Originally Posted by ernie6
CitiBear, please provide some detail so we understand why the international recorders are more trouble than they are worth and why these recorders are limited in playing PAL DVD's. I have owned two International Pioneer HD recorders for two years and they play all my PAL DVD's without limitations.
Because depending on which specific version of a recorder you get from which specific vendor, it will either work identically to a USA/Canadian model, or it will drive you out of your cotton-pickin mind trying to get it working properly in the USA. I cannot tell you how many notes I've received from desperate users on this and other forums begging for advice on how to make these eccentric machines work. There are "gotchas" galore with these global-market machines, with one of the most egregious examples being Pioneer. I love Pioneers, use them exclusively myself, but I wouldn't touch an "international" model if you gave it to me. There are no less than half a dozen versions of the DVR-550 alone, which are all different from the 650 versions. If you get the "wrong" version of a global Pioneer, there is almost no way to set timer programs on it or adjust its settings: a major disappointment for many who contact me. Even getting the menus to display can be a problem. Most recently, I've heard several complaints of the HDMI output being totally distorted.
The region-free and PAL functionality are not guaranteed: again, depends on the exact model variation, who sold it to you, and whether they hacked those features adequately. Most "global" Pioneer recorders will not convert PAL to NTSC on the fly: they will play PAL, NTSC or SECAM but only when matched with the same-format or auto-compensating display. If you are still using a large CRT screen (there's still a lot of 32" Trinitrons out there), you will likely not get a watchable PAL image from a "region-free" recorder without an add-on converter box.
We're talking major money, here: all these global recorders are HDD-equipped upscale models that run a minimum $450 plus shipping. If it were $99, I'd say go ahead, risk it and see what happens. But for $500, you're far better off making the extra effort to get a new North American model from Canadian sources if you want a nice DVD/HDD recorder. For PAL playback and/or conversion, any number of good, affordable players are available. It is an unfortunate fact that heavy use of a DVD recorder as a player rapidly wears out its burner: reason enough to have a dedicated player on hand, even though it seems duplicative.
The worldwide international recorder versions can be an okay deal if you get a good price, a return/refund guarantee, and most importantly you are a total gearhead who can puzzle your way around invisible settings menus and other issues. But if you're a typical consumer who just wants something to work right out of the box, you run a 50/50 risk of being severely disappointed by one of these units and would be better off looking for a new Canadian or second-hand USA model instead.