With prices falling and specification rising, the DVD recorder battleground is becoming increasingly fearsome: great picture quality and extensive editing capability are vital weapons.

LG's retro-looking DR175 gets the ball rolling with an RGB-enabled digibox-friendly Scart and progressive scan capable component video sockets. Shame there's no HDMI output, but remind yourself of this DVD recorder's price. Similarly, a digital tuner would have been a nice touch, with analogue shutdown lurching over the AV horizon.

The DR175 is a breeze to set up. The only potential problem is the button at the rear marked 'Progressive' or 'RGB'. Make sure you only have 'Progressive' selected if you are using a component video output.

Multimedia playback is impressive. Not only do you get WMA, MP3 and JPEG playback, you also get DiVX compatibility, and this extends to a VOD (video-on-demand) code, for DiVX files that can be downloaded for a fee.

Other useful features include an auto-chaptering function (it creates chapters at either five minute or ten minute intervals, making it easier to navigate through your recordings), the ability to create chapters manually, a 4x zoom, slow-motion playback and programmed playback.

When it comes to recording, the DR175 delivers the goods in 1hr mode. It captures Pirates of the Caribbean without artefacting on camera pans. The DR175 earns bonus points for recording flexibility. When recording on DVD-RW discs in VR mode, editing options such as erasing sections and changing the running order are available.

In the two hour setting (of more use if you are into your sport or films) the deck does introduce a few artefacts. There is also a suggestion of digital blocking on fast pans. In the four hour mode this increases noticeably, and is only good enough for fairly static material.

The lowest-quality six hour mode isn't bad in comparison with some others we've seen. The dreaded strobe effect is absent, although artefacting is very noticeable.

Flick of a switch

Playback of pre-recorded DVDs is impressive, whether through the RGB Scart output (make sure you set that switch correctly!) or the component video output. A progressive scan feed does impart a bit more solidity to the picture.

Throw in very capable handling of multimedia files and solid home cinema audio, and you've a budget DVD recorder that does the job better than you would expect.

For ultimate editing power you would probably want to look at an HDD/DVD recorder combi, but if you're just looking to replace that trusty old VCR, this is a contender. Choose your recording modes carefully and you'll have every reason to consider this recorder a bit of a bargain.