I just bought a Phllips DVDR3390 from Walmart
I have the S3 set to output 1080I fixed. The S3 connects to the DVD recorder via S-Video and RCA for audio. When recording from the S3 I did not use the "Save to VCR" function. I recorded the video by hitting the normal PLAY button on the TiVo. I set the DVD recorder timer to 90 minutes, turned the TV off and walked away.
When it was done I played the burned DVD on a PC and did a screen capture. The video size was 720x480 pixels.
For a comparison I played the DVD both on the computer while 5 feet away also playing a second DVD in a Mitsubishi DVD player which is hooked to a 4:3 TV. The Mitsu player is set to ouput 4:3. I expected one of two things, either the video on the 4:3 TV would be squished to fill up the screen, or it would be letterboxed.
I was suprised to see when the video is played on the TV it crops off the left & right portion of the video. Not really what I expected.
On one hand I am happy it does not squish the vide of course the purist in me is concerned as parts of the video are now missing. However, I won't be the one watching it on a 4:3 TV so I guess it should not matter to me. I have made only this one recording and have not messed with using different variables.
I know some people have said in threads a person should first tell the Tivo to output to 4:3 and then make a recording so it will appear normal on a 4:3 TV?
I am curious why that should be done?
Being a total video recording newb, I did not realize these DVD recorders do not record the original audio 5.1 digital track but instead downgrade the audio to Dolby surround sound rather than Dolby digital. So when played back the receiver says Stereo. I guess this makes sense especially since the DVD recorder does not have optical or coaxial audio in so there would be no way it could record 5.1. When I looked online however it seems most posts on websites indicate DVD recorders do not record 5.1?
In terms of reviewing the recorder:
The DVD recorder can record at several different quality levels. The highest level allows 1 hour of video. Although the video was not as good as watching the same program in HD, it was pretty darn good. While it was recording I was flipping back on my Receiver from the AUDIO/VIDEO source being the TiVO recording and then to the audio/video being fed out by the DVD recorder. The area which shocked me was the loss of audio quality. The clarity of audio was diminished and the sound was not vibrant. Interestingly, when the Burned DVD was played back the audio did not seem as bad. Maybe it sounded OK just because I was not directly comparing it back and forth against the 5.1 audio.
The player plays DiVx files which was really the main reason I went shopping. You can straight up burn to a handful of 800MB DivX AVI files to a single DVD disc without having to recode them. Then you can watch them on the player.
I wanted to get a Philips 5140. People online say it will play "everything you throw at it" without the need to recode the content into DVD video format. But my Wal Mart was sold out. So I thought I would spend the extra money on this player as it would serve a second purpose of recording stuff from the TiVo. Now if the TTG features are enabled in the near future I will feel dumb for buying this. But it was only $130 and will save me the trouble of recoding TiVo video to DVD format and burning it.
This player/recorder also has a firewire link in the front for recording from a Digital Video Camcorder.
When I have time I am going to experiment and see if I can record content from my Mitsubishi TV which has firewire outputs to connect devices such as this. I am curious to see if doing so will create a higher quality recording directly from the TV's tuner. And I wonder if the digital audio content coming down the firewire will be recorder unmolested in 5.1 (maybe I am dreaming.)