John P. Falcone is an executive editor at CNET, where he coordinates a group of more than 20 editors and writers based in New York and San Francisco as they cover the latest and greatest products in consumer technology. He's been a CNET editor since 2003.
The Pioneer DVR-320 is the company's entry-level DVD recorder. It records TV programs and camcorder videos to DVD-R and DVD-RW discs and will be available in June for an affordable $399. And bargain hunters should take note: The less expensive DVR-220 and DVR-225 models sold by Wal-Mart and Best Buy (respectively) are basically the same model.
Upside: The DVR-320's front-panel FireWire jack allows easy backup of home movies from any DV camcorder; this recorder even includes some basic editing functions for trimming scenes and making menus. Unlike in last year's model, the DVR-320's chasing playback doesn't require switching to VR mode. That means you'll be able to begin watching a show while the conclusion is simultaneously being recorded on the same disc.
Downside: While the step-up DVR-520H allows recording to an internal hard drive as well as to disc, the DVR-320 is a DVD-only affair. And unlike Pioneer's pricier TiVo-powered DVR-810H, this model lacks an electronic programming guide and an IR blaster. That means it can't control digital cable and satellite boxes, so if you've moved beyond analog cable TV, you may have a tough time recording your favorite shows.
Outlook: The price is nice, and camcorder archivists will find a lot to like, but the lack of even a basic electronic programming guide will frustrate those looking for anything more than a glorified VCR replacement.
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