After releasing several stand-alone DVD recorders over the past couple years, Lite-On finally graces store shelves with a HDD recorder as well. Check out the features and performance of the 160GB LVW-5045 in this review.
To many advertisers’ dismay, VCRs changed the way people watched TV over 30 years ago. Recording a show and watching it later allowed viewers to fast forward through commercials and watch only what they wanted to watch. Today, it’s only gotten better (or worse, depending on what side of the commercials you are on) with products like TiVo and home theater PCs.
If you aren’t quite ready to have a PC in your living room, then a TiVo or other hard drive recorder would make a great DVR (digital video recorder) for you. With its 160GB LVW-5045, Lite-On enters the hard drive recorder market with an affordable offering that has a lot of potential. The LVW-5045 not only features recording to hard drive but also to DVD and CD media, building on the capabilities of the LVW-5005 I previously reviewed.
FEATURES & SPECIFICATIONS
- HDD Video Recording
The massive 160 GB hard disk drive integrated into the LVW-5045 provides up to 198 hours of recording time, depending on the recording mode/quality that you select. This is the equivalent of approximately 8 days of continuous 24/7 recording allowing you to watch “what you want; when you want”.
- HDD to Disc Backup / One-Touch Dubbing
With the LVW-5045, you can record your most memorable moments from DV compatible camcorders to the hard disk drive. One Touch Dubbing allows you to easily copy your digital portfolios from the hard disk drive to the DVD, and vice-versa. This is a great way to archive and share those treasured events with family and friends.
- Disc to HDD Copy
- Pause Live TV / Time Shift
The final episode of your favorite program is on the air. Your favorite character is getting ready to provide the most important clue to the series finale. The phone always rings at the most inopportune time. Don’t worry, the LVW-5045 lets you pause any live TV show so you’ll never miss another moment. Simply press the “Time Shift” button; then “Play” to return to the live broadcast at any time.
- Record & Playback
- AllWrite Technology
This new technology allows users to record to DVD -/+R, DVD +/-RW and CD-R/RW. There is no longer confusion to what type of media your recorder can write to. Now all formats work.
- DV Link (IEEE 1394) Input Connection
DV Link (IEEE 1394) Preserves the content in its original digital quality Vibrant video colors and pulsating audio sounds are carried through the DV Link connection.
- MP3 & WMA Playback
- Easy Guider 2 On-Screen Menu
Press the “Guider” button on the remote control and move the cursor to the desired operation – Playback discs, Record content, finalize the DVD+R or DVD-R disc for playback in other DVD player, Erase the contents of the current disc. Nothing else comes close.
- Manual or VCR Plus+ Timer Recording
Supporting media types
Video recording format
Audio recording format
Timer Recording functions
MP3 / WMA Playback
JPEG / BMP Playback
|Album and picture selection|
|The specifications and design of this product are subject to change without notice.|
CLOSER LOOK & PACKAGE CONTENTS
Just like other consumer electronic devices, the LVW-5045 comes in a nice cardboard box and is protected by Styrofoam inside the box. Inside the box, Lite-On includes the following items:
The LVW-5045 should look just fine alongside black or silver components thanks to its two-tone style. There is nothing particularly special or unattractive about the external appearance of LVW-5045. I’ve definitely seen more inspired designs as well as those that are less attractive.
The front of this unit features the following buttons: power, eject, play, stop, HDD/DVD, record and source. On the right side, you can also see the front connections: DV Link (IEEE 1394) and composite video/audio.
Flipping the unit around reveals the rear connections: RF input, RF output, composite video input, composite audio input, S-video input, composite video output, composite audio output, S-video output, component video output, coaxial digital audio output and optical digital audio output. Additionally, you can see the power cord and a small fan.
In the pictures below, you can see how the LVW-5045 remote (black) compares to the LVW-5005 remote (silver). Overall, the LVW-5045 remote is okay but not outstanding in any way. Most of the buttons are about the same size, and the remote is not backlit unfortunately. Many people turn off the lights when watching movies, so I think all DVD player remotes should be backlit.
The button arrangement is acceptable but hasn’t been very easy to memorize like some other remotes I’ve used. For one thing, the 0 button is to the right of the 9 button instead of being under the 8, which is much more common (at least in the U.S.).
SETUP & USE
Setting up the LVW-5045 is relatively simple and straightforward. I am using this unit on the same TV and receiver that I used when I tested the Lite-On LVW-5005 DVD Recorder. My TV is a 27″ flat Toshiba; it is not an HDTV, so I just hook up to it via S-video. For information on how the LVW-5045 performs on progressive scan display, you might want to seek out other reviews.
To set up the LVW-5045, you simply push the Setup button at the top of the remote and then follow the simple menus. In the menus, you can set up the System options, Language options, Playback options, Record options, Audio options and TV Tuner. For the most part, the options are self-explanatory, but the manual provides a little help if you need it.
The latest Lite-On recorders feature the company’s latest on-screen menu – Easy Guider 2. This menu provides quick access to most commonly used functions, including playback, recording, timer setting and copying. In addition to the Easy Guider menu, the LVW-5045 features a Tools menu that includes other useful functions: erasing, finalizing, cleaning up disc and defragmenting. Just like your PC hard drive, the LVW-5045’s hard drive needs defragmented to optimize performance.
Lite-On provides the ability to edit the channels detected by the LVW-5045. You can disable channels, change the order of them, rename them and set the VCR Plus+ channel.
Accessing the Timer Record function is as simple as hitting the Timer button on the remote, or if you know the VCR Plus+ code, you can just hit the VCR Plus+ button. I found timer setup to be pretty intuitive. If you’ve set a VCR before, this won’t surprise you in any way. For manual programming, all you have to do is choose the source, channel, recording mode (quality), how often you want to record that program, start time, stop time and whether you want to record to HDD or DVD. It’s even simpler of course if you go the VCR Plus+ route: choose how often the recording should repeat, enter the PlusCode#, choose HDD or DVD for destination and then the mode (quality). If you enter the VCR PlusCode# correctly, the start and stop times are found automatically. You can view all of the programs (up to 16 max) you have set up for recording.
After you have recorded shows or video or copied pictures or music to the LVW-5045, you can view the content by pushing the Browser button. You can browse all of the recorded content of the HDD or the DVD one at a time (not both at the same time). Recorded shows display as thumbnails. The default thumbnail is taken at the beginning of the recorded program, but you can manually change the thumbnail. In addition, you can change a program’s title, merge it with other recorded shows, split it or erase it.
For the last month or so, I’ve been using the LVW-5045 quite regularly. I have not had any major problems with the LVW-5045 while using it so far. The only issue I had was that a DVD movie that I rented would not play on it. Every time I tried, it locked up at the same place. I had to unplug the unit to reset it because it would not respond to any button that I pushed. Upon inspection, I noticed that the DVD was scratched up and a little dirty. Regardless, I felt that the LVW-5045 should have been able to play it since another player I tried was able to play it. Some players are just more sensitive than others, but it’s still frustrating when you can’t watch a movie because the player is being picky. I had no problems during playback, though, with about 15 other DVDs I watched.
Although I have read some negative comments about the LVW-5045’s recording performance, I haven’t experienced any of the problems I read about. It is important to consider more than just my experience, though, which is why I linked to those comments. As always, do your own research before plopping down cash if you don’t want to be disappointed in your purchase. Also, keep in mind that people tend to make more of an effort to provide negative comments versus positive ones. Anyway, as I said, I haven’t had any problems yet when it comes to recording and editing.
I have been recording several weekly shows and watching them when I get the chance. So far, I haven’t seen any audio/video synchronization problems, even with longer shows. Admittedly, I did most of my testing in SP mode and a little bit in HQ mode, so that improves the likeliness of getting a good recording. LP mode is okay as well, but anything below that (EP and SLP) just don’t appeal to me. While the extra time provided by LP, EP and SLP is nice, I just don’t like the noticeable loss of picture quality. To me, the 66 hours provided by SP is more than enough, and I’m watching too much TV if I fill that up. Really all it takes is a little planning ahead if you start to fill the HDD up. Delete the shows you’ve watched if you don’t plan to watch them again.
After recording shows, you can edit the titles and thumbnail, split the shows, merge shows or copy them to DVD. These functions all worked pretty well for me. If you want to copy music to the LVW-5045, I highly recommend that you copy MP3s and/or WMAs from a CD or DVD and that you avoid copying from an original music CD. Copying 700MB of MP3s off of a CD onto the HDD only took around 5-7 minutes, while copying an original CD took more than 30. Additionally, copying directly from a music CD results in the LVW-5045 copying the CD tracks as WAV files, which take up a lot more space than MP3s.
The output picture to my TV looked fine while watching TV through the LVW-5045 in order to record it or use time shifting. I have read that the output isn’t satisfactory on some larger TVs, but it’s just fine on my 27″ flat TV.
Interestingly, I found the LVW-5005 remote to be flaky too often over the past year or so, and I can say the same thing about the LVW-5045. Lite-On might need to re-engineer its remote development process since the same problems exist with both remotes. The remote is inconsistent in how it responds to button pushes. Sometimes it responds rather slowly while other times it seems to translate one push as two pushes. I’m to the point where I just try to push each button carefully to minimize the flakiness. Thankfully, this helps decrease the frustration this remote can cause.
My quick general conclusion about HDD recorders is that if you can afford one over a VCR or DVD recorder, then get one. It’s so much more convenient to have 33-198 hours (with a 160GB HDD like the LVW-5045; other units’ capacity and recording time may differ) than 6-8 hours like on a blank VHS tape or DVD. This is especially true if you record a lot of shows.
As far as the LVW-5045 goes, I’m pleased with the unit for the most part. My needs are pretty basic (record about 8 hours worth of TV per week), and it fits my needs quite well. I also like the time shifting ability, which allows you to pause the show you are watching and then come back and watch the show later, and it has worked fine for me as well. Simple editing of recorded programs has worked as advertised too.
The biggest gripe I have based on my experience is with the remote. I’d like to see Lite-On put more into this area with its consumer electronics. Go ahead and study ergonomics more, research what users really love about remotes, add extra features like backlighting, etc. I’d pay a little more to get a good remote rather than an annoying one that causes frustration.
+ 160GB of storage
+ Can copy music, pictures, movies to HDD
+ DV Link
+ Easy to use
+ Recording quality is good (at least in HQ and SP mode)
+ Good set of features
+ Easy to upgrade firmware
– Not a dual tuner unit – can’t record two shows at once, can’t record one and watch another simultaneously
– No MPEG-4 support
– Manual needs more detail
– Remote is flaky and not laid out very well
– Experienced DVD playback issues
Final Score: 7.5 out of 10 (Good) – Bottom line is that the Lite-On LVW-5045 is a decent budget DVD+HDD recorder.