With plenty of HOT deals floating around this Christmas, is it wise to opt for the cheapest model? We take a look at Philips' moderate offering hoping to last you longer than up to the January sales.

Philips' new entry-level DVD recorder is a great-looking model with the benefit of dual-format recording. It will accept +/-R and +/-RW discs, but won't record on dual-layered +R platters, as other models in the current Philips range will.

Four recording modes are available for the standard recording capacities of 1, 2, 4 and 6 hours. The top two modes are intended for high-quality archiving, while the latter two are for less important timeshifting of TV programmes.

Despite accepting DVD-RW discs, the deck will not record in the versatile VR mode. This means that the most powerful editing tools are not available. You can delete recordings, split titles and add chapter marks (either manually or automatically), but you cannot easily delete a section of a recording (such as an advert break). To do this you need to either split the title to isolate the break and then delete it, or allocate it its own chapter and then make it invisible, so that it is skipped over during playback. There is an eight-event, 1-month timer, with VideoPlus and PDC for ease of programming.

This deck does not have a built-in Freeview receiver, but it does have an input Scart that can take an RGB signal, so it will hook-up nicely with a digibox.

There are no component video outputs, so progressive scan is absent, but this an entry-level deck and the price reflects the omission.

Recordings via an RGB input are excellent in the 1-hour mode. Here the deck captures almost all the detail of the original signal, making this an excellent archiver for important programmes.

The more useful 2-hour mode is almost as good, with only slight degradation compared to the 1-hour setting.

The 4- and 6-hour recording modes introduce more artifacts, especially on fast-moving material like sport. They are really only acceptable for slow-moving programmes and are not of a good enough quality to warrant saving.

Philips has therefore offered a deck with few frills, but very capable basic recording. It's an entry-level model that cannot fail to please.


Those on a budget should ignore the ultra cheapies and opt for a model like this, which combines value for money with genuine quality.