If you're in the market for a DVD recorder, you should opt for one with a built-in hard disk drive. Prices are dropping, hard drive capacities are increasing and the top recorders now represent fabulous value for money.
On paper, the DVD-SH875M is an enticing proposition. For a little more than £200 you're getting a recorder with a 250GB hard drive – good for around 33 hours recording in the Samsung's highest-quality recording mode.
There's also a flexible recording setting that takes into account how much space is left and adjusts the mode accordingly.
Should you wish to rip CDs to the Samsung's hard drive, you can, but only at a maximum bitrate of 128kbps (encoded in MP3). It can also upscale DVDs to 1080p over HDMI and is compatible with DivX encoded discs.
Everything seems to be in order, then. The recorder's built-in Freeview tuner is up to a decent standard. Colours are nicely balanced and the picture isn't overrun by on-screen noise.
Struggles against class-leaders
This translates into a decent recorded picture when using the highest quality picture setting. But it's not all smooth running: class-leading recorders from the likes of Sony and Panasonic produce a sharper, more detailed picture.
Similarly, with DVD playback, the Samsung produces a 1080p picture that isn't poor by any stretch of the imagination, but when put head to head with its peers, can't match the levels of crispness or clarity.
There are also a couple of operational flaws. The hard drive is relatively noisy and the recorder's remote is hindered by tiny, awkwardly positioned buttons.
The DVD-SH875M is a decent attempt at a DVD recorder, but even taking into account the price tag, we're not sufficiently moved to award it anything more than a three-star rating.