Best DVD Recorder for a technophobic mother? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 19 Old 04-04-2010, 10:41 PM - Thread Starter
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Sort of an odd question, but I don't really know where else to ask it.

My mother has about 1000 VHS tapes that desperately need to be converted to DVD. It's just too much storage, it's too much to keep them properly maintained, and the cost of VHS tapes vs. DVDs means for future recordings the choice seems clear.

They are all the same format, 2 hour long recordings, each one contains 2 episodes of some drama.

The problem is she doesn't grok technology well. The current suggested solutions of recording to HDD and then dubbing is simply too complicated. I'm looking for a unit where she can literally stick a VHS in one slot, a DVD in the other, and press a button. Preferably with playback as it dubs.

So far browsing the forum the Panasonic DMR-EZ48VK seems to be the only game in town, but the official thread makes it sound like this unit is a little . . . buggy. Will this unit solve the problem, or is there some hidden 'gotcha' I should know about?
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post #2 of 19 Old 04-05-2010, 07:25 AM
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The simplest to use recorder iIMHO is the Toshiba 400 series. If 2 hours is all she needs. Does she have a separate VCR she could hook up for recording? Most of the guys here don't like the combo units. Although I should mention that my daughter bought one about 6 months ago and has yet to figure out how to record, so for some it's just not going to work.
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post #3 of 19 Old 04-05-2010, 07:44 AM
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The absolute simplest I've seen so far is the JVC DR-MV150 combo. Put in a blank DVD, insert a VHS tape and run the tape to the point where you wish to start recording, then press the dubbing button on the front panel. The unit also has an ATSC and QAM tuner for cable or antenna based time shifting.

Others will urge you to use separate components for better quality and that might be true but also raises the level of complexity.
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post #4 of 19 Old 04-05-2010, 08:21 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chu View Post

Sort of an odd question, but I don't really know where else to ask it.

My mother has about 1000 VHS tapes that desperately need to be converted to DVD. It's just too much storage, it's too much to keep them properly maintained, and the cost of VHS tapes vs. DVDs means for future recordings the choice seems clear.

They are all the same format, 2 hour long recordings, each one contains 2 episodes of some drama.

The problem is she doesn't grok technology well. The current suggested solutions of recording to HDD and then dubbing is simply too complicated. I'm looking for a unit where she can literally stick a VHS in one slot, a DVD in the other, and press a button. Preferably with playback as it dubs.

So far browsing the forum the Panasonic DMR-EZ48VK seems to be the only game in town, but the official thread makes it sound like this unit is a little . . . buggy. Will this unit solve the problem, or is there some hidden 'gotcha' I should know about?

For the specific purpose of transferring two hour long videotapes to single DVD with a press of a button the Panasonic DMR-EZ48 should be satisfactory. There is a simple front panel control to initiate the copying process after setting the recording mode (speed). This process is not without its problems (as I've mentioned in the DMR-EZ48 thread and elsewhere) but some users manage to live with these "crudities." Other of this model's bugs and design flaws are related to the integration of the digital tuner with scheduling recordings. If a tuner is not important, such as use with a cable company converter box or satelite receiver, the tunerless DMR-EA38 might be a better alternative but that specialty model is seldom found at retail stores. These Panasonics are seldom attractively priced when compared with the outstanding Magnavox 2160 HDD/DVD Recorder. But the Magnavox 2160 has a steeper learning curve than the "one touch" Panasonic combo recorders.

If your mother has a older TV with only an RF input (the threaded coax cable connection) a RF modulator (about $20) will most likely be needed. If your mother's TV also has composite inputs, yellow for video and white/red for audio, a modulator will not be necessary.

There are also some decent combo recorders with the Magnavox brand name, the tunerless models in the 420/427 series and the tuner-equipped models in the 450/457 series. Copying videotapes with these combo recorders is just a little more involved than pressing a single button, but once one learns the procedure these models should be satisfactory. The Magnavox combo recorders are often discounted by retailers. Another often discounted brand name is Sylvania. (Magnavox, Sylvania, Toshiba and a few other brands are manufacterd by Funai.) While Sylvania combo recorders have a more stylish, "high-tech" appearance than the Magnavox models, they sometimes lack features that make the Magnavox models a much better buy.

A description of the differences between various Funai brands/models would go well beyond responding to your inquiry. I mention a few of the Magnavox, Sylvania and Toshiba differences in this post:

http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showt...7#post18433917

In that post I also describe the Panasonic Flexible Recording feature. That feature is not available when using the front panel copying control.

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post #5 of 19 Old 04-05-2010, 11:33 AM
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I know you kind of wanted to go the combo route, but if her VCR is in decent working condition and she wants the most idiot prof way I'd suggest the tunerless Panasonic EA-18(or tunered EZ-28 if she needed a tuner) along with her existing VCR.
Since she already knows how to use her VCR that will eliminate learning the VHS side. AFA DVD burning, with her VCR line outputs going to the EA-18s line inputs and the EA-18 line output going to her TV(it would complicate things a little if her TV only had RF inputs) all she'd have to do to copy a VHS is push PLAY on her VCR, REC on the DVDR(leave it set to SP/2hr speed) and walk away. 2+ hrs later all she'd need to do is push eject on DVDR, where she'd be prompted to push REC to finalize DVD, and finally a couple minutes later she'd have a 2hr finalized DVD. Note it might?? be possible to set the EZ-18/28 up to automatically finalize the DVD once it's filled up, if so that would be one less step for her.
Anything new would be recorded directly to DVD(by the tuner in the EZ-28 or from a cable/sat. box with the EA-18).
A real advantage to keeping her existing VCR is one, she already knows how to use it and 2 her tapes will track better using the VCR that actually recorded her programs. Since she used SP(I applaud her on that) tracking won't be as big of a issue than people that used SLP, but it's almost always better to use the actual VCR that recorded the tapes. While the EZ-48v sounds like the easiest solution, the best way I've heard the the EZ-48v described is a diva, if one is looking for simplicity in life a diva is probably not the way to go
Note if her tapes are 2+ hrs. she could use FR set to the exact length of the tapes. It would add a little to the complexity but would be better than dropping down to LP(4hrs/disc). Panasonics don't have a inbetween speed like the Funai DVDRs mentioned, not sure about the Toshiba or JVC.
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post #6 of 19 Old 04-05-2010, 12:20 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jjeff View Post

Note if her tapes are 2+ hrs. she could use FR set to the exact length of the tapes. It would add a little to the complexity but would be better than dropping down to LP(4hrs/disc). Panasonics don't have a inbetween speed like the Funai DVDRs mentioned, not sure about the Toshiba or JVC.

Just to clarify: The Funai Magnavox 2160 and Philips 3575/3576 have two in-between speeds, 2.5-hr-SPP and 3-hr-LP, then it's 4-hr-EP and 6-hr-SLP (in addition to the 1-hr-HQ).


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post #7 of 19 Old 04-05-2010, 06:24 PM
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As has been noted, if the TV used does not have RCA inputs, use of a combo unit would eliminate a connection (and the need for a RF converter). The combo unit could be substituted for the VCR. The old VCR could be stored (or used with another TV).

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post #8 of 19 Old 04-06-2010, 05:10 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wajo View Post

Just to clarify: The Funai Magnavox 2160 and Philips 3575/3576 have two in-between speeds, 2.5-hr-SPP and 3-hr-LP, then it's 4-hr-EP and 6-hr-SLP (in addition to the 1-hr-HQ).

As do all Magnavox recorders.
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post #9 of 19 Old 04-08-2010, 10:35 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for all the replies. After doing a lot of research and pursuing the manuals, I think the Magnavox ZV4xx line is the best bet.

One quick question though, she currently has Comcast and they provide a digital tuner box that converts the signal to analogue. Will this unit have a better digital tuner than comcast, or is it better to just let their black box handle the decoding?
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post #10 of 19 Old 04-08-2010, 11:41 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chu View Post

Thanks for all the replies. After doing a lot of research and pursuing the manuals, I think the Magnavox ZV4xx line is the best bet.

One quick question though, she currently has Comcast and they provide a digital tuner box that converts the signal to analogue. Will this unit have a better digital tuner than comcast, or is it better to just let their black box handle the decoding?

Clear QAM tuners in consumer DVD recorders, including the Magnavox ZV45x series DVD recorders, may tune non-scrambled sub-channels directly from the Comcast coax cable. Unfortunately Comcast has or will soon "scramble" all but the "must carry" local (broadcast) channels, government, public access, shopping and a few other services.

Cable company provided converter boxes or DTAs must be used to "unscramble" the "encoded" signals. Clear QAM tuner equipped TVs and DVD recorders can not "unscramble" the "encoded" signals.

When connected to cable company converter boxes or DTAs, recording with DVD recorders is limited to analog RF, composite or S-Video output connections.

Clear QAM tuners in TVs and DVD recorders are fast approaching obsolescence.

"A ROSE BY ANY OTHER NAME WILL SMELL AS SWEET. BUT IT DOES NOT FOLLOW THAT WHATEVER WE CHOOSE TO CALL A ROSE WILL POSSESS THE ROSE'S FRAGRANCE."

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post #11 of 19 Old 04-08-2010, 11:47 PM
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The periodic need to rescan clear QAM may also cause a technophobic person some fits as well.

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post #12 of 19 Old 04-09-2010, 10:33 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tulpa View Post

The periodic need to rescan clear QAM may also cause a technophobic person some fits as well.

Along with the need to maintain an Excel 'Cheat Sheet'.

I watch the majority of my TV via my 3 networked Lifetime ReplayTVs (controlling STB/DTA via IRBlaster) so I have no idea where the actual (cable) channels are located. When I want to record something on one of my DVDRs, I need to 'look it up' first.

I bought a 19" LCD several months ago to 'experiment' and see what was available (channels, formats, viewing SD cable channels on a LCD, etc...). When my (technophobic) wife asked me what channel TCM was on, I had no clue.

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Originally Posted by DigaDo View Post

...Clear QAM tuners in TVs and DVD recorders are fast approaching obsolescence.

I guess I'm getting old because I'm really tired of having to discard perfectly operating equipment because it's no longer supported.

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post #13 of 19 Old 04-09-2010, 11:06 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ClearToLand View Post

I bought a 19" LCD several months ago to 'experiment' and see what was available (channels, formats, viewing SD cable channels on a LCD, etc...). When my (technophobic) wife asked me what channel TCM was on, I had no clue.

I guess I'm getting old because I'm really tired to having to discard perfectly operating equipment because it's no longer supported.

With most providers TCM and TCM HD are "scrambled" services that aren't found with clear QAM tuner-equipped TVs or consumer market DVD recorders. Our local Comcast franchise maps TCM to "location" 501 and TCM HD to "location" 784, both "scrambled" and requiring Comcast provided "digital" or "HD" converter boxes. I have no idea what actual sub-channels our local Comcast service has located the two TCM services but that's of little interest to me because they are "scrambled."

Of course, recording TCM or TCM HD from a "converter box" with a consumer market DVD Recorder or HDD/DVD Recorder (anything with "removable media") is limited to "analog" RF, composite or S-Video inputs. Thank the entertainment industry in collusion with government for that!

"A ROSE BY ANY OTHER NAME WILL SMELL AS SWEET. BUT IT DOES NOT FOLLOW THAT WHATEVER WE CHOOSE TO CALL A ROSE WILL POSSESS THE ROSE'S FRAGRANCE."

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post #14 of 19 Old 04-17-2010, 04:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DigaDo View Post

Clear QAM tuners in TVs and DVD recorders are fast approaching obsolescence.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ClearToLand View Post

I bought a 19" LCD several months ago to 'experiment' and see what was available (channels, formats, viewing SD cable channels on a LCD, etc...). When my (technophobic) wife asked me what channel TCM was on, I had no clue.

I guess I'm getting old because I'm really tired of having to discard perfectly operating equipment because it's no longer supported.

Things were simpler back in the old days. Here's part of a newspaper ad from November 6, 1982:
LL

"A ROSE BY ANY OTHER NAME WILL SMELL AS SWEET. BUT IT DOES NOT FOLLOW THAT WHATEVER WE CHOOSE TO CALL A ROSE WILL POSSESS THE ROSE'S FRAGRANCE."

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post #15 of 19 Old 04-17-2010, 04:33 PM
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Maybe simpler but more expensive
$10.98(after $2 rebate) for a 2hr T120 video tape. We can buy a quality 2hr DVD R for under 30 CENTS now. And for recorders, $999 for a VCR where as now people complain if their DVDR is more than $99 For much less than $999 one can buy a much better DVDR, which would run rings around that $999 VCR.
A 19" 4:3 tube TV for $448, my last 20" LCD was under $200 and is HD. Not to mention minimum wage was probably 1/3 of what it is now. For price of electronics you just can't beat the age were in Too bad people are so cheap and mfgs. keep trying to please them, doesn't bode will for quality products.
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post #16 of 19 Old 04-17-2010, 05:11 PM
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I would have so rocked that 50" front projection.

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post #17 of 19 Old 04-17-2010, 05:21 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tulpa View Post

I would have so rocked that 50" front projection.

Here's a little more of the ad:
LL

"A ROSE BY ANY OTHER NAME WILL SMELL AS SWEET. BUT IT DOES NOT FOLLOW THAT WHATEVER WE CHOOSE TO CALL A ROSE WILL POSSESS THE ROSE'S FRAGRANCE."

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post #18 of 19 Old 04-17-2010, 08:14 PM
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Fridges have kind of gone up in price, though.

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post #19 of 19 Old 04-18-2010, 08:41 PM
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These ads got me thinking back fondly to Mom's trusty Hitachi 20 inch CRT ... (1983-2010) $399. Felt a little guilty putting it out to pasture, since... it was still working...
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