Three questions for Panasonic EH67 - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 12 Old 02-03-2009, 09:58 AM - Thread Starter
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Three questions:
1. Can Panasonic DMR EH67 record mp3 files onto the hard drive?
2. Can it record Divix (or .avi) movies onto the hard drive?
3. Can I create a folder for HDD recordings?

Long story
(If you need a DVR with a tuner for the over-the-air HD signals, or are not interested in PAL to NTSC conversions,
nor how I decided on buying the Panasonic EH67, you can skip the reading below

I was planning to get a DVDR and was doing some reading on this forum. Usually I don't participate since I don't have
time with kids at home, but what the heck, maybe someone will find this useful.
I wanted to get a DVDR with a hard disk and to my surprise found out there is only 1 new model offered, Philips 3576.
I was reading it's not a great unit, but there is so much written about it, for example, all the codes used to check various
functions (such as how many hours of usage there is on the DVDR laser), or even instruction on how to change the hard drive.
One just can't go wrong with getting Philips 3576.
But as of third week of January 2009 there were none available. Maybe because of the planned switch to HD for the
over-the-air signals on 2/2009. I started looking at international DVDR models, and having some family in Europe, I thought
it would be nice to have a unit that also does the PAL to NTSC conversion. Again, to my surprise, there is no
DVDR-with-hard-disk that does that. I have a cheap Philips DVP642 DVD player I bought at Walmart for $60 about 5 years ago
that is able to do it (after a quick remote number entering hack), so how come a $300-$500 unit can't???.
Before I forget, I have a Dish Network PVR, and so I was not interested in a DVR with the HD tuner.
I narrowed down my search to the international models of Panasonic and Pioneer.
I wanted a unit mainly to put my family videos from DV tapes onto a hard disk and DVDs and offload some stuff from the PVR.
I also have bunch of animated PAL DVD and Divix movies for my kids I've bought in Europe and wanted to be able to play
them and it would have been nice to be able to record some of my family NTSC videos onto PAL DVDs and send them
over, but that is not going to happen any time soon. It's cheaper to buy a DVD NTSC < -- > PAL player for $100 and send
it over then get a NTSC < -- > PAL converter for $250 (or get Oppo 981HD DVD player for about $230).
So anyway, getting back to the units, I did not want to get one that is really out of date. One of the better ones from
Panasonic was the EH67 and for the Pioneer there are bunch of models, 550, 555, 650, 660, LX61 I wanted a larger
hard drive, with 250G, so I was down to EH67 and 650/660/LX61. All the prices were high $450-$550, but if I ever wanted
to record between NTSC < -- > PAL, those units would give me that option. They are all capable of playing and recording
In NTSC or PAL. They just can't convert from one to another. The cheapest stand alone converter is about $200.
(well, I did find one for about $50, but that one only adds color to PAL). It's really expensive, but again, the option is there.
The latest and greatest' from all the units I was interested in was Pioneer DVR-LX61.
But I could not find anything about that unit on the internet, not much besides the specs. Instead I've read that
someone got the Panasonic EH67 from world-import and the unit was working fine. I also found recommendation
for the Pioneer 550, but that is a 160G unit. I wanted 250G. Why? My current (now somewhat old) Dish Network PVR
has only 60 or 80G and that is way too small. My kids are spoiled to be able to record any kid movies or shows
and abuse the record function and I'm constantly running at full. I'm comparing apple to oranges here, but it's just my
personal preference to get 250G. I don't know what I'll put there but I just want to be covered and not run out of disk space.
I've read someone got the EH67 and it was working fine and that gave me a worm fuzzy feeling about getting a unit with no US
warranty as opposed to LX61 with 0 info, and so I took the plunge and went for the EH67 from the same store (world-import).

Here are my initial thought about the unit, after having it for about a week. (based on my real experience, not just copying specs):
1. The box was previously opened, since they put some code with a remote to make it region free. Originally HF-67 is for
region 2 only, so I expected that. No big deal.

2. There was a small plug converted included. Electrical cord with a plug is for Europe. Again, no big deal. The unit works fine
with 110 volts.

3. Outside build doesn't feel as robust as my very first Panasonic A110 DVD player, but there is nothing wrong with it.
I would say this is personal preference, so for others it may be just fine.

4. Out of the box setting it was already set to NTSC. Someone mentioned theirs was set to PAL and they had to deal with
a flickering video before setting it to NTSC. I didn't have this issue, but let me just say that now that I know where to set it,
I could just follow the instruction manual and do it with the remote, without looking at the screen. When displaying PAL on
the NTSC TV, the bottom of the screen will be cut, and so will be the bottom menu, but if you count how many spots you
go down in the menu you should not have a problem accessing the setting for NTSC.

5. The menu itself after reading good things about this unit I was expecting something better and I think I just set my
expectations too high. Maybe I was just not happy that when I put in a Divix movie I was not able to store it onto the hard drive.
The menu would go to copy from DVD to HD' but the button start copying' is grayed out. The divix movie plays fine and the
video is much cleaner than from the cheap Philips DVP642 DVD player I have. In the menus it shows as the .avi file.
I was also disappointed I could not copy over the .avi files from the SD card from my small Fuji camera. EH67 sees the jpeg
files, but not the .avi. I also couldn't figure out if there is a way to make a folder. That way I could keep TV recordings
in a separate location from my home video recordings. Now they will be mixed all over the place, or rather in one location.

6. Recording to HD This one seems to work fine. I just hit REC button and STOP and it records fine from the DVD or an
outside source, like from my camera (through the RCA input). I don't have a DV cable (also called IEEE 1394). The manual
says that through that input all the stop-starts' are automatically separated into different chapters (NOT titles) when
recording. This is awesome. It makes it easier to delete the stuff you don't want, or to split the recording into different
titles at the right spots. I have not tested it. I just ordered the DV cable and will try it as soon as I'll get it.
But I guess the negative is that if you have a hi-def video camera, you may not have a DV-out.

7. Recording to a DVD. I have not tried all different formats, just DVD+R. It was fast, about 6 min to fill half of the disk
(I wasn't checking the exact time), and so the spin speed was high, making a lot more noise than when just reading a DVD,
but I consider that normal. I've tried the disk and it played fine on other DVD players and the computer.
So I was fully satisfied there, at least for my needs. I couldn't find a clear description in the manual on how to make the
recording (maybe I went too fast through it), so it took a couple of minutes to figure it out best thing to do is to first select
(with a check mark) the titles to be recorded oh and the DVD needs to be formatted first (takes less than 1 min), which
by the way surprised me shouldn't it be done automatically?

8. Video editing This one is also pretty easy. As the video plays you set the marks for the start and end of the cut.
There are also ways to split the titles and create multiple chapters (up to 500, I think), but again I have not tried that either.

9. Recording hi-def there is no DVDR at this time that can record hi-def (maybe in Japan, for a few grand), but a better
question would be, can it record in the 16:9 aspect ratio. I have not tested it. There are no hdmi or component inputs,
and from what I read RCA or S-video cables don't have a bandwidth to carry a hi-def signal. Maybe someone else has
tired it and can comment on this. I am planning on getting an HDTV, so again, sorry I can't comment on the 1080p
upscaling since I don't' have a way to test it right now.

10. Remote It seems to work fine. Does not have a lag, nor do I have to press buttons multiple times to make it work.
One thing that is really nice, it has a small section for the TV, with on/off, channel+/-, volume+/-, and av input select.
So with one remote you can turn on the DVR and the TV and change the TV video input.


PROS
1. So far there are no bugs. The unit never froze on me.
2. It's region free.
3. Can play NTSC or PAL (but can't convert from one to the other)
4. Video editing is straight forward.
5. Burned DVDs play fine on other players, well at least the ones I have (this is expected, but you never know)

CONS
1. I could not copy MP3/.avi/WAV to the hard drive unless I don't know what I'm doing
2. Can't convert between NTSC and PAL
3. Does not have an HDTV tuner (although I didn't need one)
4. Can't create separate folders for the recorded stuff. Only for jpegs.

Thanks,
Bijkij
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post #2 of 12 Old 02-03-2009, 11:18 AM
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I'm sure someone more familiar with the EH-67 like ChurchAVGuy will answer your three questions more accurately, but off the top of my head I believe the "global-market" EH-67 is a simplified version of the Panasonic DVD/HDD concept. Recorders intended for universal use worldwide can become unwieldy, overfussy, overcomplicated disasters if they try to include every last dopey convenience feature. People love the notion of a one-box non-PC "jukebox" but its a pipe dream: mp3 playlists, jpeg albums and even DiVX are half-assed features that never actually work right on the recorders that have them, all they do is add needless complication to an already complex device. If you want to play with all these files properly, get a home theater PC or at the very least an iPod dock, but don't expect any DVD/HDD recorder to fully utilize these formats: Pioneer comes the closest to having all three added capabilities, but the implementation is horrible and it makes their "global" models all but unusable- the simplified EH-67 is by far better. The Pioneer LX series just adds a PAL version of DTV tuner to the chassis of the 550: double the price and utterly useless in the USA.

In North America the only credible options are the Canadian Pioneers (460,560,660) and the Phillips 3576/Magnavox H2160. The Panasonic EH-67 makes a good alternative for existing users of older Panasonics but for first-time recorder buyers the Canadian Pioneers are usually less expensive and the Phillips/Magnavox includes the vital ATSC/QAM tuner. The Phillips/Magnavox are now sold almost exclusively thru Wal*Mart stores and website, there was panic after the holidays when supply dried up. But they are now coming back into stock and will be available thru the end of the year. In day-to-day use the standard 160GB hard drive in most recorders is plenty- 250GB adds more capacity but at the cost of more clumsy navigation and the risk of losing 50% more recordings if the drive fails and you haven't backed up your shows to DVD.

Personally I'm a Pioneer fan, and because I got into this hobby before the whole ATSC transition mess in the USA it doesn't really bother me that I need cable/satellite to feed them or an external ATSC converter. But for the average consumer just now considering a DVD recorder, the Magnavox H2160 is really the best all-around unit out there at the moment: its reliable, has decent integrated multi-event ATSC tuner, and wajo has reams of info here on AVS detailing how to get the most out of it and maintain it (we recently discovered its actually very easy to replace/upgrade the hard drive, for example). The Canadian Pioneers or the Panasonic global EH-67 are more suitable for people who already own those brands or have a specific need for their DVD-RAM capability or somewhat more elaborate editing features. The Magnavox is $249-279, the Canadian Pioneer 460/560 runs $299 to $399 depending on whether you live in Canada or USA, and the Panasonic EH-67 easily runs $400. Calculate useful features against your budget, and choose the best one for you.
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post #3 of 12 Old 02-03-2009, 04:04 PM
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Since I'm one of those people who bought the EH-76, I thought I could help, but you are using yours for stuff that I simply don't do. Sorry, I have no experienced answers to your questions.

For recording the output of my DirecTV receiver, this works great, and that is about what I do with it. I used it for that, and the VHS, LV dubbing projects. It has worked perfectly for what I have requested of it so far. It has no usable tuner un the US, but I knew that before. It has no conversion capability, but the W-I web site made that abundantly clear.

The only disks I have used with my EH-67 are -R, -RAM, and +R DL. The +R DL disks have needed to be formatted, so your experience with +R disks needing to be formatted is not overly surprising. The 5x -RAM disks I have, all needed to be formatted too, because I think they were designed to computer use rather than video recording. The 3x -RAM disks did not need to be formatted.

As far as the 16:9 aspect content, I have a standard line. No DVD recorder will record a 16:9 picture. They are all limited to 480i, and that's IT, until BluRay recorders become available. Now, my DirecTV receivers will take a 16:9 image and squeeze it onto a 4:3 signal and put it out the S-Video connector which my EH-67 will record. It is recording 480i (not 720p or 1080i) content, and it has no way of knowing that this is anamorphically squeezed unless the source (my receiver) flags the 480i content as wide-screen. Some receivers insert the flag in the bit stream, some do not. If the flag is there, the EH67 will record it to the hard drive and -RAM disk recordings. Again, I am talking about a flag here. The anamorphically squeezed content will be recorded intact if the flag is there or not. Again, and I'm sorry, but this is a non-issue for me because I no longer have a 4:3 trelevision, so everything I do is wide screen (if possible) and I ignore the issue. It would only come up when you play one of these disks on a 4:3 set. The presence of the flag will cause letterboxed output rather then squeezed output with an improper aspect ratio.

By the way the RCA and S-Video connectors are strictly 480i.

MP3/.avi/WAV and folders are things I have never used so far. Sorry.

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 #4 of 12 Old 02-04-2009, 06:54 AM - Thread Starter
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Guys,
Thanks for quick responses! They're much appreciated!
If I'll find anything new and interesting about the unit (EH67) I'll post it.
So far it works with no problems and I hope it stays that way. I've read somewhere that dvd recorders last on average 2-3 years and that's it. That would be a bummer...
It would be nice to be able to just replace the dvdr or the hard disk if ever needed, but as I've read the dvdr's are not really replaceable and the hard disks were done on the unit like the Philips 3576 but not on many other units... but perhaps it could be done on the EH67... I would just have to know the initiation code for the new drive.
Well, I'm getting ahead of myself here. I don't have a need to do those things now and like I said, everything is working great so far.
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post #5 of 12 Old 02-04-2009, 07:53 AM
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The EH-67 hard drive should be replaceable fairly easily, others have done it on the USA models. The only restriction is it requires the same size hard drive it shipped with and preferably the same brand. If you put in a larger drive, the recorder will format it to its original smaller capacity: upgrades don't work to increase capacity. The burners are replaced under Panasonic's very reasonable $130 flat-fee post-warranty repair program, the only one of its kind in the industry. Often the burner spindle simply needs to be cleaned, once you figure out how to do that yourself you can extend the usable life of the burner. Search the forums for info on this spindle-cleaning topic posted by jjeff and DigaDo.
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post #6 of 12 Old 02-04-2009, 07:59 AM
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Replacement of the hard drive in most Panasonic recorders, and I assume the EH67 is very easy. You put one of the same size (or larger) and turn the machine on. It attempts to read the disk, and when it cannot, it asks if you want to format it. You say yes, and it's a done deal. As long as the disk is at least as large as the original disk the machine came with, there should be no problem.

One thing to be very aware of though is that the hard drive size is embedded in the firmware of the machine. If you put in a larger drive, you cannot access the "rest" of the disk. The DVD recorder will format the new (larger) disk to the size of the original disk it came with. No one yet has found a way around this, so we just live with it.

There are several threads from people who have replaced the hard drive in their Panasonic DVD recorders and a search will find them easily enough.

The DVD drive/burner is another matter however. This is not so easily replaced. I had one go out recently and sent it to the Panasonic repair facility. They replaced the drive, and the control board. The cost was reasonable though, and the turn-around time was also reasonable, so I am very satisfied.

Well... Citibear beat me to it saying the same thing while I was entering this.

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 #7 of 12 Old 02-04-2009, 08:59 PM - Thread Starter
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Wow, this is all good news!
If all that it takes to fix the hard drive is simply replacing it with one with the same size/brand, I can certainly handle that. And as CityBear mentioned earlier 250G is already more than enough, I certainly would not be looking for anything larger anyway. And replacing the burner for $130 is also reasonable. And I assume they don’t have a problem with an international model.

I have a little bit of time now, I can respond better to your posts…
to CityBear –
I was wondering how good Pioneer DVD/HDD units were with the “jukebox” mp3/WAV. I was reading quickly through the LX61 manual and it seemed to be able to do a lot more than the EH67, but you pointed out that the software implementation is not very usable… and so, if my wife couldn’t easily access everything, then yes there is no point in paying extra for it. She has no problem working the DVD/CD 6 disk carousel, so I’ll just stick to that.
You’ve mentioned you’re a fan of the Pioneer units. I guess that if I ever wanted to know if I like them or not, I would have to try them. It’s like I used to have a Nikon SLR camera and always wondered about Canon. Then when Canon started coming out with the DSLR models (and at the time in my opinion they had better solutions) I got a Canon DSLR. Now I feel that both companies have great cameras and it’s a personal preference which one to use or buy, and so I don’t feel an urge to switch anymore :-)
I’ve never had a DVR before so I didn’t know what to look for, but now that I have one, I think I would be able to just look through the manuals to determine which units would cover my needs. Like I said before, I was set on getting the Phillips 3576 because I was impressed by how much information there was on this unit on this web site, but unfortunately the unit was everywhere out of stock. I got the EH67 pretty much because of the Church AV Guy’s post. I was thinking of the LX61, but found nothing on it and Pioneer has so many models out there, I got confused which one is which. For example, world-import has 330S, 340H, 550H, 555H, 560H, 650H and 660H, with the last one with same specs and price as the LX61. And 550, 555, 560 have all the same specs. And when I did a google search I never got a Canadian store or maybe I did and I didn’t even know. All I got was world-import, 110220volts, j&r, and bhphotovideo and maybe other websites I can’t think of right now. But I do recall that other web sites had even more models, for example 530, 541, 630, 640, and 645. Maybe if I found a thread where someone listed all possible units with a short description of differences and which units are really the ones to look for, I may have went for the Pioneer. And don’t get me wrong here :-) I’m not asking for that list. I thought that you might find it interesting what kind of challenges a DVDR newbie like me may encounter when deciding on a unit.

to Church AV Guy –
Regarding the formatting, I said I was surprised because I didn’t have to format the disks when using a computer recorder. But it makes a perfect sense if the disks I buy ARE for the computer. This would be more of a problem if they took forever to format, like regular hard drives some times do, but a ~10 second DVD formatting is really nothing to complain about.
About the recording, yes, I do understand that it’s only 480i (or Standard Def.). Let me see if I understand what you’re saying about the 16:9 input… if you feed it with, let’s say, a 16:9 DVD picture, with black bars at the top and the bottom, it may or may not retain the 16:9 ratio, depending on the “flag” signal (sent with the 16:9 size picture input). If the flag is there, then yes. If it isn’t than it will record a squeezed 16:9 to fit the 4:3 size. The same is true for the hi-def signal…
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post #8 of 12 Old 02-04-2009, 11:58 PM
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Yes, much as I love pioneers, the company marketing department has been on LSD for years: there is no other explanation for the utterly ridiculous number of Pioneer model variations for "global" or "world import" use. I mean, c'mon: Panasonic is a WAY more mass market brand, and even they only have two "global" machines, the EH-57 and EH-67.

I've posted here before regarding the completely useless and crazy-overpriced Pioneer "LX" variations: these are nothing but warmed-over 550 or 560 models with larger hard drives and PAL-format DTV (digital) tuners for European broadcasts: pointless for North American users. The Canadian x60 models are a much MUCH better deal, but if you have a hard time locating one and feel the itch to buy a new-in-box "global" Pioneer from a USA distributor like J&R or 220 Electronics, stick to the standard 550 "global" variant. The 530 series is older and obsolete, the LX series is a joke as described above. The "global" Pio 550 is similar to the Panasonic EH-67 except it includes an NTSC analog tuner, which might still be useful for awhile on some USA cable systems even after the ATSC changeover.
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post #9 of 12 Old 02-05-2009, 05:38 AM
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The answer to questions one and two is no. For the many .avi XviD files I have, such as documentaries downloaded from UK sites, to record the file onto the HDD, I burn the file to a CDR using NERO and then playback the file on another DVD player that feeds the signal to the EH67 for recording. You could do the same thing with mp3 files, although you could just as well leave the files on the CDR. I use folders on my computer for storing data, easy to do and space on my EH-67 is limited. With external Fantom 1TB hard drives now selling for near $100, I use that hard drive to store data like XviD files.

Bidding on the Panasonic DMR-EH55s on eBay, I see the winning bid price now in the area of $570 to $606, with the Buy It Now price of $599, all plus shipping costs. The EH-67 has worked out fine for me, I even use its remote to operate my 2003 E-80 Panasonic HDD DVD recorder. For an example of how different the Panasonic approach is to that of Phillips, compare the remotes. The EH-67 remote shows great design improvements over the Panasonic E-80 remote, with remote keys color coding and a tactile feel when you press the buttons. I have no use for the SCART connections and the tuner is worthless. The unit does play PAL DVDs great, better than NTSC DVDs, but I have only few PAL DVDs, including the anamorphic versions of Armageddon and Rocketeer. Too bad Panasonic never introduced a USA version of the EH-67 with an ATSC tuner.
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post #10 of 12 Old 02-05-2009, 10:21 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bijkij View Post

Let me see if I understand what you're saying about the 16:9 input if you feed it with, let's say, a 16:9 DVD picture, with black bars at the top and the bottom, it may or may not retain the 16:9 ratio, depending on the flag signal (sent with the 16:9 size picture input). If the flag is there, then yes. If it isn't than it will record a squeezed 16:9 to fit the 4:3 size. The same is true for the hi-def signal

I really wish this were simpler to explain, but it is rather complicated. If you send the recorder a picture with the black bars, the machine THINKS that they are part of the content you want, so it will record them as a part of the picture . You will never be rid of them on any display. On my television I can zoom the picture, which will make them "off screen" but they are still there, taking up resolution I would rather have the actual content utilizing. So rather than letterboxing the output, I choose to have my signal source anamorphically squeexe the 16:9 content into a 4:3 frame. When I play THAT back, I can select "stretch" mode on my television and the aspect ratios are back to normal, and the picture looks fine.

If your source sends a WS flag along with the anamorphically squeezed content, then the recorder will save the flag along with the video, but only to the hard disk and DVD-RAM. It does not save the flag to other formats. I don't know why.

Stay away from letterboxing if at all possible. It eats up resolution and is of no real value. Many receivers/video sources will not output widescreen content on the video or S-Video ports without letterboxing it. They do this to preserve the aspect ratio, saving your from distorted video. This is a bad approach in not allowing you the choice of output formats. If you have one of those devices, then you are going to be stuck with letterboxed content. Your best course of action is to talk to your service provider about getting a box that allows anamorphically squeeze content, or change providers. Or you could just live with it...

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 #11 of 12 Old 02-05-2009, 09:03 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gerrytwo View Post

The answer to questions one and two is no. For the many .avi XviD files I have, such as documentaries downloaded from UK sites, to record the file onto the HDD, I burn the file to a CDR using NERO and then playback the file on another DVD player that feeds the signal to the EH67 for recording. You could do the same thing with mp3 files, although you could just as well leave the files on the CDR. I use folders on my computer for storing data, easy to do and space on my EH-67 is limited. With external Fantom 1TB hard drives now selling for near $100, I use that hard drive to store data like XviD files.

Yes, I have not even thought about it. External hard drive solution for MP3 and .avi files would work just fine for me . I just checked and Fantom 1TB external hard drives are indeed $100 (at buy.com), but they only have a USB port which HF67 does not. The Fantom 1TB with a FireWire port is $171. I assume you're connecting the external hard drive to the HF67 DV input, right?
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post #12 of 12 Old 02-05-2009, 09:23 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks again for all the replies!
I said I would post something if I found anything new.
Well, I just tested the "automatic" recording from my video camera using the IEEE 1394 DV cable and everything went perfect. The recording automatically created chapters for every time there was a break in the video, like from stopping or pausing. I didn't try it, but I saw there is an option for combining different chapters into one, so this will suit all my video camera recording needs.
Also, I got a SCART-to-RCA converter (from www.lindy-usa.com/audio-video/adapters/scart) just so I have an extra composite input (or output, since it has a switch to work both ways). I've tested it recording something through it and it worked fine. So now I have two composite inputs in the back of the unit for a very cheap price. I also tried to play an .avi file on the HF67 and feed its output into one of the inputs, but the unit did not allow me to record when it was processing the video from its DVD drive. So if I really want an .avi file recorded in MPEG2 format onto the hard drive I'll have to feed the video from my Philips DVD player. But as gerrytwo mentioned an external hard drive is an even better solution.
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