Sony RDR-HDC100 DVD/HDD recorder

A Sony DVD recorder/PVR with a 120GB hard drive

Sony RDR-HDC100
  • Sony RDR-HDC100
  • Sony RDR-HDC100
  • Expert Rating

    3.25 / 5

Pros

  • User-friendly interface, reliable recording/playback performance

Cons

  • Lacks twin TV tuners, no fast dubbing options, there are cheaper options on the market

Bottom Line

The Sony RDR-HDC100 is a decent PVR/DVD recorder if you don't mind having basic functionality. That said, there are plenty of more accomplished options on the market that cost around the same price.

Would you buy this?

The Sony RDR-HDC100 is a high-definition HDD/DVD recorder that doubles as a personal video recorder (PVR). It comes with an inbuilt digital TV tuner and a 160GB hard drive that can store up to 270 hours of video content. The Sony RDR-HDC100 is a reasonable choice for multimedia enthusiasts who want a fuss-free video recorder. It boasts a user-friendly interface and plenty of codec support, including DivX. However, the lack of twin TV tuners or fast DVD dubbing reduces the appeal significantly, especially given the asking price.

[Compre the Sony RDR-HDC100 to other PVRs and DVD recorders on PC World.]

In most respects, the Sony RDR-HDC100 is identical to the Sony RDR-HDC 300 and Sony RDR-HDC500; the only difference is its hard drive capacity. The Sony RDR-HDC 300 comes with a 320GB hard drive, while the Sony RDR-HDC 500 offers 500GB (for $599 and $699 respectively.) If you're not a prolific collector of TV shows, it makes sense to go for the cheaper Sony RDR-HDC100.

The Sony RDR-HDC100 comes with all the typical PVR modes and features. Highlights include 1080p upscaling via HDMI (cable sold separately), a USB port for media playback, a DTS Digital output, DivX support, an MP3 jukebox mode and the ability to pause or rewind live TV. We found the user interface to be straightforward and attractive. A beginner-friendly wizard takes you through the TV tuning process -- within a few minutes, we had all our TV channels stored and were scheduling recordings with the One Touch Timer.

Despite being the 'baby' of the group, the Sony RDR-HDC100 shares the same dimensions of its PVR stablemates. At 430x72x258mm it's a pretty hefty device that will take up the bulk of your home entertainment shelf. The glossy black finish and simple LED display are elegant, if a little on the basic side. All in all, the design is perfectly adequate. A fold-out face plate reveals a handful of playback buttons: handy for when your remote control goes bye-bye.

In addition to the afore-mentioned playback buttons, the Sony RDR-HDC300’s front panel features S-Video, a MiniDV input, composite video and a USB port. This saves you the trouble of fiddling around at the back when you want to connect camcorders and the like. For audio/video connectivity, the Sony RDR-HDC100 comes with HDMI, component (RGB), coaxial digital audio and composite AV. Unfortunately, Wi-Fi and Ethernet are both absent, which means you can't stream content from your home network.

To test the Sony RDR-HDC100's playback performance, we connected it to a Pioneer KURO PDP-C509A plasma TV via HDMI. We found that it recorded television broadcasts reliably, with excellent picture quality in both SD and high-definition. The DVD player also produced attractive looking video, with decent HD upscaling. (Bear in mind that the RDR-HDC100 is not compatible with Blu-ray discs.)

When its $499 price tag is taken into account, the Sony RDR-HDC100 left us wanting more. The absence of twin TV tuners is especially regrettable. Instead, Sony provides a single DVB-T tuner which also doubles as an analog terrestrial tuner. As you can imagine, this severely limits your choices when it comes to recording TV shows. Most rival PVRs — such as the Panasonic DMR-XW450 and Foxtel iQ2 — boast two or more HD digital tuners, allowing you to record multiple TV stations simultaneously.

DVD recording options are also limited. We couldn’t get the RDR-HDC100 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, which means a two hour video file will take two hours to transfer to DVD.

In conclusion, the Sony RDR-HDC300 is a user-friendly option that suffers from limited functionality. The Kogan PVR 500GB HDD personal video recorder comes with twin HD tuners and a removable 500GB hard drive; all for just $329. (Admittedly, it lacks a DVD player/recorder, but we still reckon it works out to be a better bargain.) For brand loyalists only.

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Read more on these topics: sony, PVR, set-top boxes, home entertainment
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