(I originally posted this review over on Ciao in early January 2008 but the information is still correct as far as I know (guess I made the right decision not going for the HD-DVD player too huh? lol) and I wanted to share my information/opinions on this item, so im posting this here too).
- Introduction -
I had been wondering about purchasing an HD (HD = High Definition, for anyone who's not aware) DVD player in the new year sales, due to the fact that I've recently got a new TV (the Sony Bravia KDL-20S2020, which I've also done a Ciao! review on) that is HD Ready and I quite wanted to take advantage of that, plus I saw one for £180 with an offer for 7 free HD DVDs which I thought was a generous offer at the time (see Toshibas website for info on this if your curious but thats rather off topic really).
After thinking about it for a few days over the Christmas period, I decided that I was being a bit hasty, lets face it nobody knows for sure which HD format will win the so called format war (HD DVD vs Blu Ray (BD)) and as my TV is only pretty small at 20", I decided against it. Trying to think of some alternative gadget to treat myself to, I thought that a DVD player that offers HD upscaling would be the next best thing and then it dawned on me that the best device as far as im concerned, would be a DVD Recorder that also offers HD upscaling of standard DVDs, as I could use it to digitise my old VHS video cassettes I still have/had and I could use it to record copies of my favourite movies and shows that I have on my hard disk recorder/PVR, so I can free up more space on it and so I can use the DVDs on a portable DVD player (which is something else im intending on buying sometime or another).
Anyway, I had a look online and I eventually found this Sony model at what seemed to me to be a pretty incredible price. It won't suit everyone as it doesn't have a digital tuner, so you can't receive Freeview or any digital channels on it but for me it was perfect (as I don't need a digital tuner, since my PVR has Freeview and I can connect it straight up to record from that and I have a Virgin Media cable box which I can also record straight from too) being on sale at a well known electrical goods retailer for only £89.99, offering both dual format recording and the HD upscaling facility for standard DVDs, I thought this was a particularly good price and it seemed to offer me just what I wanted, without having too much that I would be paying for but not really use, if you know what I mean, so I used the stores online reservation facility to reserve it from the stock of a nearby town branch and managed to pick it up there the following morning.
I've had it for just over a week now and have finally managed to sort out what I believe is the best setup for it and have burnt/recorded a few disks worth, so I feel I can comment on it.
As this can be quite confusing technology for some (and ok I'll admit it, some parts of it still confuse me somewhat!), I'll try to make everything as clear as possible but if your not familiar with some aspects, you can get alot of info. on DVDs and DVD recorders/recording on the website avforums.com, also of course feel free to drop me a message if you'd prefer, I'll try my best to help out (though ill be pretty busy from January 7th, as its back to work I go *grump* lol).
- Side note about price/value for money -
I should probably put a slight side note here in saying that I managed to get it on sale for £89.99 from a well known retailer and so when I say its good value for money, thats based on that price but its RRP according to the Sony site is £129.99, which isn't too bad I suppose but anyway the most it should cost is £129.99, though hopefully the sale price of £89.99 will stick and thats where its really good value for money I believe. Hope thats cleared that up then!
- Whats in the box? -
You should get the following, when you open the box.
* 1x Sony RDRGX350B-CEK DVD recorder (the main unit, of course)
* 1x Operating instructions booklet
* 1x Mains a/c lead
* 1x Basic Sony European Guarantee leaflet
* 1x Aerial cable
* 1x Remote (quite a long remote with plenty of buttons)
* 2x AA batteries (for use in remote control)
- Initial Setup -
It did take a while to setup and it wasn't until some days later that I figured out the best setup for me personally, which you can read about under 'ports/connections' but the initial setup so that I could find it through an a/v channel on my TV and start to use it, took about a couple of hours (recorders are often more complicated to set up than straight standalone players).
One problem that was experienced when initially setting it up was that the SCART socket that the manual said was specifically for connecting to the TV/ariel, didn't seem to find the feed and didn't work. My dad, who luckily was around and agreed to help, tried using it on the other SCART socket and that did seem to work - don't ask me why but it did! so its perhaps a big 'buggy' but it can be made to work if you don't mind taking the time to try different connections and what-not, at least we got there in the end anyway!
- What are its main features? -
* Multi-format recording
The SONY RDRGX350B-CEK is a multi format DVD recorder, which means that you can record onto all of these format DVD disks:- DVD+R, DVD+R/W, DVD-R and DVD-R/W. The difference between R and R/W is that ones with R/W stand for re-writeable, meaning that you can record onto the disk multiple times. R stands for recordable and these ones can only be recorded onto once, so if you record a movie and watch it, then decide to delete it and write something else onto the disk, it won't let you as it'll tell you that you can't get the recording time back again. I believe that DVD R/W disks allow you to record and re-record onto them something like 49 different 'titles' (shows/movies etc.) up to about 1,000 times.
The other main difference with the DVD disks is the price, funnily enough single use - or +R DVD disks are cheaper than their R/W counterparts, for obvious reasons.
It does say it also supports recording to double layer DVD disks, which give you extra room (space/recording time) but I'm not sure of the details of this to be honest.
* Recording Modes
This DVD recorder offers a maximum of 9 different recording modes, starting with HQ (High Quality), which offers the best picture quality but only allows you to record up to 1 hour and 1 minute of footage to most DVDs using that mode and ending with SEP, which offers 10 hours, although this mode isn't available if your using a DVD+RW or DVD+R disk, in which case for those formats the highest or longest recording mode available is SLP, which should offer about 8 hours of recording. Not bad for one DVD disk! though the quality would be pretty poor... for movies its obviously best to try and get them to fit onto one of the first recording modes, for better quality picture. I've personally used both the highest mode, HQ and the second highest, HSP and there's very little, if not any, difference between the two, the picture is fine. I have also heard that the quality when a 3 hour long movie is recorded using this model, is very good, which I can believe, so I'm not worried about this. I couldn't ask for more available modes really, who needs to be able to tape for more than 8 hours onto one DVD disk?!
Also something worth mentioning is that its easy to set the recording mode before making a one touch recording. This is done simply by pressing the 'Rec Mode' button on the remote, whereby on screen it should show you the highest recording mode (best quality and least recording time) first and the more you press it, the further down the list of modes it'll show until you reach the one you want, then simply make sure your on the right channel and press 'Rec' and it'll record it (the recorder will have to be switched on for this to work of course).
* OTR (One Touch Recording)
As mentioned above, its possible to instantly record from the channel the DVD Recorder is currently on. To do this, as mentioned above, you will have to switch it on, by pressing the 'Rec' button on the remote it doesn't automatically switch the unit on, unlike my VCR and it does take around about 35 seconds (yes I was sad enough to time it earlier in the week im afraid I'll admit!) to warm up before it will record but it does get there in the end!
* DivX, MP3 and Jpeg Playback
Yes its supposed to be compatible with disks that have DivX videos, MP3 audio and/or jpeg images stored on them (though not the progressive jpeg file format, im not sure what the difference is there though). I haven't really tried this myself, I think if anything I may use the DivX functionality if legal movie downloads become popular but otherwise, its just another feature that sounds cool but I can't really see me using it personally, I listen to my MP3s and view my Jpegs on other devices. Still everything else I've got to work on it so far, so im sure this should work too and may interest some.
* Naming DVD Disks and titles
Well that says it all really. You can name the DVD disk itself and you can name individual 'titles' (shows/movies or whatever you recorded onto the disk) too. To name the DVD disk, simply press 'system menu' on the remote, then go to 'disc setup', then scroll to the right for 'Input Disc Name' and 'Next screen', then hit enter and you can navigate around the letters and press enter for each letter you want. For entering names of titles, press 'title list', then select the title that you want to name and press the right arrow button and select edit, then title name.
If you name the DVD disk, then when you next put it into the recorder, when the details show up on screen recognising the disk, it'll display the DVD name next to the other information (such as the type (format) of disk it is and so on, this information is automatically displayed for a few seconds when you first close the disc drawer and it reads the disc, you should also be able to see the disc name at the top of the screen when you the load the 'title list' screen).
When you name titles on a recordable DVD, you'll see the name displayed by the thumbnail image representing it on the 'title list' screen, whereby normally in that space it'll just say the recording mode used and the date, time and channel it was recorded on. So instead of having that not so interesting info. there, it could say 'Gladiator' (if you tape the movie Gladiator from TV) or 'CSI episode 5' or something similar, obviously so its alot easier to identify whats on each recording.
* HD Upscaling
This model offers full 1080p upscaling of standard DVDs. It has 1x HDMI port at the back, which means that if you purchase an HDMI lead (as it doesn't come with one and be careful, these can be VERY pricey, though many people say that there's really little difference in quality between a £12 one and a £50 one as its a digital signal, so quality isn't such an issue, if you see one for anything below £20 then thats pretty good value for money, I eventually was lucky to find one on the high street for £14.99 in the Argos sale, as I was a bit too impatient to wait and order online I'll admit, you probably can find some cheap ones online that are slightly cheaper! still, enough about that...) and connect it to the HDMI port at the back and then connect that to the HDMI port you should have at the back of your HD Ready TV, then pre-recorded DVDs (of movies, like I thought Casino Royale was a good one to test this feature as it has alot of fast moving action etc.) will be automatically shown in whats called upscaled quality. This doesn't mean that standard DVDs will suddenly be full HD quality but what it does do is to make the picture as clear, crisp and sharp as possible and to basically show it in the best possible picture. I have tried this, with Casino Royale as I say and it did look very good on the TV screen. I feel that there is a difference, others will differ and say that upscaling is automatically done on any HD Ready TV but personally I think it is worth paying that little extra for (though even so, this is still a very cheap piece of kit I feel), I do think that it shows DVDs in that extra crisper sort of clearer way that makes fast paced action movies look just that little bit better, which is great.
I also feel that I should mention here that I have read online that you shouldn't have both the HDMI and SCART cables connected at the same time, as its not very good for it apparently. This means that if you want to watch a movie on DVD using the full upscaling capability then you should disconnect the SCART lead thats current connected to other devices or anything else not necessary, before connecting the HDMI lead and watching it through that. If a SCART lead has to be connected so that you can view the recorder on the TV screen then I guess you have no choice, I just remember reading that its advisable to not have both types of connections being used live at the same time, so I thought I should pass on that advise...
* SmartLink/Bravia Theatre Sync Compatibility
Okay this is when it gets more techy and I may start to get a little lost or confused myself, I'll admit. SmartLink im aware of as its something that my TV is compatible with and basically how it works is that compatible devices should be able to communicate with one another, so its possible to set record timers just through the TV that are then transmitted to the SmartLink compatible device (ie. the DVD recorder). However, this only works if everything is connected up and works in the right way and as it happens, I'm not making use of this feature, due to the way I ended up connecting/cabling everything up, which I'll explain later. This is still a useful function to have though, if you weren't wanting it for recording from external devices then im sure it would come in handy for some. The Bravia Theatre Sync feature is something similar I believe, although im less aware of it to be honest. From what I've read, some Sony Bravia's have this built in and it appears to be a similar concept, only that its transmitted through HD/HDMI instead of SCART, like SmartLink is (you have to have it connected by SCART to use SmartLink and it has to be connected by HDMI to use Bravia Theatre Sync I believe). I apologise if this isn't too clear, I'm not entirely sure how it all works myself but im sure you can find more information on this elsewhere online, through Sony's site most likely.
Yep just like VCRs, VideoPlus can be used with DVD Recorders and this functionality is built into this model. I wouldn't praise it much though as its only really of use with analogue channels.
- Warning Regarding Recording Use of this Model -
I would like to make it clear that unless you have some other form of receving digital channels, such as a seperate Freeview set top box or PVR like mine or you have Sky or Virgin Media cable, then the recording side of this machine will be pretty much obsolete and useless once the digital switch over hits your area, which should be sometime in the next few years, so please bare that in mind. This machine does only have 1 tuner, which is analogue. It has VideoPlus, as mentioned above but thats only of use if your going to set up a timer record for an analogue channel, thats all.
- Important Note about Reliability of Recordings/Disks -
Another thing I felt I should probably add, though it doesn't really apply just to this recorder but is more of a general note for anyone looking into getting a DVD recorder, is that the reliability of recordings can depend not only on the recorder but also on the blank DVD disks used.
Now there are alot of different brands that sell blank DVD disks for use in such recorders and some of these are of good quality and you shouldn't have a problem with and others are, well, not so good.
Personally I'd stay away from the very cheap ones made by brands that you haven't heard of. Thats not to say that good brand name disks won't ever have any faults but I suppose I am perhaps a bit too brand aware and like to think that the better name brands should equate to a better quality disk.
What I can say is that I've used the following brand name blank DVD disks and I haven't had any problems with them, they've all been recorded onto and played back without any problems - Sony DVD-R (1-16x speed compatible), Sony DVD+R/W (1-4x speed compatible), Samsung Pleomax DVD-R (8x speed) and a Philips DVD+R/W (1-4x speed compatible) that my dad let me borrow to try out. The Sony disks aren't as cheap as others and I managed to get a set of 5 DVD+R/W and a couple of 5 pack boxes of DVD-R at WH Smith which would have cost close to £25 or so I think but the DVD-R were, at the time, on offer for about half price and I had a gift card to spend there, so they only cost me 99p in total - what a bargain, eh?! It should be cheaper to buy them cheaper online than on the high street and WH Smith isn't a particularly cheap place to buy DVD disks but evidently you can get some there.
Also I would recommend that, if you can afford it, you buy the Sony branded disks where possible, as I've read online that in tests, they come out as being one of the best (most durable etc.) brands of blank disks and they have something called AccuCore technology, yes it sounds a bit techy but basically its at least supposed to mean that Sony disks that have this technology, should be more reliable, better for archiving and is adaptible to temperature (don't ask, im not entirely sure about that but I guess if its very hot in your room then maybe with other brands their more liable to lose data(?) I don't really know).
You can buy a 10 pack of single use DVD-Rs on sites like play.com for around the £7.99 mark and rewriteable R/W disks cost a few pounds more, generally speaking. Its better to buy the smaller packs that come with jewel cases too, I am tempted to buy a 25 or 50 pack spindle but whe you think about it, there are no cases with the disks so once you record onto one, where do you put it so it doesn't get dusty and grubby from fingerprint marks etc.? so if you can afford it, I'd say stick with buying more of the 5 or/and 10 pack boxes that come with a jewel case for each disk and you shouldn't go wrong. If you want to find out more, do a search on Google and you should find websites that discuss the quality/reliability etc. of different brand DVD disks, this is where the internet is good so you can do a bit of research to see which brands other people suggest before taking the plunge and buying a large set of any, or see if anywhere will sell single disks or a 5 pack for a few quid and test them to see if they work well with the recorder, before parting with too much money.
As I say though, I wouldn't be too worried as none of the disks I've tried so far have encountered any real problems, its just something to be aware of and if a very cheap disk made by a company you haven't heard of doesn't seem to record or play back properly, I'd try buying a Sony branded disk or something similar and check if that works before blaming it on the recorder itself. Hopefully that clears that up... *phew*
- Audio -
This model offers your usual stereo sound but not Dolby 5.1 channel audio outputs, so as far as I understand it, this means that yes it will record and play back in decent stereo quality but it can't take full use of any 5.1 surround sound speaker system, which is a bit of a shame but as I'm just using it with my small-ish TV in my bedroom, I don't have a big speaker system and I haven't noticed any problems with the sound. The only problem I've noticed, which is also mentioned below, is that the volume on a recording from a VHS video was a bit quiet but recordings from my PVR aren't as quiet, so it was maybe a one off. If this becomes a big problem, I'll be sure to say so here though, of course.
- Ports/Connections -
This model offers the following - 2 x SCART (including 1 x RGB enabled), 1 x HDMI, S-Video output and digital coaxial input.
By using an interswitchable SCART splitter with buttons like I did, I found that its possible to connect 3 devices, in my case my VCR, PVR and Virgin Media cable box, to the DVD recorder via one of the SCART sockets and then I used the a/v sockets (you know the yellow, red and white coloured ones) to connect it up to my TV, where the a/v sockets are on the side of the TV. This means that I can then record from any of these devices and switch over to my TV channel and watch that while its recording straight from the external device. This is why I don't need a digital tuner, I simply record straight from external devices I already have. I only realised that I could connect it up this way a few days after having bought it, before I had it connected through SCART through my TV and it meant that I ended up only being able to record exactly what I was watching on TV, it was in essence a screen grab and so I couldn't digitise an old VHS video and watch regular TV at the same time, which was a big put off. I'm glad I figured out a better way to connect it all up now! so incase this helps anyone else, thats how I've got it set up for my own purposes and it works well, the only thing I need to bare in mind is that I have to have the recorder switched on before I can view my external devices on the TV but its not too noisy, so I'm not too bothered about that. Also I should probably note that in order to record from external devices, the right channel to set the recorder to is 'L1' or Line1. There is a Line2 channel that shows up on mine anyway but im not sure how or if that works to be honest.
- What if I want to playback DVDs I recorded footage onto, on my PC or other DVD player?/Finalising & Unfinalising -
In order for that to work, you have to finalise the disk. This is pretty easily done on this machine, simply press the 'System Menu' button on the remote control and then select 'disc setup, where the last option on the left is for finalise and then select next screen and press enter. Next you get a choice of which menu screen background you want to use, which is a bit of a novelty, its a bit like choosing your Windows background/wallpaper I suppose, there's one there with bubbles in it for some random reason, heck knows who decided on these but whatever, pick the one you want and hit 'enter' and it'll start to finalise the disk, which will take a couple of minutes but it does work, I've tried it and I've been able to play back recordings on both my laptop and the DVD recorder downstairs.
You can only finalise + or -R DVD disks once but at least this recorder does offer an unfinalise option for R/W disks, so you can record a movie, finalise it so you can watch it on a portable DVD player while on holiday, for example, then come home and unfinalise it and re-record onto the disk, which is pretty cool. This has been tried and it did work, which is quite impressive I feel.
- How user friendly is this? Navigating around menus etc. -
I think a very important aspect of any DVD recorder is how user friendly it is, or otherwise is it at all possible to use on any kind of a day by day or even weekly basis, without me having to pull out the ol' manual and scratch my head considerably! which I find very frustrating, considering I like to think of myself as being fairly knowledgeable with gadgets and so on... fairly, not majorly and I certainly don't think of myself as a dunce but I must say, I have been put off buying a DVD recorder for some years due to my parents having one and experiencing different problems with it and when I've asked how things work, its all seemed just a bit too complicated and I never felt I really understood it all well enough to invest in the technology I suppose.
Now I've bit the bullet, so to speak, I'm pretty impressed. I like that the main menus (the system menu and title list screens) are clearly laid out and its pretty easy to guess what options are contained within each section, certainly where the system menu is concerned. I don't feel too scared to use that lol you will have to read the manual for a while to get a feel for quite what you can edit and whats where to some extent, but once you get used to it, I feel that it is fairly user friendly. I think now that DVD recorders have been around for a few years, its a bit better, in terms of being refined so that its a little more clear and the menus and navigation is a bit more obvious, perhaps. You need, or I suppose at the least ought to, make a couple of throwaway/test recordings and spend a bit of time navigating the menus and selecting the options to see what it does, to get a real feel for it, so its the same as most items really. I will be honest and say that when I first saw the remote control, I did think eek! this looks complicated! but now im a bit more used to using it, I'm not quite as scared as I perhaps initially was! all in all, I feel that the menu's are pretty well laid out and that while probably not being entirely user-friendly for real technophobes, its certainly not bad. Have at least a good skim read of the manual, purchase at least 1 R/W DVD disk and have a go with some test recordings and you should soon feel like you have a good idea how to edit your recordings and navigate your way around the screens and menu's.
- Manual -
The manual that comes with the recorder, well for one im glad that you get a hard copy. Some things nowadays only come with a CD which has a .pdf file with the manual on it, to save money from not having to print off all the pages I believe but when it comes to manuals for devices like these that have many features and requires a bit of reading up on really, well I really do prefer having a proper hard copy from the get go.
The manual is quite good, it gives example illustrations (not straight screen caps but illustrative drawings I suppose you could call them), to back up the instructions it gives. It covers the basic functions as well as more advanced ones and its pretty easy to follow, with a good contents that shows that it groups tasks together, for example it starts with 'Hookups and Settings', which guides you through the initial setup of the recorder and what cables should go where and so on. It then goes on to a useful section entitled 'Eight Basic Operations' which covers inserting a disc, recording a programme, playing the recorded programme, naming a recorded programme, labelling and protecting discs and so on. There are also sections on 'Timer Recording', 'Playback', 'Erasing and Editing', 'Audio Tracks', 'Settings and Adjustments' and 'Additional Information', so its all organised quite well. Also the booklet is all in English, its not massive with only 20 pages in English and the rest in other languages like some can be, thankfuly!
The manual is 110 pages in total and not only does it have that handy contents with the information handily separated into those aforementioned sections but it also has a handy index at the back too, which makes it easy to find information on something like 'Recording Modes' quite quickly and easily by looking that up under 'R' in the index of course. So yes, I quite like the manual!
- Manufacturers Website -
You can download the recorders manual and find other support materials for it, through Sony's British website here:- http://www.sony.co.uk/support/
You can find it by searching by category - home entertainment -> DVD Recorders ->RDRGX350'.
- Any other criticisms worth mentioning? -
A few, the first being that the fast forward 30 seconds at a time function doesn't seem to work properly, or didn't for me when I played back a recording on a DVD-R disk. Thats all really... if I encounter anything else that I feel would affect the purchasing decision of this model, I'll be sure to add it to the review but so far im pretty impressed with this machine, so far its done everything ive asked without any problems really.
As well as this, I did have a problem with the picture for a few days. What would happen would be that I could get the recorder to show up on my TV screen but if I navigated through the screens and then exited it (once I'd made all the edits etc. I wanted), the picture would go distorted and stretch across the screen. The reason for this being that its looking for the aerial connection, thinking it should be showing me a live channel, or otherwise that the other SCART socket isn't being used, at least thats what I reckon. I somehow came across the solution to this, which is to add an extra SCART to the other socket that was otherwise being unused, I thought I'd try doing that and I ended up discovering that even with it not connected to the TV or any other device, it stops the distorted picture problem and now if I press 'system menu' to exit, it just shows me a blank screen as it should, if I've switched my PVR (or whichever external device is selected via the SCART splitter) off, or it'll show the PVR contents. So that problem is pretty easily solved. For anyone interested in the photos below, the SCART lead thats just sort of sitting by my VCR, thats the one thats connected to the back of the DVD recorder to stop the picture distortion/stretch problem. So thats that and there's only one other thing I've noticed that may be worth a mention. Thats that while I watched a recording that I'd made to DVD from a VHS tape, the volume was a bit low. I can't make the volume on the VCR any louder and the volume on the TV was loud enough while I was making the recording, so why that happened I don't know but its a fairly minor niggle, as you could still hear it, there was just a bit of a static noise if you turned it up loud to hear it fully, so I suppose its possibly not the best of the best for VCR recordings... I won't just be using it for that though, so I'm not entirely upset about it.
- Any final thoughts? -
This is just what I was looking for, a good value for money machine that lets me watch my standard bought DVDs in the best possible picture quality and makes use of my TVs HDMI port/socket and it also allows me to digitise recordings onto DVD disks from my PVR, cable box and VCR. I've been able to digitise a few movies I'd taped off TV onto VHS videos from some years ago and I've thus been able to chuck them out, giving me more space - hurrah! I have piles more to do sometime and I look forward to getting more storage space - I don't think anyone can deny that DVDs take up alot less space than VHS videos do and plus you can't play VHS videos on a portable DVD player!
For under £100, it may not come with the cables or any recordable disks (which I can't decide whether to let Sony off for this or not - hmmm not even one SCART or a DVD R disk, that is a bit meany!) but these can be bought, if you do a bit of research, fairly cheaply and perhaps you already have the necessary cables or/and disks at home, in which case it would be unnecessary paying for them in the item price(?) it may not have a digital tuner but thats fine for me and plenty of others that already have cable or a Freeview set top box or PVR like I do, as I say it is fairly easy to connect it straight up to these devices if you purchase a SCART splitter (one with the buttons or otherwise you'll have to pull the leads out each time, they can only take picture from each item at a time) and it works fine that way, so it does what I need without much problems.
I've certainly not encountered any real faults, no freezing or disks that don't work days later and the finalising procedure has worked well each time and all disks seem to play fine on my laptop and on different DVD players throughout the house each time, I know that some recorders don't work too well and the disks can only be played properly on the recorder itself - really useful if you want to play something elsewhere! this doesn't appear to have that problem at all and I haven't had any problems with recordings thus far. I keep my fingers crossed that this will continue to be the case but but so far, im generally quite impressed with what I managed to get for my money.
If your like me and want to record to DVD footage you already have on a PVR or record from an external Freeview set top box or device or record from cable (as long as the channel doesn't have anti-copying protection, which will mean you can't record onto it, I'd imagine Sky Movies etc. might not let you do this), then this will do the job and will offer upscaled playback of standard DVDs with the item itself costing under £100 - what more could you want? (other than the cables and disks - I know!). I'm marking this as 4 out of 5 since it doesn't come with any SCART or HDMI cable and no recordable disks and because of the criticisms mentioned above (under 'any other criticisms worth mentioning?').
So yes, I would recommend this, as long as your aware about the fact that it only has an analogue tuner and that it doesn't come with the necessary cables or any recordable disks. If your interested, you'll find some photos below of the device itself, how it looks next to my other equipment and of the remote control.
I hope this review has helped you decide whether this item is for you, many thanks for reading!
BRAVIA' Theater Sync - automatically controls system components with one-click ease
HDMI output with 1080p upscaling to maximize picture quality even on large screens
Record and playback on the full range of DVD discs available: DVD+R / DVD-R / DVD+RW / DVD-RW / DVD+R DL (Double Layer)
Playback of digital stills (JPEG) and audio (MP3) files from a CD or DVD
24-hour Recording Mode on a DVD disc