Available through QVC, a shopping channel not usually associated with the higher end of entertainment electronics, this is the first DVD recorder from Humax. It's one of many DVD RW recorders to be sourced from China, following Philips' canny decision to license its technology affordably in order to establish the format.

There's no getting away from the fact that Humax usually makes set-top boxes as the DRP-560 is a bulky and ugly piece of kit. There's something very 1970s about its glowing orange LEDs and go-faster stripes that makes you want to go to the closet, find your flared trousers and burn them.

With no RGB Scart input, it can't accept an image from a digital set-top box (like, for instance, Humax's). It does, however, output an RGB signal from one of two supplied Scarts. The lack of an RGB input is in my view, a major limitation.

Component outputs are also absent - progressive scan is thus not supported - but you are treated to optical and coaxial audio sockets for connection to an amplifier.

The rest of the ins and outs include composite video/audio and S-video (two of each, with one set front-mounted). Making up the numbers is a DV input for camcorders.

There are five recording modes to choose from: HQ (1hr), SP (2hr), LP (3hr), EP (4hr) and EP (6hr) - all designed around how much you'd fit onto a single-layer DVD as there's no HDD. Unfortunately, there's no way of adjusting the bitrate for your own purposes.

As this is a fairly bare-bones machine, setup is easy to cope with and scanning for channels on the analogue TV tuner is extremely quick. Few other frills can be found, but at least this means that VHS owners will find it immediately accessible.

Features

Editing recorded footage is very simple, mainly due to the lack of options. You can append, divide and erase chapters but you can't alter previously made DVD RW recordings (unlike Philips' similar machines). Nor can you grab the chapter thumbnail yourself and so are stuck with the first frame of any section. It does have a nice menu background though, albeit only the one.

One saving grace of the Humax is its picture quality. There's little difference between the highest quality mode, HQ, and Panasonic's XP. Recordings on this setting (or captures from a digital camcorder) are as good as their source. The 2hr SP mode, which should suffice for an average movie or football match, is also nigh-on perfect.

Unfortunately, though, the playback of movies is not good. The images are flat and details are lost in lower levels of grey.

Sound, however, is more than capable and the inclusion of the aforementioned digital outputs means you can enjoy full surround sound by plugging the machine into an AV system. Dolby Digital and DTS movie soundtracks thumped along nicely, with decent bass and no crackles or pops.

Conclusion

Unfortunately, this recorder is so devoid of extra features it can't compete. It doesn't even have the attraction of being all that cheap. It's an okay machine to replace a defunct VHS deck with, but that's about it.