JVC DR-M10 review

Are you paying more for good looks alone?

TechRadar Verdict

Good recording and playback let down by that absent RGB Scart input

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JVC has a reputation for producing good-looking home cinema kit, and its DR-M10 recorder is certainly more eye-catching than some of the dull, silver boxes around. At £300, it's also one of the more expensive - but is this reflected in its performance?

While there's no HDD to justify the JVC's slightly higher price tag, recording formats do include DVD-RAM, DVD-R and DVD-R discs, giving access to the editing advantages of both DVD-RAM and the more popular DVD-RW, and wide compatibility with other home cinema kit.

At first glance, connections appear to be comprehensive. The presence of component video for PAL progressive scan pictures from DVDs is good news for us flatscreen fans, while there's also an RGB Scart output, optical and electrical digital audio jacks and even a DV input for transferring material from a digital camcorder to disc.

In case you haven't realised, there is a big 'but' coming - and it's the fact that the deck doesn't have an RGB Scart input. This means that those of us with set top boxes with no S-video output must use a poor-quality composite video for recordings - which kind of defeats the object of buying a DVD recorder that is as otherwise well-specified as this JVC. Boo.

Spaced out

The DR-M10 boasts four recording formats, providing 1, 2, 4 and 6hrs of storage space on a disc. There's also a free rate option, which allows the bit-rate to be set manually and thus extend the storage capacity to 8hrs, and means the deck will record in the best quality possible for the available space.

Editing functions are fairly good: you can erase any part of a title (adverts or the opposition team's goals, for instance) or change names on existing discs via the fantastic on-screen menus, which include windows to preview footage and build a playlist. (Bear in mind, though, that editing is a little rough, and edit points are left for all to see.)

What's more, the advanced editing offered by DVD-RAM means Live Memory Playback - recording and playing simultaneously - is possible. The DR-M10 also has a satellite control transmitter, designed to simplify timer recordings, but before you get too excited about this, note that it doesn't work with Sky boxes.

Recording Desperate Housewives on the JVC's best quality setting resulted in a picture that didn't differ much from the original broadcast. Of course, the quality of images from a set-top box was affected by the missing RGB Scart socket, but recordings via S-video still looked very good in this top mode. If you're forced to use composite, however, results are sadly less impressive.

The more useful SP (2hrs) mode also produced respectable results, with only occasional digital artefacts, and even the 4hrs mode is fine for watch-once recordings. The 6hrs option is best avoided, however - even on a deck as skilful as this it is pushing things just that little bit too far.

Eternal Sunshine showed the JVC to be a capable pre-recorded DVD performer. It produced artefact and blocking-free footage and realistic skin tones throughout the film, even in the tricky night-time scenes where our heroes are inside Jim Carrey's memories.

The DR-M10 gives a good recording and playback performance. Its editing may be a little rough, but ultimately it's just that absent RGB Scart input that lets it down against more affordable rivals.

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