Samsung learned an important business formula from the staggering success of its LCD TV range. Keen technology + stylish design = vast increase in market share. Hence the artistically sculpted and fashionably black DVD recorder displayed here.
Technologically, Samsung is only partially up-to-date. This model boasts impressive recording flexibility by supporting DVD RAM as well as dual-layer discs and the HDMI output can upscale to hi-def, but the TV tuner is analogue only. Has nobody told Samsung's Korean HQ that the UK has already begun switching off its analogue broadcasts?
If this bombshell doesn't rule out the HR755 for you (perhaps you live somewhere obscure that will keep an analogue signal right up to 2012), then read on, because this is otherwise a fine machine.
It can record onto DVD RAM blanks - although not the caddy-protected kind - and also DVD+R DL media, even though Samsung's own literature keeps quiet about this. And it can playback virtually any video/music format from WMA to DivX.
The 250GB hard drive can hold up to 430 hours of footage in SEP mode and it does a fine job of storing music, picture and DivX files too. In fact, it does most of the tricks that Pioneer's 'media hub' can do with slideshows and playlists, but with a faster and more refined user interface.
Anyone who has a Samsung DVD deck - quite a lot of us, apparently - will find the cool blue OSD familiar. All the additional functionality has extended the menu by a few pages, but it's still easy to dive in, change the output resolution or aspect ratio and dive out again without reaching for the manual - a sin for any self-respecting AV addict.
The internal scaler can output 1080i, but not 1080p. Is this a problem? I don't think so. Scalers on products at this price point don't really produce anything that looks like real Full HD anyway. That said, the 720p and 1080i massaging both look convincing enough for me to claim a benefit. The tricky fly-over scene in chapter four of the 28 Weeks Later DVD is handled well - with fewer break-ups and jagged edges than many rivals.
Copies from broadcast are faithful too, although I feel shortchanged by the soon-to-be-defunct analogue tuner. Inevitably, there's no EPG, so recordings must be programmed manually or by Video Plus+.
Audio quality can be considered good, with digital output via HDMI, coaxial or optical connections, although audiophiles will be better off using a separate CD player for music.
This Samsung scores points for its format flexibility, value-for-money and decent picture quality, but then loses them all courtesy of its analogue tuner, which will render most of its recording functionality redundant when the UK continues the great switch-over in 2008.