1080p Up-conversion on Magnavox 535 - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 20 Old 12-29-2012, 08:05 AM - Thread Starter
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I recorded a game and when I tried to watch it, the quality was extremely poor. I thought the machine was defective so I returned it. Then I thought maybe the terrible picture was because the input was limited to the cable that came with the machine - no way I could find to use HDMI or even blue/green/red cables. I don't know how to do upconversion though so maybe that was the problem. It seemed to be a great machine in terms of features though so I am tempted to try buying it again. I'd appreciate very much hearing if others think the input was not the problem and/or if upconversion would have made all the difference.
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post #2 of 20 Old 12-29-2012, 10:11 AM
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It would help to know how you had it hooked up, and what all you had hooked up. You said "recorded a game," well, that could mean a football game on TV/cable/satellite, or a video game (I assume the latter.) Also, when you say input, are you talking the input to the recorder (limited to standard def on composite or S-video cables) or the TV (that's where the HDMI cables and upconversion may come to play.) Can you clarify how it's all set up?

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post #3 of 20 Old 12-29-2012, 10:22 AM - Thread Starter
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I recorded a game showing on TV through my cable box. Magnavox customer suppport said the only input possible on the DVR was with the cable that came with the machine - that it was not possible to use the green/blue/red (composite?) or HDMI. My TV is connected to the cable box with HDMI. I have a plasma HDTV with a great picture so I was hoping that I'd see a similar quality picture with a recording from the DVR. Does that help clarify the problem and possible solution? Thanks for your help!
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post #4 of 20 Old 12-29-2012, 10:23 AM
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Hook up the output you have going to the input of your Magnavox directly to your TV, the quality of the recording the Magnavox makes will look no better and slightly worse than that. All DVDRs are SD, this will be nothing like HD even though it may be upconverted.
Recordings done with the digital tuner on a good quality HD channel will look better than a line input recording, not HD but better.
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post #5 of 20 Old 12-29-2012, 10:41 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ncody71 View Post

Magnavox customer suppport said the only input possible on the DVR was with the cable that came with the machine - that it was not possible to use the green/blue/red (composite?) or HDMI.

They're correct (somewhat, depending on what cable came with the machine.)

The HDMI and green/red/blue plugs are outputs, from the recorder to the TV. The upconversion is just to make the resolution more friendly to HDTVs (going from 480i to 720p/1080i/1080p, depending on your TV.) Green/blue/red is "component video." You can't use those for inputs.

Composite is yellow, and s-video is the plug with the multiple pins. Those are your inputs, the only way to receive signals from the cable box. S-video is better than composite, but as jjeff said, you're limited to standard definition (the lot of all DVD recorders, no way around it.)

It *might* be the cable, but it depends on your expectations. You can get standard def to look acceptable/decent on an HDTV, and maybe even good, but it will never have HD's crystal clarity. That's just not how upconversion works, nor really can any technology available can perform.

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post #6 of 20 Old 12-29-2012, 11:20 AM
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Rec Mode selection is crucial to quality. If you use HQ (1-hr) Rec Mode (~10Mbps bit rate), quality will be maximized. SP (2-hr) Rec Mode is 1/2 the bit rate of HQ and still good, even for football. The hourly ref. only applies to recording on DVDs... the Mag will record up to 12-hours (11:59:59 to be exact) in a single title if recording to the HDD, even at HQ.

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post #7 of 20 Old 12-29-2012, 12:38 PM - Thread Starter
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So this Mag 535 should provide as decent a picture as any other DVR? No DVRs record in HD?

Is the upconversion a simple operation? Does the machine come with S-video cable? Was that the cable I was using or is there something better I could buy. If I try this machine again I want to make sure I give it the best chance of performing optimally.

Thanks for the feedback.
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post #8 of 20 Old 12-29-2012, 12:55 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for pointing that out about the HQ mode. I will definitely keep that in mind with my next DVR. I'm leaning towards trying the 535 again to at least try the upconversion in combo with HQ - not sure what mode I used before. I need to know about that cable business before I decide for sure though. Is that input cable that comes with the machine S-video? Is the upconversion easy to do?
Thanks for the help.
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post #9 of 20 Old 12-29-2012, 01:06 PM
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" No DVRs record in HD?" good question!


Great topic, my 533 is on the way and I am already having second thoughts. I am in the process of reading http://www.avsforum.com/t/1414002/epvision-phd-vrx-owners-thread. so maybe this is an option also ? ?? (Cost is around $210) and you have to buy a hard drive (I already have a 500 GIG in an external enclosure).

Thanks for any thoughts

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post #10 of 20 Old 12-29-2012, 02:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ncody71 View Post

So this Mag 535 should provide as decent a picture as any other DVR?

Well, first off, call it a DVDR or DVD recorder. DVR, digital video recorder, is usually used to describe TiVo and cable DVRs you'd lease from the cable company. Small point, but will clear up confusion.

The Magnavox is about as good as they get anymore. You might find an international Panasonic might squeeze a tad more out of the picture, but still not HD.
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No DVRs record in HD?

Not in North America, no. (Again, DVD recorders. DVRs are available that do record in HD, but no disc burning.)

Japan and Australia have blu-ray recorders, but they're not compatible here. There are also blu-ray recorders that work with camcorders, but no other HD inputs.
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Is the upconversion a simple operation?
Simple in that the machine does it all, yes. Your TV can also do it, too, so if you fed it a 480i signal, it would automatically convert it to 1080p or whatever your TV is. You may be able to turn off upconversion in the recorder and see how your TV handles it.
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Does the machine come with S-video cable?

Does it look like this on the end?



That's an s-video cable. They're cheap if you don't have one.

This is a composite video cable. It'll work in a pinch, but s-video should have a bit better picture (not loads better.)


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post #11 of 20 Old 12-29-2012, 02:52 PM
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Originally Posted by Josea View Post

Great topic, my 533 is on the way and I am already having second thoughts.

Well, what are you trying to do? Recording to disc in HD in North America needs a computer. Either burning to blu-ray or using AVCHD or something to get HD video on the disc.

If you just want to record TV in HD to watch later and not bother with disc burning, you can get a TiVo or other DVR. Pricey, but effective. You can also build a PC to take that task on.

If you're okay with standard def on a DVD, the Magnavox will work fine. It's not as fancy or functional as past DVD recorders (that have all ceased production), but it will work, and the new ones have the largest hard drives ever put into DVD recorders. You can also buy them new or slightly used. Other recorders will have to be purchased used, and you're rolling the dice unless you know how the machine was used.

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post #12 of 20 Old 12-29-2012, 03:54 PM - Thread Starter
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Sorry I keep managing to leave out important info. I'm looking for a recorder with hard drive that ultimately will replace the DVR I now rent from Time Warner Cable - I am trying to avoid renting anything - Tivo, etc - the plain cable bill is bad enough plus their DVR's hard drive is tiny compared to the Mag 535. I'm just trying to record football games and an occasional movie or show off the TV. It would be nice though to be able to record and play DVDs too.

Anyone know if the Mag automatically upconverts straight out of the box? Or is that something I need to tell it to do when I first set it up? I already returned the first 535 because the picture was so bad I thought the machine was defective. I am debating ordering it again, depending on if upconverting is something I didn't try with the first machine.

Thanks again for all the help.
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post #13 of 20 Old 12-29-2012, 04:07 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ncody71 View Post

I'm looking for a recorder with hard drive that ultimately will replace the DVR I now rent from Time Warner Cable -

Keep in mind for encrypted channels you'll never be able to just drop a recorder in its place. You need a cable box or something to decrypt them. A DVD recorder of any type will only record clear QAM by its internal tuner. And how much clear QAM you're getting from TWC can change at any time. Doesn't matter what subscription you have, as clear QAM is usually just local networks (CBS, NBC, etc.), QVC, and maybe Discovery Channel.

A TiVo can actually be bought without monthly fees, one upfront price, but it's usually north of $500 that route. But it accepts cableCARD for decryption, allowing access to all channels you subscribe.
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Anyone know if the Mag automatically upconverts straight out of the box? Or is that something I need to tell it to do when I first set it up?

If it's not already set up that way, it should be a simple adjustment. But again, don't expect miracles.
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I am debating ordering it again, depending on if upconverting is something I didn't try with the first machine.

If the recorder didn't upconvert, the TV would. The recorder MIGHT do it a bit better, but if your TV is newer, it's probably going to be as good as it gets.

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post #14 of 20 Old 12-29-2012, 04:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ncody71 View Post

Anyone know if the Mag automatically upconverts straight out of the box? Or is that something I need to tell it to do when I first set it up? I already returned the first 535 because the picture was so bad I thought the machine was defective. I am debating ordering it again, depending on if upconverting is something I didn't try with the first machine.
Thanks again for all the help.
Forget about magnavox upconversion, it is a non-factor here. Besides, your display will probably do a better job upconverting the SD input than the magnavox will. Before you buy anything again, do as jjeff has suggested and plug the output from the cable box that you used to feed the previous magnavox, directly into the plasma display and see what the PQ looks like straight from the box -- try both the composite and the S-Video outputs from the cable box. If it looks like crap to you, then that is what you will get with the magnavox and you will not be happy no matter what you do. It cannot make the PQ of the source look any better than it is. Your biggest problem is that you have a plasma display. Tack sharp plasma displays do not hide the warts in an input signal like LCD displays do with their over-processing. Plasma displays look fabulous with HD input but not so good with SD input unless the SD input is of the highest quality -- what you get out of the composite/S-video outputs from a cable box will not be of the highest quality.
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post #15 of 20 Old 12-29-2012, 04:58 PM - Thread Starter
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I didn't understand jjeff's suggestion at first but now I do - I'll get a S-video cable and see what it looks like. Now I know to lower my expectations at least. I think I'm all set now. Thanks everyone for your input.
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post #16 of 20 Old 12-29-2012, 08:11 PM
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There is no escaping the fact that HD comes at a premium. You spent all that money on a plasma display that looks great with HD -- do you really want to feed it SD? Even if you give up the HD DVR, you still have to rent an HD STB -- is the cost differential between the HD-DVR and HD-STB that much?

I used an SD DVD recorder for time-shifting for 4 yr until I purchased my plasma. It took less than 6 months of watching live HD vs. time-shifted SD for me to put the SD recorder on the shelf and buy a TiVo.

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post #17 of 20 Old 12-30-2012, 09:21 AM - Thread Starter
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I just can't afford to add a Tivo monthly service plan fee on top of the already outrageous Time Warner Cable charge. I'm trying to cut back somewhere. I mostly would just be using the DVR to record football games on. The STB is $8/month (HD included free) while the DVR rental is $21/month. Unfortunately that's a lot of money to me so I think I'll be making that switch. Thanks for the feedback - helped me make my decision on how to proceed.
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post #18 of 20 Old 12-30-2012, 09:58 AM
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TiVo's service is $15 a month, and it replaces the cable box and the DVR service. All you pay to TWC in terms of hardware is $1 or so a month for a cableCARD. They may even give you a complimentary one, depending on your local office. That's a $5-$6 savings. You can get a TiVo box right now for $100-$150, paying for itself in about two years. Might not be much, but it's cheaper than what you're doing now, you keep HD, and Tivo has a superior interface over any cable DVR.

Just something to consider.

The Magnavox will have to work with a cable box to get all the channels, so you're still paying the $8 a month for that. And it'll never be in HD. But you do get DVD burning.

Another alternative is the $340 over-the-air DVR Channel Master CM-7000PAL. That will record what you can pick up on an antenna. No monthly fee. HD.

(TiVo can also do OTA, but still charges the fee.)

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post #19 of 20 Old 01-01-2013, 06:59 AM - Thread Starter
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I may have to go with Tivo - wouldn't save as much money as I need to, but that SD pic was awful on my plasma TV......Time Warner charges $2.50 for the cablecard so $17.50/month vs $8.50/month but a much better DVR...... thanks for more food for thought.
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post #20 of 20 Old 01-01-2013, 12:20 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ncody71 View Post

I may have to go with Tivo - wouldn't save as much money as I need to, but that SD pic was awful on my plasma TV......Time Warner charges $2.50 for the cablecard so $17.50/month vs $8.50/month but a much better DVR...... thanks for more food for thought.
Don't pay monthly, buy the lifetime service for $499. It will pay for itself in less than 3 yr and TiVo boxes typically last much longer than that. My TiVo HD is 4 yr old and still going strong -- 95% of TiVo failures are due to the HDD finally giving up the ghost and that is user replaceable. You can buy a used TiVo HD with lifetime on Ebay for $300-350 if you want to save some money.

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