- DVD recording, intuitive interface, excellent design
- No DivX support
An outstanding combination of DVD recorder and VHS player.
Price$ 999.00 (AUD)
In the NDRV-60, NEC has produced a beautifully integrated and extremely well designed combination VCR and DVD-recorder. Yes--it records to DVD as well as VHS, and can write (and re-write) to DVD-R, DVD-RW, DVD+R and DVD+RW discs.
We can't say enough good things about the initialisation and setup of the device. The GUI of the NEC is excellent, and the large remote works intuitively, whether you're in DVD mode or VHS mode.
The NDRV-60 supports the gamut of outputs--composite, component, antenna, S-Video, digital via coax or optical--and has two RCA AV inputs, one each in the front and rear of the box. It also sports an S-Video input port at the front, along with a FireWire/i.Link port for connecting digital camcorders.
DVD recording supports four MPEG-2 compression modes--from XP mode (1 hour per disc) to EP mode (6 hours). Even the lowest quality setting, EP, produced a pretty good representation of the television signal, with compression artefacts appearing only in fast-motion sequences. At the default SP recording rate (2 hours), the recorded video was indistinguishable from the source video.
The NEC has a very neat one-touch dubbing button, which works both ways (DVD to VHS and VHS to DVD). It's a great tool for archiving your VHS tapes to DVD, or for dubbing your recorded shows to VHS for friends. It's very impressive indeed.
Recording to DVD did not cause the display to so much as twitch. The DVD drive was dead silent during our testing, and the whole process was seamless and simple. You can record and stop as many times as you like (you don't have to do disk-at-once recording); each time the recording was stopped the NEC took a few seconds to write file information to the disc, then it was good to go again. You can enter the menu and give the tracks individual names, and can also add rudimentary DVD chapters and thumbnails to the tracks.
When a disc is full, you can "Finalize" it, which adds the necessary header information to allow the recorded disk to be played back on a standalone DVD player or PC. Finalising takes a few minutes (you can still watch TV while it's happening), and produces a disc with a basic menu that lists all of the separate tracks you've recorded on the disc. Unfortunately, there may be something wrong with the menu code. We tested a finalised disc on an Xbox, which struggled with the menu and occasionally crashed. The disc worked perfectly on the Samsung DVD-V5500 DVD player, however.
The NEC is also a more than adequate player of MP3 discs and discs with photos. The MP3 playback was excellent, and the NEC supports random track playback (a rare feature). The JPG view supports thumbnail galleries, and doesn't produce too much flicker, but was marred by aspect-ratio distortion on displayed pictures. We suspect it may have had something to so with PAL resolutions.
That aside, however, the NDRV-60 is an outstanding product. It's a well-designed VHS player and an outstanding DVD recorder with an excellent interface to boot. It sadly lacks DivX support (which would make it near perfect), and has some photo-viewing issues, but it otherwise a great purchase.
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