LG's DR4812W lacks the hard drive recording facilities of more costly DVD recorders, but if you're after a simple and relatively inexpensive unit for your day to day recording activities, it's a hard unit to look past. It's capable of recording to all of the major DVD recording formats, supports recording up to six hours on a single disc and has a number of features that'll appeal to hardcore TV junkies.
At 69mm, LG claims that the DR4812W is the slimmest recorder in the world, but otherwise it's physically what we've come to expect from DVD recorders -- slightly larger units than their playback brethren with an emphasis on connection ports everywhere you choose to look. The DR4812W sports a rather pedestrian front facing that's unlikely to surprise anyone, but to be fair, it's not likely to annoy anyone either. The bottom mirrored section of the DR4812W attaches magnetically and hides a variety of additional buttons and a front secondary set of inputs, ideal for attaching digital cameras and video game consoles. On the back you'll find connections for component, digital and s-video in and out, so there's practically no home setup that the DR4812W couldn't be integrated into. The DR4812W's remote is amongst the longest we've ever seen on any product; that's in part to give it additional function buttons, and it does make it rather hard to lose. On the flip side, it also makes it rather hard to place inconspicuously amongst your home theatre setup, if that's important to you. As with most major home theatre makers, the remote will integrate with compatible LG televisions to spare on the clutter of having multiple remotes around the house.
The DR4812W's big hook is that it's a multi-format DVD recorder, meaning you can pop any of the most common types of DVD recordable media into it and just start recording, without having to worry about whether it's plus or minus. One small catch here -- the DR4812W doesn't support the much less common DVD-RAM media. Depending on your choice of media, you'll also have a number of recording options open to you -- broadly speaking, the write-once plus and minus media is the least flexible, moving up in options with -RW media and into the best possible option choices with +RW media. The DR4812W supports multiple recording modes, ranging from 1 hour at best possible quality on a 4.7GB disc up to six hours, so there are few recordable events you shouldn't be able to catch with this versatile little system -- although the upcoming Olympic games might be a bit of a challenge. It took us some time to get to grips with the system's remote, mainly because most of the buttons aside from the very regular playback buttons are all the same size -- including the record button. That means it takes a little bit of visual checking to make sure you're hitting the right button, rather than just being able to 'feel' where the correct choice is. One feature on the remote sure to appeal to hard core couch potatoes is instant skip button, which steps forward in a recording exactly 15 seconds -- hit that a couple of times and you won't even notice any ad breaks in recorded TV broadcasts. We're sure that TV executives would be less thrilled with that button, but from the consumer side it's a bit of a godsend.
In playback terms the DR4812W's a perfectly capable unit, but at this stage of DVD development, we'd pretty much put that as a given. Recording to a variety of media we had few complaints. You'll certainly notice the compression at the highest rates, especially for any broadcast involving lots of action, but with single -R/+R discs going for only a couple of dollars each these days, you'll probably not need to go to the full compression extremes all that often. One catch we did find -- and it's not terribly well covered in the DR4812W's manual -- is that everything but DVD+RW media needs to be finalised within the player before it'll be readable in other DVD players. That's a process that took less than a minute each time we tested with it, but without doing so you'll be left scratching your head wondering if you've just created an expensive coaster. As with most DVD recorders, the DR4812W is Macrovision enabled.
The DR4812W's isn't the absolute cutting edge in DVD recorders -- it can't do the timeskipping tricks that hard drive enabled players can, for a start -- but what it is is a great introduction to DVD recorders; it's capable and easy enough to use with multiple media formats, as well as relatively inexpensive -- at the time of writing it was eminently possible to pick up the AU$999 listed DR4812W for around AU$800 at a number of retailers.
Company: LG Australia
Distributor: Selected resellers
Phone: 1800 643 156