Editor’s Note: This product has been removed from viewing as part of this site because it is no longer available. You can still read our original review below, but TopTenREVIEWS is no longer updating this product’s information.
These days, we have access to high-quality media on almost every device we own. You can watch your favorite shows and videos on HD televisions, computers, laptops, smartphones and more. What about all those tapes and DVDs collecting dust in your closet, though? Not all your high-tech devices can play the content contained on these aging media. DVD/VCR combo players are a safe haven for playing this content in world that has almost forgotten VHS.
At TopTenREVIEWS, we rated and ranked the best devices capable of playing, recording and archiving both DVDs and VHS tapes. At the end of our review process, the Magnavox DVD VCR Player ZV457MG9 came out on top, earning our TopTenREVIEWS Gold Award for DVD/VCR combos. It achieved this honor by including every single feature we looked for on our side-by-side comparison chart.
With features such as 1080p upconversion and progressive scan technology, the unit transforms standard-definition images and sound into a clear, crisp signal worthy of any HDTV on the market today. To complement its excellent picture quality, the Magnavox DVD VCR Player is compatible with Dolby Digital sound. Furthermore, the assortment of connectivity options on the back panel enables you to connect it to almost any device you own.
The first concern most people have when shopping for a DVD/VCR combo is whether it will do their HDTV justice. The images on DVDs and VHS tapes simply cannot utilize the billions of pixels on today's modern television screens and monitors. The Magnavox DVD VCR player contains two important features that solve this problem exceptionally.
The first of these two key features is 1080p upconversion. Upconversion takes standard-definition images on DVDs and VHS tapes and converts them to an HD signal that your HDTV can display in the rich quality it's capable of producing. The scaling technology employed by the Magnavox DVD VCR Player is a critical component for keeping VHS tapes and DVDs relevant in today's rapidly evolving technology field. Without it, this unit wouldn't hold a candle to newer generation devices.
Scaling a standard-definition picture to an HD signal has its drawbacks. A stretched SD image on an HD screen is naturally a bit fuzzy and contains visual artifacts. That's where the next key feature of the Magnavox DVD VCR Player comes into play. Progressive scanning utilizes a couple of technologies that de-interlace and enhance a standard-definition image so it will appear clearly on your HD screen. Neither of these features actually converts a SD image to HD. However, when combined, they do a great deal to transform a fuzzy SD image into a crisp, clear picture that's suitable for viewing on an HDTV.
TV shows and movies are the stars of the show in any DVD/VCR combo, but the best units also play your music CDS. The Magnavox DVD VCR Player is such a device. Not only is it compatible with any music CD you can buy at the store, but it also plays nearly any recordable disc media. Playable formats include CD-RW, DVD±R, DVD±RW, DVD±R DL and almost anything else.
The Magnavox DVD VCR Player features a Dolby Digital sound rig. This is great for the unit because full, rich sound is just as important as a crisp, clear picture. Furthermore, nearly all soundtracks for Hollywood films and television shows are captured using Dolby Digital technology. While the sound would still play without Dolby rig, it wouldn't capture the full experience the filmmakers intended you to hear. Furthermore, the unit is compatible with most home-theater surround-sound systems. Therefore, if your VHS tape or DVD is capable of surround sound, the Magnavox DVD VCR Player can take advantage of that.
Throughout most of the 20th century, the phrase "high fidelity" meant that a VCR or stereo system possessed the best quality components possible. While we don't hear the term as often these days, it still says a lot about a device when a manufacturer prints this term on the front plate of its products. You'll find these words displayed proudly on the VCR component of the Magnavox DVD VCR Player. Even though the technology is dated, Magnavox takes great care that you have the best experience possible watching a VHS cassette.
Sadly, the once-dominant VHS standard is quickly vanishing from our collective conciseness. Some would argue that it has been dead and buried for a long time now. For the last few years, something of a cottage industry has been developing with the goal of digitizing as much content stored on VHS tapes as possible. Many people pay good money for others to transfer their VHS tapes to a digital format. Luckily for the owners of the Magnavox DVD VCR Player, this unit performs this function without the need to take your stack of tapes into a shop.
The VCR's two-way dubbing feature is the main technology that allows you to archive VHS content onto DVD. The process is simple: insert the VHS cassette you want to copy into the VCR and a black rewriteable DVD into the disc tray. There are menus you'll need to master, but once you've done that, it's as simple as pressing Play on the unit's VCR and Record on its DVD player.
The ability to record VHS content onto DVDs is invaluable these days. Look in anyone's media collection and you'll almost invariably find a stack of beloved old films, home movies and other content left behind by the latest technological innovations. Moving this content to a DVD ensures that it will still be available for years to come.
The connectivity array on the Magnavox DVD VCR Player contains not only the familiar and functional options such as coaxial and component connections, but also the most modern connection available – HDMI. If HDMI had been omitted, it would have rendered several other features on this device useless. The HDMI connection carries an HDMI signal to your HDTV or any other device with an HDMI connection. Therefore, you can use this player to watch VHS tapes on any device with an HDMI port.
The Magnavox DVD VCR Player also contains digital tuner. This feature enables you to capture over-the-air digital broadcast signals. In a culture where most our content comes through a coaxial cable attached to the wall, many people have all but forgotten that broadcast signals still reach almost every home. This DVD/VCR combo can capture and even record these signals. If you choose to go this route, it can save you a good deal of money a DVR unit and cable-television bills.
One feature the Magnavox DVD VCR has that is absent on every other DVD/VCR combo on our side-by-side comparison chart comes in the form of the V-chip. When enabled, the V-chip blocks offensive content based on its rating category. It’s a great parental control feature, but like all technology in this class, it requires specific input from the user to work properly.
Magnavox offers the same quality support for the Magnavox DVD VCR Player as it does for its top-of-the-line devices. This includes phone, email and online support options, all of which you can easily find on its website.
To regard the Magnavox DVD VCR Player ZV457MG9 as the last generation of a dying technology would be disrespectful. The juxtaposition of older technology such as VCR with the new transfer protocols such as 1080p upconversion and HDMI connectivity sees that this unit stands on its own merits. It may be a bridge technology, but it’s a well-constructed bridge that connects the past and the present and will allow you to carry your old media with you well into the future.
The Magnavox DVD VCR Player contains every feature we looked for in DVD/VCR combos.
The owner's manual should be a little clearer and easier to understand.
This unit is the best choice for playing, recording and archiving your VHS cassettes and DVDs.