ALBA - DVD Recorder RDVD1001 £45 *Budget*

gonzo84

Standard Member
Intro

Looking for a budget DVD recorderfor my parents, as replacement for the current VCR setup. Requirements are low, as the TV is a Hitachi 4:3 good 'ole cathode ray job. I thought I'd write a review - mostly 1st impressions - for anyone looking for a basic replacement to their video.

Old Setup

Hitachi 4:3 television
Sanyo DVD player
Pacific VCR (with 6 heads!)

New Setup

Still Hitachi TV...
ONN Freeview Box (£25 Asda)
ALBA DVD Recorder (£45 eBuyer.com)

ONN Set-top Box

I'd like to briefly talk about the ONN Freeview box. This was my original present, and although basic it comes with 2 Scart outputs (RGB option), Audio out (L/R phono), RF connector out (loop for TV). The GUI is the same as on other boxes i've seen, with a good now/next on the main screen, and very good guide with preview in top right corner. However, although there is a 7 day EPG, it seems to have been designed quickly as the controls don't match and the layout is rather limited. But as the theme with all this is "low cost", its not a major problem. Oh, and every channel was up and running as soon as i took it out the box... no setup!?!? A pleasent one-off I assume.

First Impressions

Having looked around the net, I found reviews for later models (RDVD1002 and 1003) but they still cost maybe 30% more so I decided to bite the bullet.
As it came through the door at lunchtime today, I thought... it's big! But I knew that it would be, and again... this is replacing a DVD player and VCR.

Its silver, with reflective band along the top and is fairly minimal. On the left is a flab (albiet cheap looking) that hides Audio In, Composite Video, and S-Video inputs. On the right handside are the main buttons, which are a bit small but they're all there assume the remote gets lost. The only splash of colour other than the basic blue display, is the small red record button right underneath the disc tray.

On the back is an array of outputs - 2 scart connectors (1 input, 1 output), RF in/out, Composite video out, S-video out, and audio out, which is interesting... As well as the coaxel and optical digital outputs, there are six phono connections, front left, front right, rear left, rear right, centre, and sub. I saw this on the website and thought it was a mistake, but i've seen it with my own eyes. Whether it does output on all of these could be a different matter, but there is a setup for speakers and down-mixing within the setup screen.

The Details

With everything plugged in, it started up no problem, and selecting scart-in brought up the new Freeview station and a great picture. Using the generous single dvd+r (only +r or +rw supported for recording i'm afraid, playback for all tho) disc supplied, I recorded samples of the 4 quality settings XL, SP, LP, and EP (1hr, 2hr, 4hr, 6hr). Quality was good at SP, but not much better at XL (same resolution but just higher bit-rate). LP was okay (lower resolution), and EP was not bad but would only use if running out of discs.

The only problem at this stage is the delay with any funtion, put in a disc and the splash screen comes up, press record -> splash screen, setup button -> splash! Not the quickest... and there is a delay with the set-top box, but thats due to the way its hooked up i assume.

Summary

Bearing in mind I've only used it briefly this is the pros / cons:

+price!
+possible 5.1 output (confirmed)
+connectors for SD TVs
+quality levels good

-GUI is not the prettiest
-limited compatibity for recording (dvd+r / dvd+rw only)
-unresponsive remote
-slow response in general
-size

Overall: I'm going to stick with it, cause its a huge improvement over the old-setup and I doubt I can get anything better for this price. Going to invest in a all-in-one remote to make things easier, and stock up on re-writables.

Also will check out these audio outputs... I have a cheap 5.1 system from last Christmas (£15 Superdrug), so if it does work, that'll be a bonus.

Any questions or opinions, just reply :thumbsup:
 

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