Pros: Very easy to burn from one's camcorder to DVD
Cons: No automated chapter inputs on Mini-DVs and no dual layer support for HD inputs.
I bought this DVD burner thinking this would be a great way to help my transition from Mini-DV tapes to my new hard drive based camcorder as I could burn all my tapes to DVD, and then burn from my hard drive camcorder to DVD also. This was a simple plan and I assumed Sony would make this work flawlessly as both my camcorders are Sony brand.
The first challenge was connecting to the burner as Sony provides no useful cables with the burner! The only way to connect my mini-DV was via Firewire, so I went back to the store and the only firewire cable they had was $80! ARG!!!!! So I order a cable online for $10 and was soon connected. Now that I was able to burn to DVD, I discovered that the burner doesn't sense ANY scene transitions (stop and starts of recording) and all it does is put in "dumb" chapter points every 5 minutes (the default is 5 minutes and you can change the time, but it still is not much use). So I figure I'll burn to DVD using my computer's burner and the SW that came with the camcorder as it senses and marks chapters at each change in recording time.
So I moved onto testing this with my HDR-SR11 high definition camcorder. I connected the camcorder via USB and popped in a Dual Layer DVD only to discover that it doesn't support dual layer DVD burning from the USB input (which is the only input you can connect HD sources to!). Where is the sense in this? Dual Layer DVDs store more information, so they are perfect for HD content as it takes up more space, yet Sony in their wisdom doesn't support HD on dual layer DVDs!
So I took the burner back.
I'll wait for the VRD-MCx (6 perhaps?) and will carefully read the fine print on the box to ensure it supports Dual Layer DVDs on any input. Or maybe I should just wait a while and get a Blu-Ray burner when they come down to a reasonable price range?
Here is some marketing material on the product and some of my comments:
The Sony VRD-MC5 lets you transfer standard-definition and high-definition home video to DVD quickly and easily without using a computer. Simply connect a camcorder, VCR, or other source to make real-time video recordings on durable DVD discs. And if you have a Sony Handycam? hard disk drive camcorder, you can create DVD recordings of your home movies at up to 6X speed.
Make copies of your high-definition home movies
If you've got a Sony hard drive or Memory Stick? camcorder that uses the AVCHD recording format, use the 'MC5 to burn copies of your high-def footage to standard DVDs. You can play these high-def discs on AVCHD-compatible Blu-ray Disc players. Preview your videos using the built-in 2-1/2" LCD screen, and capture only those scenes you like.
-Records high-definition video to DVD from select Sony AVCHD hard drive and Memory Stick? camcorders
-Playback of high-definition recordings requires an AVCHD-compatible Blu-ray Disc player not possible on a standard DVD player.
-Records from Sony hard disk drive Handycam camcorders at up to 6X speed
-Records to the following types of discs:
-DVD-R, DVD-RW, DVD+R, DVD+R DL, and DVD+RW (DV or analog source ONLY) (This is the dumb part--why allow DL-Dual Layer recoring only from the analog or DV source?)
-DVD-R, DVD-RW, and DVD+R (USB source ONLY)
-Records digital photos to DVD from Memory Stick, Memory Stick Duo, SD Memory Card, xD Picture Card, and CompactFlash? memory cards
-2-1/2" LCD screen for previewing digital photos and video
high-speed USB interface (USB cable included)
-i.LINK (IEEE 1394) input for connection to Mini DV camcorder
-1 set of audio/video inputs (composite video, S-video)
-Dimensions are 7-5/8"W x 2-11/16"H x 8-3/4"D
-Warranty: 1 year