Unfortunately, I could not find a DVD/VCR combo player that I could
recommend to meet my personal requirements. However, if my
requirements consisted of playing typical DVD movies, VHS video tapes,
and saving space by having it all in one unit, any of the players in
the list to follow would be fine selections. All of the DVD/VCR combo
units listed here are progressive scan DVD players and under $150. I
have listed them by order of preference.
Following the list, I will attempt to talk you out of these combo
units and discuss other considerations.
$149 Toshiba Model: SD-V391
Epinions.com Review of Toshiba Model: SD-V391
Note: This solid player includes the ability to record non-copyright
discs to videotape.
$139 Panasonic Model: PV-D4743S
Note: This player includes audio decoding.
Epinions.com Review of Panasonic Model: PV-D4743S
I had wanted to recommend this Sony as it has some nice features on
paper. However, I am reading too many reports about poor build
quality and failure to play typcial DVD movies. I guess I would avoid
this model for now...
$179 Sony Do Not Buy Model: SLV-D300P (aka SLV-D201P at Costco, etc.)
Epinions.com Report on Sony SLV-D300P
DVDrHelp.com Report on Sony SLV-D300P
As I indicated, I would not buy a combo player. If you already have a
VCR, just keep using it and buy a nice DVD player. There are a couple
reasons why I prefer this approach. One is that in a combo device, if
either of the players in the unit fail, you will likely want to
replace the entire unit. Likewise, if you send the unit out for
repair, you will be without both players during the repair period. (I
typically do not like to purchase an extended warranty, but, given the
reports I have read of some units failing to play typical DVD movies
or failing to eject tapes and discs, it might be nice to have the
option for an easy replacement.)
If you purchase a standalone DVD player, you can get one that supports
an increased number of video formats, including the emerging Divx and
xVid codecs. These are increasingly popular with people who burn
movies to CD and DVD. I would recommend one with support for a wide
array of video formats. MP3 and WMA audio formats are also handy to
have support for.
Another consideration for you DVD player is what type of stereo system
you want it to work with. Do you plan on 5.1 surround sound, a
standard stereo, or the TVs built-in speakers? If you plan on 5.1
surround sound, you either want a player with built-in DTS and Dolby
Digital decoding... or, you want to plan on buying a stereo receiver
with built-in decoding or a separate decoding unit.
Finally, for the sake of completeness, I should mention the new Tivo
(PVR) units that now include DVD burners in some models. These allow
you to record shows in your Tivo effortlessly. If you record
something you really want to keep, you can then burn it to DVD
directly in the unit. It also plays DVDs, of course. At $899, this
Pioneer DVR-810H-S may be out of the price range for now. But, I'd
rather get a cheap DVD player now, with the idea of replacing it with
one of these in a couple years as prices drop.
TechTV Top 20 Gift Guide, #1 Gift, Pioneer DVR-810H-S
Compare Format Compatibility for Players
Look at dvdrhelp.com, bestbuy.com, circuitycity.com, and epinions.com
for information on models. Also, see if I could find a combo player
that support Divx.
Search Terms: dvd vcr divx mp3