Originally Posted by PCdoc7
My Pioneer DVR 640HS died, and after researching here I decided to get a Mag 515. I want to be fair here as I know a lot of people love the mag. But I have had my new Unit for a few weeks now and it is a mixed bag. I am "sort of happy" with it, but there are problems. The Manual is long and not easy reading . . . so please excuse me if there are workarounds to some of my Issues that I did not see them in the Manual :
You won't get too many sympathetic responses here on AVS, PCdoc7: by default, this has become the Magnavox forum, and heaven help anyone who dares criticize the thing (you get tagged as a "boo-bird", and J. Edgar Hoover rises from the grave to open a file on you
). But I feel your pain: while it has many excellent qualities, the Magnavox can be a tough pill to swallow if you previously owned another brand DVD/HDD recorder and grew dependent on many features and interface refinements that were once common but go completely missing from the 515. You pretty much have to resign yourself to getting used to the Magnavox quirks and prehistoric interface. There are no workarounds that will give you on-the-fly skip settings, intuitive HDD navigation options, or custom thumbnails for HDD recordings. You will also discover there is no copy list function, so all edits are made on the original HDD recordings with no undo and no ability to rejoin titles after you divide them.
The Magnavox was designed to offer excellent quality at a popular price, but to meet that price point some features were left off. It costs half what a Pioneer 640, a Panasonic EH55, Toshiba XS or Sony HX sold for when last available in 2007: something had to give. It was thought that a reliable ATSC tuner/timer was more important than "luxury" features, and this has proved true for most first-time owners who think its just dandy compared to the limited DVD/VHS combos they had before. In exchange for the cruder interface, you do get the nice DTV tuner, a near-bulletproof burner drive, and ability to replace the HDD and burner yourself without fancy tools or expensive parts. The 6-hour chase play buffer is unique, and the ungarbled audio/dialog quality in "quick play" mode is WAY better than any other unit I've tried (great for speedy catchup of disposable reality shows and the news). Overall a very nice package, if not always ideal for everyone or every task.
To be fair, Pioneers have some killer drawbacks of their own: arcane service tools needed to replace HDD, won't recognize larger HDD than came with them, can't replace burners for less than $300, no real "undo" feature coupled with an all-too-easy title delete function, no ATSC or QAM tuners, and after 2005 models the remotes got as lame as the ones for the Magnavox. Pioneer only got around to refining its interface in 2005: earlier models like the immensely popular 520 sport an interface thats notably WORSE than the Magnavox. So, it depends what model recorders you're comparing, not just brands (they've all made turkeys or had odd design flaws).
Originally Posted by Nocturnal
I had three Pioneer units before I got my first Magnavox, and at first, I felt like the Magnavox was inferior in this regard. After using it for awhile, I began to prefer it to the Pioneers.
Every time someone says that, I wonder if they just never really needed half the features on their Pioneer (Panasonic, Toshiba, Sony...), or if its Magnavox Stockholm Syndrome: there's never been any other DVD/HDD with American DTV tuner, its been the only DVD/HDD you could buy since 2007, so some owners maybe talk themselves into loving it out of necessity. I have a Mag 2160A and a 513: I admire them for their ruggedness and DTV tuners, but I don't love or even like them very much. The HDD interface obstructs me, the editing is hopelessly imprecise, and the inability to preselect thumbnails on the HDD prior to burning the DVDs is beyond maddening if you make a lot of DVDs.
PCdoc7 has already discovered the "joys" of the Mag remote: but he probably won't have to worry about that for long (the remotes are as pitifully unreliable as the main unit is ruggedly durable). I'm personally on my third Mag remote, my friends and family are all flipping out because they're on their second or third as well and Funai is charging $33 now for replacements. Third-party remotes are available but not optimal. Meanwhile, I've been using the same Pioneer remote since 2005 to control all three of my Pios (they use different codes off the same remote). Not one button has gone bad, the paint on the buttons doesn't even show wear, and I *pound* on those Pio skip buttons- if only I could make it work my Magnavox, too.
The Pioneer's "flexibility" in jumping around comes at a price - lots of button presses and a fixed delay before they are implemented. I have my Magnavox units set to skip ahead 1 minute and back 15 seconds. This works really well for skipping commercials. It actually ends up being significantly quicker and requiring fewer button presses than it did with the Pioneers.
Its relative to how you prefer to run the machine. The multiple skip presses on the Pioneer are annoying, but worth it to me because I constantly modulate how far forward or back I want go in the editing screens. The Magnavox pre-set skip intervals are perfect for normal playback, but somewhat obstructive to quick editing of commercials.
For skipping large amounts of time quickly, I have the auto chapter setting at 15 minutes (there are 5 different times you can select for that).
Depends on why
you're trying to fast fwd very quickly: chapter skip is not a visible search- sometimes you want to see where you're headed. Although I can't say I ever found the Magnavox fastest speed search "too slow": it seems on par with Pioneer, Panasonic and JVC.