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Appeared on: Friday, April 14, 2006
LiteOn LVW-5055GDL+


1. Introduction

LiteOn has been a pioneer in producing new storage products. At then end of 2005, it announced a new series of HDD enabled DVD recorders, aimed at enthusiasts and power users who wanted to view and record TV programs. LiteOn gave us the chance to test their flagship, the LVW-5055GDL+ which boasts by a huge 250GB HDD.

- LVW-5055GDL+

The LVW-5055GDL+ is a HDD/DVD recorder. The device supports MPEG-4 and DivX video playback and recording for most of the popular digital media formats, making it easy to capture and preserve treasured moments on any DVD+R/+RW/+RDL, DVD-/-RW and CD-R/RW media, while alleviating any concerns about which disc media will work with the unit. The LVW-5055GDL+ also comes with a 250GB hard drive, capable of providing over 300 hours of recording time, which greatly enhances the essential recording capacity.

The device provides advanced functions such as Time Shift, which allows users to pause live TV, and Record and Play, which enables the viewing of a recorded program before the recording comes to an end. It also permits one-touch copy of selected content from the hard drive to a recordable disc and vice versa, to build your video/audio/ picture library. For ease of use and consumer convenience, the LVW-5055GDL+ also incorporates the ShowView programming system, which lets users simply input a set of ShowView programming numbers to complete the timer programming, allowing up to 16 sets of pre-scheduled recordings to be viewed at one's convenience.

When recording or scheduling for timer record programs, a "Just Fit" feature dynamically adjusts the recording quality based upon the available DVD disc space and the pre-allocated space for timer recording on the HDD. With "Just Fit", consumers need not worry about missing the end of their favorite TV show since it records the desired content by "synchronizing" the recording quality with the length of programming and available disc space.

The LVW-5055GDL+ uses Lite-On IT's exclusive "Easy Guider" menu system for simplifying essential DVD Recorder operations. By pressing the "Guider" button on the unit's remote control, users will be able to quickly and easily navigate through many of the system's primary functions such as Play, Record, Copy and Timer Record.


2. Features

Massive recording capacity

The huge capacity of the built-in hard disk drive, means plenty of space to record shows for every family member. Record lots of programming, edit video clips without worrying about running out of recording space.

Records TV, VCR, camcorder streams

With the recorder's built-in TV tuner and versatile connection ports, you can easily record from TV or other sources, to all the popular recordable disc formats such as CD-R / CD-RW, DVD±R/RW and even DVD+R DL discs, to build your own video library.

Easy DV Dubbing

Connect a DV Camcorder to the "DV Link (IEEE 1394)" to easily archive camcorder footage digitally in DVD quality to a recordable DVD disc that lasts. Moreover, the on-screen DV Control panel, allows basic commands over the DV camcorder using LVW-5055GDL+ / 5045DL+'s remote control.

Showview/Video Plus+

This integrated, easy-to-use timer recording system, simplifies the tedious timer recording procedures seen on conventional DVD recorders. With ShowView / VIDEO Plus+, you can instantly record or schedule recordings of TV shows by entering a set of numbers corresponding to a specific TV program, its broadcast channel and time.

Easy Guider

The advanced user-friendly interface, Easy Guider™ menu, makes using the LVW-5055GDL+ / 5045GDL+ a snap. At the press of a few buttons, you are guided through all the major features available. It's never been so easy.

DivX Certified

DivX® is one of the world's most popular high-compression MPEG-4 video technologies, with DivX® files available on PCs and networks worldwide. The LVW-5055GDL+ / 5045GDL+ plays all versions of DivX® video (including DivX® 6).

One Touch Copy

Content on the built-in HDD, can be easily copied to a recordable disc and from a disc to the built-in HDD. With a single press of the COPY button on the remote, the title selected can be copied to your desired destination, simple and easy.

Time Shift

The advanced "Time Shift" feature allows you to virtually "freeze" live broadcast and "unfreeze" it, to resume viewing at your leisure, providing you with control over viewing.

Record & Play

"Record & Play" allows you to watch the recording program from the very beginning while it is still being recorded, regardless of how far along that recording is in progress. Simply press a button and you no longer need to wait until the recording is completed. Recording will not be interrupted and viewing can be performed any time you desire!

- Full Specs

LVW-5055GDL+ / 5045GDL+ specifications
Recording Features
 

Digital media formats supported

HDD, DVD+R DL, DVD+R / DVD+R,
DVD-R / DVD-RW, CD-R / CD-RW

Recording quality and time

( Built-in 250GB HDD )
HQ: 55Hrs / SP: 110hrs / LP: 165hrs / EP: 220hrs /
SLP: 330hrs
( Built-in 160GB HDD )

HQ: 33Hrs / SP: 66hrs / LP: 99hrs / EP: 132hrs /
SLP: 198hrs
( DVD+R DL 8.5G )

HQ: 115mins / SP: 230mins / LP: 345mins /
EP: 460mins / SLP: 690mins
( DVD 4.7G )

HQ: 1Hr / SP: 2hrs / LP:3hrs / EP: 4hrs / SLP:6hrs
( CD 700MB )

SVCD: 34mins / VCD: 68mins / Audio CD: 70mins
"Just Fit" disc recording Yes

DVD disc recording format

DVD+VR

Dolby Digital Recording

Yes
ShowView / VIDEO Plus+ timer programming system Yes ( 32 sets of programming )
NICAM Yes

VPS / PDC

Yes

One-touch recording

Yes

DV Control

Yes

Time Shift ( Pause live TV )

Yes

Record & Play ( Watch the beginning while recording the end )

Yes

One-touch Copy

Yes ( HDD to DVD, DVD to HDD )
Playback Features
 

Digital media formats supported

DVD-Video, DVD+R DL, DVD+R / DVD+RW, DVD-R /
DVD-RW, CD-R / CD-RW, SVCD, VCD, Audio CD

VOB / MPG / DAT playback

Yes

MP3, WMA, WAV playback

Yes
JPEG, BMP playback Yes

MPEG-4 playback

Yes ( avi file )
DivX® playback Yes ( avi / div / divx file )

Progressive scan

Yes ( 576p )
Editing Features
 

Title name editing

Yes

Title editing

Erase / Protect / Overwrite /Split / Merge / Set thumbnail

Chapter editing

Insert chapter mark / Erase chapter mark /
Hide chapter / Show chapter

Chapter mark insertion

Auto and manual
General features
 

Graphical Easy Guider™ menu

Yes

Channel editing

Yes

Slide show

Yes

Content browser

Yes ( thumbnail view, text view )
Tuner
 

TV system

PAL ( PAL-I / I, PAL-B / G, or SECAM-L / L)
Front connections
 

Audio / Video input

1

DV input ( IEEE 1394 )

1

S-Video input

1
Rear connections
 
SCART input 1 ( CVBS, RGB in, Decoder )
SCART output 1 ( CVBS, RGB, S-VIDEO out )

Audio / Video output

1

Component output

1 ( Y, Pb, Pr )

Digital audio output

2 ( coaxial, optical )

RF input

1

RF output

1
Others
 

Power supply

AC 100~240V 50 / 60Hz

Power consumption

50W

Dimension ( mm )

W430* H66* D316

Weight

Approx. 4.7kg

3. Unpacking

LiteOn sent us the retail version of the LVW-5055GDL+ which included:

The retail price of the recorder is around €390. The recorder is very big and heavy, since it includes a HDD, DVD recorder, PSU and of course the main board. We were quite satisfied with the construction quality of the unit.

On the front, there is on/off power switch, eject button, CD/DVD tray loader and the DV input.

Below the CD/DVD loader, there are several logos indicating with a quick glance the recorder's main features and capabilities.

On the right hand side of the front panel, you will find more inputs (S-Video and composite audio/video) and the control control buttons for operating the device.

On the back, there are the TV Tuner connections, Digital Audio Outputs, Scart In/Out, RCA/Component Out:

The model ID and serial number are also present. Notice below the bar code, several numbers which indicate the device's (G018) and the CD/DVD Loader's firmware (B20M)

If you want to have a peek inside the device, don't open up the case yourself as this will void the warranty, but instead use our pictures below.

The layout is quite simple and uncluttered. We've marked each component below for easy recognition:

The TV tuner comes from Philips, well known for their exceptional receivers:

The optical drive is the LiteOn DDW-813S and is enclosed within a metal casing with padded strips to keep it firmly in place. We take a closer look at the drive with following photos.

The main chipset comes, as expected, from MediaTek:

The HDD is from Seagate with the indication "DB35 1 Consumer Storage". Seagate has produced this series of HDDs for Consumer Electronics devices, with 7200RPM and low power consumption.

 

The LVW-5055GDL+ is powered by LSI's Logic Dimension 2 8652 chipset.

According to LSI Logic "...The DMN-8652 is LSI Logic's second-generation, single-chip hard disk drive (HDD)/DVD recorder system processor. The DMN-8652 supports record, playback and time-shift on the DVD and hard disk drives. The DMN-8652 provides advanced HDD to DVD archiving operations and supports DVD-RAM, DVD-RW and DVD+RW disc formats. It provides DV camcorder recording to HDD and DVD. Features DoMiNoFX technologies..."

512MB of main memory are present, thanks to two Hynix 561622DTP-J chips.

The remote control is very good and fits nicely in your hand. While it is big, the four way joypad is located at the center, making most navigation functions very easy. The sensitivity is good, even at wide angles.


4. Power up the player

We connected the HDD/DVD recorder to a TV using a Scart cable. After powering up, the LiteOn logo appeared.

Immediately, we pressed the setup button on the remote. From here, you can change all the major settings, including Video/Audio, languages, etc. We noticed that LiteOn offers a variety of languages for the OSD, Menu and Subtitles.

The player can become Region Free with the following procedure (same trick works on all LiteOn desktop burners)

1)Press "Setup" on the remote control.
2)Scroll down and highlight "Exit" (bottom box in menu).
3)While "Exit" is highlighted, enter 2,9,6, and 0 and press "Enter".
4)A hidden menu pops up and you can select your region.
5)Select "region free"
6)Exit Set-up menu


5. TV Tuner function

The included TV Tuner works very well, in that it has very good reception, thanks to the Philips receiver unit. First, select the proper country and TV system (in our case Germany and PAL B-G):

You can let the auto-search function look for channels automatically:

There are also various means available for tuning the channels:

After an automatic search, it would be convenient if you could then go through and erase any unwanted channels from the list. Alternatively, you can disable them or if you have the patience, search through and set them manually.


6. Recording

You can record a program from a TV Tuner in one of two ways. Either by using the Timer Record function or through the Easy Guider wizard. Below, you can see the Timer Record menu. It shows all scheduled recording sessions:

The recording options are quite impressive. You can choose from the many options available, or alternatively go to ShowView and enter the ShowView code.

ShowView is a fast, easy way to programme your video recorder.

Along with your LiteOn recorder, all you need is a publication with TV listings information with the ShowView numbers.

The ShowView® number is a one-to-nine digit combination of numbers that simplifies the process of setting up the timer on your video recorder.

The ShowView numbers are generated by an algorithm that translates the very basic parameters involved in any recording process (Date, Channel number, Start time and End time of the programme) into a unique combination of numbers. Once these numbers are entered into your video recorder by your remote control, the recording timer of the video gets activated.

All you have to do is look up the programme you wish to record in your favourite TV listing newspaper or magazine, locate the ShowView number alongside the title of the programme and enter the number in your video recorder.

All the information you need to set up your video recorder is instantly stored!

When recording starts, an information bar appears at the top indicating the elapsed/remaining time:

Alternatively, you can just press the record button from the remote control and the LVW-5055GDL+ will start recording. Pressing the record button again, allows you to set desired recording time.

The Source button rotates through the input source list, so you can you choose the input source. Note, that if you try to record from a Macrovision enabled device, the player will refuse to do so since it is Macrovision protected. With previous LiteOn recorders, there was a "hack" utility available, which doesn't seem to work with the latest models anymore.

Choosing the Easy Guider, you enter the main wizard page. Select the desired function and you are guided through the process in simple steps.

We selected the Record function, and the wizard asks from which source:

the channel:

where the output will be saved:

the quality:

and lastly, the Date and Time :


7. Playback Functions

After having recorded several clips, you can then view them. By pressing on the Contents button, you enter the main window, where the view can be in the form of thumbnails or just plain files with some information. The LVW-5055GDL+ will sort all available files by type (Video, Music, Picture) for your convenience. You can of course select between HDD or DVD as the source.

Alternatively, you can use the Easy Guider again, and after following the wizard's steps, you will find the content you want to view:


8. Other Functions

Easy Guider offers other functions, like Copying from HDD<->DVD (non protected material) and of course several disc tools (format, finalize).

Let's copy several clips from the HDD to a DVD:

Select the media type:

Select the video:

It can take sometime for the process to finish.

There are also several tools available for either Disc or HDD:


9. HDD Information

The disk is preformatted as FAT32 file system, which showed up after we connected it to our PC system.

PowerQuest's Partition Magic found an error, which couldn't be fixed. However the HDD worked perfectly under Windows.

Looking at the device under Windows, we can see some other interesting information:

The label for the HDD is "LITEONFAT" and contains several Folders:

Looking at our first recording (MV_00001), can see its structure:

and below, the "TITLE.VOB" folder contains our recorded file:

The performance of the HDD was then checked with HD Tach and was found to be satisfactory, for a CE device:


10. Playback Tests - Page 1

In order to test the LVW-5055GDL+ for playback capabilities, we used several files encoded with most commonly used Video and Audio codecs. You can view more details about all the encoded files in this PDF.

In short, the device supports the following audio/video/picture extension filenames:

The HDD/DVD recorder as a player, has two major disadvantages:

  1. Most users will want to sort their contents into folders (e.g. /Mpeg, /DivX), but the LVW-5055GDL+ will transfer all playable files to the root, meaning the sort is lost. Imagine a DVD disc with many small Video files. You would waste many hours looking through a long list, trying to find your media file.
  2. While a file is playing, there is no way to skip to the next file, since << and >> don't function. There is no way to create some kind of playlist. Moreover, after each file finishes, the device automatically switches to the TV tuner! So, if you need to play another file, you have to go through the whole procedure, pressing the "Contents" button, wait for the files to load, etc.

However, this only applies to Video files! When playing back audio, folders are present, next/previous buttons work! We hope that LiteOn will address this inconvenience with a future firmware release.

After finalizing a disc containing several video clips, you will be given a menu with thumbnails of each clip, from which you can select one to view

Looking at the contents of the finalized disc below, as you can see there are two folders, Video_RM and Video_TS:

With DVD Decrypter, you can split the files, using IFO mode:

The table below gives the resolution and quality for each recording mode

Mode Resolution Bitrate
Average Max
HQ 720x576 7385Kbps 9131Kbps
SP 3639Kbps 4558Kbps
LP 352x576 2529Kbps 3136Kbps
EP 1779Kbps 2356Kbps
SLP 352x288 1064Kbps 1223 Kbps

As the table shows, HQ quality produces the best visual results, with full DVD resolution and max 9.1mb/sec, whereas SLP offers VCD resolution. So it's up to you to decide if a title deserves the best, medium, or lowest quality.

Audio Tests

We used several audio formats from almost all current compressed/uncompressed music files:

Format Details Result
MP4
(.MP4 & .AAC)
CBR (32~192Kbit) No

VBR (30~300Kbit)

HE/LC VBR 2.0
HE/LC VBR 5.1
AC3
(.AC3)
5.1
DTS
(.DTS)
5.1
MP2
(.MP2)
2.0
MP3 (Layer 3)
(.MP3)
ABR (32~320Kbit) Yes
CBR (32~320Kbit) Yes
VBR (32~320Kbit) Yes
MP3 (Layer2)
(.MP3)
CBR (8~160Kbit) Yes
MP3 (Layer 2.5)
(.MP3)
CBR (8~160Kbit) Yes
MP3 Pro
(.MP3)
CBR (18~ 96Kbit) Yes
VBR (Lowest-Highest) Yes
OGG
(.OGG)
CBR (45~500Kbit) No
VBR (25~100 Quality)
VBR 5.1
WAV
(.WAV)
PCM 44.1 /48Khz 2.0 Yes
PCM 48Khz 5.1 No
DTS_CD_5.1 No
WMA
(.WMA)
CBR (5~320Kbits) Yes
VBR (48~192Kbits)
WMA Pro 5.1 No

The LVW-5055GDL+ will only recognize certain types of audio formats. Full Mp3 support is present, while WAV and WMA are supported too.


11. Playback Tests - Page 2

Uncompressed Video Formats (.avi)

Format Details Size BitRate Result
AVI
(.AVI)
2.1GB sized 720x576 26Mbit Playback cannot start error message

DivX Video Files (.avi codec)

Format Details Size BitRate Result
DivX
(.AVI)
Home Theater Profile 720x400 1~4Mbit Yes
High Definition Profile 720x400 4~8Mbit Yes*
High Definition 1280x720 4Mbit No
GMC 720x400 1Mbit Yes
GMC Multiconsecutive
GMC & QP No
GMC & QP Multiconsecutive
QP
QP Multiconsecutive
VBR MP3 & AC3 Sound Streams 720x400 1Mbit Yes

While the player is advertised as DivX certified, QP is not supported. Multi Audio files are not a problem, while FF/RF works very well. On the other hand, DivX HD is also not supported, while the device cannot easily handle 720x400 resolution, encoded at 8Mbit/sec, producing jerky playback, with skips in the sound and video motion.

Special Video Files (.AVI)

Format Details Size BitRate Result
DivX
(.AVI)
ASP Adapt Nero 720x288 965Kbit Yes
ASP Custom XVid 720x288 406Kbit Yes
ASP GMC 1Warp Point DivX 720x288 356Kbit Yes
ASP GMC 3Warp Point XVid 720x288 396Kbit No
ASP Mpeg XVid 720x288 396Kbit Yes
ASP QPel DivX 720x288 493Kbit Yes
SP 3ivX 720x288 454Kbit Yes

Xvid's GMC implementation isn't supported by the player.

Packaged Video Files (Video, Audio and Subtitles Streams)

Format Details Size BitRate Result
DivX
(.Divx)
3 VBR MP3 Audio Streams & 5 Subtitles ? ? Audio and Subtitles Streams are playable but not the main menu
Slideshow ? ? Playback cannot started error message
Matroska
(.MKV)
DivX5 Video Stream, VBR MP3 AudioStream, 2 Subtitle streams 704x288 1Mbit No

The DivX format (.divx) is not fully supported since, one of the two test files downloaded from www.divx.com was not playable by the player. Matroska files are not supported at all.


12. Playback Tests - Page 3

Xvid Video File (.avi)

Format Details Size BitRate Playback
Xvid
(.AVI)
No special modes 704x288 1Mbit Yes
BVop Yes
BVop & Packed BitStream Yes
BVop & Packed BitStream & QP QP is not supported
BVop & Packed BitStream & QP & GMC
BVop & QP & GMC

As was the case with DivX, QP is also not supported in XVid files.

H264 Video Files (.avi)

Format Details Size BitRate Playback
x264
(.AVI)
VBR Mp3 Audio Stream 704x288 700Kbit No
1Mbit
1.5Mbit
2Mbit
4Mbit
6Mbit
8Mbit

The chipset cannot decode H264 content.

NeroDigital Video Files (.mp4)

Format Details Size BitRate Playback
NeroDigital
ASP (.MP4)
Mobile 176x144 400Kbit No
Portable 352x288 2Mbit
Standard 720x576 4Mbit
Cinema 1280x720 9.8Mbit
HDTV 1920x1072 9.8Mbit
- XVid Encoded with AAC Sound and Subtitles Streams 720x576 217Kbit Yes but subtitles doesn't work

The player has no problem with Nero Digital's Mp4 files (ASP profile only), even up to 1080i resolutions. Unfortunately, subtitles are not supported.

Mpeg Video Formats (.mpeg)

Format Information Resolution Bitrate Playback
Mpeg1 (.MPG) VCD Compliant 352x240 1152Kbit Yes
352x288 1152Kbit
XVCD 352x288 1500Kbit
XVCD 352x288 2000Kbit
Out of specs 640x480 1200Kbit Yes
Mpeg2
(.MPG)
- 720x480 2713Kbit Yes
AC3 Sound 720x576 9800Kbit
SVCD 480x576 2519Kbit
Mpeg2
(.M2V)
Compliant Test Stream 352x288 1.5Mbit Files weren't recognized, even renamed at .Mpg format, possibly the device needs to see audio track else doesn't play it
704x576 4Mbit
6Mbit
8Mbit
12Mbit
18Mbit
40Mbit
Mpeg2-TS
(.TS)
5.1 Surround sound 1920x1080 12Mbit No

The device didn't have any problems with Mpeg1 and Mpeg2 files. We couldn't test LSI's Logice Dimension 2 effective bitrate handling, since our test files weren't recognizable, mostly due to the fact that they are only Video and don't contain audio tracks.

Windows Media Video Video Files (.wmv)

Format Information Resolution Bitrate Playback
WMV (.WMV) Windows Media Player 10 Digital Life Clip 320x180 300Kbit No
Windows Media Player 10 Striker Clip 320x180 300Kbit
WMV HD DRM (.WMV) Underworld Extended Cut European Edition 1280x544 9Mbit
WMV HD
(.WMV)
The Magic Of Flight Clip 1280x720 6Mbit
1920x1080 9Mbit
WMA Pro 5.1
(.WMV)
Peter Gabriel Sledgehammer Videoclip 240x192 466Kbit

The device doesn't support the WMV Video format.


13. Playback Tests - Page 4

Special Tests

Format Information Resolution Bitrate Playback
Mpeg 1
(.MPG)
Filename contains Greek Characters 352x240 1Mbit Filename displayed correctly

Subtitles Test Files

Format Information Playback
Text (.SRT) English Subtitles Yes
Greek Subtitles Yes
DVD (.IDX .SUB) English Language No
Greek Language
Netherlands Language
Text (.PSB)
MicroDVD Format English Language
Text (.PSB) PowerDivx Format English Language
Text (.SSA) Substation Alpha English Language
Text (.SUB) Subviewer English Language

The LVW-5055GDL+ can display subtitles which are placed in the same folder (.srt) format. Greek and other Eastern European languages are not a problem. However, .idx DVD subtitles are not supported.

Picture Formats

Format Resolution Playback
Jpeg
(.JPG)
2272x1704 Yes
2048x1532
1600x1200
Png
(.PNG)
2048x1532 No
Gif
(.GIF)
2048x1532 No
Bmp
(.BMP)
2048x1532 No

The player supports only jpeg and bmp picture formats.


14. Conclusion

The LVW-5055GDL+ is the latest HDD/DVD recorder from LiteOn. The large 250GB HDD makes sure that you have enough space to record many hours worth of TV shows and watch them from the comfort of your couch. Moreover, modders could replace the included 250GB HDD with a higher capacity drive (which is not suggested since you will lose your warranty).

LiteOn's Easy Guider wizard makes your life easier by providing most of the playback and record functions through helpful wizards. This way, even inexperienced users can be up and running with most of the recorder's functions.

Looking at the recorder's capabilities, we can say that the recording quality in most cases was very good. Keep in mind that HQ records full DVD resolution with at to 10mb/s bitrate. However, due to Macrovision protection, you won't be able to "backup" copyrighted material (like commercial DVDs or VHS movies), at least without a proper mod. The TV tuner reception is very good (since it uses a Philips tuner) and the ease with which you can do recordings will please all users. The price at €390 is satisfactory, keeping in mind the general features available on the LVW-50xxGDL+ series.

On the negative side, the playback features are limited. For example, despite the fact that the player is advertised as DivX certified, it is not 100% compliant. The most annoying "feature" is that all files are brought to the root folder, even if they are placed into subfolders, making playback a real headache. In addition, there isn't a playlist, and after playing a media file, the recorder reverts the image back to the TV tuner (!).

Overall, the LVW-5055GDL+ is a nice product with good quality but also noticeable weaknesses, especially during playback. Hopefully, LiteOn will release new firmware updates and fix some of the above mentioned short comings to make the device complete.

- The Positive

- The Negative



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