LG LST-3410A HD DVR

The sleek, silver LST-3410A offers an attractive combination of performance, functionality, and features, including both ATSC and NTSC OTA tuners; a QAM tuner for unencrypted cable channels (not tested); a 160GB hard-disk recorder; and the easy-to-navigate, feature-packed TV Guide On Screen program grid.

Setup
The basic setup consists of connecting your antenna to the RF input; your display to the component-video, RGBHV (multipin), or DVI output; and the analog or optical digital output to your surround processor or receiver. You can also record to the LST-3410A's hard drive by connecting the RF output from a standard-definition cable box or satellite receiver into the unit's second RF input—or, better, through a set of composite-video and stereo audio connections. (The LST-3410A lacks an S-video input for this purpose.)

With the LST-3410A on, select the video output (DVI, component, or RBG) and your display's resolution (480i, 480p, 720p, or 1080i); then proceed through the interactive setup routine and scan for channels. Another menu lets you easily add or delete channels.

Initial downloading of TV Guide program information requires you to shut the LST-3410A off, which I did. Next day, when I powered it up, a grid appeared showing all of the programs available on the channels previously scanned. The grid greets you every time you power up the LST-3410A.

Performance
Using my amplified, roof-mounted Yagi antenna, the LST-3410A's ATSC tuner picked up all of the available New York metropolitan area channels other tuners had logged. Although I'm only about 15 miles, as the crow flies, from the Manhattan-based transmitters, a neighbor's tree directly in the line of sight to NYC creates reception problems that only the large antenna and amplifier solved. I tried the Silver Sensor indoor antenna, which has never worked here (but has at friends' homes more than twice the distance from Manhattan and not as far above sea level as I am; damn that tree). It still didn't work.

Picture quality on my high-definition display (a DLP rear-projection HDTV monitor) via component video was bright, crisp, stable, and well saturated. When I switched to the DVI connection, I thought the picture improved somewhat in detail. It also seemed brighter. For some reason, however, the TV Guide grid stopped updating via the DVI connection. When I switched back to component video, it resumed.

Recording to the LST-3410A was conve-nient, though if you're used to TiVo, it will seem somewhat limited. You can't watch the beginning of a show while it's recording or watch a prerecorded show while recording another. If you hit the Timeshift button while watching a program, though, you can activate a temporary cache record mode that lets you pause, rewind, and return to the live program. Unlike TiVo, however, there is no monthly fee for the LG HD recorder.

The TV Guide On Screen interactive program grid includes eight days' worth of programming with both digital and analog channels appearing. To record a future program, you select it in the grid and hit a button on the remote. To begin recording immediately, you hit a different button. Features and additional options too numerous to cover here allow you to edit, bookmark, and otherwise manipulate what you've recorded.

You can record 12 hours of hi-def programming and up to 120 hours of standard-def, depending on the recording-quality setting. When you hit a button on the remote to access a menu of the shows you've recorded, each show is identified by name, date, and thumbnail "snapshot."

The LST-3410A is also equipped with an IEEE1394 interface, so once I'd located the pertinent section in the manual, transferring HD content to a compatible D-VHS VCR was straightforward. The Panasonic PV-HD1000 is not among the recommended models, but I tried it anyway. The LG LST-3410A would not yield its HD treasures to the Panasonic, but it did control the VCR's playback. The recommended JV CHM-DH30000U worked as promised; it was easy to archive HD broadcasts re-corded on the LG.

Conclusion
While it's not inexpensive, the LG LST-3410A is an attractive-looking, well-built combination ATSC tu-ner and HD DVR that offers outstanding performance and features, as well as an ergo-nomically attractive (though not backlit) universal remote control. Free OTA HD programming is one of the great bargains of our time. If you watch a lot of network programming and want to time shift it or archive it on D-VHS tape until you get HD DVD or Blu-ray, the LST-3410A is a great way to go.

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