Rough around the edges and lacking key features, but recordings look great and that low price tag could be a deciding factor
Well-designed user interface
Loud fan noise
Limited -RW capability
Retro chassis design
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The most striking aspect of this DVD recorder is its price - Comet is currently selling it for just £130, which is very reasonable for a deck with a built-in Freeview tuner.
But inevitably, the low price has impacted on the deck's design. Its generic silver styling and clock radio-style digits on the front display make it seem dated, plus the lightweight, plasticky bodywork doesn't suggest long-term durability.
The rear panel is also a no-frills affair, the most notable omission being HDMI output. It's not a huge surprise, but could have made this deck a real gem. There is, however, a set of component video outputs and an RGB-capable Scart output, alongside S-video, composite video outputs and electrical and optical digital audio outputs.
As for recording formats, the DRT-10 is compatible with DVD-RW and +RW, plus -R and +R write-once discs. But unlike other recorders that use -RW, there's no VR mode playlist editing, which puts it at a disadvantage against its rivals.
The only editing functions on offer are the ability to hide chapters and split titles, along with basic edits such as renaming titles. To its credit, these functions are easy to find and carry out.
In fact, ease of use is a thread that runs right through this recorder. The menus use eye-catching cartoon graphics to illustrate each option, rather than straightforward lists, and the eight-day EPG is logically designed and plays live TV in a thumbnail while you channel surf. This user friendliness makes it the ideal deck for those who want a simple, no-nonsense digital recording solution.
Other features include MP3 and JPEG playback (but sadly not WMA or DiVX), plus all the goodies associated with digital TV, such as digital text, interactive access, favourite lists and onscreen now/next programme info. The digital functions are also very impressive - digital text and channel changing are fast and glitch-free.
There are four recording modes - HQ (1hr), SP (2hr), EP (4hr) and SLP (6hr) - but the lack of support for dual layer discs means that six hours is the maximum recording time. Elsewhere, there's a decent range of DVD playback functions (zoom, slow motion etc) and it supports both Dolby Digital and DTS soundtracks.
Before we look at this deck's picture quality, there is one significant niggle to address - fan noise. The DRT-10 is noisy to the point of being intrusive, even in standby.
But when it comes to recorded pictures, it is absolutely fine. HQ recordings from the built-in tuner are identical to live broadcasts, perfectly capturing all of the colour and detail without introducing any noise that isn't already present.
SP is a great all-purpose mode, offering enough time to record a movie or a couple of episodes of your favourite US drama. Picture quality doesn't look much different to HQ, apart from a touch of extra pixel noise.
As expected, clarity reduces considerably in EP mode, with fine detail and text looking slightly hazy. But it's par for the course and a small price to pay for four hours of recording time. SLP is every bit as good as the same picture mode quality offered by the big name brands.
Spider-Man 2 on DVD has a decent amount of detail and warm, forceful colour reproduction. The occasional touch of noise stops it achieving greatness, and clarity would probably be improved by the inclusion of HDMI output, but overall it's not a bad effort.
MP3 and JPEG playback is excellent and the playful menu browser is possibly the best in its class. A decent performance, then, from a flawed, but nicely-priced recorder.
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