I was looking to replace an old VCR that was on it's last legs. I time-slip all my TV viewing on a Panasonic DVR so I never have to watch commercials. Occasionally, there a two programs on at the same time that I want to watch and so the VCR comes into play. I have extended basic cable and no cable box so my new VCR had to have a coax input. I was very surprised to find that newer VCRs and many DVD/VCR combos don't have that and must be hooked up to a cable box. This model did have the connections that I needed as well as many more for the future. I wasn't looking to upgrade to a DVD/VCR combo but I'm glad I did.
Set-up for me was very straight forward. Unplug the old VCR and use the same connections to plug in this unit. I had to read through the 100+ page manual a few times (hate that) to learn all the DVD functions but now, after having the unit for a little more than a month, I find it pretty easy to use. I am very impressed with the recording quality even at the extended recording times. That means I can record up to 14 hours (8 hours VCR and 6 hours DVD) and the quality is much better that my old Sony VCR.
One thing that is a little quirky is the power settings. Instead of a simple on or off (actually standby), this unit also has a timer setting. If you simply turn the unit off and you have programmed it to record a program later, it won't record. You have to take the extra step of setting the timer. But when the unit is on and the timer is set, some functions like programming a new recording won't work. You have to unset the timer first. Weird...
I'm also impressed with the ease of setting the timer recording (once you figure out the timer setting). Programs are automatically sorted by date and time so you can easily see your schedule and it points out overlaps. Inputs use the numeric pad so you don't have to endlessly scroll through times and channels.
One reviewer complained that the clock wouldn't hold the correct time. That happened to me within the first few days. I had a couple of shows programmed in prime time. Then I noticed the machine was recording something in the middle of the day. Sure enough, the clock had reset and was about 5-6 hours off. I reset the clock manually (versus using the auto clock feature) and haven't had a problem since.
Another reviewer commented on the bright front display. However, the display can be dimmed in the setup function.
My one big complaint is tech support. I sent Philips an e-mail through their customer support web site asking whether new recordings would overwrite old ones on a DVD RW. This issue isn't addressed in their manual. They answered me within a few days stating that new recordings would overwrite the old and there was no need to keep erasing the old recordings. When I tried it, the new recording just stopped when it ran out of disk space. So I sent Philips a follow-up to see if I needed to change a setting to get my unit to do what they said it should do. Four follow-ups and four weeks later, they still haven't responded. All I get is automated confirmations that promise a response within 2 business days.
This is a great machine for the price. It has a lot of features and can be used both analog and digital. It has all the connections you need for now and the future. Recording quality is very good. However, I am very concerned about the tech support. Problems like the clock not holding time can make this unit useless for recording TV shows if you can't get a response from tech support and you don't stumble on my resolution. I really can't recommend buying any electronic device from a company that doesn't stand behind it. Otherwise, I would have given it at least 4 stars.
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