Until someone invents a transporter, traveling is inevitably going to involve long periods of boredom.
Neuros has come up with an nice way to fill up these empty hours: a video recorder specifically designed for creating files for playback on a handheld, smartphone, or even a Playstation Portable.
Tons of Options
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There’s a lot to like about the MPEG-4 Recorder 2. It’s best feature is how flexible it is.
It has a wide variety of recording options. This lets you pick the one that’s right for you.
If you have a smartphone with a small screen, you can record video thats just 176 by 120 pixels. If, on the other hand, your handheld has a VGA screen, your recordings can be as big as 640 by 480 pixels.
No one has in infinite amount of storage, so controlling the size of your recordings is important. The MPEG-4 Recorder 2 gives you numerous options to reduce your files sizes.
For example, when I want to record a show that’s a couple of hours long, I use 320 by 240 pixels, 15 frames per second, and Economical quality. This gives me a video that’s quite viewable and takes up about 220 MB.
Or you can go up to 640 by 480 pixels, 30 fps, Super Fine, which looks great even on a TV… but takes up almost 15 MB a minute.
This brings up an important point. If you’re considering this video recorder, you need at least a 512 MB memory card, and a 1 GB one would be better. High capacity cards have become relatively inexpensive lately, so this isn’t a big deal, but it’s something to keep in mind.
It doesn’t matter what type of memory card your mobile device uses; odds are it’s compatible with the MPEG-4 Recorder 2. It has slots for CompactFlash, SD, and Memory Stick Pro. If your device uses another format, there are adapters out there for one of these slots.
I’m not going to make you guess what the videos created by this recorder look like. Below are some samples. Each is about a minute long. They were taken from a DVD with a slight letterbox, so the black bars aren’t caused by the recorder.
You can look at these with your browser, but I’d suggest you download them and play them on the mobile device you’d use if you got this recorder.
|640 x 480||Super Fine||13.6 MB||Download|
|320 x 240||Economic||1.7 MB||Download|
|176 x 144||Normal||1.6 MB||Download|
This device also gives you several different options for recording:
- Auto Record — Begin recording as soon as a memory card is inserted.
- Push Button — Just push the “Record” button on the remote to start. Will keep recording until manually stopped or the memory card is full
- Quick Setup — After being manually started, this device will keep recording for a pre-set amount of time (like one or two hours)
- Timer Record — Start and stop recording at specified times
You also have lots of flexibility in what you record. You can hook the MPEG-4 Recorder 2 up to pretty much any piece of AV equipment out there and make a recording. If it can play on your TV, you can record it. Cable TV, VHS tapes, DVDs, you name it.
Not Without Its Limitations
The Neuros MPEG-4 Recorder 2 has only one really significant problem: it doesn’t have a built-in TV tuner. This requires you to hook it up to another piece of equipment that does have one, like your cable box or VCR.
And the Recorder 2 has no way to control what channel it’s on. As I said, it’s possible to set this device up to record a show at a specific time, but you can’t set what channel to use. The only way to do that is on the external piece of AV equipment I just mentioned. In short, there’s no direct way to pre-set this device to record shows on different channels.
I’ve come up with a work-around for this. It isn’t ideal, but it does what I need. As I said, you can connect the Recorder 2 to a VCR. If you set the VCR to record some shows at specific times and channels, and set the Neuros device to record at those same times, you’ll get MPEG-4 versions of the shows you want, and VHS versions of them, too.
Speaking of setting up VCRs, think about the most difficult one to program you’ve ever used. I’ll bet you the Neuros MPEG-4 Recorder 2 is worse. You program it on-screen with a little wireless remote, but the process just isn’t intuitive and takes much too long. Just inputing the starting and ending times can take a hundred or so button presses.
It’s possible to install firmware updates on this gizmo, and I sincerely hope Neuros improves the setup software.
Another thing I’m hoping can be fixed with a firmware update is a limitation in the capacity of file sizes it can work with. Currently, the Recorder 2 maxes out at 1 gigabyte. If you put in a 2 GB card and start recording, it will stop after 1 GB and then start a new recording file.
There’s one more hassle with this device: you’re responsible for getting your own player. I suppose, with all the handhelds, smartphones, and portable digital players out there it would be a bit much for Neuros to provide software for everyone of them, but it is an extra step you should be aware of.
Whether you’re using a Palm or one of the Windows Mobile versions, there’s just one application you need: TCPMP. It works well and it’s free (though a donation would be nice).
The Neuros MPEG-4 Recorder 2 is a handy little gadget. It greatly simplifies the process of moving TV shows onto your favorite mobile device.
It’s got a few drawbacks, though, and at $150 isn’t exactly an impulse buy.
Still, I’d recommend it for people who want to be able to watch recordings of their favorite shows when a TV is nowhere near.
- Numerous options for recording sizes and image qualities
- Supports many different memory card formats
- No built-in TV tuner
- Setting up show timer is a hassle
- 1 GB file limit
A must-have for TV-addicted commuters
The MPEG-4 Recorder 2 can be found on the Neuros web site. It costs $150.