Test Bench:Datavideo DVR-3000 Video Disc Recorder
$1,600

Datavideo Corp.

12300-U East Washington Blvd.

Whittier, CA 90606

(888) 809-DATA

www.datavideo-tek.com

CD-R and CD-RW burners have become standard, vital components of nearly all new computers. Recently, we’ve seen the advent of software that enables these drives to burn videos onto CD-R and CD-RW discs playable in many free-standing DVD players.


Like Teraoptix, Datavideo has now entered the fray with a CD-burning machine that doesn’t require a computer. The DVR-3000 is a free-standing machine that can sit in your home entertainment center. It is capable of writing video files to CD-R or CD-RW discs in formats that can be played in many DVD-video players.

Note that we didn’t say it burns DVDs. Rather it can create a 74-minute poor-quality video CD (or an 18-minute CD of high quality) on a CD-R or CD-RW. It can, however, play DVDs. We suspect that this product was conceived when the cheapest computer-based DVD-R drive cost $5,000 and videographers were looking for less expensive ways to create discs for playback in DVD players. All that has changed, with Compaq and Apple shipping whole computers with DVD-R drives for less than $3,000.


The DVR-3000 is capable of playing and recording a wide range of formats including audio CD, video CD, Photo DVD and CD-DVD. We liked the convenience, but you’ll have to decide whether the DVR-3000 is worth its hefty price. Note, however, that the DVR-3000 does not have authoring capability. You can’t use it to create the menus familiar to DVD viewers.


Easy Setup

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Getting the DVR-3000 ready to burn was easier than rubbing two sticks together. In fact, it was so simple that if you can operate a VCR, you’ll have no problems with this device. There are no extensive setups or menus to navigate through. Datavideo includes all of the necessary cables (S-video, component and FireWire) that you’ll need.


In addition to simplicity, the DVR-3000 offers versatility. You can record from VCR, from a computer, from another DVD player or from a camcorder. You can also connect a video projector directly to the component output. Whether you’re an event videographer, a corporate video producer or a home video enthusiast, the DVR-3000 is one of the simplest ways to record video to a variety of disc formats.


Simple to Burn

For our tests, we recorded video that we previously shot with a Mini DV camcorder and created a video CD disc that would play in most DVD players. We connected the DVR-3000 to our VCR, using our television as monitor, then connected our Mini DV camcorder to the IEEE-1394 port on the front panel. We switched the input mode from analog to digital (on the back panel) and in less than five minutes we were ready to burn our first video CD disc.

When we turned the unit on and placed a blank CD-RW disc in the drive, the DVR-3000 whirred for a few moments. It then greeted us with a simple menu that included several format choices: VCD, HQ-VCD, S-VCD, DVD-Photo and CD-DVD. We used the handy remote control to control the device.


VCD (video CD)is a format many DVD players use. It carries an MPEG-1 compression format with low resolution; good for about 74 minutes of video on a CD-R disc. HQ-VCD is low resolution at a high data transfer rate and allows for about 37 minutes of video. S-VCD is high resolution MPEG-2 format that also fits about 37 minutes on a disc. Computers with WinDVD or PowerDVD software can also play these formats. DVD-Photo uses the MPEG-2 format and records up to 98 still images on disc. CD-DVD is also MPEG-2 and provides the highest resolution and highest data transfer rate. It allows for about 18 minutes on a 650MB disc. Check the back of the manual or visit Datavideo’s Web site at www.datavideo-tek for a list of DVD players that support each format.


Since we wanted to create a high quality disc, we selected the CD-DVD option. We cued our source deck, a Mini DV camcorder, to the beginning of the scene that we wanted, and simultaneously pressed the DVR-3000’s Record button and the camcorder’s Play button. Our scene began playing and the disc recorded it. When we wanted to stop recording, we pressed Stop. We fast-forwarded our tape to a new scene that we wanted and again pressed Play and Record. The DVR-3000 automatically created a new track each time we pressed Record.

Once we finished recording our footage, we were ready to "finalize" the disc. This basically sealed it from further writing, but made it playable in other devices. If you use CD-R discs, you can only record once. But if you use the CD-RW disks, you can record as many times as you like until you finalize.


Clearing the Smoke

The DVR-3000 video disc recorder fits as nicely in a home entertainment center as it does in an edit bay. It’s easy to set up and simple to use. At the beginning of each track, however, there was a momentary lag when the video began to play.


While we truly enjoyed the simplicity of the DVR-3000, we found it to be expensive, now that DVD burners are becoming standard equipment for computers. The DVR-3000 is not capable of creating menus the way the typical DVD-R burner and software combo would. A year ago a bevy of early adopters would have scarfed these, just to start getting their videos onto discs. Unfortunately, the DVR-3000 has arrived a little too late for the early adopters. However, for some it might be the stand-alone DVD burning solution they’ve been looking for.

TECH SPECS

Playback Disc Type: CD-DVD/DVD-Photo/SVCD/HQ-VCD/VCD Audio CD

Recorder Disc Type: CD-R, CD-RW 650MB

Audio CD Sampling Rate: 44.1 kHz, 16-bit

CD quality

Video Formats: CD-DVD (MPEG-2) NTSC 704×480 at 30fps bit rate at 4.8MB/sec, DVD-photo (MPEG-2) NTSC 704×480 at 30fps bit rate at 2.4MB/sec, S-VCD video resolution (MPEG-2) NTSC 352×480 at 30fps bit rate at 2.4MB/sec, HQ-VCD video resolution (MPEG-1) NTSC 352×240 at 30fps bit rate at 2.4MB/sec, VCD video resolution (MPEG-1) NTSC 352×240 at 30fps bit rate at 1.15MB/sec

Video Inputs: Y/C (S-video) mini DIN,

CVBS (video) RCA, Optional DV (IEEE/i-Link) 4-pin connector

Video Outputs: S-video, RCA, Y.U.V. and FireWire (IEEE-1394)

Digital Audio Input: 44.1 kHz, 16-bit

CD quality

Audio Inputs: Stereo RCA 20Hz-20 kHz

Audio Outputs: Stereo RCA 20Hz-20 kHz

Microphone Inputs: Two dynamic microphone inputs, 600ohm

Dimensions: 16.1 x 11.8 x 3.6 inches

Weight: 9.3 pounds

Other Features: Remote control

STRENGTHS

  • Simple to use
  • Ease of setup
  • Variety of inputs and outputs

    WEAKNESSES

  • No authoring capability
  • Expensive

    SUMMARY

  • For simple video disc creation in a variety of formats, the DVR-3000 delivers, at a price. The DVR-3000 may be a case of too little, too late as new computers include DVD burners and DVD authoring software for less money.
  • The Videomaker Editors are dedicated to bringing you the information you need to produce and share better video.