Dual DVRW1 £90

14th Mar 2007 | 00:00

A relentless march of the supermarkets continues

TechRadar rating:

4 stars

You can't ask much more from a recorder at this sort of price

Like:

<p>Impressive recordings; region-free</p>

Dislike:

<p>Operational glitches; average sound</p>

Supermarkets really do seem bent on taking over the world - or at least driving every other form of retail outlet out of business.Asda is offering this ultra budget DVD recorder as an exclusive to its stores, so you can pick it up at the same time as you get your fruit and veg, the latest Jamie Oliver book and a new pair of jeans.And it won't break the bank.At just £90 the Dual DVRW1 is remarkably affordable for a DVD recorder.

Scanning the spec sheet also brings (mostly) more good news. Connectivity is good,with only a DV input and a component video output missing.These are understandable omissions on a budget deck and will probably not be missed by the target market.

There is a pair of Scarts and it's great to be able to report that the input Scart will take an RGB signal. Considering many big names sometimes forget to include this vital option, Dual is doing really well to offer it - it means that digibox users can record programmes in the best possible picture quality.

Both electrical and optical digital audio outputs are available, so the deck will happily talk to whatever amp you have.

Recording is undertaken on DVD R and RW discs.These aren't the most flexible when it comes to editing (you need either DVD-RAM or DVD-RW discs in VR mode for real editing power).

You are limited to adding chapters,changing the thumbnail image for a title and deleting titles.

Still, this is so much more than you could do with old-fashioned VHS tapes that it seems churlish to complain too strongly. Five recording settings offer one, two, three, four and six hours of capacity on a single disc. Picture quality will deteriorate markedly as you increase capacity,which many newcomers to the format may not be aware of.

Neat little tricks include a 4x zoom,slo-mo and frame advance and repeat play,but the neatest of all the tricks is the ability to play imported DVDs - the DVRW1 is region-free out of the box. With the import catalogue still superior to our own Region 2 offerings this is not something to be underestimated. Ease of use is not a strong point, however.The remote control is an ugly design and is not well laid out.

A few glitches jump out when putting this deck through its paces. When switching between PAL and NTSC playback (likely to be a common occurrence if you make use of that region-free playback) the DVRW1 sometimes freezes.

We had to unplug and reconnect the deck a couple of times (but not every time),which is a bit annoying.

When up and running the Dual delivers very good results,backed up by a solid set of lab results (see left). The one-hour record mode captures a enjoyable image,in all its RGB glory if you're hooked up to a digibox.

We found that difficult material like the Six Nations rugby was captured well,but remember that the quality also depends on the broadcast - the BBC doesn't do well with live sport via digital satellite and the rugby players exhibited mosquito haze that was the Beeb's fault,not the Dual's. Better results were had on Sky Sports football,where pristine images were faithfully recorded.

The two-hour SP mode sees more picture degradation than we're used to,with blocking on fast camera movements - despite the frequency response reading being the same as HQ mode.This is followed by a steady but not steep decline over the other modes.The six-hour setting is better for soaps than sports coverage.There's no strobe effect but artefacting is widespread.

Pre-recorded discs play back very well (when the deck doesn't freeze) but sound is only average,whichever output you opt for.

This is a very likeable budget deck,then,with quality you wouldn't expect at the price,but the rough edges you would. David Smith


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