Burning Desire Page 7

RCA DRC8060N

RECORD/PLAYBACK PERFORMANCE All results for the progressive-component output. Test patterns were 4:3.

Recording mode 1 Best (1-hour/ DVD) 2 High (2 hours) 3 Good (3 hours) 4 Normal (4 hours) 5 Basic (6 hours) 6 Low (8 hours)
Recorded pixel count (horiz. x vert.) 720 x 480 720 x 480 352 x 480 352 x 480 352 x 480 352 x 480
Video bit rate with Avia resolution test pattern (megabits per second) 8.8 Mbps 4.5 Mbps 3.0 Mbps 2.2 Mbps 1.4 Mbps 1.0 Mbps
Onscreen resolution (lines, horiz. x vert.) 540 x 480 540 x 480 260 x 480 260 x 480 260 x 240 260 x 480
Audio bit rate (kilobits per second) 256 kbps 256 kbps 256 kbps 192 kbps 192 kbps 192 kbps
All Video Encoding: MPEG-2 All Audio Encoding: 2-channel Dolby Digital

DVD PLAYBACK PERFORMANCE All results for the progressive-component output. Test patterns were 16:9 widescreen except for onscreen resolution.

Vertical luminance response (re level at 100 lines) 200/300/400 lines: ±0/±0/±0 dB

Horizontal luminance response (re level at 2 MHz) 4/6/8/10 MHz: -0.18/-0.35/-0.72/-1.1 dB 12/13.5 Mhz: -2.4/-3.2 dB

Onscreen resolution: 540 lines (4:3 image) In-player letterboxing: good

Recording quality for these DVD recorders was typical of the recorders we've tested, with comparable performance for modes offering the same maximum recording times. Beware of the highest-capacity modes of the Lite-On and the Samsung since they employ MPEG-1 encoding, which gives jerky motion reproduction. And though the RCA uses MPEG-2 encoding for its 8-hour mode and maintains smooth motion reproduction, the picture is as artifact-ridden as Samsung's - basically unwatchable for anything but still images. The 3-hour modes of the Lite-On and RCA produce the best tradeoff between recording time and picture quality for typical off-air recording jobs. Use each machine's 1-hour mode for the most critical dubs.

With a couple of exceptions, DVD movie playback was also about average. The unusual rolloff in luminance response of the Samsung's progressive output made it look slightly softer than either of the other machines. Interestingly, its interlaced component-video output was just fine (down less than a half decibel at 13.5 MHz). If you have a fixed-pixel TV (a microdisplay rear projector or a flat-panel TV), you might want to use the Samsung's interlaced output and hope your TV maintains luminance response while it performs the necessary interlaced-to-progressive conversion. That process was done in typical fashion by the Lite-On and Samsung recorders, with the usual result: "jaggies," or jagged diagonal edges, on material from video sources. The RCA was mostly free of this particular progressive-conversion artifact, which made it as pleasant to watch as it was to find such performance. Aside from the Samsung rolloff, all three players looked good with film material.

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