This is the update to the DR-100BB, which as a recorder, was horrendously flawed by a lack of any Scart inputs, let alone RGB-enabled ones. By way of compensation, it proved to be the best DiVX player we've ever tested! This time around, the former is catered for at the cost of the latter which sets the DR-200BB as more of a contender in this field.

Like its older stablemate, this model is black but with a larger array of buttons and legends, which gives it a less monolithic feel. There's also a horribly exposed range of inputs, which merely reinforces the impression of clutter.

The remote seems to have been supplied with the wrong recorder. It's silver, plasticky and matches the kit it drives as well as an orange tie goes with a blue shirt. There's also an issue with its abilities as a remote; you have to point it directly at the recorder to get anything to work - even with a new set of batteries.

As stated, the DR-200BB has a pair of Scart sockets, both RGB-capable, and therefore fine and dandy for digital TV sources. There's also a progressive scan-capable component output with both PAL and NTSC support, back-mounted composite/S-video and analogue audio outputs, and coaxial digital audio out.

Thanks to an onboard Dolby Digital decoder there is also a full 5.1 output for active speakers or vintage 'upgradable' Pro-Logic amps with multichannel input. On the front, you'll find composite/S-video and stereo audio analogue inputs, plus a Firewire connection for dubbing from a camcorder with minimal loss of quality.

Noisy operation

There's two immediate concerns that may irk you about the Nissan. The first is the noise of the DVD tray; it whirrs at an audible level that can sometimes distract you during quieter scenes in a movie. Also, the onscreen menu is garish and awkward to use. It has much the same functionality as the majority of other DVD R/ RW recorders, only with a clumsier attitude.

Five standard recording modes are on offer, even if they have slightly different names: XP (1hr on a single-layer disc), SP (2hrs), LP (3hrs), EP (4hrs) and EP (6hrs). There's also the normal offerings for editing tools, such as title-renaming, thumbnail-definition and setting chapter marks.

Unfortunately, an overall unresponsiveness renders these features tedious to use - certainly when compared to the equivalents of other machines.

Although there are many negatives to the DR-200BB, picture quality isn't one of them. Images on playback, from both DVD movies and self-recorded material, is rich with fine details and sharp, vivid colours. Even in EP mode the recordings hold a par to the original source, and XP is as identical. Unfortunately, a 'strobing' on EP mode makes it uncomfortable to watch for prolonged periods.

Usable audio

Although nothing spectacular, the audio performance is usable at all levels, even with EP recordings; there's no overly obvious glitches or electronic noise. However, CD playback is far from perfect, smothering the music with a mild hiss.

There are too many faults with the DR-200BB to make it any more than a 'minor bedroom recorder' although, considering what else is on offer at this price, even that reason is negated somewhat.