Philips LX7500R review

Philips have a strong legacy to live up to

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Our Verdict

It loses out in terms of flexibility and performance, but it's by no means a DVD dunce

This system comes from the inventor of DVD RW. Philips was also one of the first to launch a DVD recorder in the UK, and introduced the first DVD-recording system in 2003 - so we're expecting good things...

The LX7500R is one of the more affordable setups in this test, but this certainly isn't betrayed by its looks. The sleek main unit is flawlessly laid out, and complemented by four cylindrical satellite speakers. The centre speaker, meanwhile, sports an impressive array of drive units positioned at different angles, which provide good centre channel dialogue dispersion.

Format wars

The Philips isn't as flexible a recording system as some of the other setups here, as it doesn't boast a hard disk. Still, it does record onto DVD R (write-once) and DVD RW (rewriteable) discs - recording formats compatible with the majority of DVD players. What's more, there are seven recording modes. M1 gives 1hr, M2 2hrs, M3 3hrs, and so on, up to M8 (8hrs). VideoPlus is available for automatic timer recordings, while the system can also be programmed manually. There's also a basic set of editing features, to allow you to manipulate recordings and rename titles.

The LX7500R boasts a good set of connections. There are progressive scancapable component video outputs for top-notch pictures to your plasma or LCD, as well as RGB Scart inputs and outputs (the former is vital for good-quality recordings from a digibox), digital audio ins and outs and an i-Link input for connecting to a digital camcorder.

Super sonics

With audio, the biggest feature bonus is the Philips' compatibility with high-resolution Super Audio CDs - a better-than-CD multi-channel music format. The usual Dolby Digital and DTS surround decoders are built-in, for 5.1 surround soundtracks, and there's also Dolby Pro-Logic II processing.

The quality of recordings is very respectable when using the top recording modes. Desperate Housewives looked remarkably similar to its original broadcast when recorded in M1 or M2. M3 also showed very few flaws, but going lower down the scale does sacrifice quality for storage capacity. With smearing and artefacting, these modes are not suited to fast-moving programmes.

DVD pictures are impressive. Colours from Pirates of the Caribbean were stable and well-judged, and the hordes of computergenerated undead pirates have rarely looked more frighteningly realistic. This was helped by good black levels, which gave images clarity even in the darkest shadows.

Surround sound, meanwhile, is respectable, if not quite perfect. The Philips is an energetic performer, and filled the room with the sound during Pirates' swash-buckling battle scenes. But although the performance is muscular, it isn't the most natural we've heard. And despite the array of drivers inside the centre speaker, voices aren't as clear as they could be - a bit of a problem with some of Johnny Depp's slurred speeches! However, activating 'voice' mode improves this. Playback of music is also solid, particularly SACDs - a feature which makes this a more flexible audio performer than most other systems here.

If you're looking for the flexibility and huge storage capacity of a HDD, the LX7500R is out of the question. However, it does offer compatibility with DVD R/RW and SACD discs, stunning looks, a great performance with pre-recorded DVDs and very respectable recordings and surround sound. It loses out in terms of flexibility and performance, but it's by no means a DVD dunce.