Dual DVRW1 DVD recorder

This budget DVD recorder can be picked up from Asda stores and is a potential bargain. As a +R/+RW model it does not offer the level of flexibility you would get from a -RAM or -RW deck, so those who like to indulge in a bit of creative editing will need to look elsewhere.

There is no DV input for camcorder users either, although you do get front-mounted S-video and composite video inputs.

At the rear there are two Scart sockets, which can accept and deliver RGB images. This is fine (in fact, many DVD recorders do not offer an RGB input, so Dual is doing well here), but component video outputs for progressive scan images would have been welcome.

Digital audio outputs come in both optical and electrical variants for connection to a home cinema amplifier.

The deck is intended as a straight replacement for a VCR. It will offer greatly superior picture quality with just a few added bonuses - you can, for example, add chapter marks while recording, so that navigating through the finished disc is easier.

There are five recording modes, allowing between 1 and 6 hours to be squeezed on to a single-layered DVD.

In the 1-hour setting the captured picture is very sharp. Digibox users will be grateful for the RGB Scart input because this allows for the full impact of RGB pictures to be recorded. The picture is detailed and colourful and simply streets ahead of VHS.

The picture inevitably degrades as you go through the recording modes, but it remains very watchable, and superior to VHS up to and including the 3-hour mode.

Even the 6-hour setting (which may be useful if you go on holiday and want to record a few episodes of your favourite soap) is okay, with no hint of the ‘strobe’ effect that can blight low-resolution recordings. An unexpected bonus is the fact that this deck can play imported Region 1 discs as well.

Negatives include noisy operation, a tendency to freeze when switching from PAL to NTSC discs and an inability to handle DiVX internet files (which also caused freezing in our test).

Apart from this, the Dual DVRW1 is a capable recorder that can be a workhorse deck, offering good performance at a very good price.

Verdict

A deck that does its job with few frills, but a level of quality that is surprising given the price tag. A genuine option for those who want DVD recording on a budget.