The combination of DVD player and VHS recorder still makes a fair amount of sense. DVD is without doubt the best way of viewing movies on a television and VHS is an incredibly affordable means of recording - and one that even the most technically illiterate people now have a grasp of.
Add to this the fact that many people still have many VHS cassettes laying around the place,whether pre-recorded (we in the UK were the second biggest market in the world after the US) or of weddings and kids' birthdays dumped down from an analogue camcorder.
For these reasons,combo decks are still flying off the shelves and most of the big-name manufacturers will be keeping them in their line-ups for some time yet.
The Sony SLV-D930 is a good specimen of its type. It's as stylish as it's possible to look for a largerthan- normal DVD player with a VCR slot crammed into the fascia. It's also pretty solid, with responsive controls and a decent remote control.
Connections-wise, it's reasonably well laden.There's a brace of Scarts (one RGB-capable),as well as S-video outputs.Only a component video out is really missing from our socket wish list.
Other important bases are covered too, with VideoPlus for easy recording and a comprehensive and easy to use menu system that holds your hand on initial set-up and makes using this device dead simple.
There's more good news when it comes to performance.The Sony is one of the better basic DVD/VHS combis in terms of image quality. It's a shame there's no component output,but it uses its RGB Scart to its full potential, providing wonderfully detailed images, with bags of information up there on screen where you want it, and little in the way of pixelation or distortion.
The colour palette is also handled with dexterity and there's little that jars from this player.Tricky diagonal lines are also well served,something evident when we revisited our DVD copy of Ronin,where the angles of the car windshields are delivered with aplomb.
Sonically, the sound from either type of digital output proves capable, although with DVDs, this is just raw digital data and it's up to your systems to make the most of it.
Plugging the stereo feeds straight into a decent quality widescreen TV or surround amplifier is a more accurate reflection of the deck's basic ability with audio, and the results are perfectly satisfying, if hardly earth-shattering.
VHS playback was par for the course and obviously a big step down from DVD.With the VHS of Ronin - now you understand why we dragged it out on DVD - there was less on offer in the way of balanced colours,but it was still far from terrible.
Recording was also fairly impressive, especially at the SP level.There was little difference between the source and a recording from Freeview, although better quality sources proved less impressive.
We started off this review saying how much this concept makes sense, and it still does... sort of.The trouble is that with prices of digital recording media spiralling ever lower, the appeal of even cheap VHS recording is diminishing.
However, if you still have a sizable VHS collection that you want to access, then this simple, one-box combi performs well enough to offer more than simple space-saving appeal. Shaun Marin