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Consumer Reports Tests DVD/VCR Combo Units

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RALEIGH, N.C. — DVD/VCR combos promise to do it all, so

Consumer Reports

decided to put those claims to the test.

At first glance, a DVD/VCR combo might sound like a good idea, with a DVD player to watch movies and a VCR for recording programs. Salespeople often call the combo units space-savers.

"A lot of people have their TVs in cabinets or entertainment centers. They don't like to have the stacked components," salesperson Cory Shidlofsky said.

Consumer Reports

tested three combo units that cost around $300. The units they tested were from Sharp, Samsung and Go-Video. For DVD playing, each delivered the same crisp picture you get with a regular DVD player.

To assess the VCRs, a tester recorded and played back a tape with a static image used to evaluate picture quality. The Sharp's picture quality was only fair.

"The picture is soft and blurry, and it lacks detail, which you can see in her hair and in her cheeks," tester Maria Grimaldi said.

Another drawback is that the combo units tested are very basic.

Consumer Reports

said they do not give you the biggest bang for the buck.

"Unless space is a consideration, you're probably better off buying a VCR and a DVD player separately. You'll get more features for less money," tester Bob Markovich said.

Among DVD players, testers say the $150 model 5240P from RCA is a good choice. A good VCR is a $100 model VR674CAT from Philips. Unlike the combo units, it has VCR Plus, which makes recording easier. Plus, both machines together cost $50 less than the combo units.

Consumer Reports

also said there is another drawback with any type of combo unit. If one component breaks, you may lose both because they share some circuitry. Plus, you cannot use a combo unit to make a copy of a DVD movie on the VCR.

©2002 Consumers Union of U.S., Inc. All rights reserved.

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