Originally Posted by gastrof
A friend is looking to get a new recorder, and while I'd normally recommend the Magnavox 513 or 515, this guy still wants to convert old VHS tapes, and his VCR just died. Figured getting a combined deck would be best for him.
When it comes to VHS conversion, the two big questions are "how many tapes we talkin about" and "how important, HONESTLY, will these dvd copies of VHS be to the person's life?" If the answers are "less than 100" and "I'll probably never watch the dubs again after making the DVDs" then a combo deck can be an excellent choice. If the person has hundreds of tapes and they're mostly irreplaceable content that they watch with any frequency, DigaDo's recommendation of a Magnavox 533 + external VCR will be more likely to give satisfactory results.
The 620 doesn't have a tuner, but they've been using a DTV Pal converter box (with built in timer) with their VCR for a good while now, so the absense of a tuner in the 620 doesn't make a big difference.
You need to elaborate on the technical sophistication of your friends. Using a DTVpal external tuner with a VCR does take a certain level of technical savvy, but a DVD recorder is a quantum leap in aggravation if they have never used one before. Gastrof, as a huge Magnavox DVD/HDD proponent, you of all people should well know the stark contrast between direct-to-dvd recording and using a recorder with HDD feature. Migrating from a VCR to a direct-to-dvd recorder is a curse I wouldn't inflict on my worst enemy: migrating from a VCR to an HDD recorder is far less stressful. As their friend, you need to assess their primary usage pattern: if its timeshifting of off-air TV, the Magnavox 533 is the only "pleasant" solution. Tell them to just keep the old VCR and play the actual tapes whenever they actually have an urge, or hook it up to the 533 to make DVD copies as the need arises. It would be MUCH easier to learn how to occasionally copy tapes from an external VCR than it would be to deal every day with a DTVpal connected to a tunerless direct-to-DVD recorder like a 620. They would probably get so disgusted with recording directly on DVDs that they default back to the 620 VCR section for daily use, which defeats the whole purpose of replacing their old VCR.
All that aside, if you or they feel it MUST be a combo, you don't have much in the way of choice today: about all thats left are Funai's Toshiba/Magnavox twins. Of the two combos, I'd opt for the Magnavox version since it usually offers a couple more recording speeds over the Toshiba version. Per DigaDo and others, they are reasonably reliable but the VCR section is flimsy: chances are 50/50 it would break down under frequent use.Edited by CitiBear - 9/8/12 at 8:57am