Hi-Tech Combo Player

At a Glance
  • JVC DR-MX1S DVD Recorder (Progressive Scan, 80GB Hard Drive)

Very rarely is there a good reason to take three separate home theater components and cram them all into one box. Sure, you can save some space, but you usually wind up with several components of less-than-ideal quality. However, each component of JVC's DR-MX1S combination DVD player/burner, hard-disk recorder, and VCR could very well stand on its own against leaders in its category. And, together, they rock.

Three Players in One

The DVR's 80GB hard drive can, at the lowest quality setting, hold up to 105 hours of television. For me, the quality was too low at that setting, though the medium-quality, 35-hour setting was plenty good, both in terms of quality and available space. It has two television tuners, so it can either record two shows at once or record while watching live TV.

The VCR, too, is top-notch, supporting JVC's new VHS Progressive Scan, which affects playback (but not recording) of any VHS tape. It converts a standard VHS signal to 480 progressive mode, and in the process enhances the sharpness, removes jitter, and "freshens up" the way VHS tapes look. This helps both when watching VHS and when archiving VHS tapes to DVD or hard disk. It breathed new life into those old Star Wars VHS tapes I have, for example. An added benefit is that the DVD player and VHS both use the component outputs, which means one less set of cables that you have to run to your TV.

And speaking of the DVD player, it is a progressive-scan unit that will play just about any kind of DVD or CD you can throw at it, including DVD-RAM, DVD-R/RW, DVD, CD, SVCD, VCD, MP3, WMA, and JPG images on CD-R/RW. Additionally, it has a 30-disc resume memory, which is great for when you need to stop a movie so the kids can watch their Toy Story DVD during the day, and resume watching your disc where you left off later that night.

The device will also burn DVD-RAM and DVD-R/RW disks, and this is where this unit shines. You can create DVDs from TV shows you've recorded to your hard drive, movies you have on VHS, or movies that come straight from your camcorder using the DR-MX1S's built-in FireWire inputs. Because the unit has a hard disk, you can set DVD chapter points and create menus, and then burn the final product to DVD. The dubbing feature is extremely easy to use, activated with simple on-screen menus, so creating a disc never takes more than three or four clicks. The only drawback is that the unit cannot do anything else while burning to DVD. While this isn't so bad if you're burning from the hard disk, where it can burn to DVD at high speed, it can get to be a problem with dubbing from VHS: a one-hour tape takes an hour to copy.

Room to Grow

Each piece of this device works extremely well on its own, and having it all tied together is a huge benefit, especially considering the dubbing features. The DR-MX1s is definitely worth a look if you're in the market for any one of these components and might have use for the others down the road.


Integrating components is a good idea with this device.

Current prices (if available)

This story, "Hi-Tech Combo Player" was originally published by PCWorld.

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At a Glance
  • JVC DR-MX1S DVD Recorder (Progressive Scan, 80GB Hard Drive)

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