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on August 13, 2004
I had the Sony RDR-GX300 DVD recorder set up in less than half an hour. The remote control is fairly user-friendly, but there is one aspect that is not mentioned in the user manual. There is a panel at the bottom of the remote control which you must slide towards you to reveal the buttons for recording. Most user manuals for electronic products are disorganized and this is no exception. The DVD recorder itself is excellent. I purchased a Philips DVDR985A DVD recorder last year which has a few features that the Sony RDR-GX300 doesn't have. However, the RDR-GX300 is the best choice especially since all Philips DVD recorder suffer from DISC ERROR and DISC WARNING problems no matter which brand of blank DVD media is used. I use Verbatim DataLife Plus DVD+RW blank media with both the Sony and the Philips, and I've had no problems with the Sony RDR-GX300. Here are the pros and cons of this unit:

===============
PROS
===============
The RDR-GX300 can record on all four DVD formats: DVD+R, DVD+RW, DVD-R, DVD+RW. I use DVD+RW because it is the most versatile and doesn't require finalization which takes several minutes on the other formats. Also, rewritable disks can be rewritten about 1,000 times.

Recording modes on the Sony RDR-GX300:
HQ = 1 hour
HSP = 1.5 hours
SP = 2 hours
LP = 3 hours
EP = 4 hours
SLP = 6 hours

The extended modes do not display much pixellation compared to the Philips DVDR985A. Sony's video capabilities have always been superb in all of their products.

After pressing the Record button, the RDR-GX300 starts recording immediately. The Philips DVDR985A takes a full second. If either unit has been idle for half an hour or more, they go into sleep mode, so pressing the Record button results in the recording starting 5 seconds later. Therefore, if the unit has been idle with a blank disk already inserted, you may want to eject the disk and insert it again so that there isn't a 5-second delay when you press Record.

The Sony RDR-GX300 automatically titles each recording with the name of the TV show or movie that was recorded. This is a big time saver. The maximum length of a title name is 64 characters. All alphanumeric and punctuation characters are allowed, as well as math and financial symbols such as the British pound and the Japanese yen.

There is an infrared device that extends over the top of the cable box and attaches by cord to the back of the DVD recorder. It allows the DVD recorder's remote control to change the channels on the cable box. It also allows timer recordings on different channels without user intervention on the cable box. During the initial setup, you'll need to enter the code of your cable box that is found in a chart in the back of the user manual.

VCR+ can be used if desired for timer recordings.

Timer recordings will be made regardless of whether or not the DVD recorder is on or off when the timer recording is scheduled to start. Also, if there is not enough room on a disk for a scheduled timer recording, the DVD recorder will automatically adjust the recording mode (SP, LP, EP, etc) so that the entire program will be recorded. And finally, you can extend the duration of a timer recording after it has already started (in case you made a mistake in setting the ending time).

You can fast-forward and fast-rewind at various speeds and each frame is played just like a VCR does. This is not the case with the Philips DVDR985A which doesn't play all frames in fast-forward, so the display jumps from scene to scene.

You can move frame by frame through a recording either forward or reverse. The Philips DVDR985A only goes frame by frame forward, not reverse.

As an option, chapter markers can be added automatically every 6 or 15 minutes during a recording.

Commercials can be edited from a recording on a DVD+RW disk, and they won't appear when played on another DVD player. Simply select Frame A and Frame B, and everything between those two frames will be deleted. This isn't possible with DVD-R, DVD-RW, and DVD+R. You can erase a block of video on a DVD-RW disk in VR mode, but you can only play the disk on this unit. That's why I always stick with DVD+RW.

You can play the beginning of a recording while it is still recording. This is called Chasing Playback. However, this function doesn't work on 1x-speed DVD-RW or in HQ or HSP recording modes.

You can play a previous recording while recording something else. However, this function doesn't work on 1x-speed DVD-RW or in HQ or HSP recording modes.

===============
CONS
===============
Some operations take a little longer than on other DVD recorders. For example, after inserting a formatted DVD+RW disk, you have to wait 21 seconds for the unit to read the disk even if it's empty. If the disk is not formatted, you have to wait an additional 1 minute and 27 seconds to format it. Therefore, if you insert an unformatted DVD+RW disk, you have to wait a total of 1 minute and 48 seconds to start recording. I format all of my DVD+RW disks ahead of time so that I can start recording 21 seconds after inserting the disk. Also, if you eject a DVD+RW disk after adding, deleting, or editing a title, you have to wait 35 seconds before the disk ejects because the unit has to update the disk. Keep this in mind if you want to record two movies back to back. You'll need a couple of minutes between movies. You won't run into the formatting delay with DVD-RW, but DVD-RW requires finalization which takes several minutes.

When a disk is formatted, the RDR-GX300 displays "Formatting" in a large white rectangle that covers half of the TV screen. The rectangle should be smaller so that you can watch the TV while the disk is formatting.

The Sony RDR-GX300 cannot split a recording into two separate titles on a DVD+RW disk. The Philips DVDR985A allows you to easily split a title. Why would you want to split a title? If you record a Star Trek marathon, you want to split the episodes into separate titles. Sony definitely needs to add this feature for DVD+RW disks.

There are no thumbnail images for each title on a DVD+RW disk -- only on a DVD-RW disk in VR mode which means you can only play it on this unit. The Philips DVDR985A assigns a default thumbnail image to each title on a DVD+RW disk; you can change the thumbnail images later and they will appear in the title menu when played on other DVD players. Sony definitely needs to add thumbnail images to DVD+RW disks.

The title list (i.e., the list of recordings) doesn't show the length in time of the recording. The title list shows the date that each recording was made, but it only shows the month and day, not the year.

It would be nice if the remote control had a button to toggle between uppercase and lowercase characters when entering a title name.

You cannot manually add chapter markers to DVD+RW. They can only be added to a DVD-RW disk in VR mode which means that the disk can only be played on this unit.

The front panel doesn't display the recording mode (SP, LP, EP, etc). You always need to check it after you insert a disk so that you don't accidentally record a 3-hour movie in 2-hour mode and lose part of the movie.

The front panel should permanently display the most severe error that occurred during formatting or recording. If you're not watching the TV when the error occurs, you won't know that an error occurred. This is true with some other DVD recorders as well.

There is no i.LINK (FireWire) interface to connect to camcorders. The Sony RDR-GX7 has this feature.

There is no hard disk. The Sony RDR-HX900 will be released in November or December with a 160GB hard disk as well as an i.LINK (FireWire) interface, but it will have a hefty price tag.

========================================

All in all, the Sony RDR-GX300 is an excellent DVD recorder, and my Philips DVD recorder is now collecting dust in the basement. I'll never buy another Philips product. Hopefully Sony will address some of the things that I've mentioned above. Nevertheless, the RDR-GX300 is top-of-the-line with great video and no problems whatsoever in recording. If you want to look at any of the manuals for Sony DVD recorders, go to [...] and click on Customer Support, then Product Support Site, then Documentation, and then enter the model number.
22 comments441 of 445 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on August 3, 2004
Contrary to the production description, the Sony RDR-GX300 DVD recorder does not have an i.LINK interface for one-touch transfer from camcorders. The Sony RDR-GX7 does have an i.LINK interface. By the way, Sony plans to release the RDR-HX900 DVD recorder in November 2004. This will be the best DVD recorder on the market because it will have a 160-gigabyte hard disk, an i.LINK interface, and it will support DVD-R, DVD-RW, DVD+R, and DVD+RW. (...)

Philips and Sony are the major manufacturers of DVD recorders that support DVD+RW. Unfortunately Philips is having a lot of problems with their entire line of DVD recorders. You can read the reviews yourself. I made the mistake of buying the Philips DVDR985 instead of waiting for Sony. I will stick with Sony from now on.
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on October 16, 2004
Before purchasing the Sony RDR-GX300 I had owned the Phillips DVDR75 and Panasonic DMR-E100HS . Both these units were top of the line when purchased. The Sony unit is by far the superior product.

The Phillips was very cheaply made, unreliable e and had a difficult and confusing user interface. It also was very particular about the brands of DVD it recorded on, resulting in a significant amount of trial and error and wasted discs. In addition the Technical Support was terrible, the wait was long and the technicians were not knowledgable about the product.

The Panasonic is an excellent machine. The ease of use is excellent and clear even for a novice. The hard drive is huge and the quality of the recording, particularly in HQ mode is quite good. The major issue with the Panasonic machine is the fact that it is limited to recording only DVD-R and DVD-RAM formats. The absence of DVD-RW writing can be limiting because the DVD-RAM can be played back on very few DVD players.If you want to play your recorded discs on a player other than the one you recorded on this can be a significant drawback. In addition the unit was moderately particular about the brands of discs it recorded on. For example it did not record or recognize Memorex discs, which was the brand recommended to me when I purchased it.

The Sony unit is totally versatile. It can play and record in DVD-R, DVD+R, DVD-RW and DVD+RW formats. When finalized the RW discs can play in any DVD player (certainly newer one, older players sometimes have difficulty playing recorded discs, even if the format is compatible). It records and plays back every brand of disc I have tried, including the ones Ieft over after being rejected by the other machines.

The ease of use is fantastic. I would describe the user interface as elegant in it's simplicity and design. The processes of setting up, formatting, editing and finalizing the recordings are clearly laid out and easy to follow. The graphics are simple, straightfoward and uncluttered.

The only thing lacking on this unit is a hard drive, which can function like a PVR (like TiVo or ReplayTV). Sony is about to introduce the RDR-HX900 which does include the hard drive, but is $1000 list price. Whether the difference is worth it depends upon your individual needs.

Overall my opinion is that this is the best DVD Recorder produced up to this time. I couldn't be happier with it.
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on September 26, 2005
I purchased this model about 3 months ago and have quickly become a DVDR guru. I could not be any happier with absolutely no problems and more than I expected from the recorder. As a beginner here are my thoughts on the negative aspects that a newcomer should know.

When recording your backup DVD originals to DVD+/-R you should invest in a digital video stabilizer (I believe the same is true for copying your old VHS tapes but I have not tried to record from this medium yet. The recorder records from point A to point B - it will not "copy" a disk like a CD burner. It records just like a VCR - you have to start and stop it where you want it.

Other comments:

1. You have options to record at different speeds/quality levels (similar to a VCR).

2. There are three different input connecitions on this model which come in handy although the front connection seems to be a mono only connection.

3. The "tools" menu is somewhat awkward and about the only thing I referred to the manual for was to set the clock - much more difficult than most other functions but isn't that standard on these "high-tech" machines?

4. I have not lost a single disk to errors - I've recorded well over 50 disks.

5. I looked for a machine that was capable of recording DVD to DVD, VHS to DVD, Hi-8 to DVD (camcorder), TV to DVD, and DVR to DVD. This machine does all but you will have to purchase a digital video stabilizer for a couple of the recording options.

6. I did not use I-link thing for the cable box channel changer thingamajig. Too technical for me but I have a DVR w/ its own remote. Works fine without the doohicky.

7. It Plays DVD's! we have an older DVD player with many flaws. As a stand alone player it has great functions for our upgrade.

8. It plays CD's! another great option as our shelf CD player no longer works (been through about 4 shelf systems and they all lost the CD players like clockwork) our DVD player is hooked up to a shelf system.

9. all of the controls on the panel and around the DVDR are all relevant and I can operate the recording/playing w/o the remote control if I ever lose it. (I lose the remote about twice a week).

10. It's a sexy looking machine.
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on September 11, 2005
So far, after 1 month ownership, I have had no problems with this machine. It has two inputs and two outputs in the back + one on the front. Good connectivity, unlike GX315 with only one input on the back. The GX 315 has a 150 minute record option, whereas the GX300 only allows 120 or 180 minute record times.

150 minute gives you higher rez than 180 for those times you need all you can get. At the record times less than 120 minutes I notice less rez with this Sony unit than with the Philips or LG (Zenith) that I own. I bought the Sony to replace my Philips DVDR 985 which is a piece of junk; and Philips still doesn't have its act together with DVD recorders. Do not buy a Philips, even though the slower record times are superior to the Sony. Philips is too problematical. LG is superior in picture at the 4 and 6 hour speeds. A minor complaint, no TV mute button on the remote, and no on-screen record time left, whose presence would be nice. Keep your recordings to 120 minute or less mode though and picture quality is satisfactory. 6 hour record speed on the Sony looked like 8 hour picture quality on the Philips.

Does everything I wanted it to even if I do sacrifice a bit of rez on the Sony I can do it on the LG instead. Hope this was of some help.
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on September 14, 2005
I've been using this recorder for several months, and I can say that I really have no cons to speak about. It records multi-format disks, has cable box control and the picture looks great. The fast/reverse modes work really well and slow motion looks good.

A word of caution about Sony's later model (RDR-GX315): It does not have cable box control and does not have an S-video input on the rear panel - only the front. To me, these are glaring omissions. Since I like these features in the GX300, I will be buying a second unit like this instead of opting for the GX315.
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on December 19, 2004
I did a lot of research on Panasonic and Philips recorders before I purchased the GX300. This unit is very wasy to use as it has a well thought out menu system. I have made many recordings without any problems. I have been using Memorex DVD+RW discs. They have played in every DVD and PC I have tried. In addition I was able to make a great recording of an old VHS tape to a DVD+R.

One feature I didn't expect was that somehow it is able to retrieve the title of a TV show. I set only the time to record a show, say "Law & Order" . Somehow (I don't know exactly how) it is able to retrieve the show title. Later when I look at the titles on the disc it will say "Law & Order" with the date and time.

The IR Blaster works great with my Motorola cable box.

Perhaps the only thing missing is an i-Link port.

If you're looking for a DVD recorder, I highly recommend this.
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on March 24, 2005
END OF SNOW! No, not Christmas! Snow on the screen! It is all over baby! Now is the time to end your VHS era. A SONY GX is a good deal. For SONY equipment I believe this is cheap. Any working Sony RDR-GX series has been a good buy for me. The RDR-GX is the answer to finally packing away that VHS and the VCR into the family time capsule. Using the port inputs I copied over the collection in a month and a bit at my leisure. Now my shelf has 10 times as much space for more DVDs. DVD recorders are bulky. Don't expect to find anything as small as a VCR or a brand new DVD player on the cheap; however there are relatively cheap RDR-GX recorders still in the shops. Go now. Getting anything, especially above the GX3 model or better, is going to last you a long time because the format is here to stay. The RDR-GX is uncomplicated to operate and set-up out of the box. It is simply - television aerial to aerial in, to SCART out, check the `tech specs' to make sure it has the INS and OUTS you want to use, or else you will have to adapt your system to meet the specs. The test of a recorder is in how it handles formatting, recording and more importantly, finalizing DVDs so that they will work on other DVD players, including PCs. The SONY GX can in theory burn a DVD for almost any type of player. If you do not burn your DVDs for all players then what is point if the recorder breaks or a new model comes out that is not backward compatible for some reason? Problem is that none of these manufacturers want you to find a way to get out of their brand (what you learn next here is not in the manual). The truth is that you got to start learning the recording formatting methods from the word go. When a blank DVD media is inserted into the drive it asks you to choose a format sometimes. Don't worry about big print on the screen during formatting, just switch over to your normal channel and not the one the DVD Recorder uses. VR or Video will appear. If you choose Video the recording is locked into the DVD and can not be moved around, like editing. In VR the video is not locked into the DVD and can be edited in the DVD. Problem is that DVD-VR has trouble playing back on some other drives. Using Video format is much more compatible, however you must `finalize' your DVDs. This is done by using in-recorder software tools that finish the DVD so that it can play on other DVD players. Although not all DVDs need to be finalized to do this, you should be able to burn a format that works on a number of other DVD players. The way to do this is with DVD+RW media. If it does not work then switch media brand a few times before resigning to DVD-RW. +RW may not ask you for a formatting mode (VR or Video), in which case the disk just needs to be finalized and it will work on your other players. Another tip is to complete burn DVD media in this system. That means, do not press STOP and let the system stop when the whole DVD is packed. This helps add integrity to the DVD format and information. Stopping a recording can sometimes corrupt a DVD. If you do stop you can sometimes record another piece, and so on, like chapters. However this can cause some DVD media to fail in other systems. There are several recording modes from high definition 60 minute modes to 3 hour extra long playback modes. Test your media compatibility first before you start collecting anything. Get it right from the start. DVD media is prone to failing. Don't sweat. Just test and test and find the solution. It is usually a four step - brand, type, formatting, finalizing. A good brand DVD+RW should help solve most problems. Test your media on your PC every so often to make sure it is good. This is the key to creating very flexible DVD recordings - Global DVDs.

The RDR-GX series can render some PC analogue capture cards useless. This will do all analogue tapes through S-Video or Composite to DVD. Again check specs and you might not have to get a capture board for the PC. As for just sticking with the SONY RDR-GX, well this is why 5 stars. The RDR-GX recorders are rock solid. The media has to be very faulty for this drive to fail. It will burn to almost any DVD media and read from almost any DVD media that it burns. It is 100% reliable as a burner or else it is the media. You can jump in a disc and format it very quickly for a recording you want to make that is a few minutes away from airing knowing safely that you can view that DVD again when it has completely burned to the end (do not trust STOPS). Obviously these DVDs should be backward compatible always with future DVD RW technology recorders, but do the above to be global with your recordings. In that respect this is SONY quality burning on anything and that is very cool. The only reason not to get a RDR-GX is if you want a Hard Drive in the system that can store your video. I have never needed one to be honest. I don't burn DVDs fast enough to need a hard drive. RDR-GX defines faultless DVD technology although takes a bit of working to make it "Faultless Global DVD Technology".
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on June 4, 2005
I had trouble following what Decon Coder and Hockeyrules wrote in their reviews although they both mentioned something that really mattered to me - they were both experienced Philips 985 users.

Now that I've had this product for about a week, it all makes sense to me what they were trying to say.

I couldn't take another month of Disk Errors after giving the 985 nearly two years of chances. It killed me to start recording and go to bed only to wake up the next morning to see that a Disc Error message terminated my recording.

I convinced my wife to let me have an early fathers day present to take advantage of a $349 sale price. I've cranked it up and recorded from every source possible, Cable, VCR, camcorder, etc. Error free every time!

Hockeyrules review is very insightful. There are some feature that Philips offers that Sony should swipe (changing index pictures, splitting titles, needing to check to make sure the right recording speed is used, etc.). It's why I give this product a 4 rating instead of a 5.

The thing I am amazed at is the picture quality. I can play it on any of my players or computers and it's just like watching a rented DVD.

If you buy it, put it through a heavy workload right away. That way you can return it to the store for a full refund knowing that you gave it a shot. I did and I plan on keeping it because I haven't made one coaster yet!

GX300 is worth the investment.
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on June 2, 2006
I bought this item 5/06/06 from circuit city. It was an open box item. I paid about $90. bucks for it. Let me first say that i bought a panasonic a couple of years ago for about $500. It wouldnt record on all formats and finally the slot wouldnt even open to load disk any more. I pawned it. This unit RDRGX300 is remarkable. I did mention it was an open box right? It works flawlessly. I dont even have the instructions but when youve worked with a few of them, the features are pretty simple to figure out. I have no problems and i figure i'll have this for a few years.
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