One Way to Record Digital Widescreen Channels on an Older Non-Digital DVDR - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 32 Old 04-06-2008, 11:09 AM - Thread Starter
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Using This DVDR as a Tuner for Other Devices (e.g., Analog DVDRs)

There's no problem using this DVDR as an extremely capable digital converter box for analog TVs... that's a "no-brainer."

However, I wondered if I could RECORD digital widescreen (WS) programs on my analog-tunered Pio 640 DVDR via a line output from my digital-tunered Philips 3575. If it worked, that might be a way to extend the life of my Pio 640 throughout the digital age starting in 2007.

 

Note: It should be obvious that this method of recording digital WS programs to an analog DVDR would only be useful for people WHO DON'T ALREADY HAVE AN STB OR DVR THAT OUTPUTS WS THRU ONE OF ITS LINE OUTPUTS, and those averse to renting such equipment... double duh!

 

I connected a composite output from my 3575 to a composite input (L1) on my Pio 640 and recorded a digital WS program at high and low rez rec modes. The Pio 640 recorded the WS programs in natural WS and had all normal playback controls for aspect ratio (4:3 LB, 4:3 P&S and 16:9 Wide).

There are several good reasons for doing this:
  1. In an all-16:9 WS household with a Pio 640, being able to rec digital WS programs to the 640's HDD allows the use of the Pio 640's VR-mode. In VR-mode, you can offload HDD recordings to DVDs in high-speed, then later copy them back to the HDD in high-speed for editing and assembly... a totally lossless process, as described in more detail here.
  2. To use the unique editing features of the Pio, Tosh, Panny... see this post for a detailed user example.
  3. MN or FR rec modes.
  4. S-Video (since most converter boxes won't have this).
  5. Analog passthru (since most converter boxes won't have this).
  6. Amplified signal thru 3575 or 3576 to get ~20% better pic.

 

Test #1 - PASSTHRU RECORDING of WS on Pio 640 at FULL SDTV Res (2-hr-SP, 720x480) - I connected my Philips 3575 to my Pio 640 via Line 1 Composite, set the 3575 for 16:9 Widescreen in the Video menu*, and fed the Pio a LIVE WS program from my 3575's TNT HD digital channel... my favorite cuz it has a perfect-circle logo for seeing aspect changes. I recorded two short segments on the Pio at 2-hr-SP.

Both segments recorded as natural 16:9 WS. Also, the Pio's TV Aspect had its expected effect on playback... each segment played back based on its PLAYBACK aspect setting.

Test #2 - PASSTHRU RECORDING of WS on Pio 640 at LOW SDTV Res (6-hr-EP, 352x240) - Next, I wanted to see what effect a direct recording of the live pic to the Pio would be when the Pio 640's rec mode was low res. I tuned my 3575 to a WS TNT movie, set it to 16:9 Widescreen in the Video menu*, and recorded the tuned digital channel directly on the Pio 640 at 6-hr-EP mode, 352x240 res.

The Pio 640 recorded the low-res pic in full 16:9 WS aspect and, again, played back with all three PLAYBACK Aspect settings in the Pio's Playback menu.

These tests show that a DIRECT, LIVE recording to another DVDR (Pio 640 for sure) AT *ANY* RESOLUTION should be recorded in full WS and have all playback controls as well. On a WS TV, these recordings looked natural WS all the way. Obviously, this also means that a digital-tunered DVDR can be used as a digital converter for tuning OTA digital channels for analog TVs.

Since neither the Pio 640 nor the 3575/76 sets the WS flag required for an "anamorphic" recording, I assumed they couldn't be set for 4:3 LB on a different player connected to a 4:3 TV. To tests this, I dubbed the Pio WS recordings to a DVD and played them on on my Panny combo player connected to a 4:3 TV with these results:

  • With the Panny player set for 16:9 playback: played full-screen with VERY slight vertical oval circle around the TNT logo on the 4:3 TV, barely noticeable. Could not tell by the pic/people alone.
  • With the Panny player set for 4:3 Letterbox: played full-screen with slightly squished circle on TNT logo, more obvious than the 16:9 setting/

 

Without the circle on screen, your non-tech relatives might never notice anything different with these recordings when played on their ancient 4:3 TVs.

*This DVDR is WYSIWYG when setting its TV Aspect in the Video menu to 16:9 WS or 4:3 Letter Box. That setting determines what you'll see in the live pic thru this DVDR's tuner and what it'll record.

Note to Pio DVDR Users: Found out later the Pio 640's "TV Screen Size" setting in the Playback menu DOES affect Copying a WS program from HDD to DVD! So, when you get your converter boxes or use a digital-tunered DVDR to record WS programs on your Pio, make sure your Playback > TV Screen Size is set to "16:9" before starting the Copy to DVD.




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post #2 of 32 Old 04-06-2008, 11:50 AM
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Not sure if you have documented this, but if you're up for one more test it would be interesting to find the outcome.
First test would be to record a DVD on the 3575(from its tuner) with its output set to 16x9(probably like you have it now since you have a 16x9 TV)
Second would be to record the same program with the 3575's output set to 4x3.
I don't remember if I tried this on my 3575 when I had it, but on my Panasonic EZ series recorder if I have the "output" set to 16x9 it will record the full 16x9 image horizontally squished. If I have the "output" set to 4x3 it will only record a postage stamp image of the 16x9 recording. The problem with this is if you have a 4x3 TV now and have your DVDR setup for 4x3 and make recordings off of 16x9 TV programs, when you get a 16x9 TV you will have to "zoom" the image to fill your screen(and get proper aspect ratio), instead of having to just "stretch to fit" the image. On a 16x9 screen the stretch to fit looks better than the a zoomed image, IMO.
I would think the 3575 would act the same way, but not positive. Have you tried this before?
Note the downside to recording the horizontally squished DVD's now if you only have a 4x3 TV is when you play then back on your 4x3 TV they will be vertically stretched, instead of letter boxed.
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post #3 of 32 Old 04-06-2008, 12:04 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jjeff View Post

Not sure if you have documented this, but if you're up for one more test it would be interesting to find the outcome.
First test would be to record a DVD on the 3575(from its tuner) with its output set to 16x9(probably like you have it now since you have a 16x9 TV)
Second would be to record the same program with the 3575's output set to 4x3.
I don't remember if I tried this on my 3575 when I had it, but on my Panasonic EZ series recorder if I have the "output" set to 16x9 it will record the full 16x9 image horizontally squished. If I have the "output" set to 4x3 it will only record a postage stamp image of the 16x9 recording. The problem with this is if you have a 4x3 TV now and have your DVDR setup for 4x3 and make recordings off of 16x9 TV programs, when you get a 16x9 TV you will have to "zoom" the image to fill your screen(and get proper aspect ratio), instead of having to just "stretch to fit" the image. On a 16x9 screen the stretch to fit looks better than the a zoomed image, IMO.
I would think the 3575 would act the same way, but not positive. Have you tried this before?
Note the downside to recording the horizontally squished DVD's now if you only have a 4x3 TV is when you play then back on your 4x3 TV they will be vertically stretched, instead of letter boxed.

I think I've already done this test and reported on it in this post, bottom of page under the heading "Tests on Recording a Widescreen Program thru the Tuner"?


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post #4 of 32 Old 04-06-2008, 12:12 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wajo View Post

Just had to do some more tests prompted by a discussion of widescreen (WS) recording in another thread.

I recorded two short segments on the Pio at 2-hr-SP, one w/Pio's TV Aspect set for 16:9 and one for 4:3 LB... not expecting them to affect recording cuz those Pio settings are in the Playback menu, not the Video menu like the 3575. But had to try anyway. As expected, they didn't affect recording... both segments recorded as full 16:9.

The Pio's TV Aspect did have its expected effect on playback (played full screen or w/LB bars based on the playback setting).


to make proper anamorphic widescreen dvds (-rs), dvdrs must have the 16x9 option in the record menu.
after gettin my 1st tosh dr2 with said options back in '04, it took me 6 months before i realized what the option was for.
but i recovered!

10' from 84" screen.


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post #5 of 32 Old 04-06-2008, 12:37 PM
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Wajo, yep looks like you answered the question in that post. The 3575 acts like the EZ series Pannys in that respect, both not setting the WS flag but able to record the whole 16x9 image.
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post #6 of 32 Old 04-06-2008, 01:15 PM - Thread Starter
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jeff, the 3575 doesn't set the WS flag for anamorphic, but I don't get any "postage stamp" recordings like you mentioned... setting ALL my recordings for 16:9 Wide, I get only full, glorious 16:9 on a 16:9 TV, with no stretching of zooming needed! Looks good in full screen on a 4:3 TV also. Makes me very happy!

I just noticed you said "output" setting on your Pannys and not sure that makes a diff. since the 3575's "TV Aspect" setting is in the VIDEO menu (an INPUT menu), not the PLAYBACK menu like many other DVDRs, and it affects INPUT for viewing or recording (changes the aspect of the live pic being received), plus it also controls aspect on an anamorphic commercial movie, so it does double-duty for input and output.

Just to test my Pio 640 further, re: its Aspect setting which is in the Playback menu. I hooked up again to my 3575 via Composite to L1, tuned the 3575 to a natural 16:9 digital HD channel (TNT), and watched the LIVE WS pic delivered thru the Pio with the Pio set for 16:9. Pic was full WS. I changed the Pio's Aspect to 4:3 LB and the pic remained full 16:9 WS. So, the Pio's aspect setting only affects Playback, which makes sense since that setting is in the Playback menu (an output setting)... the Pio's setting is only for playback of anamorphic WS discs.

[Edit: Found out later the Pio 640's aspect setting ALSO affects Copying to DVD! Pio 640 users beware when you get your digital converters or try a direct WS recording as described here... your DVD copies from a WS recording are affected by the setting you have in the TV Aspect menu!]


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post #7 of 32 Old 04-06-2008, 02:39 PM
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Only on my Panny EZ DVDR does changing the "output" aspect ratio change the recording aspect ratio It does not change the recording from it's line input, but rather just from it's digital tuner, so I suppose you could say it doesn't change the recording so much as the output of the digital tuner.
What I meant by postage stamp effect was, if I record a WS program through the EZ machine with the "output" aspect ratio set to 4x3, if I take this DVD and play it on a 16x9 TV it will have wide black bars on all 4 sides. It will be true 16x9, but postage stamp sized, unless I use the Zoom on my TV.
If on the other hand I set the "output" aspect ratio to 16x9 I get a DVD that if played on a 4x3 TV will not have back bars on the top(as it should) but will be vertically stretched so no bars show(but people will be very tall). Now taking this vertically stretched DVD and playing on a 16x9 TV(with DVD player set to stretch 4x3 image to fill 16x9 screen) everything looks great. Full screen 16x9 with no bars or fat people. This is the option I always use.
I believe if I had a DVDR that would set the WS flag(or I would use RAM discs which DO set the flag) I would be able to play my WS DVD's on a standard TV without having the image vertically stretched. Currently no matter how I configure the player if I try and play my recorded WS DVDs on a 4x3 TV it will not have the black bars top and bottom, but will fill that with the stretched picture, making people tall or circles like a egg.
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post #8 of 32 Old 04-06-2008, 05:43 PM
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wajo,

What happens when you play back your various WS recordings on a 4x3 TV with a DVD player set for 4x3 Letterbox?

Dave
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post #9 of 32 Old 04-06-2008, 06:14 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Budget_HT View Post

wajo,

What happens when you play back your various WS recordings on a 4x3 TV with a DVD player set for 4x3 Letterbox?

My regular recordings with the Philips 3575 play full screen and, since they don't have the WS flag, the playback aspect control does nothing on my 3575, 640 or Panny combo... full screen 4:3 all the time. I notice a VERY SLIGHT horiz. squeeze cuz my perfect-circle TNT logo shows it, but only on "close" inspection... it's really hard to tell, and quite nice... I have no complaints on the aspect cuz they look "almost perfect."

The 6-hr-EP recordings I made thru the 3575 to the Pio 640 (reported in this thread) also play the same way on my 3575 and Panny combo which are hooked to my 4:3 TV..

I didn't make a DVD copy of my first 2-hr-SP (720x480) recordings to the Pio 640, but they played back from the 640 HDD with all aspect controls working.

I think a DVD made on the Pio 640 when recorded at 2-hr-SP will play back with full aspect controls, like they did directly from the HDD, but I just haven't done the hard test to confirm yet.

I feel another test coming on!

P.S. Since my Pio 640 rec were done in EP (MN6), the DVD copy had to be real-time.


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post #10 of 32 Old 04-06-2008, 07:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by westgate View Post

to make proper anamorphic widescreen dvds (-rs), dvdrs must have the 16x9 option in the record menu.


Not so. My Pio 640 has no such menu option, but makes fine anamorphic discs, if it is fed an anamorphic signal. So will any DVDR. Your menu option probably just sets the flag, but with a 16x9 TV, that is unnecessary.
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post #11 of 32 Old 04-06-2008, 07:54 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kjbawc View Post

Not so. My Pio 640 has no such menu option, but makes fine anamorphic discs, if it is fed an anamorphic signal. So will any DVDR. Your menu option probably just sets the flag, but with a 16x9 TV, that is unnecessary.

yes, the tosh dr2 does set the flag.
my pan es15 does what your pio does, i believe.

when i say proper, i mean that it will play on w/s tv stretched out w no black bars (unless its 2.35x1, etc) AND on a 4x3 tv with letter and pillar boxing.
just like commercial store-bought anamorphic w/s dvds.

u ran some good tests.

10' from 84" screen.


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post #12 of 32 Old 04-06-2008, 08:29 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by westgate View Post

u ran some good tests.

I've made many "invisible" posts, but never ones with "kjbawc's" screen name!


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Quote:
Originally Posted by wajo View Post

I've made many "invisible" posts, but never ones with "kjbawc's" screen name!

ahh, i see.

10' from 84" screen.


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post #14 of 32 Old 04-06-2008, 09:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kjbawc View Post

Not so. My Pio 640 has no such menu option, but makes fine anamorphic discs, if it is fed an anamorphic signal. So will any DVDR. Your menu option probably just sets the flag, but with a 16x9 TV, that is unnecessary.

Same with my E-85. It records what ever it is fed, anamorphic or otherwise.

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post #15 of 32 Old 04-06-2008, 09:42 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Budget_HT View Post

wajo,

What happens when you play back your various WS recordings on a 4x3 TV with a DVD player set for 4x3 Letterbox?

I rec a digital WS program from 3575 tuner to Pio 640 HDD via L1 Composite at 2-hr-SP mode, high-speed dubbed to DVD-R, and played in all my DVDR/TV combos:

1. 3575 and 640 to 16:9 TV... Both played back with all of the DVDR aspect controls working for full screen WS, 4:3 LB (in 16:9 space), and 4:3 P&S (also in 16:9 space).

2. 3575 and Panny combo to 4:3 TV ... Both played back with all DVDR aspect controls working for:
  • 16:9 setting = full 4:3 pic with TNT circle logo VERY SLIGHTLY oval in vertical direction.
  • 4:3 LB setting = 4:3 LB pic with TNT circle logo SLIGHTLY MORE oval in horiz. direction... little more obvious than the vert. oval above.
On the 4:3 TV, the ovalness was, as I described before, slight to very slight and not at all objectionable... people still looked normal. Only the circle showed any sign of misshaping, and even that was NOT grossly obvious on first look.

I could easily give these recordings to my non-tech relatives and they wouldn't notice anything different about them, esp. if they didn't have a circle-logo in the pic!!!


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post #16 of 32 Old 04-08-2008, 06:58 AM
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What all this really boils down to is that the pre-ATSC recorders will record whatever you send them. In order for a recorded frame to play back on a 16:9 TV as true widescreen, the recorded frame must be anamorphic. The only way for it to be anamorphic is if you can supply the recorder's input with an anamorphic source. I know for fact that at least 1 external digital tuner box for OTA (Digital Stream CECB) is capable of outputting an anamorphic picture on it's RF/composite outputs for feeding into a DVDR. The "old" DVDR's will record it and you have all you need for OTA "widescreen" recording. It's as simple as that, for OTA. Everything else is a playback issue which is independent of the recording.

The problem with cable is that most cable boxes won't output anamorphic video on anything less than component outputs, which DVDR's don't have. So, you need to do something analagous to OTA and find an external QAM tuner capable of outputting anamorphic video on at least one of the RF/composite/S-Video outputs. I don't know if you can buy an external QAM tuner (anyone know?) like you can for ATSC, which leaves you with what wajo is trying to do -- use the QAM tuner in a recorder to try and output an anamorphic frame over composite or S-Video to . . . another recorder.

I'll tell you: after reading hundreds of posts on the QAM problems, if I had cable I would have given up and rented one of their DVR's 6 months ago. Which is exactly what they want.

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kelson View Post

What all this really boils down to is that the pre-ATSC recorders will record whatever you send them. In order for a recorded frame to play back on a 16:9 TV as true widescreen, the recorded frame must be anamorphic. The only way for it to be anamorphic is if you can supply the recorder's input with an anamorphic source. I know for fact that at least 1 external digital tuner box for OTA (Digital Stream CECB) is capable of outputting an anamorphic picture on it's RF/composite outputs for feeding into a DVDR. The "old" DVDR's will record it and you have all you need for OTA "widescreen" recording. It's as simple as that, for OTA. Everything else is a playback issue which is independent of the recording.

The problem with cable is that most cable boxes won't output anamorphic video on anything less than component outputs, which DVDR's don't have. So, you need to do something analagous to OTA and find an external QAM tuner capable of outputting anamorphic video on at least one of the RF/composite/S-Video outputs. I don't know if you can buy an external QAM tuner (anyone know?) like you can for ATSC, which leaves you with what wajo is trying to do -- use the QAM tuner in a recorder to try and output an anamorphic frame over composite or S-Video to . . . another recorder.

I'll tell you: after reading hundreds of posts on the QAM problems, if I had cable I would have given up and rented one of their DVR's 6 months ago. Which is exactly what they want.

The current and popular Dish 722,622 and Comcast Cable 8300 HD DVR's all output through s-video full wide screen-no chopping the sides.

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post #18 of 32 Old 04-08-2008, 07:23 AM
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So, the cable DVR outputs anamorphic video through the S-video? Like I said, they got you where they want you. Their hands in your pockets.

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post #19 of 32 Old 04-08-2008, 07:28 AM
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If you have all 16:9 TVs, a Pio 640 and a set top box that outputs WS via s-video does this test(with the 3575) give a 640 user anything better that he or she cannot already do? I quess no. Secondarily is there a re-encode when you are passing from 3575 to Pio or other DVDR?

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post #20 of 32 Old 04-08-2008, 07:29 AM
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Originally Posted by Kelson View Post

So, the cable DVR outputs anamorphic video through the S-video? Like I said, they got you where they want you. Their hands in your pockets.

Yes they are getting my money, no doubt about that.

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post #21 of 32 Old 04-08-2008, 08:06 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by HoustonGuy View Post

If you have all 16:9 TVs, a Pio 640 and a set top box that outputs WS via s-video does this test(with the 3575) give a 640 user anything better that he or she cannot already do? I quess no.

I guess this method is just for the 2 or 3 people who don't have a STB or DVR as their source for digital WS shows and movies.


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post #22 of 32 Old 04-08-2008, 09:22 AM
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Originally Posted by Kelson View Post

I don't know if you can buy an external QAM tuner (anyone know?) like you can for ATSC, which leaves you with what wajo is trying to do -- use the QAM tuner in a recorder to try and output an anamorphic frame over composite or S-Video to . . . another recorder.

The Samsung 260 does exactly what you want. Decodes QAM and sends out 16:9 to any of it's outputs, from Composite up to HDMI. The problem is it costs ~$170 and does not display any of it's OSD's(for example channel number, setups, etc.) to any output other than HDMI or Component.
Also with most of the cable QAM channels being not "in the clear" in some cable systems, you're really not gaining much other than probably the digital locals, (if even those in HD, which would mean you would gain you nothing). Add to this SDV and like you said they've got you where they want you.
Just another reason I'm OTA only.
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post #23 of 32 Old 04-08-2008, 09:49 AM
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Originally Posted by jjeff View Post

The Samsung 260 does exactly what you want. Decodes QAM and sends out 16:9 to any of it's outputs, from Composite up to HDMI. The problem is it costs ~$170 . . .Also with most of the cable QAM channels being not "in the clear" in some cable systems, you're really not gaining much other than probably the digital locals, (if even those in HD, which would mean you would gain you nothing).

I agree with you. It just seems they have the deck stacked against you (with the encryption and remapping channels, etc.) so that the best way to make use of a DVDR (pre-digital or new) for a cable subscriber is to rent the darn DVR and off-load what you want to keep out the S-Video and into the recorder.

Actually, that's what you and I are both intending to do OTA with the TR-50 if/when it comes out.

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post #24 of 32 Old 04-08-2008, 10:00 AM
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Yes, well be able to join the big club
Or actually I might start archiving to USB HDD's in HD. That all depends on if external HDD's recorded on the TR-50's will be playable on other TR-50's. I don't want all my HDD's to die when the TR-50 inevitably dies or has problems. That would be a rude awakening. At least with DVD's it's a universal standard.
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post #25 of 32 Old 04-08-2008, 12:59 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kelson View Post

So, the cable DVR outputs anamorphic video through the S-video? Like I said, they got you where they want you. Their hands in your pockets.

DirecTV DVRs do this also. I have had excellent results, both from the TIVO product, and now the DirecTV DVR product. The Panasonic DVD recorders do not set the WS flag, but since I only have 16:9 televisions, it isn't really an issue with me. I really don't expect to purchase a 4:3 television again any time soon.

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post #26 of 32 Old 04-08-2008, 08:21 PM
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Originally Posted by HoustonGuy View Post

Comcast Cable 8300 HD DVR's all output through s-video full wide screen-no chopping the sides.

Most Comcast systems use only Motorola boxes, not the Scientific Atlanta 8300. Moto boxes DO NOT output anamorphic over S-Vid. So, only a few Comcast customers can make anamorphic DVDs, and I am not one of them...
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post #27 of 32 Old 04-09-2008, 10:37 AM
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Well, given the paucity of DVD recorders that have component inputs, I would expect that some enternal component to S-Video converter like this might be your best bet. I have no idea of the quality and it isn't what I would call cheap, but if not this one, something like this one will at least make it possible. Someone was using a whole DVD recorder with component inputs just as a converter. We are a desperate and creative bunch.

Luke

Evil is charming and beautiful. It makes you doubt yourself. It asks for one small compromise after another until it whittles you down, and it functions best when no one believes in it.-JOA
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post #28 of 32 Old 04-09-2008, 11:17 PM
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I've discovered my dad's receiver (Yamaha 1700) will convert 480i component input to S-Video- so I've hooked his system up with a "backup" routing of the cable box->Amp->DVD recorder input so that recordings in widescreen can still be made. (as the box only outputs 4:3 in S-Video but will do 16:9 in component)

We've done some A/B tests and the quality drop is VERY minor, and the component->amp->DVD recorder actually possibly looks slightly better (more vibrant color, mostly)

So you might want to check if equipment you already have in your system will do what you need.
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post #29 of 32 Old 04-09-2008, 11:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jmscott42 View Post

I've discovered my dad's receiver (Yamaha 1700) will convert 480i component input to S-Video- so I've hooked his system up with a "backup" routing of the cable box->Amp->DVD recorder input so that recordings in widescreen can still be made. (as the box only outputs 4:3 in S-Video but will do 16:9 in component)

Very interesting. I've never heard of an AVR that downconverts. Certainly my Denon doesn't, it only upconverts. Next time I'm in the market for an AVR, I'll have to look into that feature.
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post #30 of 32 Old 04-11-2008, 11:22 PM
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I just picked up a new Motorola DCH3200 HD STB. I connected both component & S-Video to my HDTV. Component gives me the full 16:9 WS image. S-Video gives me the floating letterbox postage stamp image with a black border all around. I can adjust for this on the TV, but that does not solve the problem of getting a full 720 x 480 anamorphic signal to a DVD recorder. I hate to waste pixels by recording black bars. But it makes me wonder if there is a service menu that has a setting for this.

I too saw that AppleTV converter and others that cost more. Being that you can buy a DVD recorder for $139, a converter should cost no more than $50. But I'm sure the converter is a low demand product which means increased cost.
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