Toshiba RD-XS34

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Toshiba RD-XS34
  • Toshiba RD-XS34
  • Toshiba RD-XS34
  • Toshiba RD-XS34

Pros

  • Powerful features, 160GB hard disk

Cons

  • Steep learning curve, noisy fan, eight-hour recording limit

Bottom Line

It's initially tricky to operate, but the RD-XS34 offers plenty of powerful features and is a gem once you've mastered it.

Would you buy this?

  • Buy now (Selling at 7 stores)

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For years we've heard about the death of the VCR. Hard disk and DVD recorders have been advancing quickly, but remain relatively complex to operate. The powerful RD-XS34 is no exception, but it's fantastic once you've mastered it.

The 43 x 6 x 33cm silver unit features a comprehensive range of outputs, including component, SCART, S-Video and composite, and it can also push sound through coax and optical connections. There's even a DV connector on the font panel. Image quality is outstanding.

The remote control features just about every button you could ask for, which makes it a little daunting at first. The learning curve is steep, but it becomes second nature after a while.

Setup is relatively straightforward, and the thick, comprehensive manual is well laid out. You'll certainly need it for a while as the device is much more complicated than a plain-Jane VCR. The 160GB hard disk offers up to 276 hours of recording time at lowest quality, but this is limited to chunks of eight hours, which may be a problem for those wanting to record events like the Olympic Games or cricket during summer. By default, the unit can record in Short Play (70 hours), Long Play (138 hours) or manual bit-rate modes.

The device offers most of the common features expected in a hard disk recorder, including the ability to time shift, pause live TV, and simultaneously record and play back footage. It ships with a few templates so you can archive recorded footage from the hard disk to DVD media and add in menus. The machine doesn't support DVD+R/RW media, but just about every other DVD disc is compatible, including DVD-R/RW and DVD-RAM.

The internal fan wais quite noisy during operation. This would be no big deal if you were running the machine in a cabinet, but may be distracting if you were trying to watch quiet TV. The mirrored finish on the DVD tray is also prone to collecting fingerprints.

The RD-XS34 is best suited to those comfortable with technology, as it's difficult to exploit its wealth of features without referring to the manual.

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