With every consumer electronics manufacturer scrambling to cut costs and drop prices, it makes a refreshing change to see Pioneer going in the opposite direction. We've already seen the company's ‘no expense spared' ethos with its premium line of Kuro plasmas, but now Pioneer appears to be taking the same approach with its DVD/hard-disk recorders.
Take the DVR-LX70D for example. Pioneer's flagship digital recorder boasts a staggering feature list, faultless build quality and astonishing versatility, but with a price tag pushing a grand it's only likely to attract affluent digital recording devotees who want the very best performance.
But boy does it justify that price tag. At its heart is a colossal 500GB hard-disk - currently the largest capacity available on a HDD/DVD recorder - and a DVB-T tuner, the combination of which makes this a highly versatile PVR with functions like pause live TV and chase playback. But the deck can also record onto any type of recordable DVD, including DVD-RAM, DVD+RW/+R, DVD-RW/-R and dual-layer DVD+R and DVD-R discs.
On a more superficial note, the DVR-LX70D is a real stunner, boasting a luxurious black finish to match Pioneer's plasma sets, alluring blue lights and a flap that hides a plethora of goodies (more on these later).
The DVR-LX70D is far more than just a digital recorder. You can use the unit as a digital music jukebox by transferring MP3, WMA and JPEG files onto the hard disk in one of two ways: by copying the files from a disc, or plugging your PC (running Window Media Player) into one of the two front-mounted USB ports.
You can also play MP3 and WMA files from USB memory devices and portable media players, or DivX files from CD-R or CD-RW. And here's a nifty feature - when you load a CD, the deck's built-in Gracenote database automatically displays the artist and track names without an Internet connection in sight.
Also found on the front panel is a card module slot for adding pay TV channels like Setanta Sports, an i.Link input for hooking up a DV camcorder plus S-video, composite and stereo audio inputs. The back panel features an HDMI v1.3 output which offers 576i, 576p, 720p, 1080i and 1080p output, alongside component video, RGB SCART and coaxial digital audio outputs. If you're using an external digital TV receiver instead of the built-in Freeview tuner, the signal can be fed into the SCART input and recorded in glorious RGB. One slight disappointment is the lack of proper network connectivity as found on Pioneer's Blu-ray player, but perhaps that's asking too much!