Sony DVDirect VRD-MC5 review

Is the medium really the message? First, I had a VHS camcorder, then an S-VHS camcorder and in the early nineties I did a lot of recording on the Hi-8 format. After that I went digital with DV tapes. All of those were messages, right? Messages from the past to the future. Deep stuff. So recently I stumbled across a box with some of my old tapes and I thought it would be cool to save them. I would imagine that many of us have old family videos of vacations or birthday or other special events. So, what is the best way to save them? The general consensus is that burning them on to a DVD disc is the way to go. The challenge is to find the easiest way to do it.

A good choice is the Sony DVDirect VRD-MC5 next generation multi-function recorder. The MC5 transfers AVCHD quality videos to DVD discs in their native 1080i resolution. But, it can also transfer standard–definition videos, depending on your video equipment (VCR, camcorder etc) and there are many things you can do. While it’s true that Sony being Sony, they usually like to work within their own proprietary product family, with the MC5, Sony has relaxed a little and made this burner compatible with most other products.

This Sony is a little chunky and I suppose that’s because of its options and features. As far as connectors, there is a USB port, Digital Video-in port, iLINK FireWire iEEE- 1394, S-Video ports, Composite Video and RCA audio. The right side has three media card slots for SD and SDHC cards, xD cards and Compact Flash cards. Then, there are the Sony memory products including the Memory Stick and Memory Stick Duo. In front, you have the DVD/CD tray and the buttons, record and pause. There is also the 2.5 inch LCD color display for menu and previewing videos and pictures. The card reader lets you transfer photos to burn to DVD. Using JPEG you can transfer some or all and even do a slide show and add music.
For the full set features you’ll need a newer Sony video camcorder (AVCHD), but it already has so many features that any manufacturer’s camcorder/VCR will do fine. For direct transferring from camcorder to DVD there are different approaches: normal recording, full recording, incremental recording, consolidation recording, and DVD burning. The DVD burn is the simplest to use assuming you are using a Sony camcorder, but even with other products it’s not hard.
You get six hours of standard-definition video, up to 95 minutes of AVCHD video and 2,000 digital pictures can be recorded to a 4.7 GB DVD+R/+RW disc. The corresponding record media is DVD+R, DVD-R,DVDR+W and DVD-RW, DVD+r DL MC5 maintains Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound and 4.3 and 16×9 aspect ratios.

I take out my old Sony Hi-8 camcorder, hook it up with S-Video and RCA audio wires and make a DVD. Then I wire it into my PC and watch some of the DVD. It comes out fine, but it was analog so the resolution isn’t that good. In fact, it works just fine. It’s not an editor, but I wish it was; If you want to edit video you have to do it before you transfer your video.
When you copy tapes or pictures, the recording will stop automatically when the content has finished being transferred. This means, if you don’t use the space on the recordable DVD then you don’t have to finalize it and you can then add more content. Having said this, if you do fill up the first DVD disc, the VRD-MC5 will finalize that disc before instructing you to insert the second one.
All-in-all the DVDirect VRD-MC5 works as promised. It’s a little pricey for the category. For full ease of use and functionality it needs a Sony camcorder. Also, it can’t edit, but then they didn’t promise that. Sony stretched by allowing other brands to work with the MC5. For clean copy/recording of video this unit is hard to beat, it’s a very good piece of equipment for anyone who has to burn old tapes. As a byproduct this device also doubles as a standard external DVD burner to use with your PC. I wish it was a little smaller and cheaper but hey, what do you expect, it’s a Sony!