WinDVD Recorder $119.95 interVideo www.intervideo.com Rating: 2.5 out of 5
If you're lusting to add a DVD recorder to your home theater system but are balking at the $1,000-plus price tag, WinDVD Recorder wants to answer your prayers. The software plays and, when coupled with a video-input source, records DVDs. At about $120 (plus a DVD burner and video capture card), it's significantly less expensive than a consumer electronics DVD writer. But it may leave you wishing for more.
The program lets you create DVDs from any video source, such as a DV camcorder or live television, and you can save directly to a DVD or hard drive for later burning. The program is best suited for converting home movies to DVDs, but it doesn't include even the most basic facilities for editing clips or DVD authoring. Although it can record TV shows for later viewing, WinDVD Recorder isn't well suited as a PVR replacement. I couldn't find a way to schedule a recording for later or watch a DVD while recording a TV show in the background.
The program has good support for DVD playback, including subtitles, languages, pan and zoom, several aspect ratios, and other features common to DVDs. The interface, however, uses a hackneyed "make it look like a consumer electronics DVD player" metaphor. The result is a steep learning curve while you struggle to figure out what each tiny, unlabeled button and icon does.
The program also has some stiff system requirements, including Win2000 or XP with at least a 600MHz PIII (a 1GHz PIII for direct-to-disk recording, but a 1.6GHz P4 preferred). If your PC is on the border, try the free trial version first. You'll also need a PCI or USB video-input device or compatible DV camcorder and a compatible DVD+R/RW, DVD-R/RW, or DVD-RAM burner. Ultimately, consider saving your $120 and keep putting your pennies toward a hardware DVD burner.
Reprinted with permission from Computer Power User magazine.