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-   -   Pioneer 310-s (http://www.avsforum.com/forum/106-dvd-recorders-standard-def/1447817-pioneer-310-s.html)

drew64 12-27-2012 04:38 PM

Have a pioneer 310-s. the drive appears to have died. Won't read any discs. Took it to repair shop I used in past. They are having trouble finding the drive to replace. Needs to record on DVD-r discs. Haven't called pioneer yet. Wondering if anyone knows a model number for the drive needed or where to get one.

CitiBear 12-27-2012 07:04 PM

As jjeff answered in a similar thread you posted last month, it is no longer economically feasible to repair these old DVD recorders: for not much more than repair costs, you could purchase a new Magnavox MDR533 DVD/HDD model from WalMart with 320GB HDD drive and modern features like ATSC digital tuner and HDMI connection to improve playback quality on flat screen televisions. The Magnavox 533 costs approx $219, back when Pioneer was still offering replacement drives for your 310 the parts cost was $250 for the burner + additional fees for installation. The original Pioneer Corporation that mfr'd DVD recorders effectively went kaput and disappeared four years ago, so official repairs with new parts are no longer available.

I believe in keeping old recorders active as long as possible, but you do reach a point of diminishing returns. The 310 was nice in 2003 and very well built, but lacks all but the most basic features and is unnecessarily clumsy to use since it has no hard drive. I'm not the biggest fan here of the Magnavox, I find it a little crude vs (no longer available) DVD/HDD units made by Panasonic, Pioneer and Sony. But compared to a Pioneer 310, the Magnavox is actually much more advanced and convenient, with a similar operating feel to the 310.

If you really think you can't live without a working Pioneer 310, it is sometimes still possible to repair it by scavenging parts from eBay. You would need to track down a still-functional generic Pioneer DVR-106 or DVR-A06 burner that was sold from 2003-2004 as a PC accessory. The Pioneer 310 has the same burner inside it, but with a different controller board. (The 310 requires its custom controller board be inside any replacement burner. Fortunately, when the burner stops working, its never due to the controller board: its always a dead laser.) Once you obtain a functioning 106 PC burner, you'll need to remove the burner from your 310, open the bottom cover of both burners, and swap the green circuit board from the recorder burner into the 106 replacement. This will enable the 310 to recognize and use the "new" 106 drive.

Do note, however, the 310 might still "reject" the new burner, flashing "CPRM Err" on the front panel display, in which case you would need to use a Pioneer Service Remote and Service I.D. Data Disc to reset the recorder. This is easy to do, but the remote and disc are hard to come by now (the disc can be downloaded from some websites, a clone of the remote can be bought from specialty suppliers for about $40). The local repair guy you've been talking to may already have access to these service tools, if so all you'd need to give him is a good functional 106 burner (approx $30 second-hand).

I've repaired many Pioneer recorders, if you do find a spare 106 burner send me a PM and I'll give you step-by-step DIY installation instructions (too lengthy to post here). Frankly, though, I wouldn't bother: all 106 burners are old now with little usable laser life left in them. Odds are the replacement burner will fail within a few months of installation. The 310 with 106 is not totally compatible with the cheapened blank DVD-Rs sold in stores today, it struggles to burn them and wastes way too much laser power trying. The burner in the new Magnavox 533 is far more durable than the old Pioneer burners, and handles current blanks with ease. If you can possibly afford it, get the Magnavox.

drew64 12-28-2012 03:36 AM

Thanks for the reply. I can see how hard it is to find parts now. I did find a used 310 on eBay for 64$. I just use it to take recordings off my direct tv dvr so I'm not really looking for a hard drive in it. Also simple component hook up needed since all my hdmi inputs used. I use a blu ray player to play most of my discs. I may look at the magnovox anyway. Thanks for the detailed response.

CitiBear 12-28-2012 10:28 AM

Used Pioneer 310s are sorta rare now, they aren't as common as the 2004 and later models. OTOH, many used 310s actually still do work, while later models often have problems (due to a widespread contaminated parts issue that afflicted the electronics industry between 2003-2006). If you can find a nice used 310 that still works for under $100, it can be a decent value assuming it continues to work for at least a year. $64 is a great price, and you can typically find them for that or less on Craig's List if not eBay. Sometimes you'll see a model 210 for sale: these are identical to the 310, it was just a special model number used by CostCo. The 510 was a 310 with 80GB HDD, an incredible buy if you can find it near $100.

If your electronics repair guy charges reasonable fees, another option is to look for a "dead" Pioneer 220 or 225 on Craig's List. These often sell for under $50, they suffered from premature failure of the power supply due to contaminated capacitors. This is a relatively simple repair using generic cheap parts, so if you can snag one of these for $35 and get it fixed for not more than $50, they're a good deal for Pioneer fans. Note, however, you must specifically look for a unit that "doesn't power on," these are good candidates for repair because their burners are usually still functional. Avoid any Pioneer with "can't read or can't burn" issues, these have drive problems like your own 310. The Pioneer 220 and 225 (CostCo) were successors to the 210/310 and work exactly the same, only difference is cosmetic appearance and use of 107 burner inside instead of 106.

Still in all, if it were me, I'd just get the Magnavox 533 and be done with it. All these older Pioneers are going to fail, the burners are just too damned old and they aren't programmed to deal with current DVD-R for burning and sometimes even playback. The Magnavox burner has proven quite stunningly durable and compatible, since its introduction nearly six years ago the reported failure rate has been astonishingly low compared to similar recorders at twice the price. I understand you only really want a recorder to make DVD backups from your DirecTV PVR, but don't discount the utility of having an HDD in your DVD recorder: it allows you to just dump the contents of your DirecTV at any time without needing any DVDs or paying attention to the process. Later, when you have time to sit down and burn the DVDs, the Magnavox hard drive allows you to easily edit out commercials before burning the DVDs at high speed (15 mins each). It also lets you burn multiple copies quickly to share with friends/relatives. Back in 2003, the price of the Pioneer 310 without HDD was $349 while the 510 with HDD was nearly $700: cost alone made the non-HDD model a necessity for those on tight budgets. Today, at only $208, the Magnavox makes enjoying the HDD convenience available to everyone. Consider the DTV tuner and HDMI features a bonus in case you ever need them, meantime the Magnavox will connect to your DirecTV box just like the Pioneer 310 and play thru your TV component inputs as you prefer.

Surprisingly few DVD recorders remain available new in USA/Canada, most are very overpriced Magnavox or Toshiba DVD-only or DVD/VHS models without hard drives or even tuners, yet they typically run just $50-70 less than a Magnavox 533. As a long-term investment, the 533 with HDD and tuner will hold its value, with crucial repair parts like DVD burner remaining available from the mfr at reasonable cost. Given a choice of buying a new Magnavox 533 and then not having to worry for the next five years, or buying/repairing an old Pioneer and worrying it will drop dead every time I push the power button, I'd personally go for the newer recorder. (You could also consider the Panasonic EH59, a luxurious DVD/HDD model, but that is a grey-market import with no mfr warranty selling for $300-400 depending on availability month to month.)

I love my Pioneer recorders and will be sad when the last one eventually dies on me, but times change. We have to know when to let go of old favorites, and understand when something is no longer viable for repair. Many older consumers are shocked to discover their fancy new flatscreen is not feasible to repair if it breaks three years after they bought it: modern TVs are as disposable as Kleenex. DVD recorders fall into the same category. The days of keeping a Sony Trinitron or Pioneer stereo receiver or Panasonic VCR going for 20 years with only occasional minor repair by a tech down the street are over forever.

Doug O 12-29-2012 09:24 AM

After getting the Pioneer 640 and 650 models over the past year I've pretty well quit with looking for more old models. Unless I hit upon a good 660 at a reasonable price, that's it. I can get a 310 (or maybe it's a 210) in good working condition from one of the local pawn shops where it has been sitting these many months, but I don't really care as I have an excellent condition 510 sitting on a shelf in my bedroom. My friend who owned it barely used it and I only used it for a year to record old movies for him, then shelved it. I might pick up a Magnavox if I get the hankering but I recently bought into a complete Hauppage high def capture solution so I'm eager to try my hand at that. I was going to try to do HDD rips from a Dish/Bell 900 series if I acquired one of those but settled on a lower line receiver rendering that moot. I'm still surprised that can be done at all but it apparently can. Still, the newer solutions will have to do for now for us archivers...

CitiBear 12-29-2012 10:24 AM

Doug O, you Canadian members are the envy of every Pioneer recorder fan in USA! smile.gif

We here in the States turn into balls of inconsolable frustration every week as we see yet another Craigs List ad in Canada giving away choice second-hand machines like the Pioneer 550 & 560 (or their clone the Sony 780) for $100 or less. In USA, these are pretty much unobtainable except thru Canadian pawn shops on eBay that typically get bid well past $300.

In USA, the only sensible option remaining in a DVD/HDD recorder is the new Magnavox MDR533, or import Panasonic EH59 for the more adventurous. But my advice to Canadians: snap up every bargain Pioneer 550/560 or Sony 780 you can lay hands on. They were fantastic recorders, and you are lucky to have access to them at such cheap prices. Avoid the 540, 640 and earlier models: the prices aren't much cheaper and they aren't as good as the 550, 560 or 780. These later models have nice updates like improved encoders, ability to use USB keyboards for title name entry, and more versatile navigation controls (switching to my 640 after using my 560 for a few days is painful).

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