Burn DVDs and Convert Video More Easily

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At a Glance
  • Sony DVDirect VRD-MC1

Sony's DVDirect.
Sony's DVDirect.
If you want to convert video from VHS tapes to DVD discs, you have two basic choices: Use a dedicated set-top DVD recorder that connects to your VCR to convert video in real time; or rely on a DVD burner, video inputs, and software on your PC. Sony's $300 DVDirect VRD-MC1 aims to give you the best of both worlds.

I examined a preproduction version of this intriguing third-generation product. At its heart lies a 16X double- and dual-layer-capable DVD burner that functions either as an external drive (when linked to a PC via USB 2.0) or as a converter that records video to a DVD (when linked to a VCR, cable box, TV, or camcorder via its composite video, S-Video, or DV input).

One of the flashiest additions to this version is a 2-inch color LCD screen on the unit's top surface. The LCD is especially convenient for previewing the start or end of videos you're recording (particularly since the VRD-MC1 doesn't have a video output for playing back on your TV) and for viewing digital images. It's easy to transfer the latter via the unit's integrated media card slots. The VRD-MC1 acts a conduit for your images so you can send them from the flash card to a photo slide-show DVD or to a PictBridge-compatible printer connected to the unit via USB.

Other changes: The unit is oriented horizontally, and this time around Sony placed the video inputs along the left side of the front panel; this simplifies access to cables but could look messy if you keep them plugged in all the time.

Rare is the device versatile enough to serve both your PC and your living-room setup, but the DVDirect VRD-MC1 promises to straddle both universes effortlessly.

Sony DVDirect VRD-MC1

Preproduction unit, not rated
External drive works well independently of a PC to transfer video and digital images to DVD.
Price when reviewed: $300
Current prices (if available)

Melissa J. Perenson

This story, "Burn DVDs and Convert Video More Easily" was originally published by PCWorld.

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At a Glance
  • Sony DVDirect VRD-MC1

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