I knew from the beginning, based on the price, that this product would not be a "top notch" performer. However, I wanted a DVD-Recorder *with* an ATSC tuner and this item fit that description.
My first disappointing discovery was when I began to connect the recorder to my analog TV. I thought that it would simply connect to the TV exactly like the VCR it would replace, but no. First off, the recorder does not have an RF modulator. This means that you must connect the recorder to your TV with RCA cables. The recorder does have a coax input and output, but this only allows the signal to pass through the recorder for recording. It does not send any audio/video from the recorder to your TV through the coax. My TV has two RCA inputs available, so it wasn't that big of an issue. If your older TV only has a coax connect, you'll need to purchase an RF modulator.
Okay, so I finally managed to get it hooked up and running. After scanning for all the digital channels in my area, I immediately noticed that the picture was much darker than before I connected the recorder. I adjusted the brightness on the TV, but now when I watch my satellite receiver, the picture is too bright. Aggravating. I shouldn't have to reset the brightness each time I switch between the recorder and the satellite.
The next disappointing discovery involves the aspect ratio. As I flipped through the channels, programs that were being broadcast in letterbox format looked great, but anything broadcast in 4:3 format was small on the screen. It looked as though the full-size image had simply shrunk on the screen on all four sides. You can set the recorder to display a 4:3 letterbox picture, 4:3 pan and scan picture, or 16:9 so I set it to 4:3 pan and scan. This solved the problem of the 4:3 broadcast image appearing shrunk on my screen, but anything broadcast in letterbox format had the ends chopped off. I don't understand why it was doing this. Before installing the recorder, the picture was displayed on the screen in either 4:3 or letterbox automatically. I didn't have to switch settings each time the program changed. Aggravating!
Okay, the next disappointment had to do with the process of recording a program. When I inserted a blank dvd-r it took about 60-90 seconds before the disc was mounted when you could actually begin to record. Playback was also slow to initiate from the time a disc was inserted until it actually began to play. Maybe this is normal for all dvd recorders though. This is my first. The quality of the recording was okay. It has several quality settings to choose from. The best quality will record 1.5 hours onto one dvd while the lowest quality will record 6 hours onto one dvd. I noticed that the video was good when recording in the low quality mode, but the audio seemed muffled. That is to be expected though as it was set to low quality.
My final disppointing discovery with this recorder was the no-frills onscreen display of program information and the poorly designed remote. You can't feel your way around the remote because all of the buttons are near equal in size and they are in a very linear pattern.
After an afternoon of messing with it, I've decided I'm taking this unit back for a refund and saving my money for something more substantial. My suggestion is that if you have anything beyond a simple setup, don't buy this recorder.
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