Philips's tandem of 2003 DVD recorders, theand this deck, the DVDR75, look pretty much the same. The less-expensive DVDR75 is missing a few key features, though, namely an electronic program guide (EPG) and stepped-up video-playback quality. Still, with its FireWire input for direct digital transfer of camcorder footage, this model matches up well against Panasonic's similarly priced . Which one you prefer depends largely on what you value more: style and usability (Philips) or the latest tech-savvy extras (Panasonic).
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The DVDR75's handsome silver face is highlighted by a swath of mirrored plastic. The drawer and the display blend into the mirror, the power button is on the left, and to the right sit a circular transport control and a Record key, which is outlined in red light during recording.
The menu system, which relies on horizontal and vertical cursor movement, was sometimes a little too slow. But the options are straightforward enough that beginners shouldn't have much trouble, especially after consulting the helpful user manual. Operating the DVDR75 is relatively painless.
We were much happier with the DVDR75's remote than the DVDR80's. The bow-tie shape fits well in the hand, and the transport controls are easy to differentiate. Our chief complaints are with the illogically small menu buttons and the overprominent timer and TV-volume keys, but you'll soon get used to the layout.
The DVDR75's and the DVDR80's feature sets mirror one another except for four differences. As we already mentioned, the DVDR75 lacks the step-up model's important EPG. Also missing are Sage/Faroudja DCDi video processing, an optical digital-audio output, and an 8-hour recording mode.
The DVDR75 cannot change the channels on an external tuner or cable box, so to make sure we recorded the show we wanted, we had to leave our box set to the correct channel. Basic VCR Plus timer-programming functionality made the process a bit less of a hassle.
Unlike the competing Panasonic, the DVDR75 lacks dual A/V ins and outs, but we consider those less important than the Philips's component-video input, which provides the highest-quality connection to interlaced DVD players and some TV receivers. The unit can't take progressive-scan signals, nor will it record the output from a copyrighted DVD or VHS tape.