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Product Review: Magnavox ZV427MG9 DVD Recorder / VCR Combo
Great for playing DVDs, VHS tapes, and copying VHS tapes to DVD!

by Paul Ace Diamond "Huggy" Blow

The Magnavox ZV427MG9V: front view, and rear connections

The Magnavox ZV427MG9 DVD Recorder / VCR Combo is a nice unit for playing DVD discs and VHS tapes -- it can even upsample DVD discs to 1080 resolution for HDTV sets -- but what really makes owning one great is the DVD recorder which can be used to create DVD discs from old VHS tapes and other sources. After I bought a new HDTV I was looking for a new DVD player/VHS player with the upsampling capabilities, and when I found this unit sold on amazon for only $89.99 (for a reconditioned unit) WITH a DVD burner I had to buy it.

I myself had scores of old VHS tapes with footage of rock bands I played in back in the day, and my attempts at digitizing those old tapes with my digital camcorder had mixed results at best. With the Magnavox DVD Recorder/VCR Combo, however, I have been able to easily dupe those tapes onto DVD discs. The process is super easy -- first find the spot on your VHS tape you want to start the dupe from and press "pause," then switch to DVD and press "Dubbing" and the unit will take over from there and copy the VHS tape to a DVD disc with very good results. You can burn to DVD-R, DVD+R, or DVD-RW discs, however, you will have to "finalize" the disc before you can play it on any other DVD player. (The "finalizing" process is fully detailed in the manual.) After the disc is burned you can edit the chapter points and the index picture. Once you have finalized the disc you can no more editing. You do NOT get any fancy title menus on your DVDs with this unit, just a basic blue screen menu with thumbnails of each title you have burned to the disc.

As far as the qualitly of the video to DVD conversion goes, I have been pleased with it. As I said, I get a MUCH better and glitch-free conversion than I ever got trying to dupe VHS tapes onto my digital camcorder.

Besides duping from VHS tapes, you can also record to DVD from other sources: TV (if you have a tuner, the Magnavox combo does NOT come with a tuner), video cameras, or any other device that can be hooked up with RCA video/audio cables. The Magnavox combo unit has RCA video/audio line ins on both the front and the back of the unit as well as S-video ins and outs. So far I have used my Magnavox DVD burner to create DVD discs of my old VHS tapes and extra footage I had on my HD video camera. Bear in mind, since there are limitations to DVD as far as resolution goes, if you use this unit to copy footage from a HD video camera to a DVD disc, the video is burned at standard definition, NOT high definition. You will also NOT be able to dupe to a DVD disc any commercial DVDs or VHS tapes that have copyright protection (which is most commercial DVDs and maybe 50% of commercial VHS tapes).

One very cool thing I have found is that after copying video footage to a DVD disc with this unit, you can put the disc in a computer, copy the VOB files over, and do further editing on those VOB files with a video editing program to create videos for youtube or other projects.

As far as playing DVD discs and video tapes, this unit is very handy since both the DVD and VCR send the data through the HDMI connection. You can also send out to older, non-HD televisions with the color-sync RCA cables, or the standard RCA video/audio cables. When hooked up to a HDTV set with an HDMI cable you can upsample DVDs to either 720 or 1080. Quite frankly, I'm not sure the upsampling is really much of an improvement.

All in all, if you need a DVD/VCR combo unit with DVD upsampling that can also record DVD discs, the Magnavox ZV427MG9 DVD Recorder / VCR Combo is what you need.