- easy to find recordings, wide range of supported formats, cheaper than DVD-R135
- No HDMI, Analogue tuner
A well featured DVD recorder that primarily falls down due to the lack of a digital tuner
Price$ 349.00 (AUD)
Samsung's DVD-R130 is the little brother of its DVD-R135. Although sporting different outfits, both are essentially the same machine, with the primary difference being the lack of HDMI on the DVD-R130.
Seeing as the DVD-R130 is near enough identical to the DVD-R135 it's no surprise that it shares the same problems. Foremost of these is the lack of a digital tuner. A digital tuner would have made far more sense, improving the picture quality and increasing the number of channels, yet not adding much to the price. Worse still, if you plan to connect your existing set top box to the DVD-R130 you can only do so using a composite or S-video connection.
The second problem is again not specific to the DVD-R130 but to all DVD-recorders. This is the lack of a hard drive. On the highest quality setting you can get approximately an hour's worth of recording time out of a single recordable DVD. If you're the kind of person who likes to record a lot, this means plenty of disc switching. Of course there is one advantage to ditching the hard drive and that's price; DVD recorders come in at a fraction of the cost of hard disk recorders.
Once you've moved past these particular limitations the DVD-R130 is a decent little machine. Though it's not as attractive as the DVD-R135, Samsung has still done a decent job with the aesthetics, finishing the unit in plain silver. Setup is incredibly simple, and what the recorder may lack in inputs it makes up for with outputs. Everything is covered here including component, optical and coaxial. The one exclusion is the HDMI found on the DVD-R135, but if your television doesn't support it and you're not planning on it in the near future, then this system at $50 cheaper will save you some money. Recording is made as simple as can be, with the option for instant record at the touch of a button or the ability to set times in advance.
Unfortunately the DVD-R135's formats are rather limited, with only DVD-R and DVD-RW discs supported both for recording and playback. This isn't a huge issue as there is plenty of media available in these types, but with many devices supporting a full range of formats (DVD+R, DVD+RW, DVD-RAM etc.), it is noteworthy nonetheless. When it comes to playing back recorded scenes Samsung has included an incredibly easy to use list system, which previews the footage in a corner window. Each recording is time stamped and labelled with an editable file name. At the highest quality setting we found recordings to differ only slightly from the television broadcast, with small compression blocks occasionally visible. Moving to standard quality, which allows about two hours of recording, things were not as good, but still acceptable. Turning to long and extended recording modes, however, which can record up to eight hours on one disc, things really took a downturn. These modes are only recommended if you really don't care about picture or sound quality.
One other nifty feature is the inclusion of fast playback with audio. This means when you use fast forward it is still possible to hear the sound, though only up to 1.5x speed. Samsung suggest this is helpful for when you want to hear all the news, but just don't have the time to sit through the whole thing. It works, but unless the audio is very clear it becomes hard to work out what is being said; and everyone sounds like they've just inhaled helium.
DVDs can also be recorded straight from a camcorder using a FireWire connection, which is useful. In addition the DVD-R130 can play data discs containing MP3s, JPEG photos or MPEG4 videos. Though this isn't the best implementation we have seen, the interface was generally easy to follow and all the files we tried worked. MPEG4 videos include both AVI and DivX, so their support is definitely a welcome feature. The final feature of the DVD-R135 is its use as a regular DVD player. We tried a few DVDs and found the quality to be slightly above average. We used a component connection and the picture quality wasn't quite up to the standard of the DVD-R135 with its HDMI connection, but this was to be expected.
Overall, Samsung has done a good job on the DVD-R130, but like the DVD-R135 the lack of a digital tuner is a nuisance. For anyone without and not planning for a HDMI connection on their television this is undoubtedly the system to go for, unless you're particularly enamoured with the sleek black finish of the DVD-R135.
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