RDR-GX7 DVD Recorder
Sony's newly released RDR-GX7 DVD Recorder is an exciting product that takes advantage of recordable DVD (DVD-RW and DVD+RW) as well as write-once DVD-R discs. The unit is designed to function similarly to a VCR, but with far more capabilities and ease of use. The built-in NTSC TV tuner records programs with the simplicity of a conventional VCR and includes VCR Plus+. Channel information as well as time and date are stored automatically for each recording. The user can also manually enter a title name for each recording. Random access makes this product more user friendly than a VCR, allowing the operator to select any of the previously recorded programs from a simple menu. In addition, programs that are no longer desired can simply be erased (Rewriteable discs), freeing up valuable recordable disc space on the DVD. The RDR-GX7 has an attractive silver look with nice build quality. The attractive light-blue, dot matrix display shows the track time when operating and displays the time and date when the unit is off. The construction is similar to some of the better Sony A/V components we've seen in the past.
The front lower flap that extends the full width of the unit reveals several A/V connections that include composite, s-video, iLink (IEEE1394 Firewire) and two-channel audio. This is ideal for both analog and digital camcorders. The iLink interface is used to control the camcorder and allow the RDR-GX7 to receive audio and video data that facilitates the powerful editing features built into the RDR-GX7. Several other buttons reside behind this panel including functions for the menu controls and the One Touch Record button.
The menu screens transition in a smooth fade-in and fade-out fashion. The title bar that appears when a selection is played shows the track, channel, start time, stop time and date. In some cases when the data is present in the video transmission, the program name also appears. Tracks contained in the list can be sorted by Date, Number or Title.
The variability in how well recordable DVDs work in machines from different manufacturers is a crap shoot. There's no doubt that more of today's DVD players are capable of playing recordable media. However, there are no guarantees in many cases. Here's a list of DVD Video players that are compatible with DVD+RW and DVD+R media.
We had recordable DVD media from both Sony and Verbatim. We started with the Verbatim DVD+RW disc for some of our initial testing. Verbatim has introduced some new cool looking recordable DVDs that resemble film reels. We recorded over-the-air programs from various channels and then selected the programs using the Title List.
The copy protection mechanism in the RDR-GX7 works well at preventing unauthorized recordings. Every one of the DVDs we tried with the exception of a Norwegian travel video resulted in a recording error. The unit accurately detects the copy guard signal and prevents unauthorized copies from being made. The unit can also detect copy control signals broadcasted over the air. There are three types of copy control (Copy-Free, Copy-Once, or Copy-Never) codes that are interpreted by the recorder.
Recording programs is a simple process with several options available. Manual recording is similar to a standard VCR where the user pushes the record button and the current channel is copied to DVD. The Quick Timer records in 30-minutes increments up to a maximum of 6 hours. Scheduled recordings are also available using VCR Plus+ or the traditional method and can store up to 30 programs (up to one month in advance). There's also a Synchro Record that automatically starts recording when commanded from an external component.
One of the great features of the RDR-GX7 is the ability to communicate with digital camcorders using the Firewire connection. Using the One-Touch Dubbing feature, the DVD recorder will transfer the entire content of the tape to a DVD. If the recorded content was stored on a DVD-RW disc using the VR mode, the Advanced Program Edit feature allows the user to completely rearrange or delete scenes, resulting in a fully edited version of the original content. Another feature called Program Edit lets the user select the scenes to transfer to the disc prior to burning the data on the DVD. This is particularly useful when using DVD-R write-once media. In this mode, the recorder keeps track of each scene selected by the user and creates a table to be processed once the arrangement is complete. This is possible because the recorder completely control the camcorder including play, stop fast-forward and rewind.
For those who lack the full home theater speaker system, Sony has included some audio processing to simulate a surround environment. The TV Virtual Surround (TVS) has four modes and can also be completely defeated. The Dynamic mode creates virtual rear speakers using the front two channels. The Wide mode is similar, but creates a virtual full five channel system. The Night mode is essentially a dynamic range compressor. Loud sounds are compressed and quiet sounds are still audible making it ideal when others are sleeping (like your neighbors). The Standard mode creates three virtual speakers.
Analog sources that have noise and line-to-line jitter can be improved by the Pre-frame Noise reduction and Time Base Correction circuits. We fed some VHS content that had both noise and jitter in the video and the recorded image was certainly more tolerable than the original source material. In addition, contrast, brightness and color controls allow the user to adjust the incoming video prior to being recorded. This is particularly important for many older videos that have some quality problems.
The RDR-GX7 uses 24-bit DACs running at 192 kHz conversion rates for the audio outputs. The digital outputs are down-converted to 16-bit/48kHz. As a CD player, the RDR-GX7 performed as well as many of the better DVD players currently on the market. However, I have plenty of other players that can play CDs well, so I would be inclined to preserve this machine for DVD recording and playback.
- Mitsubishi - PD-5010 50" High-Definition Plasma
Display (ISF calibrated)
|Review - At a Glance|
Sony - RDR-GX7 DVD Recorder with Progressive Scan Video
Size: 16-15/16" x 3-7/16"
x 15-15/16" (WxHxD)
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