I have nothing good to say about this blatant rip-off. Sony markets this as a device to burn your home movies direct to DVD. The unit does not function as Sony claims. The fact is, this product has so many anti-piracy features built-in that it barely works at all. Get a good regular DVD burner at half the price.
The impression given by Sony is that the user can plug in any analog source via Firewire, USB, RCA, and S-Video or a DV recorder into the unit and burn disks directly in a playable DVD format. Who knows, that may actually work, but you will not get that far. In fact, the contraption is very finicky about what it will copy in a standalone format. (If you hook it to a computer, it functions as an ordinary DVD burner, but that is not what you paid top dollar for.) If the unit decides it is not going to copy something, then you are plain out of luck.
Let me state that I do not deal directly with Sony or their help desk. Sony uses warranty registration to pump the customer for private information that is not any of Sony's business, and that is that. Sony - a REAL warranty attaches to the product, not the purchaser, and Sony would do well to respect that fact.
When a blank disk is inserted into the DVDirect, a tiny LED screen picks up the incoming analog signal and the record push-button appears to work. I say appears, because that is what happens whether or not the unit is actually recording. You have no way of telling. Sony claims the unit will detect the incoming signal and record until that signal disappears, called auto-shutoff. The truth is, the DVDirect has a lot of trouble doing just that. It regularly reports that it is recording when it is not recording, and most of the time completely misses both "Studio Blue" and herringbone (the two standard end-of-recording signals).
This makes the unit unreliable for home or business use, because you will not normally discover the problem until after you have wasted time waiting for it to stop by itself. It doesn't. Worse, when it plays to the end because the auto-shutoff doesn't work, it wrecks the DVD. If you stop the unit manually, the target disk will not eject (see below). To be fair, it works sometimes. But it should work 100% of the time and it does not.
I finally hooked up a splitter to a TV monitor to verify the correct signals were getting to the input jacks of the DVDirect. They are, but too often the Sony did not burn the signal to DVD. I tried every possible configuration except DV (I have better equipment for that) and even tried different brands of blank DVD disks. No luck. I took the unit into a pro shop and they found exactly the same problems. Even when correctly configured, the DVDirect can get itself into at least four problem modes that are not even mentioned in the manual - reason alone to stay away from this product.
(Oh, in case you are curious, the copyright protection features are childish and easy to defeat, but I won't tell you how that is done. Nonetheless, the DVDirect at times acts exactly like it would if you were trying to make illegal copies when you are not. The least Sony could do is describe that so you would recognize what is going on.)
The false recording signal is the worst feature. The second worst is that when you go to eject the burned disk, around 90% of the time it cycles endlessly without ever ejecting. It drops into a mode that says it is finalizing, but I've left the unit on for as long as 24 hours and it never finishes. The few times that it does finish, it takes a very long time, which is another thing Sony fails to warn you about.
Frankly, it is hard to figure out how Sony can legally claim this to be a quality $250 real time DVD burner. It works fine when you connect it by USB to a computer, but you could have spent a lot less money for that setup. (Remember, as soon as you connect the DVDirect to a computer, it tranforms into a dumb burner and all other functions and inputs cease to operate.)
Since the unit can be made to work as an external burner, I am drawn to conclude that Sony has intentionally manufactured the unit to function only over a narrow set of parameters. That makes their claim "No computer required" inconsistent with the facts. I could be wrong, but the unit simply reacts as if it is refusing to copy good input at times, exactly like it would if it was reacting to Macrovision copy protection. If so, I advise Sony to stick to making products that work and leave infringement issues to the lawyers.
The DVDirect is another product I have set up in my shop to show customers what does not work.