Last updated: August 6, 2021

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Welcome to our big product test DVD Recorder 2021. Here we present all the products we have tested in detail. We have compiled detailed background information and added a summary of customer reviews on the Internet.

We would like to make your purchase decision easier and help you find the best DVD recorder for you.

You will also find answers to frequently asked questions in our guide. Furthermore, you will also find some important information on this page that you should definitely pay attention to if you want to buy a DVD recorder.




Summary

  • A DVD recorder allows you to record programmes and films from TV channels and save them on a hard disk or a blank DVD.
  • Basically, you can buy a DVD recorder as a hard disk recorder or as a DVD/VHS recorder combination.
  • DVD hard disk recorders are suitable for film and series fans who want to record TV broadcasts simultaneously or time-shifted. With the DVD/VHS combination, you can also digitise your video tapes.

The Best DVD Recorder: Our Picks

Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying a DVD recorder

How does a DVD recorder work?

A DVD recorder can record both analogue and digital picture and video material and play it back on internal or external storage media.

With this recording device you can watch time-shifted television, i.e. watch the programme while it is being recorded. This gives you the option of interrupting the programme at any time.

Recording your programmes and films on DVD is made possible with the help of a built-in laser. These DVDs can be inserted into an integrated drive, where they can be written to and played back. (Picture source: stockvault.net / frhuynh)

A DVD recorder has a built-in tuner so that you can receive the TV channels you want to record. To be able to record several programmes at the same time, some recorders have more than one tuner.

Depending on whether you watch TV via cable or satellite, you will need a different tuner.

What is the power consumption of a DVD recorder?

The average daily power consumption of a DVD recorder with a hard disk is 24 watts. In standby mode, the device consumes about a third of this amount.

In principle, consumer electronics devices contribute little to the power consumption of your household.

In direct comparison, however, the DVD recorder consumes more electricity than other similarly sized entertainment devices.

This also applies to standby consumption, although in most cases DVD recorders do not need an additional power cable.

What are the dimensions of a DVD recorder?

DVD recorders are usually rectangular in shape and have an average length of 43 cm, a width of 30 cm and a height of 6 cm. However, the exact dimensions of a DVD recorder can vary depending on the manufacturer and product type.

Model Dimensions in centimetres
Sony RDR HX 650 B 28.6 x 43 x 6.7 cm
Philips DVDR 3305 28.5 x 43.5 x 6.5 cm
Panasonic DMR-EX97CEGK 19.9 x 43 x 5.9 cm

What does a DVD recorder cost?

The cost of buying a DVD recorder is in the low to mid three-digit range. However, the exact price depends on the specifications of the product you choose.

An important criterion that determines the price is the storage capacity of the hard disk. The purchase price of a DVD recorder usually increases proportionally to the available built-in storage space.

Additional criteria that can influence the purchase price of your recorder are the available connections and the integrated TV tuner. DVB-S technology, which enables reception of channels via satellite, is priced higher than DVB-C reception via cable.

If you need more connections to use your recorder, you will also have to plan for higher costs.

Which well-known manufacturers of DVD recorders are there?

Large suppliers of consumer and household electronics are also responsible for the production of DVD recorders. The best-known manufacturers include brands such as

  • Panasonic
  • Sony
  • Samsung
  • LG
  • Philips

Panasonic in particular has been able to set new standards with its own devices and continues to distinguish itself with a wide product range of DVD recorders.

Due to the fact that successor models of the DVD recorder are already available, these recorders are produced less frequently.

In this case, it may be worthwhile to look for second-hand devices.

What accessories does a DVD recorder need?

To use your DVD recorder without problems, you will need additional items. Depending on the product and your needs, these products are already integrated or must be purchased separately.

Here, too, it is worthwhile to compare dealers, products and prices before buying. You need the following products as accessories:

Connection cable

Generally, the cable you need to connect your recorder to your TV is included with the purchase of the recorder.

If you prefer other picture and sound output formats, you will have to plan for additional expenses.

Storage media

The use of storage media is necessary so that you can watch your recorded films and series at the desired time.

The cost of different types of storage media depends on your individual preferences.

If you have decided to buy a DVD recorder without an integrated hard disk, the costs for the required external storage medium (hard disk, USB stick) may vary.

Storage capacity

The standard available storage capacity of a blank DVD is 4.7 gigabytes. Meanwhile, you can buy blanks with a capacity of 8.5 gigabytes; these must be written on both sides and are available in smaller package sizes.

Quantity

Blank DVD discs are sold in bulk packs, which on average contain either 25,50 or 100 discs. The more blanks you need, the more they cost.

Remote control

You need a remote control to record and play back your favourite formats. Like the connection cable, a remote control is usually included with the purchase of a DVD recorder.

With the additional purchase of a universal remote control, you no longer need two remote controls to use your DVD recorder and your TV set.

The advantage of an additional hard disk for a recorder with an already integrated storage medium is the uncomplicated expansion of storage space.

If you do not want to use additional cables, you can of course also replace the integrated hard disk.

However, you should only take this step if you know the composition of your device well and have a certain basic technical understanding.

Any resulting damage to your device will have a negative effect on the warranty and may cause additional repair costs.

Further costs in connection with storage media arise from the purchase of blank DVDs. You can purchase these based on the following criteria:

Write function

Depending on your personal preferences, you can purchase blank discs with different writing functions. DVD-R blanks allow you to record films and series once, while DVD-RW blanks allow you to transfer content over and over again.

If you opt for the rewritable version, you will have to invest considerably more money.

What are the alternatives to a DVD recorder?

The purpose of a DVD recorder is to record films and TV programmes. In the event that certain characteristics of this recording device do not match your expectations, the market offers various alternatives:

Blu-Ray Recorder

Compared to the DVD recorder, the Blu-Ray recorder not only offers significantly better audio and picture quality, but is usually also downward compatible. This means you can record and play back programmes in both DVD and Full HD quality.

Furthermore, these recorders are equipped with larger hard disks and thus more available storage space.

Before you consider the Blu-Ray recorder as a purchase alternative to the DVD recorder, you should consider the following aspects:

  1. A Blu-Ray recorder not only has more memory, it also requires more storage space. Recorded programmes and films in Blu-Ray quality require many times more storage space than recordings made with DVD recorders.
  2. Another factor that can be detrimental to you is the cost associated with the purchase. The purchase of the device already involves a multiple of the cost of the DVD recorder. Furthermore, you would also have to plan for significantly higher costs for the required storage blanks, which can lead to a long-term financial burden.

Your TV set may not be sufficient to enjoy the benefits of Full HD recordings. For this reason, you should consider all of these factors before making a decision.

Streaming service

The great advantage of a streaming service is that a large archive of series and films is available to you when you sign up. Additional equipment costs and expenses for blanks and other storage media are completely eliminated.

Compared to a DVD recorder, this alternative can also have disadvantages for you. A streaming service requires a permanent internet connection and may not offer you all the content you are interested in, but only specifically themed content.

If the internet in your household is on strike or has a suboptimal speed, the use of a streaming portal is limited at best.

Depending on which streaming provider has aroused your interest, use is often limited to a certain number of devices. Lifting this condition would be associated with additional costs.

Decision: What types of DVD recorders are there and which is the right one for you?

What distinguishes a DVD hard disk recorder and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

The DVD recorder is the successor to the video recorder and offers better video and sound quality as well as more storage options.

While VHS recordings are limited to videotape, DVD recordings can be stored on the integrated hard disk as well as on DVD discs, which offer much more storage space.

Normally, a DVD recorder allows time-shift television, which means that you can rewind or pause the programme you are currently watching. A burning function is not integrated into a commercially available DVD recorder at the time of purchase.

If you do not want to do without this function in connection with your recorder, you can purchase an external recording drive and connect it to your recorder.

Advantages
  • Integrated storage option
  • No space problems due to external storage devices
  • No additional costs for storage medium
Disadvantages
  • Storage space limited
  • Upgrade not possible or difficult
  • Loss of warranty if you upgrade yourself

What are the features of a DVD recorder/VHS combination and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

A DVD/VHS recorder combo combines the most important video media before Blu Ray: videotape and DVD. If you still actively use VHS tapes or want to transfer them to DVD, this device could be the right one for you.

In this case, however, caution is advised; some of these devices only have a recording function for VHS tapes. In terms of recording, however, there may be limitations, as DVD/VHS combos are often equipped with TV tuners that no longer meet today's standards.

Advantages
  • Playback of backward-compatible formats
  • playback in both directions
  • no significant surcharge
Disadvantages
  • Now difficult to obtain first-hand
  • Integrated tuner often in old DVB-T format
  • Loss of quality possible with VHS due to wear

Buying criteria: Use these factors to compare and rate DVD recorders

In the following, we will show you which criteria you can use to decide between the many possible DVD recorders.

The criteria you can use to compare recorders include:

  • Storage capacity
  • Unscaling function
  • Type of TV turner
  • Available interfaces
  • Supported recording formats
  • Supported playback formats
  • Maximum recording time
  • HDTV support

Hard disk capacity

The hard disks built into DVD recorders have become relatively standardised. Commercially available devices have a hard disk with 500 gigabytes, while previous models may also have hard disks with 160 or 320 gigabytes.

However, these products are discontinued models that are now difficult to buy first-hand.

Upscaling function

The standard picture quality of a DVD is in the aspect ratio 4:3 and in the resolution 720x576 (or 720x480 in North America). However, shortly after the release of the DVD, manufacturers decided to improve the output picture of DVDs by means of additional implementations.

DVD recorders with a built-in upscaling function allow you to improve the output picture to 720p (HD quality) and 1080i (Full HD).

In the case of upscaling to 1080i, however, you must take certain things into account. Due to generation differences, upgrading to Full-HD is not entirely possible without side effects.

Although the 1080i picture has a higher resolution, it is much less smooth and judder-free than the HD picture. How much these components influence the picture depends, of course, on your TV set.

Type of TV tuner

A DVD recorder usually has one of two tuners: a DVB-C or a DVB-S tuner. You must select the tuner based on your TV reception. DVB-C stands for cable connection, DVB-S for satellite reception.

A recorder with a DVB-S tuner is usually a little cheaper.

Available interfaces

A DVD recorder can have one or more of the following interfaces:

Interface Function
USB Here you can connect all external storage media, from USB sticks to hard disks, to your recorder in order to play back various multimedia files. If you want to transfer these files to the integrated hard disk of your DVD recorder, this is also possible.
HDMI This picture output format has now replaced its predecessor SCART. The connection to the TV set is much easier and the quality of the picture output is much higher. If the DVD recorder you have selected has an HDMI interface, you may have to buy such a connection cable separately.
CI+ If you have purchased an additional channel package, this is not a problem for DVD recorders with a CI+ input. This interface allows you to enjoy your additional TV channels and record your favourite programmes through the corresponding plug-in card.

Supported recording formats

Commercially available DVD-quality videos are in MPEG-2 file format. However, you can now purchase DVD recorders that work with more advanced file formats.

Many recorders support DivX and Xvid, both of which are based on the MPEG-4 format, which allows for higher quality video and less storage space. The latest DVD recorders also allow you to record in the MKV file format; this is standardised for Blu Rays.

Supported playback formats

If the DVD recorder of your choice supports one or more of the above recording formats, you can also play back these video formats without any problems.

Some DVD recorders also offer the option of reading image files. These are usually available in JPG format.

Maximum recording time

The maximum recording time can depend on several factors, such as the size of the hard drive and the recording quality you choose. At the lowest quality, you can record up to 1400 hours with a standard 500 gigabyte hard drive.

HDTV support

In order to not only watch but also record programmes and movies in HD quality, your DVD recorder must have built-in HDTV support.

Of course, you must bear in mind that this may affect your hard disk, as these recordings require more storage space.

Facts worth knowing about DVD recorders

The history of DVD recorders

In the late 1990s, the DVD was introduced as a potential successor to the VHS tape. The invention was considered groundbreaking because it was a much smaller medium in comparison and offered a gigantic storage volume by the standards of the time.

At the same time, electronics retailers were trying to establish DVD drives that could be built into PCs, in addition to DVD players for TV sets. While these were still sold at prices of up to the equivalent of 500€ at that time, they are now available at much lower prices.

At the same time, in addition to the slow changeover from analogue tapes to digital media, television was digitised and the first DVD recorders were introduced.

The first recording device of this kind appeared in 2002 in the form of the Panasonic DMR-E20. At that time, however, the medium DVD had to struggle with serious quality problems; this led to the fact that the interest in DVDs and especially DVD recorders was limited at that time.

It was not until the early to mid-2000s that models came onto the market that were able to eliminate various quality problems.

The DRX-9000 model from Apex, released in 2004, was the first to remove the annoying background noise that was familiar from VHS; the DR-M10S from JVC, released a year later, was the first DVD recorder to offer an almost perfect picture by the standards of the time.

From the mid-2000s, more and more electronics companies developed an interest in producing DVD recorders. Various product variants were developed, including, for example, the DVD/VHS recorder combination.

In 2005, the Japanese company Pionier released the models DVR-530H and DVR-555H, which were the first DVD recorders with built-in hard disks.

In the meantime, this variant has become largely standardised and is produced by electronics companies with different hard disk sizes.

What are the components of a DVD recorder?

The many components of a DVD recorder, some of which have already been mentioned, are housed in a custom-made casing.

To make operation more flexible, some operating functions, such as "play" and "record", are mounted in button form on both the remote control and above the drive on the unit.

The various interfaces are also important components. These serve various purposes, such as picture and sound output, power supply or connection to external devices.

How do you clean the laser of the DVD recorder?

As with any electronic device, frequent use can cause problems with the way it works. If you notice problems with the playback or recording of your DVD recorder, it makes sense to check the laser first before taking further steps.

There are basically two ways to clean the laser:

Cleaning disc

A so-called cleaning disc can be purchased for a small price and only needs to be inserted into the drive. The disc has small brushes that take care of the cleaning and do not require any further effort.

However, this measure is only useful if the contamination is minor. If the disc does not produce the desired result, you should first carry out manual cleaning before considering repair work.

Manual cleaning

Manual cleaning can be done with a cloth moistened with water or with a specially available cleaning spray. Afterwards, you should wipe the drive again with a dry cloth.

If this does not work and you still have a warranty on the unit, you should take it to a professional.

How do I make a recording with my DVD recorder?

To record your favourite programme or film, you need the remote control included with your DVD recorder. You can start recording by pressing the recording button on the remote control.

Many recorders also have a time setting so that your selected format can be recorded at a later time or while you are away.

Before you start recording, you must select a picture quality. You have several options here:

Recording format Features
EP (Extra Long Recording Mode) Allows you up to 8 hours of recording time on a DVD, but with a very blurred picture.
LP (Long Recording Mode) If you want to record a slightly longer programme, this option can be useful. This method saves space and is particularly suitable for programmes that you only want to watch once. The quality is comparable to VHS recordings and allows about 4 hours of recording time.
SP (Standard Recording Mode) This recording mode allows you to record programmes and films with almost no loss of quality. A DVD with 4.7 gigabytes of storage space can hold about 2 hours of video material.
XP (High Picture Quality Recording Mode) This recording function enables you to make recordings that are significantly better than DVD quality. Since you can only record, for example, half an hour on a blank DVD with this setting, this can also have a considerable effect on your hard disk.

What does the future hold for DVD recorders?

In the meantime, the successor to the DVD is already available on the market. Recording devices are also now available for the Blu-Ray format; the built-in hard disks have more storage space, as recordings in this quality are much higher quality.

In general, a trend can be discerned that will make the physical storage medium no longer necessary in the near future.

At the heyday of the DVD, in the mid-2000s, the concept of the streaming portal was still in the development phase.

In the meantime, it can be assumed that this form of media consumption is largely responsible for the slump in sales of DVDs and Blu Rays.

This concept is now also influencing television. The majority of all broadcasters now have a media library that can be accessed via the Internet, where missed programmes can be re-watched.

However, this content is usually only available for a limited period of time, which could possibly prove to be an advantage for the DVD recorder.

How can I connect the DVD recorder to my PC?

With a few steps and a little investment, you can connect your PC to your DVD recorder. This will allow you to save video content from your computer to your recorder. You will need the following:

Connection cable

A cable with USB (for your computer) and RCA (for your DVD recorder) interfaces can be used to connect the two devices.

Now you have the option of playing your recordings on the hard disk or on an inserted blank disc.

Recording software

A programme must be installed on your PC that enables you to record the desired content. You have the option of selecting the software that suits your needs from various programmes, both paid and free.

After the connection, you must select the DVD recorder as the storage source in this programme and you can start your recording.

Picture source: 123rf.com / Piotr Adamowicz

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