It's been a bit quiet on the DVD Recorder front here at CNET.com.au lately; while we've been waiting with bated breath for the official launch of items such as Seven's Tivo and Foxtel's iQ2, the market for more ordinary recorders has been decidedly slow. Samsung's DVD-HR755 doesn't really do anything to arrest that perception. It's a capable enough player and recorder, but it's missing some features that we'd argue should be on your "must have" list for a modern PVR.
On the design front, the HR755 certainly bears the Samsung mark of style, with plenty of piano black and a glowing blue power button that sits to the left of the unit's DVD recorder tray. The LCD display panel sits above the main function buttons. They're all fairly small and not terribly well labelled if you're trying to find a function in a hurry -- say, for example, if one of your children has hidden the remote control. Speaking of the remote, it's also largely unremarkable, and rather busy with buttons.
The HR755 is a single analog tuner DVD recorder with a 250GB hard disk drive within. That 250GB will give you between 64 and 421 hours of recording time, depending on the recording mode chosen. The HR755 supports all current single layer DVD recordable formats, and recording to optical disc will give you between one to six hours depending on quality preferences.
The HR755 will play back standard commercial DVDs, and the review model supplied to CNET.com.au was a region-free model that had no problems with any disc we threw at it. It's also capable of playing back DivX material stored on CD or DVD writeable media. On the connections front, the HR755 supports connections ranging from component up to HDMI.
As a basic upscaling DVD player, the HR755 performed very well. There's a slight pause when you insert a playable DVD as the unit works out if it should be recording to it or not, but otherwise it was very smooth sailing in our playback tests.
Likewise, recording with the HR755 was essentially painless, up to a point. That point is one of quality, and will depend on what you're used to. Our test analog signal wasn't terribly good, and as such we found much of what we recorded reflected what we were able to receive -- that is, not terribly good. With no digital TV capability, the HR755 is also an EPG-free zone; the best you'll get out of it is G-Code compatibility. Does anyone want to go back to G-Code? Anyone?
On the minor niggles front, we also found ourselves trapped in a couple of the HR755's menu structures, largely because some of the standard escape methods (such as hitting the menu button) are curiously absent at certain points. Not a mistake you'll make too many times, but annoying nonetheless.
Samsung touts the HR755 on the front of the box as being "HDTV Compliant", which strikes us as a fairly dodgy way of presenting the unit. It'll connect to any HDTV, certainly, but with only a standard definition analog tuner and standard DVD playback mechanism within the HR755, you're not going anywhere near presenting actual HD content on it. Depending on where you're installing it, your analog signal might not even be worth recording on an ongoing basis, and to be honest the biggest strike we've got against the HR755 is that it's analog only. With so many devices in the same price range offering at least SD digital -- and many offering either twin tuners or HD -- it's an omission that gives this particular unit a relatively short shelf life.