What Hi Fi Sound and Vision Fri, 19 Sep 2008, 12:00pm

Sony RDR-HXD890

Tested at £240
100100
5

This does everything we hope for from a DVD/HDD recorder and in fine style. Excellent

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For

  • Smooth interface
  • good disc compatibility and functionality
  • fine TV images, recording and DVD playback

Against

  • Not a lot

Sony's having quite a year. From TVs to AV receivers, the latest model ranges have proved more than a match for the competition, with plenty of Group Test and Supertest wins picked-up along the way.

DVD/HDD recorders have proved a rich picking ground for the company too, so we have high hopes for this machine from the off.

As we always expect from Sony, the set-up and interface on this player is simple to follow and fast to get moving.

There are two separate connections for the analogue and digital tuners, so you'll need to use the supplied aerial cables to loop through the inputs to send your aerial signal to both tuners.

The best connection for your TV is via HDMI, with the 'HXD890 capable of upscaling and sending 1080p video content.

Plenty of playback flexibility
There's a a 160GB hard disk drive, so not the largest available, but nevertheless there's room for hours and hours of content.

If you want to save content to disc, then this Sony is compatible with DVD+R/RW and DVD-R/RW discs, and will play (but not record to) dual-layer +R and -R discs as well as DVD-RAM. MP3, JPEG and DivX files can all be played without fuss, too and there's a USB 2.0 input.

Down to business and the digital TV picture is the main one we're interested in, and very nice it is, too.

Images are utterly clean of noise and instability, while edges of objects are razor sharp. Watching the rolling news channels doesn't throw up any issues with motion, and overall colours are vivid yet natural, with deep black levels rendered faithfully, too.

Sony thoughtfully makes it clear which recording level you're using as you hit the button, displaying the mode at the bottom of the screen.

Recording quality is excellent
The top three quality recording modes are all excellent, offering no discernable depreciation in audio or video quality, giving you 36 hours of recording in the highest HQ mode. If you really need to record more, you will see some loss in quality and softness to edges.

Switch to DVD playback and the Sony is again impressive. Watching Blood Diamond and using the Sony to upscale to 1080p, the image is clean and natural, with good contrast levels, bright colours and solid, dark blacks.

Even the sound is more than satisfactory, delivering punch and dynamism when the content requires, while proving clear and substantial with TV sound.

From ease of use, features and functions, to tuner quality, recording and DVD playback, this Sony has us merrily ticking all the necessary boxes. We think this could prove a hard benchmark to beat.

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