Review of Magnavox DVD Recorder with VCR – Model MWR20V6
I was in need of a recorder to transfer VHS tapes, that I bought years ago, to the DVD format. The tapes were not getting any younger, and I didn’t even know if they were still in good condition for recording. I looked at several dual recorders and wound up buying the Magnavox model, due to its past reliability. Or so I thought.
It cost me approximately $150, which I rationalized as being cost effective as my VHS tapes were worth close to $500. I gleefully told my wife I was saving her a ton of money and we would have my tapes on DVD for eternity. She nodded half-heartedly and gave me the green light.
After getting the Magnavox DVD Recorder with VCR – Model MWR20V6 home, the electronic nightmare began. I can’t blame the manufacturer for the confusing, idiotic setup instructions that were most likely written by someone whose native language wasn’t English. I blame ALL of the manufacturers for this. When an Electronics Engineer admits that he can’t figure out the wiring diagram and instructions, it’s game over.
But, I relentlessly pursued the setup. What choice did I have? I had to prove it was saving us money, and it couldn’t do that sitting in the original box in my basement. I struggled through the various combinations of wiring options, trying to determine which of the diagrams that didn’t match my components would be the right ones to hook up.
I did get the power cord plugged in without too much trouble. My back was killing me from bending over behind the other electronic toys to run the hookups.
Being a male, the normal route would be to just start pushing buttons haphazardly until something happened. This time, though, I had a brain burp and chose to do it the right way — by following the instructions. Now that it was wired, the secondary fun began: getting the unit to work properly.
This proved to be worse than the wiring. In retrospect, I distilled my troubles with this model down to two major factors: the owner’s manual and the remote control.
The transfer of my VHS programs to blank DVDs went surprisingly well. After all, this is the primary reason for buying this model. The quality of the recorded DVD is equal to the original tapes — it is superb. So, I give Magnavox a grade of “A” for this function.
The owner’s manual was printed in China. My suspicion is that a Chinese writer who has a passing knowledge of English grammar and composition was the author. Without sounding like a Xenophobe, it may as well have been written in Chinese. Hey, it would be like me writing one for them. Same results, no comprende.
The terms used for recording TV programs were ambiguous, at best. For instance, I set up the timed recording for a Sopranos episode. The next morning, I checked the status and found the only result was an error message. It mentioned something about overlapped programming. Overlapped where? It made no sense whatsoever!
Then I tried again to do a two-hour recording using the timer function. I breezed through the setup, and then it asked for the recording mode. I clicked on the selection blank and it defaulted to HQ. “High Quality”. Great! I can live with that! I later found out that the HQ mode is only for an hour, so I lost the second half of the program.
I was relegated to a constant “error and learn mode.” But it shouldn’t be that painful a process. Again, the worst thing about the manual was the vague instructional terminology and mismatch with component hookup illustrations.
I also was very disappointed that I couldn’t view CD photo disks on this model. It doesn’t support JPEG images, which is ridiculous. The $49 DVD player I bought for my in-laws does, and it does it very well. As far as playback of recorded material goes, the cheap DVD player has it all over this Magnavox player. What really irks me is that the outside of the box didn’t mention what the model didn’t support. So how is one supposed to know all the intricacies of the unit before purchasing it? You can’t in this instance.
Lastly, the remote control is a joke. A very slim model, only about two inches wide by five inches long, it has an array of micro-size buttons. The buttons have function designations that mean nothing to me. I can only try to cross-match them with the vague manual.
But it gets worse: the buttons are so small that a dainty male could easily press two or more accidentally. And they are almost all the same shape. A good remote, like my TV’s, has various shaped buttons that are ergonomically designed to be recognized by the user without looking at them. The remote for this model would be acceptable if we had sharp stubs in place of our fat fingers. If enough of these types of remotes are produced, human evolution may just adapt to this configuration.
Is this model a good buy? I wouldn’t recommend it for the price I paid. Look for one that has all the features you want, first, and ask to see and hold the remote control. I happened to buy this on the spur of the moment, without the benefit of researching the various brands. If I did it again, I would first get a copy of Consumer Reports’ special electronics issue and check out the reviews. It could save you a lot of mental anguish in the end.
Review by Robert Douglas/ USA.
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