Sony RDR-HDC500 HDD/DVD recorder

A 500GB Sony DVD recorder

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Sony RDR-HDC500
  • Sony RDR-HDC500
  • Sony RDR-HDC500
  • Sony RDR-HDC500
  • Expert Rating

    3.25 / 5

Pros

  • 500GB hard drive, user-friendly interface, lots of ports and connections, supports most file formats (DivX, etc.)

Cons

  • No second HD TV tuner, too expensive, DVD recording options could be better

Bottom Line

The Sony RDR-HDC500 is a reliable HDD/DVD recorder that lets itself down in a few key areas.

Would you buy this?

The Sony RDR-HDC500 (AKA Sony RDR-DC 505) is an HDD/DVD recorder with a 500GB hard drive capable of recording in Full HD. The RDR-HDC 500 is currently Sony’s top-of-the-range HDD/DVD recorder (other models in the company’s PVR line-up include the 320GB RDR-HDC 300 and the 160GB RDR-HDC 100, which are identical except for lower storage capacities). The Sony RDR-HDC 500's main strengths are its generous storage space and intuitive user interface.

[Compre the Sony RDR-HDC500 to other PVRs and DVD recorders on PC World.]

As Sony’s marketing campaign is keen to point out, the RDR-HDC 500 is a great choice if you’re a football fanatic looking to chronicle this year’s FIFA World Cup. It will allow you to capture each and every broadcast in Full HD for posterity (go Italia!). Unfortunately, the unit’s recording functionality could certainly be better — particularly when it comes to DVDs. The lack of a second HD tuner is also regrettable (instead, a single DVB-T tuner is used). That said, if you’re willing to live with the above flaws then the Sony RDR-HDC 500 is a capable and user-friendly option.

The Sony RDR-HDC500 comes with all the bells and whistles you’d expect from an $849 HDD/DVD recorder. Alongside its 500GB hard drive, the unit boasts a cavalcade of useful tools and features, including HDMI and 1080p upscaling, a USB port for media playback, Bravia Sync, DivX support, a DTS Digital output and the ability to pause live TV. (Note: while the RDR-HDC500 can play high-definition video, it will not recognise Blu-ray discs.)

The Sony RDR-HDC 500 is a bit of a beast: it measures 430x72x258mm and weighs a hefty 4.1kg. The glossy black finish and simple LED display should look at home in any home theatre setup. However, we weren’t fans of the red-on-black playback buttons, which look rather cheap and ugly. Thankfully, these buttons remain hidden behind the fascia when not in use.

In addition to the afore-mentioned playback buttons, the Sony RDR-HDC 500’s front panel features S-Video, a MiniDV input, composite video and a USB port. This saves you fussing about with the back of the device when you want to connect your hardware (such as a camcorder). The rest of the ports are located at the rear; these include HDMI, component AV, coaxial digital audio and three sets of composite AV ports (via the included SCART adaptors). Wi-Fi and Ethernet are both absent, which means you can't stream content from your home network.

Setting up the Sony RDR-HDC 500 was exceptionally simple thanks to a beginner-friendly wizard and highly intuitive interface. In no time at all we had all our TV channels stored and were scheduling recordings with the One Touch Timer. However, Sony has made a serious oversight when it comes to the TV tuner. Most dedicated PVRs — such as the Panasonic DMR-XW450 and Foxtel iQ2 — boast two or more HD digital tuners, allowing you to record two television channels simultaneously. By contrast, the RDR-HDC500 comes with a single DVB-T tuner (which also doubles as an analog terrestrial tuner). This severely limits your choices when it comes to recording TV.

DVD recording options are also limited. We couldn’t get the RDR-HDC 500 to record external content to disc — instead, it needs to be recorded onto the hard drive first and then transferred to DVD. To make matters worse, this can only be done in real time (i.e. there are no fast dubbing options).

On the plus side, the HDD records content reliably and can store up to 72 hours of high-definition recordings. The DVD player also produced excellent looking video, with decent HD upscaling. We tested the device on a Pioneer KURO PDP-C509A plasma TV using an HDMI cable and were more than satisfied with the results. Nonetheless, we can't help but feel that there are cheaper and better options on the market.

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