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Sony RDR-HX900

DVD recorder + 160GB digital video recorder with TV Guide® On Screen free program guide

5 Reviews

Item # 158RDRHX9H

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Our take on the Sony RDR-HX900

Sony has a knack for designing innovative, cutting-edge components — and if it happens to be a video component you can count on picture quality that is second to none! With its awesome 160GB hard disk drive and flexible digital recording and playback capabilities, the heavy-hitting RDR-HX900 is true to Sony's reputation.

Sony has a knack for designing innovative, cutting-edge components — and if it happens to be a video component you can count on picture quality that is second to none! With its awesome 160GB hard disk drive and flexible digital recording and playback capabilities, the heavy-hitting RDR-HX900 is true to Sony's reputation.

This multimedia dynamo delivers up to 204 hours of recording time on the built-in hard drive — imagine having 8 days' worth of your favorite TV shows and home videos available at the touch of a button! And Sony's easy-to-use on-screen interface makes it a pleasure to find, organize and edit all of your stored programs. Use the DVD recorder to dub material from the hard drive, and make high-quality DVD copies of your videos to share with friends and family. Sony's multi-format recording capability gives you the choice of using rewritable DVD-RW/+RW discs to record and erase video as often as you wish, or write-once DVD-R/+R discs to make permanent, non-erasable copies.

The 'HX900's TV Guide On Screen program listings make recording your favorite shows from cable or broadcast televison easier than ever. TV Guide's On Screen menu lets you search for programs alphabetically or by category, such as movies or sports, up to 8 days in advance. When you find a show that you want to record, just highlight the listing and press a button to save it to the hard drive or a DVD disc! Best of all, this service comes with no monthly fee, and requires no phone line connection. (TV Guide On Screen data is embedded in the broadcast and cable TV signals.)

With its front-panel i.LINK® (IEEE 1394) input, digital camcorder owners can get in on the action, too. This super-convenient, single-cable hookup makes it easy to connect your camcorder and archive your home movies to DVD. The RDR-HX900 is also our first DVD recorder to offer component video input. Discover the fun of going tape-free!

Consumer Alert: This component has only an analog broadcast tuner and will require a converter box after February 17, 2009, to receive over-the-air broadcasts with an antenna because of the Nation's transition to digital broadcasting. Analog-only TVs should continue to work as before with cable and satellite TV services, gaming consoles, VCRs, DVD players, and similar products. For more information, call the Federal Communications Commission at 1-888-225-5322 (TTY: 1-888-835-5322) or visit the Commission's digital television website at:

Product Highlights:

  • built-in 160GB hard drive for recording/playback
  • TV Guide On Screen 8-day program guide (listings for local broadcast and cable TV) — see "More Photos" for an interactive demo
  • records to DVD-R & DVD-RW, DVD+R & DVD+RW
  • plays DVD-Video, DVD-R & DVD-RW, DVD+R & DVD+RW and Video-CD
  • plays CD, audio CD-R & CD-RW, MP3 CD-R & CD-RW
  • selectable progressive-scan mode for smoother video with HD-compatible TVs (via the component video output)
  • built-in 181-channel NTSC tuner
  • timer recording with VCR Plus+
  • optical and coaxial digital outputs for Dolby® Digital/DTS®/PCM
  • 3 sets of A/V inputs (3 composite, 3 S-video and one component video), including 1 front-panel set
  • 2 sets of A/V outputs (2 composite, 2 S-video, and one 480i/480p component video)
  • HQ+ recording mode (hard drive only) for ultra-high quality recording
  • 6 DVD recording quality/time settings (for recording from 1 to 6 hours on a single disc)
  • RF input/output for antenna/cable signals
  • remote control (multibrand for TVs)
  • 192kHz/24-bit audio D/A converter
  • IR blaster for timer recordings with a cable box
  • 16-15/16"W X 3-1/2"H X 14-5/8"D
  • warranty: 1 year parts and labor
  • Our 60-day money-back guarantee
  • Internal dubbing of copy-protected DVDs is not possible
  • Designed for use with "Region 1" coded DVDs

What's in the Box:

  • DVD Recorder with built-in 160GB hard disk drive
  • Wireless remote control (RMT-D206A)
  • 2 "AA" batteries
  • 80" AC power cord
  • 59" RF coax cable with slip-on "F" connectors on each end
  • 49" A/V patch cord (with stereo audio RCA plugs and composite video plugs on each end)
  • Set top box controller (IR emitter) with 5' cable and 3.5mm mini-plug
  • Double-sided tape (5/8" x 1/2")
  • Operating Instructions
  • Quick Start Guide
  • Warranty sheet
  • On-line product registration sheet
  • Notes on using the TV Guide On Screen system

Sony RDR-HX900 Reviews

Average Customer Review(s):

(5 Reviews)

Sony RDR-HX900 - Remarkable Technology

Brian from Maryland on 8/25/2005

I bought this unit last fall and have been so happy with it that I just bought a second unit yesterday.<BR><BR>This unit comes with the TV-Guide on screen programming menu...that I must say was a little cumbersome at first since the cable stations are not necessarily listed in chronological order. Once I learned that I could arrange the stations as I wanted...all is gold. <BR><BR>I saw that one user says that you have to leave the unit on to record future shows. This is just not true. When a timer recording is scheduled, the unit DOES NOT power up to record like VCR's do. Instead it records the shows without powering up completely. If you look at the unit while it is recording a timer program it appears to be turned off...however, a small red light indicates that it is in fact recording. You can actually turn the unit off while it is actively recording and it will continue to record.<BR><BR>Another great feature of this unit is the capability of dubbing back and forth between the hard drive and DVD. I have a 10" portable DVD player in front of my treadmill that I use in conjunction with this machine. I record a number of shows during the week....I dub them to a DVD's and then watch them on my portable while treadmilling. Pretty cool.<BR><BR>When you dub a program from the hard drive to a DVD and there is not enough space on the DVD, you can select "Auto Dub" from the simple to use interface and the unit will automatically compress the program to fit on the disc which is very nice. The first 4 recording qualities are all excellent.<BR><BR>This unit is also excellent for dubbing home video to DVD and I highly recommend it to anyone considering buying it.



Sony RDR-HX900

Tim from Pasadena, CA on 5/7/2005

I would call this unit, 'nice in theory', but it has several flaws, which makes me wish I had bought another brand. My main problem revolves around using the timer. I record and playback a lot of TV shows. This unit was working acceptably until 3 days ago when I turned it on and was greeted with the default TV Guide screen that asks you to choose which cable line-up you have in your area. The absolute worst part was that all of the shows I had programmed into the timer had been deleted and it failed to record several programs that previous evening. I talked to Sony and they think it was a power hit or surge. I have this unit connected to a surge protector and none of the other appliances I have (including an older VCR with no battery back-up) were affected. This is very unnerving and I blame it on the TV Guide feature. This should be an OPTION and NOT integrated with the functionality of the unit's tuner and program timer. Apparently there is no way to bypass it.<BR><BR>The timer itself is very complicated to manually set and is inflexible. Also material recorded in the EP mode looks like crap. This is equivalent to the VHS 6 hr mode, which looks a lot better on tape than when played back in this unit. In addition, I have a slightly damaged disk, which this machine will not play back. The previous DVD player I had (Panasonic) played the damage sections back with a bit of skipping. This unit will not.<BR><BR>On the positive side, the unit does have a lot of features, many of which I will never use. I think if you want a good, basic DVD recorder with a hard drive look somewhere else and definitely look somewhere without the TV Guide feature.



Sony RDR-HX900 DVD Recorder

Peter from Alexandria, VA on 3/25/2005

After you get to the top of the learning curve this machine is turning out to be quite handy and easy to use and program. The nice thing is that it records in virtually all DVD formats except for DVD RAM, so you have a lot of room to work with other peoples DVD players (or your own) in case they can't play some of the formats.<BR><BR>Contrary to one of the previous reviews, you don't have to leave the unit turned on if you program it to record a broadcast sometimes in the future. The manual makes this a distinct point. What you have to watch out for is that the unit itself seems to be still off 2-3 minutes past the programmed recording start time, but don't be fooled; it is actually recording except for some reason the lights don't come on until about 3-4 minutes have passed. Scary at first but once you know what's going on, who cares.<BR><BR>If you have satellite service like DirecTV, you can forget about the TVGuide feature, since most satellite and cable providers want you to use their program guides, and not some OEM's. So the TVGuide does not work with DirecTV, and the manual talks about this at length. The problem is that you cannot turn off the TVGuide feature, so the HX900 keeps on searching for the signal, resulting in a continuous "fan" noise from the unit, even when it is turned off. You can get rid of this by following the manual's instructions to the letter, that is you have to set the "Set Top Box controller" to "On", and correctly enter your Satellite or Cable box receiver's manufacturer's code. Remember, there is a difference between cable box and satellite box, so don't use the wrong one even if it's from the same brand.



Exceptional product!!

Scott from Mankato, MN on 2/25/2005

I purchased this machine about 2 weeks ago. It is everything Sony says it is. I've had zero problems with it. Set up is simple. <BR><BR>The TV Guide program is great. After hooking the machine up for the first time, you need to leave it turned off for a minimum of 24 hours for the TV Guide to download its information into the machine. After that, all the programming is at your fingertips. You can view the next 8 days worth of programming, making it easy to record your favorite shows. Contrary to what the other reviewer said, the machine WILL record all of your programs when it is off. The only thing it won't do is record 2 programs during the same time slot. But TIVO won't do that either. Plus, by leaving the machine off, it allows the TV Guide to continue to download it's programing. This machine does everything a TIVO machine will do, without the phone line. <BR><BR>The ability to use multiple disc formats is great. Just make sure you know which format the DVD player you want to use your burned disc in accepts, and you'll be fine. <BR><BR>This machine also works great to transfer your old video tapes to a DVD. It is a very simple process, and a great way to make the wife happy by moving your wedding videos to a DVD.<BR><BR>The DVD player is great, and the ease of use is the same as the rest of the player. Very good quality. The on screen menu's are really nice as well.<BR><BR>With the cost of this machine at $800, it is a lot to pay. But I would recommend this product to anyone. Now I wonder why I put up with a VCR for as long as I did.



Sony RDR-HX900

Bruce from Maryland on 2/17/2005

Unit worked for 6 weeks and now is back for repair due to a hard disk failure. So much for the Super Bowl I had stored on the hard drive.<BR>The TV Guide is a pain as the cable link transmitter constantly switches cable channels to look for information which makes using your cable box to watch a program impossible. <BR>Also if you want to record a program several days ahead you must leave the unit turned on. It will not wake up to record. Multiple recording media options are nice in theory but buying DVD R+ discs is a waste of money as most other players can't read them. I tried burning a movie for the kids and putting in a Honda car DVD player which could not read it. Stick with DVD R- discs.<BR>On screen prompts are good and you can easily review programs you have stored on the hard drive.




Hands-on research

Product Research

Inputs and Outputs Notes


Product Overview: The Sony RDR-HX900 can record video and audio to blank DVD-R, DVD-RW, DVD+R, and DVD+RW discs, or to the built-in 160 GB HDD (Hard Disk Drive). The unit has a front panel DV input jack (also referred to as iLINK or IEEE1394) for dubbing from Mini DV and Digital 8 camcorders. Three line inputs (two on the rear and one on the front) allow you to record from several sources. The built-in TV tuner, along with VCR Plus+ and TV Guide On Screen, let you program your DVD recorder to catch your favorite TV shows.

Blank Disc Types: This unit can record on four types of blank DVDs. Here are the major differences in the disc types:

  • DVD-R: You can record only once on DVD-R discs (8x speed or slower, Ver.2.0)--they are not erasable or rewritable. You can readily play finalized DVD-R discs on other DVD equipment.
  • DVD+R: You can record only once on a DVD+R disc (8x speed or slower)--they are not erasable or rewritable. You can playback only on DVD+R compatible players.
  • DVD+RW: You can erase and record over previously recorded material, however, it is more difficult to edit recorded contents without another recorder. DVD+RW discs can be played back on DVD+RW compatible players. (Compatible with 4x speed or slower DVD+RW discs)
  • DVD-RW: You can erase and record over previously recorded material. (Compatible with 2x speed or slower DVD-RW Ver.1.1, Ver.1.1 with CPRM). This disc can be formatted in two different recording modes:
    • DVD Video Format (Video Mode): Disc recorded in this mode can be played in many other DVD players, but editing is more difficult.
    • DVD Video Recording Format (VR mode): Discs recorded in this mode won't playback in other DVD players as readily (VR compatible players only). Recorded material can be edited right on the disc without disturbing the original recordings. You can also manually create chapters whenever you like instead of at fixed time intervals as on other discs or DVD-RW in Video mode.

      Note: Discs that cannot be recorded on include: 4x-speed compatible DVD-RWs (Ver.1.2/4x), DVD-RWs (Ver 1.0), DVD+RWs that are not 2.4x speed compatible, dual layer discs, or 8 cm discs.

Recording Speeds: You can select from six variable bit-rate speeds when recording to a blank DVD or seven speeds for the HDD. The picture quality generally improves as the recording time decreases. The recording speeds and approximate recording times are:

Recording Mode 4.7 GB DVD Recording Time 160GB HDD Recording Time
HQ (High Quality) 1 hour HQ+*: 21 hours
HQ: 33 hours
HSP 1.5 hours 51 hours
SP (Standard mode) 2 hours 67 hours
LP 3 hours 103 hours
EP 4 hours 137 hours
SLP (Long Duration) 6 hours 204 hours

* HQ+ records pictures in higher quality than HQ on the HDD. "HQ" appears in the display.

Dubbing: You can copy a recorded title on the internal HDD to another disc, or vice versa. You can select to dub one title at a time, or multiple titles at once. You cannot dub copy-protected DVDs to the HDD, or a program containing copy-protection signals from the HDD to the DVD. There are two dubbing methods:

  • High-speed Dubbing: allows you to dub from the HDD to a high-speed DVD (4x-speed DVD+RWs, 2x-speed DVD-RWs, 8x-speed DVD+Rs, 8x-speed DVD-Rs, or slower versions of each type) without changing the recording mode. You can dub up to 24x speed, depending upon the recording speed the program was originally recorded in, and the write speed of the disc. (The 24x speed is reached when a program recorded in SLP mode is dubbed to an 8x-speed DVD-R.)
  • Rec Mode Conversion Dubbing: allows you to dub from the HDD to a DVD, or vice versa, in a dubbing mode that differs from the original recordings. For example, when you dub an HQ title with its large data size in SP mode, you reduce the data size, saving more titles using less space.

Chasing Playback: The Chasing Playback feature, available when recording to the HDD and DVD-RW discs in VR mode, allows you to view the beginning of a program while it is being recorded. You do not need to wait until the recording finishes. Playback starts at the beginning, and you can fast forward to the point that you are recording.

Simultaneous Record and Play:  Simultaneous Record and Play allows you to view a previously recorded program while recording another program. Playback continues, even if a timer recording starts. While recording to the HDD, you can play another title on the HDD or play a previously recorded program on DVD. While recording to a DVD, you can play a previously recorded program on the HDD. While recording to a DVD-RW (VR mode), you can play another title on the same disc.

Instant Replay/Instant Advance: Instant Replay jumps backward several seconds to let you replay a scene or portion of dialog you may have missed, while Instant Advance jumps ahead several seconds to quickly skip to another scene.

D/A Converters: This unit is equipped with a 12-bit video digital-to-analog converter with 108 MHz processing for high quality video performance. It also has a 96 kHz, 24-bit audio digital-to-analog converter for playback of multi-channel Dolby Digital and DTS-encoded soundtracks.

Audio CD/MP3 Playback: The RDR-HX900 can playback audio CDs, CD-R, CD-RW, and MP3 files recorded onto Data CDs (CD-ROM, CD-R, CD-RW). The MP3s must be recorded in ISO9660 Level 1, Level 2, or Joliet format for the recorder to recognize the tracks. The recorder can recognize up to 499 MP3 audio tracks within a single folder. ID3 Tags cannot be displayed.

Copy Protection/Copy Control: Pictures with copy protection cannot be recorded on this DVD/HDD recorder. When the recorder receives a copy guard signal while recording, the unit continues to record, but only a blank, gray-colored screen will be recorded. 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 on the HDD or with any compatible blank disc type. Copy-Never encoded signals can not be recorded on this unit. Copy-Once programs can be recorded on the HDD or on a DVD-RW disc formatted in the VR mode, and can be played only on CPRM-compatible equipment.

DV Dubbing: You can transfer the contents from a MiniDV or Digital 8 digital video camera to the DVD/HDD recorder. When the two units are connected via an i-LINK cable, the recorder's remote controls the camcorder, allowing you to fast forward, rewind, play in slow motion, and stop the tape to select the scenes you want to record. A single i-LINK cable is required for connecting the camcorder and DVD recorder (item #158VMC4415).

TV Tuner: The recorder has a built-in 181-channel TV tuner that is shared by both the HDD and DVD, so you cannot simultaneously record different programs on the DVD and HDD. Once the recorder has been connected to the antenna or cable, the Easy Setup guides you through the steps of setting the time, date, and searching for receivable channels.

Recording TV Programs: The RDR-HX900 allows you to record programs in several ways:

  • Manual Recording: Record the currently tuned channel until you stop the recorder or the disc is full.
  • Quick Timer: Record the currently tuned channel in 30-minute increments up to 6 hours.
  • Timer Recording: Set the timer for a total of 30 programs, up to one month in advance. You select the recorder you wish to use. There are three types of timer recordings:
    • Manual Timer:, You set the date, time and channel of the program manually.
    • VCR Plus+: You can enter the PlusCode number (found in newspaper or TV Guide listings) for each TV program you want to record. The date, time, channel and program duration are automatically set.
    • TV Guide On Screen: The TV Guide On Screen system automatically displays a free television program list up to eight days in advance, for a maximum of 120 channels. The data for each television program is carried by local broadcast stations and is received through the antenna or cable box. You can search for a program by listing them according to category or in alphabetical order. Once you have found the program you are looking for, the TV Guide On Screen system sets the timer for recording.

Editing: This DVD recorder offers various options for editing recorded material. Basic editing functions include setting protection against erasure, labeling a title, erasing a title, erasing multiple titles, and erasing a section of a title (A-B Erase). Some discs offer more advanced editing options such as creating and editing playlists, rearranging the title order, dividing a title into multiple titles, and combining multiple titles into one title.

TVS (TV Virtual Surround): TVS was developed by Sony to produce home surround sound with just a stereo TV, and works only with multichannel Dolby Digital soundtracks. There are five TVS settings:

  • TVS Dynamic: creates one set of virtual rear speakers
  • TVS Wide: creates five sets of virtual rear speakers
  • TVS Night: creates five sets of virtual rear speakers--effective at low volume
  • TVS Standard: creates three sets of virtual rear speakers--effective when you use two separate front speakers
  • TVS Off: no surround effect

Child Lock: You can lock all of the buttons on the recorder so the settings are not canceled or a disc is ejected by mistake.

Parental Control: You can restrict playback of some DVD videos according to a predetermined level, such as the age of the users. Scenes may be blocked or replaced by different scenes. The parental control feature is protected by a 4-digit password.

Remote Control: The supplied remote control (RMT-D206A) can control the DVD recorder, as well multiple brands of TVs (basic functions) and A/V receivers (volume only). 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.

Inputs and Outputs Notes

A/V Inputs: This recorder features 3 audio/video inputs--two on the rear panel, and one on the front. These inputs include stereo audio RCA jacks, as well as composite and S-Video jacks.

Component Video Input: You can connect a cable box, satellite receiver, or other component with component video outputs to the DVD recorder. You cannot connect an HDTV tuner to the component video input, because it is compatible with standard definition interlaced signals only.

A/V Outputs: There are two audio/video output (labeled "Line Out 1 & 2") on the rear panel, which includes stereo audio RCA jacks, composite video and S-Video jacks.

Component Video Output: The recorder can output video from the DVD and HDD through the unit's component video outputs. You can select interlaced or progressive scan playback from the component output.

Digital Outputs: This unit offers a coaxial digital and a Toslink optical digital output. These outputs are compatible with Dolby Digital and DTS, so you can connect the recorder to a surround sound receiver built-in with Dolby Digital (DVD and HDD) and DTS decoders (DVD only). You can also use the digital outputs to connect the DVD recorder to a MiniDisc or DAT deck. Note: You must select the proper settings in the setup menu for the type of digital output you desire.

DV Input: The front panel DV input allows you to connect the recorder to a MiniDV or Digital 8 camcorder with a DV jack via a single 4-pin i-LINK cable. It is compatible with the i-LINK standard, and allows you dub from the DV-compatible device to the recorder. The DV IN jack is for input only. Note: Micro-MV format digital video cameras are not compatible with this recorder, even though they may have an i-LINK jack.

VHF/UHF In/Out: The VHF/UHF In jack allows you to input antenna and cable TV signals into the unit for recording your favorite programs. The VHF/UHF out jack outputs the antenna/cable TV signal, however the video signal from the DVD or HDD is not output through the VHF/UHF jack.

Set Top Box Control: The RDR-HX900 can control several brands of cable boxes and satellite receivers using the supplied Set Top Box Control. The IR emitter, which plugs into the 3.5mm mini-jack on the rear panel, can be attached to the cable box/satellite receiver, and can tune the set top box to the proper channel for timer recording. The DVD recorder does not have to be powered on in order to change the channel on a compatible set top box.

Control S: You can control the DVD recorder by pointing the remote at the TV when the Control S connections are made to each component. A Control S cable, a mono mini-cable, is not supplied. Note: The TV's input will not automatically switch to the DVD recorder when a disc is played.

G-Link: The 3.5mm mini-jack labeled "G-Link" is for service use only--it is not for use by the consumer.

Our Product Research Team

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