Given the accessibility and affordability of DVD recorders today, it's a wonder that some people continue to rely on recorders best reserved for the museum - namely, VHS decks.
Perhaps it's down to too much choice and confusion: Hard drive or no hard drive? DVD-R or DVD R compatibility? Single or double-layer recording? Double- or dual-layer recording? Freeview or analogue? RGB Scart input or not? With these options around, it can all be a little too much for some.
Manufacturers, though, are wising up to this and are attempting to rectify the situation by incorporating as many of the above options into their products as possible. But, even with good intentions, it's rare to see all of them covered, and certainly not at the budget end of the market.
Such is the case with this new Philips recorder, although it makes a decent stab at reducing confusion by adding DVD-R/RW compatibility to DVD R/RW. It may not seem much, but as Philips was the original proponent of the latter format, the adoption of the former is a major step forward, and politically quite a big deal.
What isn't such a big step forward is the complete absence of component outputs. Granted, the DVDR3305 looks much classier than its £150 price tag suggests, with the company's trademark sleek lines and sports car fascia, but the back reveals a Dickensian stinginess.
Inputs are restricted to front-mounted S-video, composite and analogue stereo sockets, with equivalent outputs on the rear alongside a coaxial digital audio out. Other than that, it's Scart-city, but at least they're RGB-enabled. A consequence of the lack of component outs is that there's no progressive scan - a definite black mark in my book.
No such skimping occurs on the recording bitrates, however. While there's no Freerate mode, as seen on more expensive recorders, four standard presets are available: HQ (1 hour on a single-layer disc), SP (2 hours), EP (4 hours) and SLP (6 hours). In essence, this makes recording rather simple for those who've just migrated from VHS, as does an eight-event, one-month timer (with VideoPlus).
But, sadly, this recording feature reveals another cost-cutting exercise; the 3305 only has a solitary analogue tuner. I hate to hark on about this, but as the switch-off approaches in some parts of the country, it's disappointing that some companies, such as Philips, still shy away from integrated digital TV tuners.
Also of some worry is the machine's compatibility with DVD-R. Recording on the format is fine, but I had considerable difficulty getting the 3305 to recognise DVD-Rs recorded on other decks. It simply thought that they were blanks even though they were finalised (and therefore unable to record onto). DVD-RWs formatted in VR mode caused problems too; the machine would only recognise them as DVD-Rs and refused to reformat them in video mode.
It must be stressed that there were no problems with any brand of blank media straight from the packet, so if this is your first recorder you can rest easy, but if this is a replacement or secondary machine, you may have some frustration.
Thanks to the machine's incompatibility with DVD-RW in VR mode, editing is basic. You can create and hide chapters, delete and rename titles, change the index picture and split a title - that's all folks! But, as you can cut out ad breaks and other superfluous nonsense using the split option, there's little more you'd really want to do on a recorder without a hard drive.
Considering the caveats of the 3305, the excellent picture quality comes as some relief. Even through RGB Scart, conventional DVD playback is rich in colour and has splendid levels of detail. In comparison to prog scan pictures, they may seem a little soft, but are still credit-worthy.
The same can be said for recorded material; the highest bitrate loses nothing in translation. Even the twohour mode has only the slightest degradation in quality. It's only when you reach the four and six-hour recording options that picture break-up is clearly apparent, especially in fast moving scenes (like football, or the car chase in Matrix Reloaded), and a digital haze starts to mar proceedings - they're okay for soap operas and the like, but you wouldn't want to archive anything important in those modes.
As a CD player, this Philips is surprisingly good. With audio jitter just 253 Pico seconds, it'd more than up to casual disc spinning. Dolby Digital and DTS playback is largely governed by the decoding quality of your amplifier, but shouldn't disappoint.
Although I might seem to have a cornucopia of quibbles with Philips' DVDR3305, its budget-friendly price should ensure that is taken into consideration. That said, I suspect the lack of component outputs consigns the machine to living rooms with CRTs and bedrooms, catering for both with aplomb but failing to reach the grade for anything better.