Pioneer DVR-520H-S

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Pioneer DVR-520H-S

Pros

  • Fast transfer, high image quality, many features, intuitive interface

Cons

  • Poor remote control design, slow channel switching

Bottom Line

Its image quality is stellar, and its dubbing superfast. Aside from a cramped remote, there's little to complain about with this Pioneer.

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The more you archive video from this unit's 80GB hard drive to DVD-R, the happier you'll be that you bought it. With an 8X DVD recorder built-in, the Pioneer transferred movies to disc at a blistering rate during our tests.

But the Pioneer isn't only about speed. Its recording quality was outstanding, both in one-hour and six-hour modes. And it's packed with features, including a disc librarian for maintaining a history of your recordings (if you opt to enter disc information manually into the unit's memory), and an editor for trimming video and deleting commercials.

The DVR-520H-S's on-screen interface may not be the prettiest we've seen, but it is reasonably intuitive, offering a good combination of graphics and text. And I loved this model's convenient on-remote commercial skip, which lets you add 30-second increments to the skip time so that you can jump past up to 5 minutes' worth of commercials at once.

Although the Pioneer stands tall in most respects, I had a few gripes. I wasn't enthusiastic about the remote control's design, and the unit's inability to schedule daily or weekly recordings without employing VCR Plus+ codes is mystifying. In addition, as an avid channel surfer, I was unimpressed by the recorder's snail's-pace channel switching.

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