the NEC NDRV-60. The LCD on the front of the JVC tells you how many minutes of recording space a disc has left at the currently selected bit-rate. There's also a very nifty feature called the Free Rate Function, which will automatically set the compression rate for a programmed recording to make sure it fits on the remaining space of the disc.
If you have a DVD-RAM disc in the drive, you can also take advantage of the primitive timeshifting function of the JVC, which allows you to watch a program that hasn't finished recording yet, from the beginning. The Live Memory Playback (as it's called) is one of a number of very cool features on the JVC. There also one-touch dubbing (in either direction); support for burning from a DV (IEEE 1394) input; MP3 and JPG disc support (albeit relatively poor); progressive scan display through component output; digital audio output; and a host of other little touches that make the JVC a dream for the AV enthusiast.
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