Lite-On LVW-1105HC £120

1st Mar 2006 | 00:00

Cut-down size, cut-down spec sheet

TechRadar rating:

3 stars

A good-looking mini model, but badly under-powered when it comes to performance


<p>Cute design</p><p>Playback picture</p>


<p>No RGB input</p><p>Recorded images are weak</p>

There's something appealing about mini-sized AV gear,and this diddy recorder from Lite-On is no exception. It's an attractive design and will appeal to many for that alone, taking up far less space under your TV than a standard DVD recorder and looking more like a games console.

It appears, however, that the spec sheet has been similarly cut down in size.

Top of the list of notable omissions is an RGB Scart input. We had hoped that by now,with the DVD recorder market flourishing, this would have been a thing of the past,but sadly not.

There is also no Nicam tuner for the onboard analogue TV tuner, which is quite a gob-smacker.

The 'Editing Menu' is very limited as well. You can erase, rename or protect titles and that's it - no partial erasure is possible. Chapter marks can only be added manually while a recording is taking place - ignoring the fact that many recordings are made when the person is out.

Chapters can be set to automatic (and you can specify the intervals), but this is not as useful as adding them yourself while watching a disc play back.

There are good things about this deck as well,of course.The 'Easy Guider' onscreen menu system is great. It is attractively designed and gives a hand-holding approach to routine functions like setting the timer or playing a disc - things that might seem easy to many,but may be daunting for novices.

There is a zoom and slow-motion playback (although there are no buttons on the remote to tell you this, so if you don't read manuals you'll never find these features).

DiVX playback includes a code for VOD registration,and you can also play JPEG,MP3 and WMA files.

Ease of use is good,thanks to that excellent onscreen display and the neat remote.

Recordings can be made in five modes,giving one, two, three, four and six hours of capacity,and there is also a Free Rate mode when setting a timer to fit a programme in an allocated space with the best possible picture quality.

Interestingly, the timer can be set up to the year 2099. We'll let you know if that works in 93 years' time.

Hooked up to a Sky box, the Lite- On loops through a disappointing picture.The crispness and clarity of an RGB feed is absent on the composite version at the best of times,but it seems to introduce an extra element of dot crawl. Onscreen graphics and text on Sky Sports News are fizzy and the announcers' faces are bleached out.

Recordings capture all this faithfully in the top two modes but by the three-hour setting,mosquito haze sets in on running footballers, with break-up evident when the action speeds up.

The four-hour setting doesn't change much,but the six-hour mode is one of the worst we've seen,introducing a strobe effect and so many mosquitoes you need quinine.Note the 'Average and 'Poor' frequency response readings in the lower modes,which explain this poor performance.

Things are much better on pre-recorded discs.Here you have the benefit of an RGB or progressive scan component connection and the benefits are clear. Pictures are detailed,solid and have rich colours with plenty of depth.

It's a similar story on the sound. Regular off-air TV recordings will be in mono,but a DVD movie can be enjoyed in multi-channel surround sound via the electrical digital audio output.

Even at this competitive price, this deck can't be recommended. Style junkies will love it,but anyone interested in quality recordings should look elsewhere. If you just want playback and some noncritical recording with no thoughts of archiving, it will appeal thanks to the superior playback qualities but there are much cheaper options for this aim. David Smith

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