Nissan DR-100BB review

  • £170

Nissan comes motoring into the DVD market

Our Verdict

There's too many restrictions to recommend this recorder as a serious entertainment grabber

For

  • Stylish

    Inexpensive

    Superb DivX playback

Against

  • Not many input options

    Picture degrades below highest quality

Even though it comes in at under £200, there's more than enough quirks with Nissan Technology's first foray into the market - not least because it's from a firm usually associated with cars.

Uniquely, the DR-100BB deviates from the norm of brushed-metal fascias. Rather, it's gun-metal grey and complements the styling of a cable box. Although comparably inexpensive, it doesn't look it. In fact there's something a bit Darth Vader-ish about the design as it lurks in your stack, dark and mysteriously.

Although plentiful on the output front - component with PAL progressive, RGB Scart, S-video, composite and 5.1 sound - it's positively miserly for inputs.

There are two composite inputs, one S-video and a DV (for digital camcorders) and that's your lot. Basically, the DR-100BB is not designed for recording from a set-top box, but only has an analogue TV tuner.

I managed to get cable working through it (eventually) by inputting the signal through a separate AV centre and downconverting the picture, but that's far from ideal.

However, we can soon expect an upgraded Nissan machine with much the same functionality, but with the addition of two RGB-enabled Scart input/outputs to counteract this problem.

Operation

No expense has been spent on setup and functionality; but that's actually a positive thing, as this is an easy machine to use. Setup menus are clear and concise, and everything can be accessed quickly and with the minimum of fuss. If you want to record a programme press Record - it's that simple. Or you can use the simple timer wizard which could guide an 80-year-old granny through the process.

There are six recording modes to choose from, which dispense with the cryptics and settle for easy-to-understand names: Best (1hr), High (2hr), Medium (3hr), Basic (4hr), Low (6hr) and Long (8hr). All of which relate to how much time a 4.7GB single-layer DVD will store; there's no HDD.

Remarkably, like any Philips machine, the DR-100BB will only record on to DVD R/RW media. It divides recordings into chapters, even on a DVD R, with a lovely menu screen and you can rename or delete them, but that's as far as the editing goes. Also, a bizarre but welcome addition is the ability to playback DiVX discs (superbly, I might add).

Faultless picture

There is no faulting the picture. Best recordings are brilliant - there is only a tiny, almost imperceptible, amount of drop-out in sharpness on the images. High is also very good, even with analogue TV broadcasts.

However, anything below High started to degrade rapidly, with Medium being just about acceptable (above VHS quality) and the others, although watchable, were not up to scratch.

On playback of bought DVDs, though, the level of colours and sharpness of images were both highly commendable. It's better than a lot of more expensive players. Even more impressive was the DiVX playback; this was by far the best machine I've seen for this, player or otherwise.

Though reasonable, the 5.1 audio through the connections cannot compete with the decoder of a decent AV amplifier. But on all round performance, it copes admirably with the heaviest of sonic assaults.

Restrictions

There's too many restrictions to recommend this recorder as a serious entertainment grabber, not least because it can't accept a high-quality set-top box broadcast (in this, the DR-100BB is hardly unique). However, it has many great qualities that shine through. I'd certainly consider a purchase if you're looking for a DiVX player - in essence, you get the recording facilities for (almost) free!