If you’re planning on connecting a Sky box, then the deck’s RGB SCART input is invaluable. The DR19DT can also be programmed to start recording when it detects a signal on the SCART input, but you’ll need to programme your receiver’s own timer for this to work. It’s joined by SCART, component and HDMI outputs, plus coaxial digital and analogue stereo audio outputs. As you’d expect, the HDMI port can deliver upscaled pictures to your display in 720p, 1080i or 1080p.
Also on the spec sheet are a couple of dispensable features like a virtual surround mode and Block Noise Reduction, which someone out there might find interesting.
As for performance, the DR19DT falls foul of its hard-disk sibling’s foibles, namely the rather scruffy-looking Freeview pictures. They’re perfectly watchable and bursting with natural colours, but there’s just a bit too much noise in the picture for our liking, and fine details get a bit lost.
But like the RD99DT, the recording quality of XP mode is flawless, making pictures look identical to the live broadcast. SP mode also produces very strong results but in LP and EP the pictures become excessively blurred, making them useful only for programmes without a lot of movement. SLP mode should be avoided at all costs.
We can’t fault the DR19DT on its DVD upscaling prowess though – the 1080p images on offer with difficult movies like ”King Kong” and ”American Gangster” look surprisingly cinematic, with beautifully gradated colours, clean jaggie-free edges and tightly focused fine detail. There are a few twitches here and there, but nothing you wouldn’t get from a budget standalone player.
When recording in XP mode you have the choice of using Dolby Digital or PCM to capture stereo sound, the latter taking up more space but supposedly offering a slight increase in quality. In all honesty the two are indistinguishable, rendering the PCM option somewhat redundant. Whichever you use, the sound is consistently clear and audible, which is a real bonus when watching speech-heavy material like the news or chat shows, while movies are enjoyable when delivered through the digital or analogue outputs.
In an ideal world, we’d simply tell everyone to buy the award-winning Panasonic DMR-BS850 and be done with it. But it is pricey, which makes decks like the DR19DT a cheaper option for people who are happy sticking with DVDs. Trouble is, there are DVD recorders on the market from the likes of LG, Panasonic and Philips that offer more features, better operating systems and a superior picture quality, and they don’t cost a great deal more either. But if the DR19DT still takes your fancy, then rest assured it carries out its basic recording tasks well and makes a terrific upscaling DVD player to boot.
Score in detail