One nice touch that PSP owners will appreciate: The Neuros automatically records the video file in the correct folder on your Memory Stick Duo, so long as that card was originally formatted for use with the PSP. That allows you to place the memory card directly into your PSP and play the videos without taking any further action. Of course, because the iPod with Video lacks a card slot, owners must transfers recorded files from the memory card to a computer, then onto the iPod.
The video quality at the Economy setting is pretty sketchy, but we found the Normal setting quite watchable, especially for TV shows such as Entourage and The Colbert Report. There's a bit of pixelization in faster motion sequences, but all in all, the video is smooth and its sound is loud enough. If you have the memory card space for it, watching movies ripped at the Fine setting is preferable on the PSP, though less essential on the smaller iPod screen.
All in all, we had no major complaints about the Recorder 2 Plus, although at this price, we'd like to see both S-Video inputs and outputs, and we wouldn't mind if the box had to be slightly larger to accommodate that connectivity. Not only would recording quality slightly improve with the addition of the superior S-Video connection, but it would hopefully sharpen what you see on your TV when watching through the Recorder 2 Plus. For example, while the Neuros can display images stored on your memory card (as well as MP3 audio files), they look pretty bad on large-screen HDTVs. That's partially due to the quality of the composite connection. And when we called up our list of recorded shows, we had a hard time reading program descriptions because the print was fuzzy.
The bigger issue with the Neuros Recorder is simply that of individual preference. Those who enjoy video on the go but can't stand dealing with arcane video transcoding programs on the PC will find a lot to like in the VCR-like "just press record" simplicity of the Recorder 2. On the other hand, PC-centric users who have thrown legal and ethical concerns to the wind and are adept at ripping DVDs and downloading entire TV series via Bittorrent likely will find real-time recording on the Neuros to be a tedious deal-breaker. (That crowd probably has a video tuner card or a Media Center PC anyway, which pretty much obviates the need for a Neuros.)
It's worth noting a few important admonitions for prospective Recorder 2 owners. Anyone looking to record to a Memory Stick Duo (for the PSP) will need an adapter to plug those smaller cards into the Memory Stick slot of the Neuros. Likewise, MiniSD and MicroSD cards will need their respective full-size SD adapters. By comparison, the SanDisk V-Mate--a Neuros competitor with similar features and operation--offers dedicated MiniSD and MicroSD slots (no adapter required) in addition to SD, MMC, and Memory Stick ports, but it lacks the Neuros' CompactFlash compatibility. Furthermore, the SanDisk models one-ups the Neuros with a better user interface and the addition of an IR blaster that lets your timer recordings switch channels on your cable/satellite box, a feature not found on the Neuros. (Neuros has come out with an even more advanced mini digital VCR, the Neuros OSD Linux Media Recorder ($230), but its reliance on the open-source community means that it's a "geek-only" product for the foreseeable future.)
Those caveats aside, the Neuros Recorder 2 Plus does what it says it will do and does it well. It's not the quickest or most ideal way to get content for your portable device, but if you have a lot of programs stored on your DVR or just want to record straight from your cable or satellite box, the Recorder 2 Plus is competent solution to build up a collection of MPEG-4 videos. Some additional tweaks via firmware upgrades and a price tag closer $99 would make the little black box even more attractive, but we're pretty sure Neuros knows that already.
Editors' note: This review has been updated from its original version with to properly reflect the fact that the Neuros MPEG4 Recorder 2 Plus can record Macrovision-protected movies.