Humax DRT800 DVD/TiVo Recorder

The latest DVD recorders have so many advanced features that they can be daunting to use. Just pick up the instruction manual, and you'll likely find yourself slogging through pages of editing commands as well as countless rules for recording on different disc formats. Then there's the Humax DRT800.
Fast Facts

DIMENSIONS (WxHxD) 16 x 3 x 12 7/8 inches PRICE $499; plus TiVo service, $12.95 a month or $299 for lifetime of recorder MANUFACTURER Humax USA,, 866-486-2987

Key Features

• TiVo programming guide and 80-gigabyte hard-disk recorder • Dubs from hard disk to DVD-R/RW • USB 2 connection to home network or other TiVo devices • inputs/outputs i.Link (FireWire) input; 2 composite/S-video inputs (1 on front panel), composite/S-video and component-video outputs (switchable between interlaced and progressive-scan), all with stereo analog audio; coaxial digital audio output; RF input/feedthrough output; telephone connector; 2 USB ports; output for supplied IR blaster

Although Humax calls it a DVD recorder, the DRT800 takes a different approach. Rather than boasting extensive editing options, the Humax engineers focused on building a video hard-disk recorder using TiVo's proven graphical user interface. They also added a DVD burner for making "keeper" discs of programs recorded on the hard drive. Here, the DVD recorder is really an accessory to the TiVo recorder.

Of course, you have to give up something to get something, and the DRT800 is distinctly limited compared with a typical DVD/hard-disk combo recorder. For one thing, you can't record directly onto DVD. You first have to capture your program onto the 80-gigabyte hard drive by dubbing off the air or from a camcorder or other source. And you can't copy an existing DVD - with or without copy protection - from the internal DVD drive. There's also no way to edit your recorded programs other than to delete them or to specify the order in which they're copied to a DVD.

But to compensate for the stripped-down DVD recorder, you get one very big, very important feature - TiVo. Humax has extended the intuitive, elegant menu system used to operate TiVo's wonderful program guide and hard-disk recorder to include both DVD playback and DVD recording.

Your high-tech household will love the ability to hook up the Humax to a home network and, through it, to the Internet. After downloading a server program from TiVo to your computer, you can use the home network connection to stream MP3 music from the computer through the DRT800, providing an easy way to get tunes from your "ripping station" PC into your home theater. The DRT800 can also show JPEG images from the PC (or from a picture CD) through its video outputs.

You can use the Internet connection further to download TiVo program-guide information, which can be a lot faster than a phone connection. (But you still have to program the DRT800 initially through a phone connection.) The TiVo service also offers some music programming for streaming (but not recording) through the Humax - a taste of things to come? Very cool.