The ULTIMATE DVD Recorder Discussion - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 72 Old 07-10-2003, 08:37 PM - Thread Starter
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The ULTIMATE DVD Recorder Discussion

Hello, folks. I’m pretty new here, but I just wanted to start a “penultimate†DVD Recorder thread that never dies, similar to the “Kenwood Sovereign†thread. You know, one where people come in every day and:

1. Post reviews of a new machine they’ve bought
2. Post news and press releases on new machines/future machines
3. Give detailed descriptions of their machine’s functions
4. Talk about reliability and any build-quality issues that crop up
5. Post prices and special offers for units online and offline
6. Vent frustrations with the tech and talk future hopes

Info on ANY and ALL set-top DVD Recorders is fair game here. I plan this to be a forum for discussing the merits and pitfalls of various implementations of CE DVD recording. There will be NO favorites played to one particular format or product. Only facts and experiences!


Okay, I think that just about covers it. I guess the how much yall like my idea will be reflected in the number of people who post here and bring this thread to the top. Enjoy the free flow of information here folks, maybe we can begin to craft a community of early adopters and product enthusiasts.

Peace.

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post #2 of 72 Old 07-10-2003, 08:38 PM - Thread Starter
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Well, then. Since I started this little discussion, I’ll be the first to post here.

From my own knowledge of the industry, here are the machines about which we will be talking:

Current Generation

-Sony RDR-GX7………..(DVD-R/DVD-RW/DVD+RW)
-Toshiba RD-X2………...(DVD-R/DVD-RAM/HDD)
-Philips DVDR75/80…….(DVD+R/DVD+RW)
-Samsung DVD-R4000….(DVD-R/DVD-RAM)
-Panasonic DMR-E80…...(DVD-R/DVD-RAM/HDD)
-Panasonic DMR-E50/60...(DVD-R/DVD-RAM)
-Panasonic DMR-HS2........(DVD-R/DVD-RAM)
-Apex DXR-9000…………(DVD+R/DVD+RW)
-Pioneer DVR-7000……….(DVD-R/DVD-RW)

Okay, I think that about does it. If anybody has any additions please feel free to post them. That’s all of the machines that HAVE BEEN RELEASED that are “current generation†that I know of. I know the Toshiba is a little old to be in this list, but I am including it because of the company has yet to release a follow-up model in the States yet.

Up-Coming Models

-Pioneer DVR-57H
-Pioneer DVR-810H
-JVC DR-M1
-Toshiba RD-X3
-Toshibe D-R1

Again, feel free to add any new recorders that I may have forgotten.

Peace.

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post #3 of 72 Old 07-10-2003, 08:48 PM - Thread Starter
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Okay, one thing that’s always puzzled me, and maybe those of you committed to the +R camp can help me on this:

Why hasn’t Philips (or any RW Alliance manufacturer for that matter) released or even ANNOUNCED a +R/+RW recorder with a HDD?

I personally find this very hard to understand because technologically speaking +R media seems to be the more advanced, in terms of media speed and features when it comes to COMPUTER burning, and features like this whole Mt. Rainer business. So why haven’t we seen them? It would appear that +R’s already more flexible then -R when it comes to chapter markings and thumbnail buttons on the Philips recorders WITHOUT Hard Drives, so why wouldn’t they want to implement them? I’m lost.

And I know this might sound silly, but while video quality is the most important factor to me as a possible future DVD Recorder purchaser, having attractive menu’s with INDEX pictures from the recorded video is also VERY important. Just my thoughts.

Actually, if anyone with a Philips DVD recorder would care to comment on how EXACTLY their menus are created and how they look on finalized +R discs, I would greatly appreciate it.

Anyhow, as it seems that I am having a one man conversation, I’ll log off for awhile and wait for more people to post, assuming anyone cares.

Peace.

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post #4 of 72 Old 07-10-2003, 09:44 PM
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James, I'm curious about the standard anamorphic DVD playback of the DVD recorders and how they compare to the best non-recording DVD players.
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post #5 of 72 Old 07-10-2003, 11:44 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally posted by Martin Butler
James, I'm curious about the standard anamorphic DVD playback of the DVD recorders and how they compare to the best non-recording DVD players.
Well, since most of the newer DVD Recorders offer Progressive Scan output, the picture quality is generally quite good.

I've only seen the Philips DVDR75 and the Panasonic DMR-E30 in direct playback of commercial DVDs, but both of them were quite good. On par with any mid-range DVD player that you'd find at you local marquis Audio/Video store.

The Philips machine had slightly better color balance, but it also might have been how the monitor was setup.

Hope this helps. You are generally going to get good playback out of the current generation of DVD recorders, as I understand it. One thing to be aware of, the Toshiba RD-X2 DOES NOT have Progressive Scan, so if that's important to you stay away from the Tosh.

By the way, thanks for posting!

Peace.

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post #6 of 72 Old 07-11-2003, 02:52 AM
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Here's a question that I'd like answered.

I have some DV material (home movies). If I use a Panasonic E60 (or the future E100) to convert from DV -> MPEG, is the conversion done fully in the digital domain?

People have posted that they are very happy with conversion results using HS2, but I can believe that the results would still be good if there was an intermediate D/A -> A/D step in there.
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post #7 of 72 Old 07-11-2003, 04:01 AM
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The Panasonic HS2 needs to be added to the list.

And, I'd be very interested in hearing from other forum members about their experiences with disks that freeze towards the end (edges) of recorded material and what can be done to resolve that problem.
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post #8 of 72 Old 07-11-2003, 06:01 AM
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I can't speek for the Panasonics, but my Philips DVDR75 certainly seems to be making perfect digital copies of my mini-DV home movies. Damn, they look good! The only problem are the complaints I get from my wife upon playback when I leave the TV in widescreen standard (stretched) mode! ;)

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post #9 of 72 Old 07-11-2003, 12:08 PM
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Personally, I'm VERY un-happy with the recording quality of the Pioneer 7000 through the firewire input.

You can only record in CBR mode, so fine and contrasty details like tree leaves, along with fast motion, results in a LOT of picture artifacting. I actually dub through the s video input because I get less artifacting. It's horrible!

If I am recording something that I really want to keep, I record in VRO mode to a -RW disc (which records in VBR mode), copy that to my computer, convert to mpeg2, and author with a DVD program.

Although a few people on the board have dis-agreed with me about the PQ, I see that Pioneer has made changes to their up-comming (and very expensive) recorder: it will be able to record VBR on a -R disc.
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post #10 of 72 Old 07-11-2003, 12:25 PM
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Are any users dismayed/concerned by a lack of component inputs?

The DMR-E80H, RDR-GX7, DVD-R80, don't have them, and I don't think any of the others do.

Is this not an issue?
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post #11 of 72 Old 07-11-2003, 12:28 PM
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AFAIK, the Philips models have Component Inputs (480i only).

If Necessity is the mother of invention, then Laziness is surely the father.

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post #12 of 72 Old 07-11-2003, 12:35 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally posted by btokars
The Panasonic HS2 needs to be added to the list.
Thanks for posting!

Yeah, I guess you are right. I wasn't going to count the HS2 as "current generation" because the E-80 has just come out. But, since it is still being offered on many store shelves I guess it has some staying power. More than I can say for Toshiba's RD-X2, which seems to have fallen off the map.

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post #13 of 72 Old 07-11-2003, 12:41 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally posted by MethodMachine
I can't speek for the Panasonics, but my Philips DVDR75 certainly seems to be making perfect digital copies of my mini-DV home movies. Damn, they look good! The only problem are the complaints I get from my wife upon playback when I leave the TV in widescreen standard (stretched) mode! ;)
Hey MethodMachine.

I was wondering that since you seem to have had a lot of experience with the Philips DVDR75, if you wouldn't mind posting a detailed review of it's strengths, weaknesses, your experiences with it, ease of use, etc.

I know that I for one am VERY interested in the "Index Picture Screens" that it can create. As I understand it, you can GO BACK into the video AFTER it's been recorded and choose ANY frame of video to act as the title button. Now, Philips's website would seem to indicate that this function is available on DVD+R, right.

Thanks in advance.

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post #14 of 72 Old 07-11-2003, 12:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by MethodMachine
AFAIK, the Philips models have Component Inputs (480i only).
Not according to the spec sheet:

http://www.consumer.philips.com/glob...r80_us_lft.pdf
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post #15 of 72 Old 07-11-2003, 01:12 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally posted by PVerdieck
Not according to the spec sheet:

http://www.consumer.philips.com/glob...r80_us_lft.pdf
Sadly, I believe that you have the EUROPEAN spec sheet there.

Go to this webpage: http://www.dvdrecorder.philips.com/d...746_DVDR80.pdf

On it, you can clearly see a set of COMPONENT VIDEO INPUTS on the back of one of the Philips machine.

As for why someone would care so much about component inputs is beyond me, I really don't see much of a quality increase from S-Video unless you are talking about progressive scan.

As I understand it, a SCART or whatever it is is the European version of Component inputs over there in Jolly Ole' England.

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post #16 of 72 Old 07-11-2003, 01:32 PM
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I think your right. It says component at the top of the sheet, and RGB at the bottom.

If it only had a hard disc, I would be all over it...
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post #17 of 72 Old 07-11-2003, 01:34 PM
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Hmmm,

That Spec sheet mention SCART in and out. I suspect that is the spec sheet for the European models. I know for a fact the the DVDR75 has component in because I currently use it! I suspect the US version of the DVDR80 has it too. Any Philips owners feel free to chime in.

My review of the DVDR75, well I'll try. Here goes:

The menu navigation is weird. Philips uses a strange icon-based menu that is navigated via the arrow keys on the remote. Although the format of the menus are strange, you get used to them.

The manual is terrible! However, playing around with the unit (after mastering the weird menus) yields a pretty good understanding of how to use it.

I performed a split-screen comparison of a DVD+RW recorded in 2-hr mode versus the original PVR source and saw little if any difference in picture quality. Some MPEG artifacts were visible, but they were most likely from the PVR. I also did some archiving in 2 1/2 hour modes and started to notice a little picture quality degredation (as expected).

You can change the Title icon to any frame recorded in that title. You can also split a title (non-reversible) on a DVD+RW. Within titles, you can insert chapter points wherever and then choose to hide or show them for simple editing. I only use DVD+RW discs, so I can't comment on the abilities of the deck to edit DVD+Rs.

The DVD menu is not much to look at. It is functional and you can changed Title Index Pictures, but that is about it.

The thing I hate most is the way you have to input Title and Disc name. You have to scroll through the entire character map using the up/down arrow keys on the remote before you arrive at the letter you want. Why could they not institute a virtual keyboard?

Firewire input makes EXCELLENT looking copies of mini-DV tapes at 1-hr mode (I have not tried others).

There is a good complement of inputs (1 component, 1 s-video/composite on back, 1 s-video/composite on front), but I find myself wishing for just one more s-video input.

The deck functions very well as a DVD player with good progressive scan output and DD 5.1

There is no IR blaster for satellite/cable box control. This doesn't really matter to me since I don't use it to time shift TV shows (that's what my PVR does).

It looks pretty cool, unlike the gaudy looking Panasonic DMR-HS2.

It does seem to get a bit warm; hopefully, this won't cause a problem.

If Necessity is the mother of invention, then Laziness is surely the father.

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post #18 of 72 Old 07-11-2003, 01:43 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks a bunch for your review, Method.

What do you use your component video INPUT for, if you don't mind my asking?

How about disc errors? The main problems that I have heard about the Philips machines (even the newer 75) is that they create a bunch of disc errors.

Also, most people who owned the 985 say that the build quality on that unit was pretty crappy, having to be sent in for service very regularly. How would your rate the build quality of your DVDR75?

Thanks.

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post #19 of 72 Old 07-11-2003, 01:55 PM
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I've had the unit for ~2 months now and no problems (knock on wood). So far, I have had no disc errors, but I have only been using Sony DVD+RWs. I just bought a box of Memorex DVD+RW, so we shall see if the record holds.

As for component in, I use it to dupe DVDs from my Sony DVD player (homemade DVDs, that is).

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post #20 of 72 Old 07-11-2003, 04:03 PM
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Need to add the Toshiba R-D1 to the upcoming models. See this thread:

http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showt...hlight=Toshiba

The Future ain't what it used to be...
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post #21 of 72 Old 07-11-2003, 04:15 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally posted by vferrari
Need to add the Toshiba R-D1 to the upcoming models. See this thread:

http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showt...hlight=Toshiba
Thanks for your suggestion, I just added it.

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post #22 of 72 Old 07-11-2003, 04:22 PM - Thread Starter
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Okay, here’s what a set-top DVD recorder is going to HAVE to do in order for me to purchase it:

1. It MUST have good video quality.
This is the clincher for me. If the recordings that it makes look worse than the source material, then the entire exercise of transferring the video to a long-term format like DVD is utterly pointless. So far I’ve only seen a couple decks that achieve the video quality acceptable to me, one being the Pioneer DVR-9000/7000 series. Another being Sony’s new RDR-GX7. Granted, I haven’t seen the recordings that a Philips DVDR75 or DVDR80 can make, so I am reserving judgment.

2. It MUST have good looking menus.
While this may seem petty and stupid to a LOT of people, it is very important to me. Again, I want this to be the LAST time that I transfer this video to ANY format, because longevity is the key here. But if the menus are bland and stupid, with none of the features of commercial DVDs, then I am going to be dis-satisfied with my purchase. I talk about this with the Panasonic DMR-Exx owners, and they don’t seem to grasp why I don’t want my DVD recorder to simply have crappy blue spreadsheet menus in compatible mode.

3. It MUST have a Hard Disc Drive.
This has become VERY important to me as well. Because I will be doing a lot of time shifting and archiving, a HDD built into my DVD recorder will be a must. I thought about going the PVR route, but decided against that when owners of Tivo(and Replay, and UltimateTV) said that the quality of the internal HDD recording on their DVD recorders was much better then the highest quality that a PVR can put out. Also, lossless recording to DVD-R (or DVD+R) is something a stand-alone PVR will never be able to do. Which brings me to my fourth requirement...

4. It MUST have lossless recording from HDD to write once media.
This is a biggie for me as well, one of the reasons that I didn’t go out and buy a Panasonic DMR-HS2 when it first came out. (Then I found out about the “black level bug†and its crappy menu system for DVD-Rs) It has been proven that Toshiba’s RD-X2 can do this, and it is beginning to appear that Panasonic’s new E80 can do this as well. In my opinion there is NO point in having a HDD if you are going to have to re-encode the video just to get it onto DVD-R (or DVD+R) media.

5. It MUST be relatively easy to use.
This is a big deal as well, and one thing the it appears the Philips machines have a head start on. I am fine with reading a manual, but the system for recording these DVDs has got to be fairly intuitive. One of the things that turned me off from the Toshiba RD-X2 was the near impossibility of learning to use all of its features with out hella trial and error. (Not to mention the fact that you could never find it anywhere.)

6. It MUST be able to record compatible discs in compatible modes.
I am sorry, but DVD-RAM is great for transferring video to the computer. DVD-RW's VR mode is great for simply archiving material that nobody else is interested in. But broad spectrum compatibility is really where it's at for me. I plan on these discs lasting a great deal longer then the recorder. I want discs that conform the the DVD-Video format and can be played on the majority of DVD players out there. (AKA, like DVD-R and DVD+R)

Okay, now I’m done. When a DVD recorder can do these things, I will buy it. Until then, no way. Like I've said, I'm not married to any paticular format. If the new Pioneer models that are coming out this fall can do all of this, then I will probably just go with them. But if Philips can get its act together, I would love to buy a HDD DVD+R recorder.

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post #23 of 72 Old 07-11-2003, 04:41 PM
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.....And also need to add to the list the upcoming Philips DVD-R90, which, according to reports, will be the first dvd recorder capable of making audio recordings in the dolby digital 5.1 format....
I would imagine that to be able to do so, the unit will have to feature digital input(s) for audio recording of the dolby digital bitstream, although what purpose that would serve is beyond me, unless one were able to copy prerecorded dvds to the DVD-R90, which as we all know, is somewhat difficult, expensive and the results not always acceptable !!!Besides, with the prices of prerecorded dvds constantly coming down, to the point that one can easily find them for around $10 or so on the net, why bother spending money and buying blank dvd-r/dvd-rw/dvd+r/dvd+rw for just such purpose ???
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post #24 of 72 Old 07-11-2003, 05:02 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally posted by MCaugusto
.....And also need to add to the list the upcoming Philips DVD-R90, which, according to reports, will be the first dvd recorder capable of making audio recordings in the dolby digital 5.1 format....
I would imagine that to be able to do so, the unit will have to feature digital input(s) for audio recording of the dolby digital bitstream
Thanks for the info. This is one recorder that I hadn't heard about yet. Is there any way that you could post a link to the press release or something.

Quote:
although what purpose that would serve is beyond me, unless one were able to copy prerecorded dvds to the DVD-R90, which as we all know, is somewhat difficult, expensive and the results not always acceptable !!! Besides, with the prices of prerecorded dvds constantly coming down, to the point that one can easily find them for around $10 or so on the net, why bother spending money and buying blank dvd-r/dvd-rw/dvd+r/dvd+rw for just such purpose ???
I don't really understand either. Pirating DVDs with a set-top DVD recorder is one of the most cumbersome ways to do it anyhow. I guess this feature is just added for the "wow" factor and because a few channels ARE in fact broadcast in 5.1 these days. HBO, Showtime, and a few others come to mind.

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post #25 of 72 Old 07-11-2003, 05:38 PM
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Originally posted by MethodMachine
You can change the Title icon to any frame recorded in that title. You can also split a title (non-reversible) on a DVD+RW. Within titles, you can insert chapter points wherever and then choose to hide or show them for simple editing. I only use DVD+RW discs, so I can't comment on the abilities of the deck to edit DVD+Rs.
I have a DVDR890 and have managed to change the Title icon when I carried out recording on DVD+Rs; just have to remember to do it before finalising the DVD+R, that's all.
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post #26 of 72 Old 07-11-2003, 06:10 PM
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Get ready to pay a pretty penny for the forthcoming Pioneer HDD/DVD-burners with TiVo. MSRP is listed as between $1200 and $1800. This type of system will ultimately be the VCR killer, but I guess we will have to wait awhile for the prices to come down to mere mortal levels.

Being a ReplayTV fan myself, I wish D&M (Replay's new owners) would get off their rears and start working on something similar. For now, though, the stand-alone Replay and Philips DVDR75 combination is working for me. Total cost: $400 (RTV 5040 with lifetime activation after rebates) + $350 (DVDR75 open-box buy) = $750. Still better than waiting till fall and shelling out more.

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post #27 of 72 Old 07-11-2003, 07:02 PM
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I talk about this with the Panasonic DMR-Exx owners, and they don’t seem to grasp why I don’t want my DVD recorder to simply have crappy blue spreadsheet menus in compatible mode.
Maybe because most people don't stare at the menu that long and don't really care or they are using the PC workaround method described below.

I wish the DVD recorders had decent title menus and that you could use the DVDR deck to set custom chapter stops on write once media (note that you didn't put this on your list but this is way more important to me than decent looking menus because it determines the practical functionality of the disk) but I've overcome these shorcomings by burning my final DVD-R on my computer. If you think about it, it really doesn't take any more time to do this than it does to dub a DVD-R from the DVDR HDD. I set up chapter stops and thumbnails for decent menus and burn to DVD-R directly from DVD-RAM using DVD Workshop and the whole process takes about 40 min to an hour and its a LOSSLESS transfer. With the PC method I don't have to wait for the perfect recorder, but get the advantages of DVD-RAM and real-time encoding to DVD compliant mpeg2 using my HS2 (or the E80 for no black level bug).

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post #28 of 72 Old 07-11-2003, 08:26 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally posted by MethodMachine
Get ready to pay a pretty penny for the forthcoming Pioneer HDD/DVD-burners with TiVo. MSRP is listed as between $1200 and $1800. This type of system will ultimately be the VCR killer, but I guess we will have to wait awhile for the prices to come down to mere mortal levels.

Being a ReplayTV fan myself, I wish D&M (Replay's new owners) would get off their rears and start working on something similar. For now, though, the stand-alone Replay and Philips DVDR75 combination is working for me. Total cost: $400 (RTV 5040 with lifetime activation after rebates) + $350 (DVDR75 open-box buy) = $750. Still better than waiting till fall and shelling out more.
Well, I was browsing C-Net the about an hour ago and I stumbled across something pretty worrisome for those of us who have been contemplating the future Pioneer DVD recorders with built-in HDD. Here what Disturbed me greatly:

This Cnet preview of the DVR-810H has this VERY DISTURBING line about the functionality of the unit's HDD and its editing functions:

"and you can't edit out commercials before you transfer programs to disc."

In my opinion this would be a FATAL flaw in the machine's design, and would almost certainly send me running into the arms of Panasonic. I just finished drafting this email to Pioneer Electronics, USA.

Quote:
Hello.

This is actually a question about one of your forthcoming DVD recorders, not a DVD player.

Regarding your DVR-810H, the set top DVD recorder with a built-in 80GB hard drive and TiVo service which will be retailing for $1,199 this fall. I read your press release and was initially very excited about your product. However, I recently read a preview of the unit on Cnet.com which says the following:

“Downside: Pioneer is charging $1,199 for the 810H...You don't get a FireWire input for the recorder, and you can't edit out commercials before you transfer programs to disc.â€

This report can be found at the following URL:

http://reviews.cnet.com/4505-6474_7-...tml?tag=promo2

Now the part that disturbs me is the “you can’t edit out commercials before your transfer programs to disc.†This would seem to be a fatal flaw in design of this unit, and makes me begin to rethink the possibility of a purchase. Is this true; is there NO editing functionality on the hard disc drive of the DVR-810H? If this is the case then I believe you are severely curtailing the functionality of your product in the face of your competitors’ DVD recorders. If I transfer my home recorded tapes via VHS to the Hard Drive will I then be unable to edit them there? Or does this inability to edit only refer to programs recorded using the TiVo service.

Please respond to this query because as it stands now I am finding myself severely questioning the future purchase of a product that I was only days ago very excited about.

Thank you for your time and attention.
I really hope that by partnering with TiVo Pioneer hasn't agreet to neuter their machine's hard drive functionality. If this is the case, then I am VERY dissapointed and will probably be buying Panasonic instead. I'll tell yall what Pioneer says in their response to me when it comes. Here's to hoping that this is just one huge Cnet MISTAKE. :(

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post #29 of 72 Old 07-11-2003, 08:59 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally posted by vferrari
Maybe because most people don't stare at the menu that long and don't really care or they are using the PC workaround method described below.

I wish the DVD recorders had decent title menus and that you could use the DVDR deck to set custom chapter stops on write once media (note that you didn't put this on your list but this is way more important to me than decent looking menus because it determines the practical functionality of the disk) but I've overcome these shorcomings by burning my final DVD-R on my computer. If you think about it, it really doesn't take any more time to do this than it does to dub a DVD-R from the DVDR HDD. I set up chapter stops and thumbnails for decent menus and burn to DVD-R directly from DVD-RAM using DVD Workshop and the whole process takes about 40 min to an hour and its a LOSSLESS transfer. With the PC method I don't have to wait for the perfect recorder, but get the advantages of DVD-RAM and real-time encoding to DVD compliant mpeg2 using my HS2 (or the E80 for no black level bug).

Vic
I realize that a lot of people are happy with the menus on the Panny units as they are now, and I may still go the Panasonic route if Pioneer has gutted the functionality of thier HDD DVD recorder as it certainly appears they have.

But for a lot of us, the WHOLE REASON for a set-top DVD recorder is so that we can AVOID having to turn on the computer at all. I guess people just have different expectations though.

Peace.

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post #30 of 72 Old 07-11-2003, 09:54 PM
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But for a lot of us, the WHOLE REASON for a set-top DVD recorder is so that we can AVOID having to turn on the computer at all.
Perhaps, but the main reason I use a set-top recorder is that: (1) I prefer the advantage of hardware, real time mpeg encoding, because I don't want to have my PC spending 8 hours cranking through a TMPEGEnc dual pass vbr software encode and (2) I like time shifting using a DVDR because of all the advantages of the DVD format (random access, no rewind, play lists, playback while recording etc...) vs. a conventional VCR and tape. The only reason I have a vcr now is so that I can convert my legacy tape collection to disk. I consider that even if I have to bring my PC partially into the equation for DVD-R conversion, I'm still way a head of the game vs. a pure PC solution (e.g., capture the analog/DV video to my HDD and edit, encode to mpeg, and author to DVD-R. Probably an 8 -10 hour process to get to an end product that with a settop DVDR/PC authoring to DVD-R takes 40 minutes to an hour, ignoring the time it takes to record the original program to tape or DVD-RAM).

I guess my point is that you may be missing out on a lot of the advantages of having a DVDR if you wait for that PERFECT (i.e., no PC needed) unit. Also, I can't see not getting one JUST BECAUSE the disk menus suck (and I agree that they do suck on the Panny units), yet you listed this feature as a MUST HAVE. I'm merely pointing out that there may be a PC-based workaround for some of your MUST HAVE features that are lacking in today's crop of DVDRs.

Take care,
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