Presidian PDR-3222 Entry-Level DVD Recorder - Product Review

Presidian PDR-3222 DVD Recorder
Robert Silva

The Presidian PDR-3222 is a DVD Recorder (now discontinued - read the notation at the end of this review), that was sold primarily through Radio Shack. This DVD offered multi-format (DVD-R/-RW/+R/+RW) DVD recording at an extremely low price point. The PDR-3222 didn't offer many of the more advanced features and conveniences of higher-end, name-brand, units - it still offered some practical features for someone looking for a very basic DVD recorder.

DVD Recording Overview

A DVD recorder refers to a standalone unit that resembles and functions very much like a VCR. All DVD recorders can record from any analog video source (most can also record video from digital camcorders via firewire). Like a VCR, DVD recorders all have AV inputs as well as an onboard TV tuner for recording TV shows.

A DVD recorder can be used to copy any homemade videos, such as camcorder videos and videos made from TV shows, and can also copy Laserdiscs, and other non-copy guarded video material.

However, just as you can't copy commercially made video tapes to another VCR due to Macrovision anti-copy encoding, the same applies to making copies to DVD. DVD recorders cannot bypass anti-copy signals on commercial VHS tapes or DVDs. If a DVD recorder detects the anti-copy encoding on a commercial DVD it will not start the recording and display an appropriate message either on the TV screen or on its LED front panel status display.

If you need more info about DVD recording, read my DVD Recorder FAQs before continuing on with this review.

Presidian PDR-3222 Product Overview

In addition to a compact design and Multiformat DVD-R/-RW/+R/+RW Recording, other features of the PDR-3222 include:

1. Front and Rear Panel Composite video and analog stereo audio inputs.

2. Front Panel DV Input for Digital Camcorders.

3. Built-in TV tuner either over-the-air or cable TV recording with an easy onscreen programming menu. However, the 3222 does not feature independent cable box or satellite box control.

4. Standard DVD/CD/CDR/CDRW/MP3-CD/WMA/VCD playback.

5. Composite video inputs and outputs as well as both analog and digital audio outputs.

7. Wireless Remote Control.

8. On-Screen Programming and Menu Setup Display.

9. Well-Illustrated Owner's Manual and Quick Start Guide

10. Bi-directional NTSC/PAL Conversion - Region Code Hackable via Remote.

What I Liked About The Presidian PDR-3222

1. Multi-format DVD-R/-R/+R/+RW recording gives user recording flexibility. Recorded discs on this unit played back successfully on DVD players used for comparison, except for occasional skipping on the older Pioneer DV-341. By the same token, DVDs recorded in other formats (mostly DVD-R and +RW discs) on DVD recorders used for comparison played back on the 3222.

2. Analog and DV video input connections add dubbing flexibility.

3. Progressive Scan Video output capability.

4. NTSC/PAL compatibility and region code unlock with a remote hack. Playback of both NTSC/PAL discs from various regions was successful.

5. The 3222 is very compact, about half the size of a typical DVD Recorder. This unit can be installed without taking up a lot of space.

What I Didn't Like About The Presidian PDR-3222:

1. The 3222 has no S-Video inputs or outputs. This limits the maximum benefit access the best video quality when recording from Hi8 camcorders and S-VHS VCRs that have S-Video connections. The lack of S-Video outputs limits the quality of the video that can be displayed on many pre-HDTVs that feature S-Video input connections.

2. The DV input does not yield as good a result as the composite inputs. Dubs made onto DVD from a Panasonic PV-GS35 mini-DV camcorder, using the 3222's DV input, exhibited motion lag artifacts, but looked satisfactory when using composite video connections.

3. The 3222, although able to play back standard commercial Dolby Digital encoded DVDs, is not capable of playing back DVDs with DTS-only soundtracks or DTS soundtracks on DVDs containing both a Dolby Digital and DTS playback option. For home theater enthusiasts that prefer the audio characteristics of DTS or over Dolby Digital, when available, this is a major drawback if using the 3222 as a principle playback DVD player, in addition to its use as a DVD recorder.

4. No Front Panel LED Display. In other words, you must access the on-screen display menus to set-up and see the status of the DVD recording and playback functions. Unlike many DVD recorders (and even VCRs), there is no time, channel, or other status display on the front panel of the 322. There are only red, green, and yellow indicator lights.

5. Although the 3222 does provide a digital coaxial audio output, it would have been nice to also include a digital optical output for those cases where a such a connection is the only one available on an AV receiver.

Final Take

The Presidian PDR-3222 is an interesting DVD Recorder.

The following are several key points of interest:

1. True to its claim, the 3222 can record in DVD-R/-RW/+R and +RW formats. The Record setup menus are easy to use.

2. The analog video inputs give better results that the iLink/DV/Firewire input. There seems to be a motion lag artifact with using the DV input. However, the recording quality is just average, when compared to the other DVD recorders used for comparison.

3. Unlike most DVD recorders, the 3222 has no S-video inputs, only composite inputs are available.

4. Digital Coaxial audio output is provided, but no digital Optical output

5. Progressive Scan is adequate. According to the Silicon Optix HQV Test Disc, it passes the 480p resolution test but does not do as well on factors, such as jaggie removal, moire elimination, and video noise reduction.

6.The 3222 is not DTS compatible. It can play any DVDs with Dolby Digital, but If you try to access a DTS disc soundtrack, all you get is silence.

7. Music CDs sound OK. However, there is a slight noise in the background as the CD advances to the next track.

8. This unit appears to made by LiteON and looks very similar to their model 1105C, minus Divx playback capability.

Also, one other tip: This unit has a built-in NTSC/PAL converter, and with a region code hack, It is possible to access the Region Code menu and make it Region Code Free as well. As a result, PAL and NTSC DVDs from different DVD regions can play with no problem once the hack is activated.

The Presidian PDR-3222 is not an exceptional performer, but provides adequate features and flexibility for its approximately $100 price tag.

If you are looking for a DVD recorder that is up to home theater performance, the 3222 is not necessarily a good choice.

However, the Presidian PDR-3222 is a very basic unit to get started in DVD recording that can record in the four major DVD recording formats, and can be made region code free - definitely an interesting unit to fool around with.

More Info - The Current State Of DVD Recorders

NOTE: Since the publish date of this review, the Presidian PDR-3222 has long since been discontinued, but you still might be able to find it used on third party auction sites

Also, since about 2010, DVD recorders have steadily become harder to find, with just a few brands and models available. For more details, read my article: Why DVD Recorders Are So Hard To Find

However, if you are still looking for one, check out my DVD Recorder and DVD Recorder/VHS VCR Combination lists for units that may still be available new or used.

Additional Components Used In This Review

Home Theater Receiver: Yamaha HTR-5490,

Loudspeakers: 2 Klipsch B-3s, 1 Klipsch C-3, 2 Optimus LX-5IIs, and a Yamaha YST-SW205 Powered Subwoofer.

Comparison DVD players: KISS DP-470, Samsung DVD-HD931, JVC XV-NP10S, and an older Pioneer DV-341.

Comparison DVD Recorders: Sony RDR-HX900, and Philips DVDR985.

A non-cable box cable TV connection was made to the RF input on the Presidian PDR-3222 for the recording of television programming.

A Pansonic PV-GS35 mini-DV camcorder used to test DV-input recording functions.

Software Used

Blank recordable DVD media included Sony-branded standard 4.7GB DVD-R discs and additional DVD-RW and DVD+RW discs.

Pre-recorded DVDs for additional playback tests included scenes from the following: Kill Bill - Vol1/Vol2, Pirates Of The Caribbean, Chicago, Underworld, Passionada, Moulin Rouge, ED Wood, and The Mummy, as well as video content on DVD-R and DVD+RW discs recorded on other DVD recorders.

For audio only, various CDs included: HEART - Dreamboat Annie, Nora Jones: Come Away With Me, Lisa Loeb: Firecracker, Blue Man Group The Complex, Telarc: 1812 Overture. Also included: The Corrs: In Blue (Dolby Digital). In addition, music content on CD-R/RWs were also used.