capsule review

Toshiba RD-XS55

At a Glance
  • Toshiba RDXS55 DVD Recorder (DVR,250GB Hard Drive, HDMI)

    TechHive Rating

Toshiba's RD-XS55 seems to be aimed squarely at advanced users: It has sleek, black A/V-component looks, an ethernet port, and a $700 price tag (as of 10/27/06). And you'll need to be of a technical bent to enjoy learning to use the garish, often-confusing menu and complicated remote control.

The RD-XS55 has a capacious 250GB hard drive and some distinctive features. Thanks to the RD-XS55's ethernet port, you can use a PC to access its recorded content across a network--regrettably, though, you can't use its network connectivity to download video to its hard drive or display it on your TV. Also, the model can't write or even read DVD+RW and dual-layer DVD+R discs. It does, however, offer 1080i upconversion, an advantage if you want to get the best-quality playback of analog NTSC video on an HDTV.

Unlike other recorders, the RD-XS55 lets you combine different video bit rates and audio compression schemes into custom recording modes. I managed to significantly increase the quality of 8-hour video to about that of a normal digital video recorder's 6-hour mode by opting for high-compression Dolby over LPCM audio. The overall quality of the unit's recordings was a match for any DVR we've tested, too. The RD-XS55 also has an HDMI connector, a feature lacking in competing models.

The RD-XS55 includes the TV Guide electronic programming guide, which definitely makes scheduling recordings easier even though it isn't quite as intuitive as TiVo. The unit also has a commercial-skip feature, which is missing from some of the competition, and offers a G-Link port for attaching an infrared blaster or directly controlling a cable or satellite box.

I might be more forgiving of the RD-XS55's steep $700 price and unintuitive interface if its network connectivity and disc-write formats were less limited, but as is it's difficult to recommend.

Jon L. Jacobi

This story, "Toshiba RD-XS55" was originally published by PCWorld.

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At a Glance
  • Toshiba RDXS55 DVD Recorder (DVR,250GB Hard Drive, HDMI)

    TechHive Rating
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