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Consumers warned on DVD recorders

People thinking of buying a DVD recorder this Christmas are being urged to take care over which one they choose.

High Street sales of DVDs are booming

Experts are warning that what may seem like a dream Christmas gift may become obsolete in double-quick time.

The problem stems from major manufacturers producing machines that use different formatting systems for disks that can record TV shows or hold PC data. However, the retailers say shoppers have nothing to worry about.

Remember Betamax?
Experts say consumers could become an unwitting victim if they buy a recorder which uses a formatting system that falls out of favour with the industry as a whole.

Know your DVDs

  • This Christmas consumers have to decide between DVD+RW, DVD-RW and DVD-RAM formats which record data in different ways.
  • ‘Hybrid’ DVDs will record in either DVD+RW or DVD-RW, the most popular two formats in the US and Europe.


In time consumers could own DVD recorders that are incompatible with the industry standard and as a result they may find it difficult to obtain re-useable DVDs for home recording.

The question of which one to back is complicated by the fact that DVDs are expected to take over from recordable CDs and floppy disks as a storage medium for computers.

A similar format problem occurred when video recorders first came to the UK, when consumers had a choice of VHS or Betamax machines.

Eventually VHS proved to be the format that won through and Betamax owners were left with a redundant product.

Expensive gamble
Companies such as NEC and Sony have already released ‘hybrid’ DVD players which are capable of playing films recorded onto disks in different formats – eliminating the risk of buying the wrong type of device.

With such ‘hybrid’ DVDs on the way to the UK, experts have suggested consumers should delay their purchase.

“What we would suggest is that consumers wait a while and see how things shake out,” said Chris Jenkins, editor of Total DVD magazine.

“The time is not yet right. The manufacturers have not quite got their act together.”

In response electrical retailers say that consumers ought not to be worried as a recorder bought now is likely to have a technological shelf life no shorter than any other product.

It could prove an expensive gamble though as DVD recorders can cost between £450 and £1,000.

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