Sharp DV-HR300 DVR/DVD Recorder Page 2

High-speed hard-disk-to-DVD dubbing is possible, too. Dubbing a 1-hour program encoded at the highest quality (Fine mode) takes 30 minutes if you use a 2x-compatible DVD blank. Dubbing the same 1-hour program recorded at the lowest quality (EP) takes only 5 minutes. If you want to change to a different recording-quality mode, you'll have to do the dub in real time.

PLUS Enormous versatility. Very good recording and playback performance. Attractive styling. Useful programming features.

MINUS Complex editing procedures.

While the DV-HR300 supplies the four more-or-less standard recording modes - Fine, SP, LP, and EP for 1, 2, 4, and 6 hours per blank DVD (or 20, 33, 67, and 100 hours on the hard drive) - it's one of the few recorders that also allows fine-tuned tradeoffs between recording time and quality. The manual recording mode can be set in 32 increments between the playing-time extremes for both DVD and hard-disk recording. You can actually fit 140 to 150 minutes of near-commercial-DVD-quality video per disc if you carefully set the manual mode, instead of the 2 hours you get by selecting the SP mode.

Hookup was uneventful. I was able to get the front-panel i.Link (a.k.a. FireWire) input, intended for data from a digital camcorder, to also respond to audio and video signals fed from my computer even though the manual implies this can't be done (results may vary depending on your computer and playback software). The i.Link connection is input only, so you can't upload a recorded program to, say, your computer.

Sharp DV-HR300 remoteThe recorder's remote is generally easy to use, with the most-used player controls comfortably arranged in the lower half of the handset. Its only real drawback is that some important buttons, like the onscreen-display controls, are underneath a flip-down door that itself carries important controls - like the record button.

These and all the other features of the DV-HR300 operated exactly as described in the manual, including certain exceptions and complexities involving both high-speed dubbing and editing (though the complications of the latter are par for the course - I haven't seen a simpler editing system that is equally versatile). Video performance in both recording and movie playback was very good, making allowances for the usual degradations you get when recording in the long-play modes.

Using the onscreen timer recording system proved easier than the usual manual process - the recorder puts up a grid of times and channel numbers, and you use the remote control to navigate the grid and select the blocks representing the time/ channel combinations you want to record. (Actual channel names and program titles do not appear, but VCR Plus+ recording is also available.) While it doesn't quite match the ease of use of an onscreen electronic program guide, Sharp's DV-HR300 gets very close. Its editing features also make it extremely versatile, and it looks great both on the shelf and on the screen.