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Samsung DVD-SH875M DVD/HDD Recorder review




Our Score:


As much as we love DVD/HDD recorders and what they can do, they're not always the most interesting machines to look at. But that's not the case with Samsung's latest DVD/HDD combi, which uses the sleek black design seen on its Blu-ray and DVD players to great effect. The fascia is flat and sports only a few buttons, most of which are clustered together in a circular pad on the right hand side, giving it a clean, uncluttered look. On a negative note, the small display panel isn't easy to read from a typical viewing distance.

You'll find a very useful range of connections on the rear panel. Outputs include HDMI, component, RGB SCART and composite video, and if you want to record from an external digital TV receiver, then you can connect it to the second SCART socket, which accepts RGB and composite signals. You can also connect the unit to your sound system using either the optical or coaxial digital audio outputs, or the analogue stereo output.

There are more sockets underneath a flap on the front panel, including DV, composite, stereo audio inputs and a USB port. You can plug an MP3 player, USB memory stick or digital camera into the latter port and transfer JPEG, MP3 and DivX files onto the hard-disk or DVD (or vice versa) or play them directly from the device. These codecs can also be played from recordable CDs and DVDs, revealing the Samsung's excellent format flexibility.

The DVD-SH875M is equipped with a 250GB hard-disk, offering up to 421 hours of recording time, and can also record onto DVD-RAM, DVD-RW, DVD+RW, DVD-R and DVD+R discs. The manual says nothing about dual-layer DVD-R/+R recording but we tested it out and it accepts both formats, effectively doubling the recording time afforded by single layer discs. Like any DVD/HDD combi worth its salt, you can copy recordings from the hard-disk to DVD and vice versa at high speed, while DVD-RAM and DVD-RW discs formatted in Video Recording (VR) mode can be used to make non-linear edits.

It's fitted with a single digital tuner and boasts all the usual Freeview features, including a 7-day EPG, digital text and interactive support, plus series link as part of the deck's Freeview+ support (which is still called 'Playback' on the box). The Freeview functionality is attractively presented but not always easy to use. The EPG. for instance, is slow to populate and annoyingly hesitant when you're trying to move from programme to programme, plus channel changing is slow and hitting the 'info' button during TV viewing brings up details about the deck's status rather than the programme - the only way to read the programme synopsis is to enter the full EPG. But setting series link is easy, digital text is quick to appear and the channel/favourites lists are easy to edit.

Ross 2

November 3, 2008, 7:29 pm

"You can plug an MP3 player, USB memory stick or digital camera into the latter port and transfer JPEG, MP3 and DivX files onto the hard-disk or DVD (or vice versa) or play them directly from the device." - does this mean you can copy video recorded on the PVR onto an MP3 player?

Ross 2

December 30, 2008, 6:16 pm

I've since bought one of these, and the answer to my question above appears to be "no". This product is completely unusable, if you don't upgrade the firmware. The UI is pretty ugly and kind of dumb. The boot is really slow, and the unit seems to spend most of it trying to read a disk from the empty drive. The chapter skip button doesn't take you on five minutes in the current recording (for example), but skips you to the next recorded programme, whatever that is. The unit defaults to subtitles being on, and there seems to be no way to have them off by default. If the DVD drive is empty, you need to manually tell the unit to look to the HDD: it won't just assume that's where you want to look for recordings. On the whole, this unit feels a little unfinished.


January 23, 2009, 11:13 pm

I have this unit and it has been exceptional and to finish the Ross comment, clearly he has issues with technology as my unit copy files to MP3 player, EHDD and Camera vice versa fine without any firmware upgrade.

Ross maybe your MP3 Player is shoddy, on the whole your comments seem a little unfinished.

Y Waun

March 19, 2009, 1:11 am

We've had several experiences of the date changing, apparently at random, so planned recordings have not happened. today the guide tells me it is the 7th April, when it is the 18th March!! Also the day of weekly recordings has mysteriously changed!! Does anyone have any ideas why this is happeneing and how we can avoid it? Thanks

Bonzo Banana

September 26, 2009, 4:02 am

There are some factual errors in this review. Samsung dvd recorders record the mpeg video data directly from the freeview transport stream which is why you can't set the recording mode. If you record a tv station like BBC1 which is 720x576 and a reasonable bitrate you may only get about 2hrs on a disc. If you record a low bitrate tv station which is 544x576 you might get upto 5 hours on a disc. However you are recording a broadcast quality video which is lossless. A big advantage over most other dvd recorders. This is clearly evident by the fact you can record freeview subtitles. If you put the subtitles on and record the program you can then turn them on or off when playing back. Only possible if its recording the transmission directly. So for archiving/storing your favourite freeview programs onto dvd disc samsungs are clearly superior to other models. However they are still a pain to operate with their poor gui and slow operation.

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