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Bigger, better, cheaper. Welcome to Pioneer’s DVD / HDD recorder DVR530H.

Pioneer DVR530H DVD/HDD Recorder|$899|www.pioneer.com.au|
For: Large hard-disk drive; faithful recordings in highest mode; easy to set up and use; good DVD picture
Against: Lower-quality record modes are disappointing; picture could be sharper; horrible remote; no coaxial digital output
Verdict: Worth a look, but there’s strong competition in this class

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This Pioneer has a hefty 160GB hard disk, an electronic programme guide, component video outputs with progressive scan, and a DV input, too. In terms of recording, it’s DVD-R/-RW only, though this does include dual-layer discs.

It’s more inclusive with playback, where DVD-RAM, DVD+R/+RW and CD-R/-RW are invited, too.

The recorder leads you gallantly through the step-by-step set-up process – one scan found all our available channels. There are six recording quality modes, or the unit will maximise quality for a given length or programme.

None of this is groundbreaking, mind, but it’s pleasing to see menus that are clear and easy to negotiate, even if they look a little dated. The clunky, cluttered remote does its best to confuse you, but it works.

So what of the picture? Via the analogue-only tuner, pictures are on the soft side and colours a little overblown, but by-and-large it’s a stable, noise and jitter-free image. Choosing the highest-quality mode – 34 hours of recording on the hard disk – the copies are as good as the original.

Moving down the settings, the picture loses sharpness and colours become more brash.

The depreciation in quality is more rapid than many rivals, so ideally we’d stick to at least SP mode, which gives around 68 hours on disk or two hours on a DVD.

Recording and writing to disc is quick and simple, while DVD playback is decent, too. Fast movement causes the DVR530H minor problems, and images are a little soft, but there’s no cause for serious concern.

If you’re after a DVD/HDD recorder, add this Pioneer model to your short list. Competition is fierce, though, so make sure you know which features are most imporatant to you before buying.


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