DVD recorders are to your movies what CD recorders were to your old cassette tape collection.
1Disc Options: DVD recorders record on one of the following formats: DVD+R, DVD-R, DVD+RW, DVD-RW or DVD-RAM. The RW represents the option to rewrite, or use the disc more than one time, without making the recording permanent. These discs hold 4.7GB of data, a marked improvement over a CD that holds less than 1GB. At a high-quality recording mode, you should expect at least two hours playback on a disc. In the DVD+R and DVD-R formats there are also dual-layer models, designated DL, which hold 8.5GB, or four hours of recordings. DVD-RAM comes in similar-sized single and dual-layer options and can play at the same time as it records, a feature not available on other formats. It, however, only works on certain players while the other formats are more widely distributed.
2DVR Functionality: While a DVD recorder is not the same as a DVR, some DVD recorders share many of the same functions. Some DVD recorders have a hard drive that allows you to save a designated number of hours of video before copying it to a disc. In addition, those with this functionality can often time-shift record, meaning pause live TV while still recording, much like a DVR. While this adds considerably to the price, if you dislike commercials, like doing instant replays when watching the big game or are interrupted frequently you may find this feature worth the price. If you record shows daily to watch once and delete, this feature can be useful compared to burning a disc each time.
3Inputs and Outputs: A DVD recorder will typically include high-quality analog inputs and outputs such as s-video and component jacks. Advanced models such as the Toshiba DVR620 DVD Recorder/VCR Combo will include HDMI output jacks to allow for high-definition upconversion on DVDs, making them a similar resolution to normal HD signals if the TV allows for it. In addition, most DVD recorders will include a digital coaxial or fiber optic output jack to integrate into a surround sound receiver, should a HDMI port not be present there.
4Other Considerations: Some DVD recorders will include an integrated VHS player and recorder. This allows for a one-button record to transfer between formats. While DVD resolution is approximately double that of VHS, when you record a VHS tape to DVD, you maintain the same resolution as before. For those with a cable box or satellite receiver, be certain that the unit you purchase includes an IR blaster to allow components to communicate and control each other for timer recording. Some DVD recorders will include VCR Plus functionality, which will show a TV schedule listing similar to that of a satellite receiver. Yet others are portable, a feature especially helpful when transferring videos directly from a video camera while travelling. These units may have an LCD screen or connect to a television.