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Sony RDR-GX355

DVD recorder with digital video output and upconversion

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  • Sony RDR-GX355

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  • Sony RDR-GX355

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  • Sony RDR-GX355

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Item #: 158GX355
 

Review Summary

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Our take on the Sony RDR-GX355

by Loren Barstow
Sony

Capture all your favorite shows on durable DVDs with the Sony RDR-GX355. This flexible recorder lets you choose from eight different "speeds" to find just the right combination of picture quality and recording length. Though it has no built-in tuner of its own, it can control most cable boxes and satellite receivers for hassle-free timer recording. A front-panel digital camcorder input with one-touch controls makes it easy to dub your home movies to DVD for archiving or sharing with friends and family. And the 'GX355 can upconvert DVD video to better match the resolution of your high-def TV, making it a great DVD player as well.

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Highlights:

  • no built-in TV tuner — requires a connection to a cable box or satellite receiver
  • includes IR flasher for controlling cable boxes and satellite receivers
  • upconverts and displays DVD video at 720p or 1080i via HDMI digital interface
  • separate adapter available for TVs with DVI input
  • selectable progressive-scan playback for smoother video with HD-compatible TVs (via the component video output)
  • 8 recording quality settings
  • one-touch recording
  • optical and coaxial digital audio outputs for Dolby® Digital/DTS®/PCM
  • front-panel digital camcorder input (IEEE 1394)
  • 2 sets of audio/video inputs (2 composite, 1 S-video) including 1 front-panel
  • 1 set audio/video outputs (composite, S-video, component, HDMI)
  • can pass audio and video from a connected cable box or satellite receiver when powered off
  • records to the following types of discs:
    • write-once DVD-Rs and DVD+Rs, including dual-layer discs, for making permanent recordings
    • rewritable DVD-RWs and DVD+RWs, for making recordings you can watch and then erase
  • plays DVD-Video, DVD-R & DVD-RW, DVD+R & DVD+RW, DVD+R DL, DVD-RAM, and Video CD
  • plays audio CD, CD-R & CD-RW, and MP3 CDs
  • plays digital picture CDs (JPEG)
  • remote control
  • 16-15/16"W x 2-11/16"H x 12-1/4"D
  • warranty: 1 year
  • Our 60-day money-back guarantee
  • designed for use with "Region 1" coded DVDs

Hands-on research from the Crutchfield Labs (what are the Labs?)

Features and Specs
General
Number of Discs
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1
Hard Drive Recorder
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No
Hard Drive Capacity
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N/A
Multibrand Remote
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Yes
Parts Warranty
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1 Year
Labor Warranty
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1 Year
Compatibility
CD-R Capable
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Yes
CD-R/W Capable
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Yes
MP3 Playback
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Yes
WMA Playback
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No
SACD Playback
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No
DVD-Audio Playback
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No
Inputs
RCA Audio Inputs
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2
Composite Video Inputs
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2
S-Video Inputs
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1
Component Video Inputs
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No
Outputs
HDMI Outputs
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1
S-Video Outputs
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1
Component Video Outputs
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1
RS-232C Port
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None
Product Research
What's in the box?

Download owner's manual

  • DVD recorder
  • RMT-D243A wireless remote control
  • 2 "AA" batteries
  • 48" Audio/video cord (has left and right RCA audio connectors and an RCA composite video connector on each end)
  • IR repeater with attached 10' cord terminated by a 3.5mm minijack plug
  • Small section of two-sided tape
  • Operating Instructions (English/Spanish)
  • Quick Start Guide
  • Warranty sheet
  • On-line product registration sheet

Our Product Research Team

At Crutchfield, you'll get detailed, accurate information that's hard to find elsewhere. That's because we have our own in-house Product Research team — they open the box, verify contents, check the owner's manual, and record dimensions, features and specs. We stay on top of new products and technologies to help people make informed choices.

Features
Input and Output Notes

Features

Product Overview: The Sony RDR-GX355 can record video and audio to blank DVDs, using two types of rewritable discs, DVD-RW and DVD+RW, as well as write-once DVD-R and DVD+R discs. Two line inputs (one on the rear and one on the front) allow you to record from several sources.

Note: This DVD recorder does not include a TV tuner and there are no antenna coax terminals present. To record TV programs on this DVD recorder, you need to connect the DVD recorder to a tuner that has RCA audio/composite video output jacks.

Multi-Disc Compatibility: The Sony RDR-GX355 DVD recorder is compatible with the following discs formats.

  • Recordable And Playable Discs: The unit will record and playback the following 12cm DVD-video discs.
    • DVD+R (up to 16x speed), DVD+RW (up to 8x speed), DVD+R DL (up to 8x speed), DVD-R (up to 16x speed), and DVD-RW (up to 6x speed),
  • Playable Only Discs: The unit can playback the following discs but cannot record to them.
    • DVD-video, DVD-RAM, Video CD, CD, CD-R, CD-RW, Data CD, Data DVD, and 8cm DVD-R/W and DVD+RW

MP3 Playback: This unit will play MP3 files recorded onto CD-R, CD-RW, DVD-R, DVD-RW, DVD+R, and DVD+RW discs using the ISO 9660 level 1/level 2 and Joliet formats. The recorder will recognize a maximum of 499 audio tracks within an album. Only one session of a multi-session MP3 recording on DVD can be played. The DVD recorder is not compatible with the MP3PRO and will not display ID3 tags.

JPEG Playback: The DVD recorder will play JPEG image files recorded onto CD-R, CD-RW, DVD-R, DVD-RW, DVD+R, and DVD+RW discs using the ISO 9660 level 1/level 2 and Joliet formats. The recorder will recognize a maximum of 999 audio tracks within a folder. Only one session of a multi-session recording on DVD can be played. JPEG images can be enlarged, rotated and played in a slide show manner. When a disc contains both MP3 audio tracks and JPEG image files, you can enjoy a slide show with sound

HDMI Output With 1080i DVD Upscaling: The RDR-GX355 reads the data on a standard DVD at 480P and upscales the video resolution to 720p or 1080i resolution to match your compatible HDTV. This allows for you to enjoy the best in video performance while delivering digital video and audio over one simple HDMI cable.

Recording Speeds: You can select from eight variable bit-rate speeds when recording a DVD. The picture quality generally improves as the recording time decreases. The recording speeds and approximate recording times on a 4.7GB blank disc are:

Recording Mode Recording Time
HQ (High quality) 60 minutes
HSP 90 minutes
SP (Standard mode) 120 minutes
LSP 150 minutes
ESP 180 minutes
LP 240 minutes
EP 360 minutes
SLP (Super long play) 480 minutes

Recording: The RDR-GX355 offers several ways to record:

  • Manual Recording: Record a currently tuned channel from your connected cable box/satellite receiver or line input from another source until you stop the recorder or the disc is full
  • Quick Timer (One Touch Recording): Each press of a button records the currently tuned channel in 30-minute increments, up to 8 hours (14 hours, 30 minutes if using a dual layer disc)
  • Timer Recording: Set the timer for a total of 12 programs up to one month in advance, set the date, time, channel, and recording mode (speed) of the program manually
  • Synchronized Recording: Set the DVD recorder to automatically record from a connected component that has a timer function (cable box or satellite receiver), when the other component turns on, the recording starts automatically
  • One Touch Dubbing Via DV Input: The unit features a DV Input and an "One Touch Dubbing" button on the front panel which allows for the easy copying of your personal content from a DV/Digital 8 camcorder to a DVD disc in order to preserve your recordings for a long time, or to share it with your relatives and friends.

Creating Chapters: The DVD recorder will automatically divide a recording (a title) into chapters by inserting chapter marks at 5 or 15-minute intervals during recording. If you do not want to divide titles you can turn this feature off.

Record Timer Overlap: If your timer settings overlap, the program that starts first has priority and the second program starts recording only after the first program has finished. If the programs start at the same time, the program listed first in the menu has priority. If the end time of one setting and the start time of another timer setting is the same, the beginning of the program that starts later will be cut.

Copy Protection: Pictures with copy protection, including most commercially-recorded DVDs, cannot be recorded on this DVD recorder. The recorder stops when it detects a copy guarded signal. Some broadcasts that contain Copy Control signals may have one of three signal types: Copy-Free, Copy-Once, or Copy-Never. The recorder limits the recording according to the copy protection signal. Copy-Free encoded signals can be recorded at any time with any compatible blank disc type. Copy-Never encoded signals can not be recorded on this unit. Copy-Once programs can be recorded on a DVD-R/RW disc formatted in the VR mode, and can be played only on CPRM-compatible equipment.

Basic Editing: Basic editing is possible on DVD-R, DVD+R, DVD+RW, DVD-RW VR Mode and DVD-RW Video Mode:

  • Rename Title: Enter a title name up to 32 characters
  • Erase Title: Erase the entire title
  • Protect Title (DVD+RW only): Protects title from accidental erasure
  • Divide Title (DVD+RW only): Choose a point to divide a title

Advanced Editing: In addition to basic editing, video recorded on DVD-RW in VR mode can be edited further:

  • Erase Chapter: Erase individual chapters within a title
  • Playlist Edit: Create a playlist on the same disc as the original recordings without disturbing the original recording, the playlist allows you to play the recorded scenes in any order, since a playlist doesn't require much disc space, you can create numerous playlists on one disc
  • Combine Titles: Allows you to combine two titles into one
  • A-B Erase: You can erase an unwanted portion of an original recording by selecting a starting point (A) and an ending point (B) of the portion you want deleted

Fast Forward With Sound: You can play back video quickly with dialogue or sound during Fast Forward 1 of a DVD with Dolby Digital soundtracks.

On-Screen Display: The following three On-Screen Display Menus are mainly used to operate this DVD recorder.

  • System Menu: The System Menu provides entries to all of the recorder's main functions such as Title List, Timer, Edit, DV/D8 Dubbing, Disc Setting and Setup.
  • Sub-Menu: The Sub-Menu displays options applicable only to the selected item from the main System Menu. The displayed options differ depending on the situation and disc type.
  • Options: The Options Menu allows you to search for a Title/Chapter/Track, check the playing and remaining time of a disc, or change settings for Audio/Angle/Subtitle. The displayed options differ depending on the media type.

TV Type: This feature allows you to select the aspect ratio of the unit's video output to match your television. You can select from 16:9 Wide, 4:3 Letter Box, or 4:3 Pan Scan.

Black Level: This feature allows you to raise the standard black level when the TV's picture appears too dark.

Picture Control: This feature allows you to adjust the video signal from the DVD recorder to obtain the picture quality you want. You can choose from the following settings.

  • Dynamic 1: produces a bold dynamic picture by increasing the picture contrast and the color
  • Dynamic 2: produces a more dynamic picture than the Dynamic 1 setting by further increasing the picture contrast and the color
  • Standard: displays a standard pictures
  • Cinema 1: white colors become brighter and black colors become richer and the color contrast is increased
  • Cinema 2: enhances details in dark areas by increasing the black level
  • Personal: allows you to adjust the Contrast, Brightness, Color and Hue independently and manually

Dynamic Range Control: This feature makes the sound clear when the volume is turned down when playing a DVD that conforms to "Audio DRC". You can choose from the following settings.

  • Standard: normal position
  • TV Mode: makes low sounds clear even if you turn the volume down
  • Wide Range: gives you the feeling of being at a live performance

Virtual Surround: When you connect the unit to a TV or a stereo receiver with two speakers, virtual surround lets you enjoy surround sound effects by using sound imaging to create virtual rear speakers from two speakers. There are three levels of virtual surround - Surround 1, Surround 2, and Surround 3, creating progressively more surround effect. The surround effect is only output from the analog RCA audio jacks, not digital.

Set Top Box Control: This function allows the DVD recorder to control your cable box or satellite receiver via the supplied set top box controller IR repeater. You can then use the DVD recorder's remote control to change channels on your cable box/satellite receiver whenever the cable box/satellite receiver and the DVD recorder are turned on. You will need to register a code from your cable/satellite box to the DVD recorder from the supplied owner's manual.

Parental Control: You can restrict playback according to a predetermined level. You can select a parental control rating from 1-8, which is protected by a 4-digit password. There is also a child lock which disables all the recorder's buttons.

Child Lock: You can lock all of the buttons on the recorder so that the settings are not canceled by mistake.

Display Dimmer: You can set the display to Bright, Dim, Auto (dims when power is off) or Off (turns off the lighting when power is off and maintains the lighting when power is on.

Remote Control: The supplied remote control (RMT-D243A) can control the DVD recorder, as well multiple brands of TVs (basic functions). If you own a Sony DVD player or another recorder, you can change the Command Mode of the recorder to one that doesn't interfere with the other player or recorder.

Input and Output Notes

Front Panel A/V Input: The DVD recorder features a composite video and S-video input along with a pair of left and right RCA audio inputs on the front panel behind a manual fold-down door.

DV Input: The DVD recorder also feature a DV IN jack on the front panel of the unit behind the same fold-down door. The unit's DV input conforms to the iLINK standard. This input allows you to connect a digital video camera to the DVD recorder via an i.LINK cable so you can record or edit from a DV/Digital8 format tape.

Rear Panel A/V Input: The unit features a rear panel composite video input along with a set of stereo audio RCA jacks.

HDMI Output: The RDR-GX355 features an HDMI output for transfer of digital video and audio via a single cable to your HDTV.

Video Outputs: The RDR-GX355 has a composite video, S-video, and component video output. Either interlaced or progressive video can be output through the component video jacks.

Analog Audio Outputs: There are 2 sets of analog RCA audio outputs on the rear panel.

Digital Audio Outputs: This unit features an optical and coaxial digital output to connect to your Dolby Digital/DTS receiver. The HDMI Out jack cannot output Dolby Digital/DTS signals, so either the optical or coaxial digital output must be connected to your home theater receiver to enjoy Dolby Digital/DTS surround sound.

Set Top Box Control: This 3.5mm minijack port allows for connection of the supplied IR repeater. When connected, the IR repeater allows the recorder to control a cable box or satellite receiver.

 
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Sony RDR-GX355 Reviews

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2 out of 5

Has a few issues.

Written By broderp, Dayton, Ohio on Friday, March 21, 2008
 
The good:
Typical excellent Sony picture. Nice upconversion to 1080i, but you might want to check your TV sets native resolution, some TV's like my sony will automatically upconvert and the TV processing can be better than what this DVD player can provide on it's own.

Records from camcorder just fine, very good picture quality.

The bad:
Picture locks up during random times on DVD playback, but usually somewheres around the 50-60 minute mark. Video just stops, or shutters. This goes on for about 5 -10 minutes then playback resumes. Almost like the layer change on the DVD cause havok on the drive or system hardware.

It does this on 6 out of 10 DVD's, and these DVD's are NEW out of box, not rentals or scratched. All these DVD's play flawlessly on my other players or PC.

I bought a second one 7 months later, and it to has the same problem. Perhaps theres a firmware ugrade that can fix this.

Fixing these issues, I would give this unit 4.5 stars.
3 out of 3 people found this helpful
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4 out of 5

Great Product!

Written By Randy, Topeka, KS on Tuesday, March 04, 2008
 
Although I am new to HD plasma, this one gets the job done. I also have the Logitech Harmony 880 remote which complements this along with about everything else that uses RF in my house! At any rate, if I could just figure out the progressive vs. 1080i upscaling feature, I think my 50" Panasonic plasma would be much happier, but even so, this is a great buy!
5 out of 10 people found this helpful
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