In terms of features and versatility, Samsung's DVD recorders have always played second fiddle to rival decks from the likes of Panasonic and Sony, but the Korean brand makes up for this in one key area - price. No matter how high the quality of the competition, you can rest assured that Samsung will bring something to market that performs almost as well for less dough - and for most consumers that's the bottom line.
The DVD-SR150M is a good example of this. You can find it online for under £100 - cheaper than the well-regarded Panasonic DMR-EZ27 - but a glance at the SR150M's feature set reveals that it shares several of the Panny's capabilities, the most eye-catching of which is DVD-RAM recording.
Any DVD recorder that uses this flexible format is thereby granted the ability to behave like there's a hard-disk inside, offering non-linear editing and simultaneous recording and playback. On the downside, only a handful of DVD players support it, which could limit you to watching RAM recordings on this deck only - a real bummer if you want to record something downstairs then watch it in the bedroom later.
The solution, of course is to use one of the other supported formats, in this case DVD-RW, DVD-R or DVD-R Dual Layer, the latter doubling the maximum recording time of a normal single-layer DVD-R. There's no DVD+RW or DVD+R support, which denies it true ‘multi-format' status, but overall these four formats should cater for all needs.
Samsung gets it right in the looks department, lending the slimline SR150M the perfect blend of hi-tech chic and down-to-earth practicality. The sloping fascia, sheltered by an overhanging ‘hood', is an unusual but effective touch, while the sleek black colour scheme and jazzy blue lights are guaranteed crowd-pleasers. The minimal array of buttons shifts the operational burden onto the remote but leaves the fascia refreshingly uncluttered, while a set of AV inputs and DV port have been sensibly tucked away underneath a flap.
However, the rear panel reveals a disappointing - nay, shocking - omission: there's no HDMI output. Yes, the SR150M is part of last year's range, but that's no excuse - even the most basic TVs have had HDMI inputs for some time. What this means is that you can't enjoy the picture quality benefits offered by this all-digital connection, and it also means you'll miss out on hi-def upscaling, which might make HD Ready or Full HD TV owners look elsewhere.
Instead, you have a choice of progressive scan capable component video output and RGB SCART, both of which can deliver strong picture quality. They're joined by S-video and composite video outputs and a second RGB-capable SCART socket, which is used for hooking up an external TV receiver (like a Sky box) and making high-quality recordings, or looping the signal through to your TV.