Pioneer DVR-LX61D DVD/HDD Recorder - Pioneer DVR-LX61D

By Danny Phillips

Reviewed:

Awards

  • Recommended by TR
Pioneer DVR-LX61D DVD/HDD Recorder

Summary

Our Score:

9

Controlling the unit’s immense range of functions with the busy remote is easier than it first seems. Yes it’s jam-packed with buttons – all of which give a satisfying little click when pressed – but the core menu controls are intuitively placed under the thumb and the lesser-used keys are clearly labelled. Particularly useful are the three Home Media Gallery keys that give you direct access to video, music and photos stored on the HDD.

The remaining functions are too vast to discuss in detail, but highlights include 1080p upscaling from the HDMI output, pause live TV, KURO Link CEC, built-in CD ripping with a Gracenote database for automatic song tagging and a Video Adjust menu that provides an astonishingly detailed array of picture tweaks.

In action, the unit is wonderfully responsive and delivers superb recorded picture quality. As expected, XP+, XP and SP recordings from the Freeview tuner are crisply defined and dazzlingly vibrant, with very little noise to speak of.

Studio-based quiz and chat shows best demonstrate the deck’s video processing prowess, with Countdown on Channel 4 and The Wright Stuff on Five both looking identical to the live broadcast. And of course the whole thing is boosted by some top-drawer upscaling, which almost doubles the vertical resolution of Freeview pictures without introducing any unwanted artefacts.

Even with the high quality video components inside the unit, Pioneer can’t make a silk purse from a sow’s ear, and when using recording modes in the lower reaches of the bitrate range (SLP, SEP) picture quality is riddled with fuzzy, smeary compression artefacts. But even in SEP, the results are still strangely watchable – much more so than some rival recorders’ low-quality modes.

We’re also highly impressed by the sharpness and purity of the deck’s DVD playback, delivering movies on a 1080p TV with the sort of cinematic verve and refinement you’d normally only get from a dedicated high-end player. It also makes a surprisingly decent CD player when used with good quality audio components.

We couldn’t find fault with any of the unit’s multimedia functionality – the CD ripping feature and Gracenote worked flawlessly, files transferred from a PC to the hard disk with consummate ease plus music, video and photo files played back without any fuss.

Verdict

We defy anyone to spend a couple of days in the company of the DVR-LX61D and come away unimpressed. It’s quite simply a sublime combi recorder that boasts a stupefying range of features, immaculate recording performance and bomb shelter build quality. In fact the only criticism we can find is that the comprehensive functionality might make it too complicated for newcomers to digital recording, but for AV enthusiasts that’s more of a blessing than a hindrance.

Overall Score

9

Scores In Detail

  • Performance 9
  • Value 7
  • Features 10
  • Design 9

Thomas 2

September 11, 2008, 4:51 pm

Have been using one for approx 1 month now. Difficult to fault. With the digital PDC, not one programme clipped/chopped yet. Could also do with +/- 24hr EPG option and a larger HDD size.

Orinj

September 11, 2008, 4:55 pm

I bought a Panasonic DMR-EX78 a few months ago and although that is also an excellent recorder, there were a few fundamental user interface features that bug me. Are any of these resolved in this Pioneer? -





1) Are programs recorded with auto chapter marks for you to navigate through adverts quickly.


2) When you come to the end of one recorded program does the DVR-LX61D play straight through to the next program - thus removing the 'new' tag.


3) How good is the display information? Can you see the title, chapter and playing and remain time?


4) How long is the DVD layer change delay?


5) Although this may not be a region-free player, do you know how easy it handles the swap between PAL and NTSC discs.





I'd be more than happy to borrow this unit for a week as suggested in the verdict, if only to test out these quibbles that have bugged me with the Panasonic.

timple

September 12, 2008, 8:32 pm

When it can also support the BBC iplayer it will be able to claim full functionality.

Danny P

September 16, 2008, 2:11 pm

Orinj - I'm afraid I didn't have the product long enough to check your last two Q's, but I can field some:





1) Yes, it finds the black screen before and after adverts and inserts chapter points. You can also edit chapters manually


2) No, it stops and returns to live TV


3) Excellent. You can see title, chapter and remain time when playing a DVD. It also shows you the current recording mode, whether the disc is NTSC or not, whether an -RW/-R disc is being played and lots of other stuff.

Harkaway

April 23, 2009, 7:13 pm

I've had one of these now for a couple of months and on the whole I have found it to be one of the best HDD/DVD recorders I've ever owned (I've had three earlier ones). The USB port is particularly handy as I can put divx programmes on the HDD and play them back more easily; I can also do this from a rewritable DVD. The automatic chaptering works well on most shows, although not all. My only complaint is that you cannot access the digital EPG to set something up unless you are using the digital tuner (although you can look at the timer list and change it from outside that tuner. The quality of the recordings if very good and it is easy to archive stuff. I couldn't recommend it more highly.

comments powered by Disqus