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Appeared on: Wednesday, September 29, 2004
Pioneer DVR-320-s DVD Recorder


1. Introduction
Pioneer DVR-320-S DVD Recorder


Pioneer develops and manufactures innovative products for all your hi-tech entertainment needs: home, car audio, multimedia and DJ equipment. By combining cutting-edge technology with sophisticated design, those products can transport you to a world of fun.

This year, Pioneer has given a new meaning to the phrase "home cinema". With the new digital home cinema packages and systems, home entertainment has become extremely attractive and practical. The consumer will become addicted to the effects possible with surround sound and razor sharp images with vivid and intense colours. For state-of-the-art DVD, look no further. With new additions to Pioneer's range, the consumer is sure to find just what they want from the latest DVD-A/DVD-V/SACD machines to portable DVD players.

The DVR-320-S is one of the latest recorders in Pioneer's product list. It is an interesting solution for a DVD recorder with a wide list of features.




Key Features DVR-320-S
  DV In/Out for easy editing of home-made video
  Slim Design (only 5.9 cm)
  Chase Play, Simultaneous recording and playback
  RGB In/Out via Euro-Scart
  MP3/WMA/JPEG playback
  High DVD-R/DVD-RW playback compatibility
Playback DVR-320-S
Media DVD-Video/DVD-R/DVD-RW/CD/SVCD/VCD/CD-R/CD-RW
MP3 Yes
WMA Yes
JPEG Photo Viewer Yes
Advanced Disc Navigator (DiscNavi) (VR mode/Video mode) Yes/Yes
Seamless Playback (VR/Video mode) Yes/No
Commercial Skip / Back Yes/Yes
Chase Playback, Playback with Recording (VR mode/Video mode) Yes/No
1.5x view (scan1) Yes
Recording DVR-320-S
Media (VR/Video mode) DVD-RW / DVD-R, DVD-RW
PAL/NTSC Yes/Yes
Max. Recording Time FINE: +/- 1 hour
SP: +/- 2 hours
LP: +/- 4 hours
EP: +/- 6 hours
MN: +/- 1-6 hours
32 steps
Variable Bit Rate Recording Yes
Easy Timer Yes
ShowView Yes
VPS/PDC Yes
Auto Start Recording Yes
One Touch Recording Yes
Direct TV Recording Yes
Number of events 32/month
Linear PCM Recording (Audio) Yes (FINE, MN32)
Editing DVR-320-S
VR Mode Input Disc name, Input Title Name, Easy Title Input, Erase Title, Erase Chapter, Erase section, Playlist, Accuracy: Frame, Chapter Mark, Undo
Video Mode Input Disc name, Input Title Name, Wall Paper Samples (Title menu) (Finalization), Easy Title Input, Erase Title, Accuracy: Title, Chapter Mark: 10 min/15min/No seperation, Undo
Picture Quality DVR-320-S
Digital Noise Reduction Component Frame DNR
Video DAC 10-bit/54 MHz
Digital Timebase Corrector Yes
Picture Creation Yes
Convenience DVR-320-S
Disc History Yes
Auto Clock set up Yes
Set up Navigator Yes
Channel preset download Yes
Tuner DVR-320-S
System PAL-B/G, I, D/K
SECAM-L/L', B/G, D/K
Connections Terminals DVR-320-S
Input 1 SCART (AV connector2)
RGB Input via Euro-SCART
1 RCA (Audio/Video) (front: 1)
1 S-Video (front: 1)
Output 1 SCART (AV connector 1)
RGB Output via Euro-SCART
1 RCA (Audio/Video)
1 S-Video
Optical Digital Audio
DV Terminal (IEEE1394) IN/OUT
System Remote Control Terminal IN
Miscellaneous DVR-320-S
Dimensions (W x H x D) 420 x 59 x 339 mm
Weight 4.0 kg
Power requirements AC 220 - 240 V, 50/60 Hz
Power consumption 35 Watt
Power consumption in standby mode 0.68 Watt
Remote Control Yes

2. Packaging & Interior Look
Pioneer DVR-320-S DVD Recorder

Packaging & Interior Look


The retail package that arrived in our labs contained the unit, a remote control with two AAA batteries, and an AV cable.



On the unit's front panel, from left to right one can see the power button, along with two other buttons - "DISC HISTORY" and "DISC NAVIGATION" - that control DVD playback and recording. Right below these there is a small panel that when opened, reveals three AV RCA connectors. Continuing towards the right we can see the eject button, and several more buttons that control DVD playback and recording. Finally, we can see an IEEE1394 connector, that can be used for connecting a DV camcorder and transferring videos to the DVR-320.

The pictures below are taken from the interior of the DVR-320, after removing the cover. This action is not recommended, since it voids the manufacturer's warranty. (Click on images for full size views)





On the back there are the DVR-320's audio/video connectors.We can find a multitude of connections there. Starting from left to right we can see: VHF/UHF in/out (for the TV signal), Audio L/R out, Composite & S-Video Out, 1 Scart output for connecting TV, 1 Scart input, Optical Digital output.

The package also includes a remote control. While a bit large in size, it offers complete control over the DVR-320, and then some more. Properly programmed by following the instructions found in the manual, this remote control can control not only the DVR-320, but your TV as well. Speaking of the manual, the package comes with a 70 page manual that explains in detail and with simplicity all the DVR-320's operations.


3. Control Menu
Pioneer DVR-320-S DVD Recorder

Control Menu

By turning on the player, we don't see any kind of welcome screen, but instead the DVR-320 waits for a command from the remote control. By pressing the "HOME MENU" button on the remote, we are presented with the main menu of the DVR-320, where we can do many different tasks like configuring the unit, set up the recording timer, use the Photoviewer to view photos stored on a CD/DVD, perform adjustments on the video and audio quality etc.


Let's see the Initial Setup menu in detail.


The Basic menu





We continue with the Tuner menu


4. The Tuner menu

Pioneer DVR-320-S DVD Recorder

The Tuner menu


If we select "Auto Scan" from the Auto Channel Setting, then the DVR-320 will automaticall scan and store the available channels in your area. The process will take 5-10 minutes, and it depends greatly on the quality of the reception.





We continue with the Video In/Out menu

5. The Video In/Out Menu
Pioneer DVR-320-S DVD Recorder

The Video In/Out Menu





The Audio In menu







We continue with the Audio Out menu

6. The Audio Out menu
Pioneer DVR-320-S DVD Recorder

The Audio Out menu






Next is the Language Menu

7. The Language menu
Pioneer DVR-320-S DVD Recorder

The Language menu







We continue on the next page with the Recording menu

8. The Recording menu
Pioneer DVR-320-S DVD Recorder

The Recording menu






We continue on the next page with the Playback menu

9. The Playback menu
Pioneer DVR-320-S DVD Recorder

The Playback menu







10. Reading Tests
Pioneer DVR-320-S DVD Recorder

Reading Tests


Although the DVR-320's main function is recording to DVD, many people may consider buying this as a solution for both playback/recording and hence not requiring a separate DVD player. The performance of a DVD player can be described in terms related to reading speed, reading accuracy, compatibility with various CD/DVD recordable/rewritable formats as well as data/audio playback support, stored in any common medium.

DVD support

The Pioneer DVR-320-S we received for testing is a Region-2 drive, which means that the unit is able to decode (play) only the pressed DVD-Video discs coming from the European region. However, the player can be found in the European market through retailers as region-free, meaning that you will be able to use it with any disc regardless of the region restrictions applied on the disc. We did a quick search on the Internet and we found quite a few retailers that offer this unit as multiregion/region-free.

The DVR-320-S supports both PAL and NTSC TV signal transmission formats. Of course, the player will recognize only the region 2 NTSC DVD-Video discs. This feature is adjustable through the setup menu (look at the Video In/Out menu, NTSC or PAL TV)

We connected the DVR-320-S using the Scart interface with the corresponding cable, which was not included in the unit's package. Of course, the DVR-320-S supports the DVD-Video format.

We recorded a 4.35GB DVD-Video file on various DVD-R/DVD-RW media. In case you didn't notice it in the specifications page, this recorder can only record on recordable or rewritable discs of the "minus format" (DVD-R/DVD-RW).

The DVR-320-S can play DVD+R and DVD+RW discs, even if it is not stated in the manual. Quoting from the manual "This recorder will play and record DVD-R/RW discs. Compatible media: DVD-RW Ver.1.1, Ver.1.1/2x and Ver1.2/4x. DVD-R Ver.2.0 and Ver2.0/4x/8x". We tried with different media and different recording speeds, and the results were mixed. Some DVD+R/RW discs could be played back with no problem, some could not be read at all from the DVR-320-s. Bear this in mind, if "plus" format support is important to you.

We also tried some DVD+R9 (Dual layer recordable discs) of various brands. We recorded DVD-Video discs with DVD-ROM booktype and with DVD+R9 booktype and the DVR-320-S again didn't recognize them. So bear this in mind if DVD+R9 reading support is important to you. The recorders we used for the reading tests are some of the latest dual-format available on the PC market, as well as some 1st generation recorders. Pressed single / dual layer DVD-Video discs were also included in the test. Here, we remind you that the Pioneer DV-370 supports DVD-R/RW and DVD-Video playback. All the test discs were created with the same PC /software in the DVD-Video mode.

Recorder Media Speed Recognition Playback
Sony DRU-530A v2.0h Taiyo Yuden DVD-R 4x 4x OK
Pioneer DVR-107D v1.05 CMC DVD-R 4x 4x
NEC ND-2500A v1.06 Ritek DVD-R 4x 4x
JVC DVD-RW 4x 4x
TDK DVD-R 4x 4x
Taiyo Yuden DVD-R 4x 4x
Mitsubishi Chemicals DVD-R 4x 4x
Optorite DD0401 v1.30E Hi-Space DVD-R 4x 4x
Verbatim DVD-R 4x 4x
BTC DRW1008IM v0.55 Pioneer DVD-R 4x 4x
LiteOn LDW-811S vHS0K FujiFilm DVD-R 4x 4x

As was expected, all the DVD-R/DVD-RW discs were recognized and played successfully without problems.

The DVR-320-S as expected, supports reading of DVD-ROM format.

Both formats are supported.

The DVR-320-S supports the Baseline JPEG file format and EXIF 2.2 (used by digital cameras). It can read files of horizontal resolutions ranging from 160 to 5120 pixels, and with vertical resolutions from 120 to 3840 pixels. The device cannot read progressive JPEG files, and regognizes as image files only the ones that have .jpg, .jpeg, jif, jfif file extensions. Also the DVR-320-S will not recognize a DVD-R/DVD-RW data disc that contains image files. It will only recognize CD/CDR discs. The display of the images is done by a special menu option, named Photoviewer. There we can navigate through the disc's directory structure, and view thumbnails of the image files before selecting one to view in full screen.

The DVR-320-S works well with AudioCD, CD-R/-RW, VideoCD and Super-VideoCD playback. The tracks are recognized correctly, regardless of whether the disc is factory- pressed or a CD-R/RW. Please note that, when talking about data CD (CD-R/-RW), we refer to either compressed audio files (MP3, WMA, Ogg Vorbis.), pure *.wav files, or to VideoCD and Super VideoCD.

In the case of pressed/recordable/rewritable AudioCDs, the player recognizes and plays all the tracks. The device played audio files of the CD-R, 10x HS-RW, 24x US-RW and 32x US-RW discs we inserted in the disc tray.

The Pioneer DVR-320-S will not let anyone who has purchased any protected audio discs in a music store down. The tested discs were "Natalie Imbruglia - White Lilies island" protected with Macrovision' Key2Audio system, and "Celine Dion - A New Day Has Come" protected with Cactus Data Shield 2000. Both titles were recognized and played without any problems., which is good news as this kind of media is virtually not playable on PCs due to the protection schemes designed to discourage PC users from copying them.

The Pioneer DVR-320-S does not support the Super AudioCD format.

Read on the next page to see how the DVR-320-S performs with compressed audio.


11. Compressed Audio Performance
Pioneer DVR-320-S DVD Recorder

Compressed Audio Performance

Let's now see how the player responds to various compressed audio files stored on data CD-R/RW/DVD-R/DVD-RW. The specifications for the Pioneer DVR-320-S indicate MP3/WMA support, but with some restrictions. According to the specifications mentioned in the manual, the DVR-320-S reads MP3 files of any bit-rate, CBR or VBR encoding mode and sampling rate from 44.1 KHz to 48 KHz. It can also read WMA files encoded with CBR, but VBR is not supported. Also, as stated in the manual, the player can read files encoded with the Windows Media Codec 8. Audio encoded with Windows Media Codec 9 is not guaranteed to play.


The table below shows a list of MP3 and WMA files with a variety of compression settings and the behavior of the device.
Compression Type Compression Settings Recognize/Play
MP3 CBR 20kBit 11025Hz Mono No
CBR 20kBit 11025Hz Stereo
CBR 32kBit 11025Hz Stereo
CBR 32kBit 22050Hz Mono
CBR 40kBit 22050Hz Stereo
CBR 48kBit 22050Hz Stereo
CBR 48kBit 44100Hz Mono Yes
CBR 56kBit 22050Hz Mono No
CBR 56kBit 44100Hz Mono Yes
CBR 64kBit 22050Hz Stereo No
CBR 96kBit 44100Hz Mono Yes
CBR 96kBit 44100Hz Stereo
CBR 112kBit 44100Hz Stereo
CBR 128kBit 44100Hz Mono
CBR 128kBit 44100Hz Stereo
CBR 160kBit 44100Hz Stereo
CBR 192kBit 44100Hz Stereo
CBR 224kBit 44100Hz Stereo
CBR 256kBit 44100Hz Stereo
CBR 320kBit 44100Hz Stereo
VBR - High compression
VBR - Highest compression
VBR - Low compression
VBR - Lowest compression
VBR - Medium compression
WMA CBR 48kbps Yes
CBR 64kbps
CBR 96kbps
CBR 128kbps
CBR 160kbps
CBR 192kbps
VBR any bitrate No
WAV WAV Not supported
OGG Vorbis OGG Vorbis Not supported

One feature that we think could be useful and is missing from the DVR-320-S is the ability to playback compressed audio files from a DVD-R/DVD-RW. We tried burning DVD-R and DVD-RW discs with MP3/WMA audio in them, but the DVR-320-S didn't recognize and ejected the disc after 10-15 seconds of being inserted in the device.

Also, the DVR-320-S is capable of recognizing mixed discs, i.e discs that contain both compressed audio and/or image files. Of course, it only supports CD/CDR. One small annoyance we found is that if in a mixed disc we play back any of the mp3/wma files, then the Photoviewer menu option becomes unavailable. The only way to remedy this is to eject and reinsert the disc in the unit.


12. Making a recording
Pioneer DVR-320-S DVD Recorder

Making a recording

In this section we take you through the process of making a recording from live TV, in order to evaluate the DVR-320-S capabilities, performance and ease of use.

While the DVR-320-S supports both DVD-R and DVD-RW discs for recording, most of our tests here were done with DVD-RW. This was intentional, as we feel that most people who will buy this product will want to use rewritable discs, as these can be written again and again, just like a normal VCR tape.

So, when using a DVD-RW to record video, we have to choose between two recording formats: DVD-VR and DVD-Video. These are logical formats, and have nothing to do with the kind of discs used. The only limitation is that only DVD-Video can be used with DVD-R discs, while both formats can be used with DVD-RW discs. The DVD-VR format has quite a few advantages, like giving the user the ability to edit/modify the recorded video, defining chapters, and other features that facilitate editing. On the other hand, DVD-Video is more restrictive, but is the most compatible choice if the recorded disc is to be used on other standalone DVD players. Also there are some other issues with discs recorded in the DVD-VR format, like incompatibilities during playback with other players.

At the time of this review, as a rule of thumb, you can use DVD-VR if you just want to record some video and perform the necessary editing using the DVR-320-S, and the produced disc will in the main play back in the same device. On the other hand, if you want to record something that you want to be sure your friends will be able to play back on their DVD players, use DVD-Video format.

When a blank DVD-R/DVD-RW disc is inserted into the DVR-320-S, it has to be initialized in order to be able to be used for recording. The DVR-320-S can be configured to initialize blank discs automatically if that is desired (DVD-RW Auto Init menu option, VR or Video mode). The process is very short and takes 10-15 seconds to complete.

If the disc is not blank you can initialize it manually by using the Disc Setup menu available from the Home Menu.

You can also assign a volume label to the disc, lock it so that the DVR-320-S cannot erase it without first unlocking it. Think of it as the write protection notch that VCR tapes have.


The disc has to be finalized as well, if we want to prevent writing any further videos on the disc. In the case of DVD-RW discs, they can be un-finalized as well. This process can take from one minute to half an hour, depending on the recording format used, and the amount of video time recorded on the disc.


Read on to the next page where more recording options are discussed.


13. Recording Options
Pioneer DVR-320-S DVD Recorder

Recording Options

Recording video on the DVR-320-S is as easy as the press of a button on the remote. You can record as much video as the disc can fit, or preselect recording durations in 30 minute increments. Of course, you can also program recordings using the Timer Recording menu .

The recording time that a blank DVD-R/-RW can accommodate depends on the desired quality of the video. As you can see from the screenshots below, the user can select between 32 different quality settings. The lowest setting corresponds to 1.73Mbps encoding bitrate, giving approximately 6 hours of recording time. The highest setting corresponds to 10Mbps encoding bitrate, giving approximately 1 hour of recording time and naturally, at the highest possible quality. So, according to the duration of the video you want to record, you can adjust the recording quality to make sure the disc will be able to fit the entire duration.




The DVR-320-S also has a feature that can be enabled through the Initial Setup menu, named Optimized Recording. If this is enabled, then the quality setting is chosen automatically according to the desired amount of time that needs to be recorded on the disc. On the same disc you can use different quality settings for each recording, and the remaining time shown is always calculated according to the disc's free space.



As you can see, at the highest quality setting (MN32/FINE) we managed to record 1 hour of video.


14. Advanced Features - Page 1
Pioneer DVR-320-S DVD Recorder

Advanced Features

The DVR-320-S comes with a very handy feature, called Chase Play. Quoting from the manual: "a feature called Chase Play makes it possible to watch a recording in progress from the start of the recording.......In fact, you're not just limited to watching the recording in progress; you can watch anything else already on the DVD."

This feature is useful if for example we are recording a live show and have missed let's say the first 10 minutes. We can start watching from the beginning, while the recorder is recording the live video. Quite handy indeed! Bear in mind that this feature works only with DVD-RW discs.


Notice in the last screenshot the two time displays. The one on the first line indicating 0.02.44 and the one next to the Title Total indicating 0.05.04. That means that the DVR-320-S has already recorded 5 minutes and 4 seconds of video, while watching the recorded video at a time index of 2 minutes and 44 seconds.

There is also a feature of the DVR-320-S called Disc History. The device remembers the recordable discs that have been used to record video, and displays information about them. The information displayed is remaining recording time according to the selected recording quality, the titles of each recording on the disc (default value is the date plus name of the channel), and the disc label. This can be useful because you can see the contents of each disc you have used without actually inserting it. You can also see how much available space each disc has.





15. Advanced Features - Page 2
Pioneer DVR-320-S DVD Recorder

Advanced Features Contd.

The Timer Recording is used to program the DVR-320-S to record up to 32 recordings up to a month in advance. The timer can be set to record just once, every day, or every week.

When a DVD-R/DVD+RW disc is inserted containing previously recorded video, the Disc Navigator is used to edit the video and the structure it contains. As stated before, in VR mode we are more flexible. This can be seen from the following screenshots.




We can open a recording from the DVD, and logically divide it into chapters, or combine two recordings into one.

This is how we can lock recordings within a disc, to avoid accidental deletion. The DVR-320-S will not permit the user to erase this recording unless it is unlocked first.

The above screenshots, as you can see, are for the VR format. On the next page we will show the same process for the Video format, as it is a little different.


16. Editing and Finalizing a DVD-Video Disc
Pioneer DVR-320-S DVD Recorder

Editing and Finalizing a DVD-Video Disc

As you can see here, the editing options for the Video format are limited, we can only erase, lock or rename titles. We cannot change chapter points for example.

Also the finalization process is different. Instead of just going ahead and finalizing the disc, the DVR-320-S takes us through the process of creating a menu structure for the DVD-Video disc we're about to create. There are 9 hardcoded presets, and the process is very easy.





After finalization, the disc is ready to be played on any DVD player with a handy menu structure that was in its entirety made using DVR-320-S.


17. Writing Quality Tests
Pioneer DVR-320-S DVD Recorder

Writing Quality Tests

The following screenshots present the PI/PO results for various DVD-R and DVD-RW media, recorded with the DVR-320-S.

The software used for the measurements was Nero CDspeed (v3.21) and Plextools Professional v2.16. The ECC was set to 8 and the reading drive was the Plextor PX-712A with firmware v1.05. The specific methodology is very dependent on the drive used as a reader, while the reliability of the PI/PO provided output is also not technically confirmed. Consequently, we could not safely come up with any conclusions, but still, we did make a comparison of the drive's behavior when using various DVD recordable/rewritable media.

BeAll G40001 DVD-R


BenQ SONY04D1 DVD-R


Intenso ProdiscS03 DVD-R


Mam 4XG02 DVD-R


Mitsubishi Chemicals MMC01RG20 DVD-R


Pioneer PVCW00V00245 DVD-RW


TDK 4x DVD-R


TDK TYG01 DVD-RW


Traxdata RITEKG04 DVD-RW


CMC Magnetics 4x DVD-R
The disc was not readable.

Generally, the drive offers good writing quality. However, there were instances of increased PI/PO levels, but the device managed to correct the errors.


18. Error Correction Tests
Pioneer DVR-320-S DVD Recorder

Error Correction Tests

In this section, we try to simulate one of the most interesting problems an average user frequently faces while using a DVD player, namely the reading accuracy of a DVD player when accessing a defective or scratched DVD or CD. The performance of the drive here may be influenced by the quality/precision of its mechanical parts (Optical Pickup Unit, sufficient servo control, etc), as well as with the drive's reading strategy under abnormal conditions, controlled by the main chipset and firmware commands. We tested the Pioneer DVR-320-S with a number of pressed DVD-Video and AudioCD test discs. The ABEX series from Almedio offers a good picture of a CD/DVD reader's error correction capabilities. In addition, we used the SBC444A test disc from Philips and CD-Check test disc from Digital Recordings.

DVD-Video

This is a single-sided, dual layer (S-2 type, OTP) disc with 8.5GB capacity. The disc can be used for checking the layer switching operation from layer1 to layer 0. The disc also includes test pictures and test signals for Dolby Digital, linear PCM (48kHz/24bit, 96kHz/24bit) and others, to examine high quality pictures and sound. The disc content is an MPEG-2 NTSC DVD-Video file. The TCD-545 includes defects on the disc area (black dots and fingerprints). The size of the black dots varies from 0.4mm to 1.0mm and fingerprints from 0.065mm to 0.075mm.

The DVR-320-S read the disc successfully without skips, picture stills or glitches being noticed. This good behavior is also prominent amongst most PC DVD recorders/players. Now, we shall proceed to the next test disc, the Abex TCD-541.

This disc is exactly the same as the Abex TCD-545 tested previously, except that the defect is a scratch ranging in size from 0.4mm to 3.0mm, increasing by 0.2mm /per step. The DVR-320-S showed very good performance again. All chapters of the DVD-Video were played correctly. Here we should say that not all PC DVD/CD players are able to read this specific type of disc.

 

 

AudioCD

This is an AudioCD disc used for measurement and adjustment of the error correction capability and tracking/focusing servo characteristics of a player against possible defects on some CDs. Three kinds of defects are included on this disc, :interruption in information layer, black dots and fingerprints. The interruptions are fabricated by intentionally varying the lengths of pits in the disc fabrication area. Their size varies from 0.5mm to 1.0mm. The diameter of black dots is from 0.4mm to 1.0mm. The simulated fingerprints are, in turn, small gathered dots, of diameters sized from 65 micrometers to 75 micrometers. 160 black dots together construct an artificial fingerprint.

All audio tracks were played on the DVR-320-S. No audible read errors (clicks, skips) were noticed.

The test concept with the Philips SBC 44A is the same as in the previous test disc. Interruptions on the information layer vary from 400 micrometers to 1000 micrometers, while black dots have size of 300 micrometers to 800 micrometers. Once again the DVR-320-S read the contents of the disc without any problems.

 

 

 

 

The medium has the same contents as the Abex TCD-726, but a different defect- a scratch sized of 0.4mm to 3.0mm on the disc's surface. Error symptoms expected when playing this disc are noise, sound skips, same sector repeatedly played, start of tune cannot be detected, etc.

The DVR-320-S played successfully all 15 tracks. Such behavior is a sign of strong error correction/concealment capabilities.

We finish this testing cycle with the CD-Check disc from Digital Recordings. Five audio signals (5 tracks) are combined with disc error patterns to rate the player's ability to read and reproduce music completely. The five tracks contain a sequence of tests of progressively rising difficulty .

Check level 1 (track 1): Standard manufacturing errors

Check level 2 (track 2): 0.375mm scratch

Check level 3 (track 3): 0.750mm scratch

Check level 4 (track 4): 1.125mm scratch

Check level 5 (track 5): 1.500mm scratch

Any clicks, interruptions or looping during audio reproduction indicate failure of a Check level (audio track). Below you can see the test results:

 
Check level
1
2
3
4
5
Result
OK
OK
2-3 clicks
Continuous Clicks
Continuous clicks

The DVR-320-S played flawlessly the first 2 tracks, which correspond to a scratch up to approximately 0.750mm, at the end of the track. Notice that the same player managed to correct more seriously defective areas on the Abex TCD-721R test disc (up to 1.8mm). The explanation here must be related to the way the scratched areas are positioned on the surface of each disc. The Abex TCD-721R places the scratched area on a single part of the disc. On the other hand, the CD-Check disc "slices" the disc circle in four equal sectors and each scratch is placed along the margins of each sector (four equal scratches on the disc).

As a result, the drive "faces" the same scratch 4 times per cycle, making playback more difficult. You should bear in mind however, that error correction/ concealment procedures may be affected by statistical factors, and thus, repeating the same test does not always give exactly the same results.

Summarizing, we can say that the DVR-320-S performed well in our error correction tests, even though its performance on the last test could be better. We've seen most DVD players getting through track 3 without any problems. We've even seen lately, DVD players coming from less well known manufacturers that can go through all 5 tracks with 1-2 glitches in the last track.


19. Conclusion
Pioneer DVR-320-S DVD Recorder

Conclusion

The Pioneer DVR-320-S is an excellent player feature-wise. It is simple to use, although it will take a small amount of time to get aquainted with the large remote control and all the buttons and their functions. The good thing is that the included manual describes all the unit's functions in simple words. Recording and playback was flawless, and without any surprises (device crashing, discs written being unreadable etc). As a word of caution at this point, be careful when using the VR format for recording. It seems that this format's compatibility is manufacturer dependent, chances are that discs written in this format are not playable in other standalone DVD players.

The DVR-320-S offers a set of impressive features as well, like the chase play feature, that let's you watch what you have recorded previously on a disc, while recording on the same disc. Its set of inputs is sufficient even for the most demanding user, especially for a device of its kind. The only thing missing is composite video output, but there are many other DVD players out there that do not offer this feature as well.

Even if is not explicitly stated in the specs, the DVR-320-s can playback DVD+R/RW discs. The results were mixed though, some discs had no playback problems at all, while others would not be recognized by the DVR-320-s

Also, its lack of support for DVD+R DL discs maybe another decisive factor for potential buyers. Although DL disc prices are high right now, they are expected to drop in the near future. So people that want to plan ahead, may get discouraged from the DVD-320-S not being able to read DVD+R DL discs. The Pioneer DVR-320-S's street price in North America is approximately $350, and around €400 in Europe.


The Good

- Slim Design
- Easy to setup/use
- DV IN/OUT
- Advanced features like chase play, DVD-Video menu editing.
- Good error correction
- Good writing quality
- Explanatory manual
- Remote control can be programmed to control TV as well

The Bad

- Supports only DVD-R/DVD-RW for recording
- Does not support playback of DVD+R DL discs
- Does not support DVD discs with compressed audio/image files


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