DVD Recorder with customizable menus and/or custom background - AVS Forum
DVD Recorders (Standard Def) > DVD Recorder with customizable menus and/or custom background
candlelightvideo's Avatar candlelightvideo 11:47 AM 01-06-2010

I'm searching for a DVD Recorder (hardware, not PC-based) which accepts DV input and S-Video (or composite) input, which also allows the user to create custom backgrounds and/or menu schemes.

I'm aware that some will have 5 or 6 canned schemes to choose from, but I'd like to be able to upload my own custom graphic(s) in advance and use that instead, to make the discs more personal. Supposedly Toshiba used to make a few Hard Drive DVD Recorders which could do this, but alas I can't find any that are currently available?!!

Surely there must be some out there... help?!

Thanks in advance!

CitiBear's Avatar CitiBear 02:41 PM 01-06-2010
There is absolutely nothing available of this nature- if you want custom menus and backgrounds, I'm afraid you're stuck with PC finishing. You can make the original recordings on a standalone recorder, if thats easier (it often is for things like dubs from tape), but you'll then need to rip the DVD into a PC authoring program to add your customized menus.

Its true Toshiba made something along these lines awhile back, but even those classic machines did not do exactly what you're asking: they would let you select a menu background and thumbnails from images already on the DVD or HDD (i.e. part of the recording itself), but AFAIK you could not upload some random graphics from an external storage device or PC. Its probably not worth hunting down one of these XS-series Toshibas anymore: they are getting very old now, repairs are almost always necessary, and they weren't much easier to use than a PC for this kind of authoring. Toshiba was basically showboating with those units, they were high quality and feature-laden but not very well thought out. You're much better off accepting the trade-off of a modern recorder + PC workflow, or just do everything on the PC.
Anubisrocks's Avatar Anubisrocks 05:28 PM 01-06-2010
Wow, this sounds uncomfortably familiar!
Citibear is right, outside of the PC there is nothing else that will do this.
Unfortunately, even if you settle for the canned backgrounds you will be harpressed to find something as nice as a PIO with HDD. BHPhoto currently has a used one for $299 if you hurry, but that's it.
candlelightvideo's Avatar candlelightvideo 09:18 PM 01-06-2010
Anubisrocks -- what does BHPhoto have only one of (I'm not sure if you're talking about one of the old Toshibas, or something else)?

CitiBear -- I'm fairly certain that the Toshiba solution indeed let the user completely customize the background and menus; although I'm not certain about this, it seems evident by the fact they offered a software tool to do the design work for it.

Descriptions for units like their RD-XS54 (vintage: 2006) say you can upload a custom menu background from your PC (the on-disc images are used for menu thumbnails).

h ttp://www.amazon.com/Toshiba-RD-XS54-Recorder-Hard-Drive/dp/B000B658N2

I also checked the device's online manual on the Toshiba Web site (h ttp://www.tacp.toshiba.com/tacpassets-images/models/rd-xs55/docs/RD-XS55_OM_E.pdf) and it confirms the capability:

From page 161 (Custom Menu Editor):
When creating a DVD-R/RW, this feature will allow you to set and add 16 types of images that are separate from the 8 types of custom menu which initially came with the recorder
You will need:

Images that you want to use on the menu screen (Windows bitmap format (bmp),*
1 24 bit color, 720 x 480*2 pixels (72

If the format is the same, you can save an image from Mac OS as is (72 dpi).

Since PC and TV display images differently, an image which appears normal on the PC may appear elongated on the TV. An image will appear normally on the TV and can be used as a background if you first create an image on the PC that is 640 x 480 pixel size, then elongate this image horizontally to 720 x 480 pixel size.

OK... well, enough of that. The XS55 and that series definitely would fit the bill. But what about today?

PC Workflow using Authoring Tools

I'm comfortable with basic and advanced authoring tools -- I use them every day.

The problem with this solution is that at a live event where I want people walking away with a disc-in-hand, it doesn't allow the time to load the footage into the authoring tool, rendering and then burning. Even if I am recording straight to a HDD, my preference is AVI recording for best quality archive, and that would require re-rendering for the DVD (to MPEG2). If I set my HD recorder to record/encode to MPEG2, then perhaps this wouldn't be so bad. I'd have to network my recording machine with the authoring machine, which and pay someone to grab each video file, drag it into the authoring tool, and then create the discs. = extra steps & costs.... :-(

PC Workflow using direct-to-DVD Tools

I've heard of a tool by Dazzle called "Instant DVD Recorder" which allows you to record direct from camera to the PC's DVD recorder (real-time encoding). This sounds promising, in theory, except that:

(a) I need to record to hard disk (for archive) as well as DVD
(b) I do *not* want to rely on a PC in my workflow -- other than for basic tasks and rock-solid software, my experience with DV handling is that if something glitches even slightly, the DV devices may need to be reboot (and there's no time for this in the field)
(c) Dazzle and consumer Pinnacle products, in my experience, are not rock solid -- far from it. They look pretty on the outside, but I wouldn't rely on them for anything important.

Hardware Solution (non-PC) - old Toshiba DVD Burner

Find a bunch of 2006 Toshiba DVD Burner like the XS55 and hope they don't break.

Hardware Solution (Sony MC6)

What do you know about the Sony MC6 (VRD-MC6)? It is consumer-level for sure, and its small form-factor doesn't allow for stacking (grrrrrr), BUT... it can encode AVCHD to DVDs for playback on Blu-ray players (if the source DV is HD), and according to *some* descriptions, allows you to create a custom menu via a JPEG stored on an SD card. I say "some" descriptions because others say that you can choose from 4 preset designs.

I checked the manual for this on the SONY Web site, and indeed... it's there (see JPEG below)! Page 68:

Select a background image to apply to the DVD Menu screen for discs created with
the DVDirect.

A, B, C, D

Select from four images. The background image is set to [A] by default.
Sets your favorite photo (JPEG file) for a background image. Insert the memory card with the selected photo (JPEG file) into the DVDirect's memory card slot before creating a disc.


Save only a single photo (JPEG file) in the top directory of a memory card. If there are many photos in the top directory of the memory card, the desired photo may not be set for the DVD Menu.
Some photos (JPEG files) may not be applied to the DVD Menu.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on all this... I know I'm not alone!

CitiBear's Avatar CitiBear 11:41 PM 01-06-2010
Originally Posted by candlelightvideo View Post

I'm fairly certain that the Toshiba solution indeed let the user completely customize the background and menus; although I'm not certain about this, it seems evident by the fact they offered a software tool to do the design work for it.

Descriptions for units like their RD-XS54 (vintage: 2006) say you can upload a custom menu background from your PC (the on-disc images are used for menu thumbnails).

Yeah, I figured two minutes after I answered you evidence would appear SOMEWHERE to correct me and say yes, the supercalifragilisticexpialidocious Toshiba XS could INDEED do exactly what you want. I am so friggin sick of this accursed series of discontinued flakey recorders being the only possible solution to every unusual task, but there it is. If this is what you need, hold your nose, troll eBay, look for a "mint" or "refurbished" or "new old stock" Toshiba, and pray to every deity you can name that you get one that won't completely crap out on you halfway thru the third live event you use it for. Plan on buying at least two units, so you have a backup- of all the DVD/HDD recorders ever sold, these are the most prone to blow up in your face at the worst possible time. It really is a nasty cheat that they seem tailor-made for specialty purposes like live events, but can't be trusted as far as you can throw them. (The Panasonics and Pioneers were far more reliable, but had only minimal authoring/finishing abilities: fine for TV archiving, not so hot for original productions.)

If you can't reconcile these risks, figure out a way to deal with the PC. There must be some software/hardware package out there that will allow HDD recording in MPEG2 with near-immediate authoring and burning to disc: don't overlook Mac-based possibilities as well as Windows. The dinky Sonys you mentioned are sold as consumer camcorder accessories, they wouldn't offer you any efficiency advantage over a direct-to-PC setup. It also appears there can be difficulties in making multiple copies of discs created by this recorder, and its memory stick interface has some serious glitches.
candlelightvideo's Avatar candlelightvideo 12:14 AM 01-07-2010
Originally Posted by CitiBear View Post

If you can't reconcile these risks, figure out a way to deal with the PC. There must be some software/hardware package out there that will allow HDD recording in MPEG2 with near-immediate authoring and burning to disc: don't overlook Mac-based possibilities as well as Windows. The dinky Sonys you mentioned are sold as consumer camcorder accessories, they wouldn't offer you any efficiency advantage over a direct-to-PC setup. It also appears there can be difficulties in making multiple copies of discs created by this recorder, and its memory stick interface has some serious glitches.

Sounds like I'm going to stay away from the old Toshibas.. you've adequately scared me!

"must be some software/hardware package" -- you'd think so, but everything has a cost. In my case, I'd need multiple computers, or one that could handle multiple cascaded DVD drives so I could continue recording while the last DVD is finalized.

I think "must" must be used with care m'friend.. if there must be something out there, and it was good, we'd all know about it, and we wouldn't be having this discussion!


Why would you say that the Sony hardware solution offers no efficiency over a PC solution? Sony's hardware solution is a standalone DVD burner which supports a custom menu background. Camera --> signal splitter --> set of these DVD Recorders = continuous/contiguous recorded DVD videos. I can't imagine a PC workflow being this efficient, unless custom built for this task.

Could you post links to the types of problems you described (problems duplicating, and memory stick problems)?

So far, this is the only modern unit I've found which allows custom backgrounds.
Anubisrocks's Avatar Anubisrocks 09:53 AM 01-07-2010
Hi candlelight,

I was talking about a PIO unit at BHPhoto. It doesn't do custom backgrounds just the choice of 6 or something.
CitiBear's Avatar CitiBear 10:44 AM 01-07-2010
I'm sorry if I was surly about the Toshibas in the wee hours this morning, I didn't exactly mean to say you should dismiss them out-of-hand. There are certainly enough characters on this board who swear by them (instead of at them), and one rabid Toshiba-phile who literally drove me off another board for daring to imply the "emperor had no clothes". Toshiba had an interesting idea in going far out on a limb with the XS series, making them into more of a self-contained authoring workstation than a mere DVD recorder. There's a reason they're still so highly sought after: they are unique, and nothing remotely similar was ever sold by Toshiba or anyone else. On a cost-per-feature basis, they are still a reasonable buy for specialty uses even at their ridiculously inflated second hand prices.

The basic underlying problem with the Toshiba XS is shared by all recorders designed during that period: they were immature products infested with bugs which hadn't had a chance to be shaken out by consumer feedback yet. There is also tremendous sample-to-sample variation: some (extraordinarily lucky) AVS members have Toshibas that never required a repair in the last four years, others have been pulling their hair out weekly, trying to keep a balky Toshiba functional. The achilles heel in these machines is the burner: it doesn't like blank media made after 2005, when it does work half the Toshibas out there make weird DVDs that come back to haunt you if you hand them off to others, and it has a the highest failure rate of any DVD/HDD burner.

All of these things have been worked around by the obsessive home-based users here on AVS, but these workarounds all essentially suck and are not practical for a production pro in the field who's expecting immediate gratification and saleable discs. When you're in the thick of it, you don't have time to try and convince the machine to accept a replacement burner (reputedly no easy task, despite a handful of cultists here who swear its a 10-second process). The replacement burners are not factory-authorized, its a lucky coincidence that they ever work at all, and that limited Toshiba XS compatibility could disappear overnight if those few mfrs make any slight change to their burners. This is not something I'd want to bet my reputation on as a production pro. But again, playing devil's advocate, there really aren't any alternatives if you want a one-box, immediate-gratification unit. PCs are slower and less integrated, other DVD/HDD recorders don't have the custom menu and authoring features. If you can amortize the cost as a business expense, you could buy up as many Toshiba XS recorders as you can find, and repair the ones that tank in your off time. Not ideal, but if nothing else will do...

The Sonys are not efficient because they don't have a hard drive: you say you need to make at least two copies of each production, one for the client and one for your archives. As a direct-to-DVD recorder, the Sony makes one-off single discs that would need to be put in a duplicator or PC to make additional copies. If you're going to futz with a duplicator or PC anyway, whats the point of the Sony? Plus, they are yet another example of a mfr reaching too far to be "spectacular", and falling on their ass: there are quite a few complaints these compact Sonys are not all they're cracked up to be, particularly in terms of disc compatibility with other hardware. Just browsing the Amazon links you provided gives a few of those reports, for others just google. Like the XS Toshibas, I suppose the Sony could be workable if you test it first, also carry a spare, and verify its discs can be quickly duplicated on site and are compatible with client playback hardware. My own take is this is another case of an unstable consumer niche product being pushed beyond its limits: if nothing else, direct to DVD recording is always a dicey proposition in the field. Inevitably the recorder chokes in the middle of a disc for some inexplicable reason, even if you always use top quality media- the success rate of recording to HDD is much better, and allows multiple quick disc copies depending on the setup.

My personal professional experience is limited to post-production facilities, I have very limited "live" field exposure. I do know several other people doing local live event coverage, and most have given up on the idea of handing out "flawless" professionally-custom-authored DVDs immediately upon the event ending: it really isn't doable on a practical level. This is an unrealistic expectation for clients to have, my friends who do this work now educate them to whats possible immediately and what requires next-day service. About half the videographers I know will not give anything out immediately, clients agree to wait for next-day custom authoring. The remaining techs are a bit more ambitious: they record the event to a standard reliable DVD/HDD recorder (like a Panasonic, Pioneer or Magnavox), burn a basic DVD using the canned authoring for immediate distribution, and offer clients the full custom jobbie as a next-day upsell. This only works if the client is satisfied with SD quality, if they want AVCHD its pretty much a next-day cycle, unless the contract is for raw footage only.

A surprising number of AVS members do this sort of task gratis for their church groups or other local organizations. In such situations, with minimal to no budget, its a little ridiculous for the groups to expect a Hollywood style DVD menu within minutes of the event ending. They really ought to be satisfied with the canned menus as a trade-off for immediate gratification. Of course, there will always be some ambitious gearhead videographer who WILL spend 24/7 keeping something like a Toshiba XS going, or find/program a software package to do the job on a laptop. If you're up against this type of competition, the only choice is to follow them into hell and use these capable-but-unreliable tools.
wajo's Avatar wajo 11:34 AM 01-07-2010
Might be interesting?

Supermediastore.com has a couple of pricey JVC "recorders/media duplicators" that have HDDs, DV and S-Video inputs, and one or both have RS232 connections.

This one has a 40GB HDD. Description mentions 18 preinstalled menu backgrounds, so one below might have same or more.

and this has a 250GB HDD. This one lists 2 write drives, DVD and MiniDV, plus DV and S-Video inputs, and the other one shows the same 2 drives in the pic.

The 2nd unit mentions its use as a media duplicator... "Full auto repeat discs can be made"... have to see the manual to learn more on this feature. Could be a fast DVD dub system? On-board editing is also mentioned.
CitiBear's Avatar CitiBear 11:55 AM 01-09-2010
Those JVCs seem attractive but should be avoided, particularly at their insanely inflated prices. These are nothing more than the older-style consumer JVC with a gray cabinet and sky-high "pro" pricetag. The JVC SR-DVM600 and 700 have had a staggering return rate based on out-of-the-box defective burners, and they retain the "genuine JVC" power supply neurosis that results in frequent "LOADING" crashes. Hard drive repair/replacement is also much more difficult with JVCs than the Toshibas or other brands. All this might be tolerable if they had the authoring features of the Toshiba, but they don't: their only advantages over an ordinary consumer DVD/HDD recorder are the choice of 18 canned menu designs instead of the typical one or six, and perhaps the MiniDV tape integration if you need that.

For the outrageous price of one JVC, I'd opt for three second hand Toshibas instead: if you're going to gamble, gamble on something that has exactly the features you want. Or, just get a reliable, current-model DVD/HDD recorder from Pioneer, Panasonic or Magnavox if you're willing to settle for canned menu designs. Hell, you can buy seven Magnavoxes for the price of one JVC (by comparison, Magnavox uses a similar encoder, is very easily serviced/maintained, and is heavily documented online by wajo and other power users).
sgm26's Avatar sgm26 09:16 AM 01-13-2010
I have one of these Toshibas (the XS32), and it has excellent editing software. However, I have not recorded DVDs because the DVD burner is broken. Before you go for one of these machines make sure you can find a replacement DVD burner because they have a history of burners going out. I'm not knocking the machine because I still use it as a PVR and it still works fine for that.
candlelightvideo's Avatar candlelightvideo 01:41 PM 01-18-2010
WOW. That 1/7 12:44 posting is excellent -- thanks for taking the time.

The JVC sounds intriguing, but the replies about reliability say a lot.

The benefit of the standalone recorder is that with a 1394 signal splitter, or S-Video/Composite splitter, I can be recording a disc for the performer, a master and a copy for the band all at the same time. And on the occasion when the DVD recorder decides to crap out, I can have my assistant pull the performance from MiniDV tape, or I can get it off my hard drive (which I also recorded to) post-event and give them a better-authored disc.

Using PC-based authoring workflows have the downside of time -- I can pre-setup a nice menu with even-centric graphics, and intro-reel, etc. And I can even have most of the footage pre-rerendered. But to just drag the clip (e.g. M2T or AVI) into the authoring tool, rendering and burning, can take enough time to create a major backlog during a live event. Real-time recording to the disc, and being *done* (other than offline finalization) is super-efficient. And then making copies in a duplicator is pretty fast. It can look semi-polished by having the video fade-up/down via in-camera features too (or a switch).

OK -- on the MC6...

I purchased an MC6 and my finding is that it's close to being pretty awesome, but just close. Here's what I wrote to Sony:
Do you have an advisory team for this product with an input stream for customer feedback? If so, I'd love to see these types of features added (suggestion box!) in some future firmware release, or model. Here's a list, so far, of what I'd like to see:
  1. Ability to change the color scheme on the created titles (all titles have a yellow box around the thumbnail, and yellow text)
  2. Ability to create a custom title naming prefix, so instead of "title 1, title 2, title 3" I could set the prefix to "Dance ", and then they'd be called "Dance 1, Dance 2, Dance 3, etc"
  3. Ability to suppress prompts which come up, and set them as "setup options" instead. For example, if I always want to format new discs for DV/Video recording when they are inserted, and never want to finalize when ejecting a disc, I'd like to set these in the Setup menu and never be prompted. That would allow me to insert a disc, press record (to record) -- and press "stop, eject" when done. As currently implemented, each time a disc is inserted it requires menu selection to get it "ready to record".
  4. Preview of input -- enable the LCD display to display the last-recorded input (or a default input set via setup menu) even when you're not recording on it. This would assure, prior to recording, that the signal stream is good.
Here's my application.

I'm an event videographer. During events, I split my camera output (Sony cameras, of course) to a stack of DVD recorders to provide real-time DVD creation for the performers to pick up. The DVDs are finalized in a dedicated unit by my team, and duplicated as needed. I'm considering purchasing 10-20 of these MC6 units for this.

Their downsides are:
  1. The unit does not have S-Video input
  2. The discs must be "snapped" in and out of the tray, and the tray does not automatically open all the way; larger DVD recorders have a motorized tray and the discs can be layed loosly
  3. There are multiple prompts which need to be "clicked through" each time a recording is made -- when I'm up there shooting, this equates to more potential errors, more to think about, and/or delays between performers
The upside is:
  1. The MC6 is the only unit I've seen on the market which has a customizable background
  2. The display allows me to validate that the video input is good during recording
  3. Small form-factor makes it more transportable

bron's Avatar bron 01:13 AM 01-23-2010
Well, I guess I'm one of those lucky XS-35/55 owners. I use mine nearly everyday to record cable TV and have done so for several years. I agree the burner is the weak spot, but it does have some fairly impressive editing and menu capabilities and, as has been pointed out, nothing similar has ever shown up since. I love mine.

It cannot touch the PC-workflow which is much more capable and useful overall, but it can turn out some pretty nice looking discs with minimal effort once you get over the learning curve. A/V PQ is pretty darn good, too.

It certainly has its quirks, but I have never regretted the purchase. Best DVD recorders I have owned save for the Sony HX-900, which has a lot less features, but a lot more build quality. The HX-900 is a rock. Pedestrian DVD menus, but excellent A/V quality.
joelietz's Avatar joelietz 04:25 PM 02-08-2010
Also, vinpowerdigital has a ton of different dvd duplicator options including Xerox and Sharknet brands. They also have assorted label and printing media for their various machines. A good resource and worth checking out.
lordsmurf's Avatar lordsmurf 05:51 AM 02-16-2010
Sorry to disagree with you Citibear, but your info isn't quite accurate about the Toshiba or JVC products.

All recorders have some level of fail rate -- everything does, all electronics, even the produce in the store has a fail rate (goes rotten faster than others in the bin).

The JVC models are pro series machines, they are most certainly not a re-painted consumer machine. Even then, the "consumer" machines were all made for the prosumer market -- they were sold in specialty A/V stores only, not Best Buy or Walmart. Given what they do for filtering, they're not at all overpriced. JVC errors (the famous "LOADING" generic error message) has been dissected in detail at http://www.digitalfaq.com/forum/show...-dvd-2008.html and you'll find pro series models rarely have any problems, being made after the capacitor snafu.

Toshiba had some issues too, but often they were blown out of proportion entirely on forums like this one. The XS machines were really that good, yes, worth every penny. I think you're exaggerating just a little bit by suggesting they would give out on a 3rd recording, or that an owner has to massage the machine daily to work correctly. The IRE "problem" goes unnoticed most times, and that was always the biggest complaint by tech perfectionists.

AVSForum members were well known for ignoring the awful blocky/noisy quality of Panasonic video encoding some years ago, instead hating on machines that were visually superior. This place still has a few myths that need to wiped away -- JVC and Toshiba were not at all bad machines to have and use. Serious video collectors cling to them.
CitiBear's Avatar CitiBear 10:07 AM 02-16-2010
I wouldn't dispute that both JVC and Toshiba "classic" models were capable of stunning results, but this particular thread involves their proposed use in a live event situation where failure is not an option. If the Toshibas were still available new, preferably as 2010 models with five years more refinement, they would be highly recommendable. But since they are only available second-hand as 2004-early 2006 models, with a history of not aging well and not being easily repaired in the field, they are a huge risk for live events. A calculated risk, to be sure, and one could certainly be quite successful using an old Toshiba XS this way. But its not as cut-and-dried as buying/using the cameras involved in such work.

JVC was JVC: they have their issues, again like all mfrs, you balance the risks/rewards to make a choice. New consumer-level JVCs are off the table, they're made by LG and they have none of the qualities lordsmurf speaks of. The older genuine JVCs he relies on date from the Toshiba XS era, meaning again A) they're ancient and B) only available second hand. I've been thru a number of used JVCs, from the typical sources, and like the old Toshibas these don't have a good track record as used merchandise. Many have functional issues, some work perfectly but then you still get stuck with the media pickiness of older standalone recorders. A vintage JVC will accept any random blank you put in it, giving no sign it doesn't like the disc until it craps out ten minutes into the recording with a LOADING... error. (LOADING is a catch-all error display on vintage JVCs, it can mean anything from "my power supply has detonated" to "this blank disc is too new for my firmware, I can't record on it for more than a few minutes".) Your typical classic JVC model has no hard drive, leaving you at the mercy of vintage direct-to-DVD recording risks- I wouldn't rely on direct-to-DVD if you put a gun to my head: HDD is a necessity for live event coverage. The very rare vintage JVCs with HDD are utterly unrepairable and extremely fragile, its practically a 100% certainty if you see a used one for sale there will be a note re "hard drive is dead". Current SR-DV600 and 700 models would be the safer JVC bet with HDD.

It is a mistake to assume "pro line gear" will be different in any significant respect from "consumer" gear. JVC and Panasonic were/are the only two mfrs with feet in both the pro and consumer markets, and both tended to just slap dark grey cabinets on their consumer gear and double the list price for their "prosumer" dealers. If a format has a wide consumer market, like VHS or DVD, chances are 80-20 the Panasonic "prosumer" model was identical to a consumer unit and virtually 100% for JVC. Back in the day, pros understood the difference between the $1800 Panasonic AG-1980 SVHS and the $5000 AG-7750 SVHS, they served different purposes and were built to different standards of serviceability/upgradability/durability (ditto JVC with its vastly different HR and BR lines). "Prosumer" JVC dvd standalones are identical to circa-2005 consumer JVCs, with the addition of a MiniDV tape transport. All the caveats that apply to old JVC consumer decks apply to these prosumer models, except that you can still get them brand new.

Normally this would be a much better risk, because you could exchange a defective new unit and if you get a good one you can keep it going indefinitely with careful use, as lordsmurf has done for years now (even flaky machines can be OK if they're one-owner and that owner is you, but all second-hand recorders are a pig in a poke). Unfortunately the current prosumer JVCs were fitted with a really bad production run of Hitachi Goldstar burners, a very high percentage are defective out-of-the-box, so the "brand new" advantage is somewhat nullified here. If shopping the JVC SR-DV600 or 700 dvd/hdd/dv models, avoid deep-discount dealers or second-hand sources: you need a pro dealer who's aware of the burner situation and will exchange it for you three times if necessary without an argument.

Lordsmurf is of course correct that many of the older Panasonic models so popular on AVS were just as goofy as the vintage Toshiba or JVC models under discussion, and I certainly have a wealth of first-hand horror stories about my early Pioneer experiences. The point here is not to single out any mfr as "bad", but to remember "legendary" machines capable of the highest-quality recordings are not necessarily better-made than other makes/models: often they're somewhat worse when it comes to long-term durability or functional availability second-hand. You can't assume just because vintage Model X has stupendously good noise filtering or vintage Model Y has phenomenal authoring features that they're gonna be any more stable in a live production environment than a new $79 Samsung from Radio Shack- all standalone recorders are weird compromise designs which we have no direct control over, they can't be adjusted or modified to stay up-to-date and they can't be repaired in the field. A custom full-bore "pro" solution is the best way to go, even if it requires a PC host.
lordsmurf's Avatar lordsmurf 01:05 PM 02-16-2010
For a live event, you need redundancy anyway. Putting faith in one machine is not smart videography.

I would not suggest JVC-branded non-JVC-manufactured consumer machines from 2007-2010, no. Not too keen on modern Toshiba units either.

Several classic JVC machines had hard drives, in the pro series (and one prosumer model per sub-line, the MH20 and MH30/MH300). Having stripped apart a lot of JVC consumer and pro gear from the 90s and 2000s, I can tell you the machines differ. Yes, some parts get shared (molds, for example), but usually not the important pieces.

I tend to self-repair bad equipment, when I can. Rarely do I need to toss anything out. And I have almost no electronics skills, just raw ingenuity and no fear of tinkering. So anybody can do it!

Nothing* will really do custom menus like the first post added. Go get a computer and some software.

(*There were also some professional Pioneer DVD recorders that did custom menus, but cost/availability was not very good, and I don't even know if they made it outside Japan.)

mattack's Avatar mattack 08:02 PM 02-16-2010
For a live event, you'd record to the HARD DRIVE anyway, so there's *much* less of a chance of failure. (Yes, I had the XS32 hard drive corrupt on me once -- and I put a TINY bit of the fault on me, since I powered it down when it was hung when I put in a DVD while it was recording.. The majority of the fault is of course on the buggy XS32 in the first place -- but based upon other things I've seen, I think it would have 'come back' eventually.)

So I swear *by* AND *at* my XS32. As I posted yesterday in the XS32 help thread, I would love to have a current replacement *hard drive recorder* (even without the DVD or theoretical BluRay support) that lets me play faster than real time, which is most of what I use my XS32 for nowadays.
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