If you're in the market for a brand new DVD recorder with a built-in hard drive, your choice is either Magnavox, or... err, is there anyone else?
HDD recorders are special, since they let you make recordings with precision-- commercials edited out, chapters added after the fact, home movies carefully arranged. And modern models can display a good deal of digital cable content without a digital cable box.
I purchased this recorder to replace my old Toshiba RD-XS32, which still chugs along at the moment but gets crankier and crankier about what discs it will read. Technically, the Magnavox sounds great-- 160gb, ATSC tuner, FireWire interface and DVD DL support. And the picture quality from a digital source is quite good.
The trouble is, while powerful, HDD DVD recorders are still a bear to use. They are counterintuitive, fussy, and long on load times. This model's remote is rubbish, and any disc you put in the player causes a huffy, drawn-out pause-- probably because it's testing for every possible kind of disc there could be. Scanning through ATSC/QAM channels is also a chore, with 1-2 second pauses between each channel. Other power-features lack finesse. Adding chapters, for instance, lacks a dedicated button on the remote and takes a very long time to complete-- my old Toshiba does this with no noticeable wait. And the DVR experience on this device couldn't compete with the original TiVo. You can, with practice, learn to use this device competently, but no one else in your house will go near it.
My biggest gripe with this recorder, though, is that it won't let you decide the aspect ratio of a DVD you create. This means that if you record widescreen video using the classic red, white and yellow cables, the recorder will squeeze widescreen (16:9) into fullscreen (4:3). (You won't know this when playing the disc on the recorder itself-- this will only become clear on other players.) At first I didn't believe this, since my 5+ year-old recorder lets me do this, but I found it stated in the manual. Honestly, a complex DVD recorder made in 2010 should really have an aspect ratio selector. Many people have been making widescreen home movies for years. For this reason I had to return mine.
In conclusion, this player seems only to indicate that we've reached the end of the line for HDD DVD recorders. Either the public doesn't want them or lawyers keep them at bay, but these devices have not advanced enough in five years to warrant a continued existence. In some ways, they've even slipped backward. If you want to record widescreen home movies, use a PC setup or seek out old models online. If you want a DVR that records DVDs, get a dedicated DVR and plug it into a cheap DVD recorder. Sorry.