Toshiba has bitten the compatibility bullet with its computer DVD burners, adding DVD+R/+RW support. Its first consumer DVD recorder, though, still adheres fully to the DVD Forum’s approved formats of DVD-R, DVD-RW and DVD-RAM.
If you’ve seen the D-R1 around in the shops in recent months and been put off by the price, you can now reconsider. The price has dropped to $1,199 – and for this you get excellent performance and a reasonably good feature set.
Recording time and quality
The first feature to warm the cockles of this writer’s heart is the extreme flexibility of the recording time/recording quality settings. At first glance, it’s horrifying: just two or four hours! However, delve a little deeper and you’ll find there are no less than 38 video bit rates available, from 1.4Mbps to 9.2Mbps, allowing a finer degree of control than any other recorder I’ve seen. Furthermore, you can specify the audio recording standard you want. Always two channels, but it can be LPCM or Dolby Digital in either 192kbps or 384kbps.
Another feature is even more unusual: the control you have over menu creation. Like some other units this includes a set of selectable colour schemes – unlike them, though, you can also generate chapter submenus. Many ‘-‘ DVD recorders don’t allow thumbnails pictures on the menus but with this recorder, you can create a more professional look for your DVDs.
Toshiba?s support for DVD-RAM discs gives you extensive recording capabilities, including selection of a precise frame for any edits. DVD-RAM also makes for easy implementation of ‘Time Shift’ features and Toshiba has not let this opportunity go to waste, although it calls it ‘Chase TV’. Essentially, you can record something, then go back, and start watching an earlier point in the program.
One minor problem is that as the D-R1 is designed for the European market, it expects European channel spacing. The built-in tuner consistently missed one of the local UHF stations during auto-tuning, although I was able to capture this manually. The timer recording can be set up manually as well, or using the ‘ShowView’ system, which is simply the European name for G-Code.
Despite the presence of a SCART input, recording in RGB is not supported so S-Video is the best you’re going to manage. Happily, this produces a nice result, and with the ability to fine-tune the recording to fully take advantage of the space available on a DVD, your final video quality will be exemplary.
Good news for the home video fan too as there’s a DV/i.LINK input on the front panel. For those who are using analog, both composite and S-Video inputs are present.
There are many other useful inclusions as well. A Picture-in-Picture feature allows you to have a TV window in the corner while you’re watching a DVD and the unit keeps details internally of the last 760 DVD-RAM discs you’ve used to help with locating programs.
Overall, this is a powerful recorder with unique features and a compelling price, and one well worth considering.