Mark Harris
10 BEST DIGITAL VIDEO RECORDERS - Independent, 26 Jan 2003

Mark Harris tunes into the latest tape-free digital TV recorders. So bin those video cassettes, it’s time to go digital…

Archos AV340 £550
The Archos Jukebox range is to video what the Apple iPod is to audio. This powerful portable player can record audio and video to its 40Gb hard drive from a TV, stereo, digital camcorder. Better still, it can then play them back on a built-in 3.8-inch colour screen and headphones (though ditch the ones supplied, they’re nasty).
Archos (01793 441510;

Philips DVDR80 £420
Anyone who’s ever struggled with a VCR timer will appreciate the DVDR80’s free Guide+ electronic programme guide, which enables on-screen recording of shows (except for cable TV) up to a week in advance. The DDVR80 is also ideal for home movie-makers, with a special socket to record directly from camcorders to DVD+RW or +R discs.
Philips (0870 900 9070;

Thomson Scenium DTH7500 £400
Don’t be fooled by the DVD logo on the front: the DTH7000 can only play back shop boughtDVDs, not record from TV. But its built-in 80Gb hard drive is large enough to record around 40 hours of high quality TV footage, making this a neat one-stop home cinema unit for digital beginners.
Thomson (01732 520920;

Sony RDR-GX7 £700
This is the only home DVD recorder that supports the recording of rival DVD-RW, DVD+RW and DVD-R formats, and ensures the best possible compatibility with other players. Playback quality is exceptional thanks to advanced noise-reduction technology, but novices might find this bulky player confusing to get to grips with.
Sony (0870 511 1999;

Sky+ Personal Video Recorder £199 plus £50 installation
Simplify your satellite viewing with this combined 40Gb hard drive and electronic programme guide. The on-screen guide is smart enough to record every episode of a series no matter when it’s shown, and you can pause or rewind live TV. Beware that if you don’t already subscribe to two premium channels, subscription costs an extra £10 a month.
Sky (08702 404080;

Toshiba RD-XS30 £525 --- BEST LUXURY BUY
Not only does the XS30 sport a roomy 60Gb hard drive for recording up to 78 hours of TV, it also has a built-in DVD-RAM/-R recorder. The two systems work well together, so that you can watch and record simultaneously, or snip the ads from a hard drive recording before archiving it on DVD.
Toshiba (08704 424424;

Panasonic DMR-E50 £250 ---- BEST BUY
This slim-line model offers an affordable way into digital video recording. Save shows on DVD-R discs for the widest compatibility (allowing playback on virtually any DVD player) or on DVD-RAM for VHS-style re-writability. Advanced functions include Time Slip, where you can watch the start of a show while the end is still recording.
Panasonic (08705 357357;

Pace Twin Digital TV £200 --- BEST BUDGET BUY
If you don’t need to permanently store TV shows, the Twin Digital offers 20Gb of hard drive storage, allowing you to time-shift and pause live TV. It incorporates two Freeview tuners for access to 30 free digital channels, although the basic programme guide is no match for Sky+’s more intuitive system.
Pace (0870 837 8445;

JVC HM-HDS4 £600
This videotape/hard drive combo is tailor-made for those who can’t quite let go of old technology. So if you’re still clicking your fingers to eight track, slip in a videotape of your favourite steam engine moments and admire the HDS4’s chunky styling and capacious 80Gb hard drive.
JVC (0870 330 5000;

Toshiba Satellite P20 Notebook £2000
Microsoft is gunning to replace TVs and VCRs with multimedia computers running its new Windows Media Centre XP operating system. An early contender is the P20 laptop, boasting a bright 17-inch widescreen display, powerful 2.8GHz processor and remote control. Plug in broadcast, cable or satellite sources and you can use Microsoft’s free online programme guide to view, pause and record live telly.
Toshiba (0870 444 8944;

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