Philips, one of the originators of all this digital stuff (and how many people know they invented the Compact Cassette?) has come to the market with a 120GB hard disk unit. And while it has all the expected features, there are a number of goodies lurking under the bonnet that could sway a potential buyer into this unit.
Firstly the techie stuff. The HDRW720 records to hard disk and to DVD+R/RW discs. Although DVD-R/RW is not supported, this should not prove a problem as most other players are able to read the +R/RW spec. Recording modes to disc vary from 60 minutes at what Philips calls M1 mode, through to 480 minutes in M8 mode. Hard disk capacities are up to 130 hours by comparison.
DVD-R/RW, DVD+R/RW, DVD-Video, CD, SCVD and MP3 is supported for playback. Connectivity includes the usual combination of SCART, RGB, S-Video Audio RCA and component connectors. For digital camcorder buffs there is also an IEEE 1395 /I.Link/Firewire port. Progressive scan is also supported on monitors and TVs that have this facility. Timer recording is a little on the light side for a unit of this level, with only a 1 month/30 event timer available, however (and, sadly, we didn’t get the chance to try it out), there is also a nice feature documented in the unit called Favourite Show Selection that lets you automatically record every episode of a show.
But the really cool feature is that viewed programs are always automatically stored on an adjustable six-hour hard disk buffer. Later you can retrieve them, watch them again, transfer them to the hard drive, or simply record them onto a DVD+R/RW disc.
Also included in the nifty features list is the ability to do an instant replay (whilst still recording) and of course, there is the chase play type system – called FlexTime by Philips.
And if you are transferring data from a digital camcorder, a system called Smart Chaptering will automatically add chapter points at timecode breaks in your footage (that is, the points on the mini DV tape where you pressed stop and start when shooting).
Sadly, one documented feature that is incorporated in the Australian version of this unit is Guide Plus+, an onscreen television guide much like the Foxtel guide, so if you are reading the specifications of this recorder and see this, don?t get too excited!