Built-in HD. Is this really a good thing? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 24 Old 08-11-2003, 06:55 PM - Thread Starter
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If the only other option is live recording, well then I guess of course it is. But, as someone who already owns 5 PVR's, I can't find the advantage. I am not interested in editing content into a playlist and then creating a DVD of that, just archiving tv shows.

Copying from the HD to DVD-R...that's not a strictly digital-to-digital process, is it? (Sorry, bit of a newbie here).

I tried a Panny with a built-in HD, and it seemed extremely user-unfriendly...almost ergonomically hostile. I down-graded to an E30, which I love, and it seems much easier to let a PVR capture the programs and then archive from that to the E30 later on.

But as I said, I'm new. Maybe I haven't thought this through as much as the rest of you. If the HD was as easy to use as a PVR and had the same user features, I might be swayed. I'm hoping to see a DVD-recorder that has a more Replay or Tivo-like front end on it enter the market. To a PVR fanatic most DVD-recorder / HD combos seem pretty rudimentary by comparison.

I'd be interested in some opinions from the older hands on board.

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post #2 of 24 Old 08-11-2003, 07:03 PM
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Quote:
Copying from the HD to DVD-R...that's not a strictly digital-to-digital process, is it? (Sorry, bit of a newbie here).
It is a straight digital transfer with the E80 with high speed lossless dubbing (assuming you recorded to the HDD in DVD-R compatibility mode). The advantage here is that you can edit the program (i.e., remove commercials) and/or add chapter stops for quick navigation and the dub will retain these edits and markers w/o re-encoding. You can't do this recording direct to DVD-R from the video inputs. This may or may not be an advantage in your case especially of the menu system and embedded editing features are daunting to you.

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post #3 of 24 Old 08-11-2003, 07:34 PM - Thread Starter
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I don't think its as much a matter of intimidation as much as it is my being spoiled by using professional equipment for editing and PVR's for capturing and shuttling video. Editing video as I'm used to it from my work is fairly quick and easy by comparison to the unbelievable hoops one apparently must go through to use the consumer stuff I've seen, and unecessarily so.

But thanks for the reply, and I do see an advantage in being able to cut the show "off-line" ahead of time compared to trying to do that "live" from a prerecorded program streaming from the output of a PVR. I'm just amazed at how poorly implemented that has been to date. Hopefully DVD recorders will improve in that area by the time I'm ready for a new one.

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post #4 of 24 Old 08-11-2003, 07:37 PM
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TomCat,

Beyond the high-speed lossless dubbing ability, you can also record programs originally in XP mode that would be too long to fit on a 2-hour disc in SP mode. After editing, they can be dubbed down in FR mode to get the best quality that will fit on one disc.

Since you already have and are using PVRs for capture, I won't promote the ability to capture lots of material without swapping discs (marathons, vacation weekends, mini-series, etc.). But the HDD does allow you to capture all this at SP mode, edit out the commercials, split it down to 2-hour segments, then do lossless dubs to DVD-R that will be higher PQ than if they were duped from your PVR manually.

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post #5 of 24 Old 08-11-2003, 08:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by TomCat
I'm hoping to see a DVD-recorder that has a more Replay or Tivo-like front end on it enter the market. To a PVR fanatic most DVD-recorder / HD combos seem pretty rudimentary by comparison.
Your wish is my command.

There has been a DVD recorder announced that will use Tivo (Tivo Basic, AFAIK.. i.e. more limited VCR-like recording capability unless you pay for the regular Tivo software).

But I _highly_ doubt you will be able to edit the recordings at all. So you'll end up with recordings, commercials and all, on the DVD.

Don't get me wrong, I would love for something like a combination of Tivo's software _and_ the editing capabilities of the Panasonic DMR series.. (Note I don't have a Panasonic DVD recorder yet.. They're almost at my trigger point though..)
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post #6 of 24 Old 08-11-2003, 09:22 PM
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I have a Replay TV DVR and a Panny E80 and I find the E80 HDD very useful for recording TV shows. It allows me to edit out the commercials, which would be nigh impossible just using a DVR and a DVD burner hooked together.
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post #7 of 24 Old 08-12-2003, 08:29 PM
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"nigh impossible" is a bit of an exaggeration -- some others are doing it the same way as with VCRs -- hit pause at the beginning of the commercials, FF, then start recording again.

But yes, it's such a big pain that I've started trying to convince people to get one with a hard drive, even before I have a DVD recorder with hard drive..
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post #8 of 24 Old 08-13-2003, 03:41 AM
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Another advantage of the HDD that I just noticed is that it makes it possible to consistently put more than 2hrs (120 min) on a disc at SP. The Pannys have always reserved a certain amount out of the 2:10-2:15 total available space on a disc. But with the E80, this overhead is cut to a minimum. I've been able to do image copies of 2:09-2:10 per disc with no problems.

I.e., a "4.7gig" DVD has ~4480 MB actual capacity. The E80 will let you fill up to 4411 MB of that, which means that if you need to get a couple more minutes beyond 2 hours onto a disc, FR isn't required. It also makes it possible to put 3 typical 1-hour TV episodes (~43m w/o commercials) on a single disc. In less than an hour. Pretty slick.

I also have to say this is the quietest HDD I've seen in a CE product. An order of magnitude quieter than my ReplayTVs, and even less perceptible than my TiVos. Ambient noise has to be very low in the room to be able to hear the drive spinning, even with your ear right up to the box.

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post #9 of 24 Old 08-13-2003, 08:23 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by mattack
"nigh impossible" is a bit of an exaggeration -- some others are doing it the same way as with VCRs -- hit pause at the beginning of the commercials, FF, then start recording again.
Aquaintances of mine who have tried this with their DVD burners have told me there is too much lag time between taking off pause and the actual re-start of recording to do this in a practical fashion.
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post #10 of 24 Old 08-15-2003, 01:37 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally posted by VideoGrabber
TomCat,

Beyond the high-speed lossless dubbing ability, you can also record programs originally in XP mode that would be too long to fit on a 2-hour disc in SP mode. After editing, they can be dubbed down in FR mode to get the best quality that will fit on one disc....
True, but I can do pretty much the same thing with a PVR / DVD combo. First of all, playback from a bit-bucket PVR will have zero loss of PQ from the original broadcast, even better than the best mode from the HD on a DVD recorder. Second of all, I can "spoof" the recorder by entering 84 minutes (the length of two network hours with commercials removed) into the flex calculation, giving me the optimum bitrate for encoding after the second (and final) conversion during the print-to-disc process.

The only downside is that I have to do the commercial compression in real time. Since I'm not anal about a second or two of commercial sneaking in and I have a 19" monitor next to my big TV just for this (and other secondary monitoring) purposes I basically just have to "be there" and pay attention. I find this easier than spending a frustrating 5 or 10 minutes "pre-editing" everything, and I end up with even better quality this way.

I'm a bit fuzzy on "compatibility" mode. If the process is truly lossless, then it would seem that an XP HD recording, even an edited one, could only be printed to disc as an XP recording. Others have likened the "lossless" dubbing mode to a disc image, so I don't see how FR, which essentially refers to automatic choice of the optimum VBR bitrate to ENCODE TO DISC IN MPEG per program length given, and what is supposed to be a bit-for-bit copy can be compatible. If there's bit reduction of an original XP recording on HD when printed to disc, that seems quite impossible without re-encoding. You might be able to do FR, and you might be able to use "high-speed lossless dubbing", but I'm unconvinced that they can be used together to squeeze a pristine copy of a 135-minute master into a 120-minute disc. And the FR then adds yet another encoding step, or at least a bit-rate conversion step, which is never "lossless".

Bottom line, if you minimize the A/D and D/A conversions and use the highest bitrate while encoding in MPEG to DVD, you get the best quality. Using my method, FR takes care of the last part (if you edit out commercials on the fly), and the bit-bucket PVR takes care of reducing the remaining conversions to once.

If you record from a sat receiver into a DVD recorder with a hard drive, you've already done one D/A conversion just to get to the input port of the recorder. The signal must be then converted and encoded to MPEG just as it would if you were recording to a DVD at XP (or whatever). At this point the processes are pretty much equal, PQ-wise. If a lossless dub is done at this point, the end products should be fairly identical. But if it must be further bit-reduced by FR for printing to disc if the program length exceeds 120 minutes per DVD-R, this will introduce more loss.

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post #11 of 24 Old 08-15-2003, 05:28 PM
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TomCat,

everything in your analysis is 100% correct.

> I'm a bit fuzzy on "compatibility" mode. <

No you're not. ;) You've grasped it perfectly.

> If the process is truly lossless, then it would seem that an XP HD recording, even an edited one, could only be printed to disc as an XP recording. <

Yep.

> Others have likened the "lossless" dubbing mode to a disc image, so I don't see how FR, which essentially refers to automatic choice of the optimum VBR bitrate to ENCODE TO DISC IN MPEG per program length given, and what is supposed to be a bit-for-bit copy can be compatible. <

They're not. They can't be used together. None of my 4 PVRs are bit-buckets, so the best I can do is record the original source in XP on the Panny (bypassing the PVRs), edit it down, then re-encode it to fit in FR mode.

> You might be able to do FR, and you might be able to use "high-speed lossless dubbing", but I'm unconvinced that they can be used together <

Nope. They can't. The method you described in your first paragraph will give you the highest quality possible on a DVD-R, short of pulling the drive out of the PVR, extracting the MPEGs, and burning them directly on a PC.

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post #12 of 24 Old 08-15-2003, 09:41 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by TomCat
The only downside is that I have to do the commercial compression in real time. Since I'm not anal about a second or two of commercial sneaking in and I have a 19" monitor next to my big TV just for this (and other secondary monitoring) purposes I basically just have to "be there" and pay attention. I find this easier than spending a frustrating 5 or 10 minutes "pre-editing" everything, and I end up with even better quality this way.
But you're spending a frustrating *HOUR* instead of a frustrating 5 or 10 minutes that way.

Instead of recording, editing out commercials afterwards, and then burning to DVD, you're doing it all in real time, no better than dubbing to videotape and hitting pause all the way!
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post #13 of 24 Old 08-17-2003, 08:47 PM
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What is a "bit-bucket" PVR? Perhaps those DirecTivo units record the actual MPEG DirecTV stream to disk? Most Tivos and/or ReplayTVs no not operate this way, and have to do a/d conversion to MPEG.

I have a ReplayTV, and an E80, and the E80 seems to do a better job than the ReplayTV when MPEG encoding.
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post #14 of 24 Old 08-18-2003, 01:59 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by potus
What is a "bit-bucket" PVR?
The DirectTivo's

DISHNetwork DISHPlayer's 7100/7200, 501/508/510, 721 and 921 (future)
ExpressVU 5100/5800 (same as DISH 501/508)

Scientific Atlanta Explorer 8000 (for Digital Cable, on digital channels)

The SKY+ boxes in the UK

there are also one or two FTA receivers/PVR's out there (models escape me at the moment)

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post #15 of 24 Old 08-23-2003, 04:37 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally posted by mattack
But you're spending a frustrating *HOUR* instead of a frustrating 5 or 10 minutes that way.

Instead of recording, editing out commercials afterwards, and then burning to DVD, you're doing it all in real time, no better than dubbing to videotape and hitting pause all the way!
Well, that's how you see it, but in some ways you are exactly right. It IS no better than dubbing to videotape and hitting pause all the way, because that's exactly the process, and that's what I prefer, because I have decided that pre-editing (at least on the Panny) is a pot more of trouble, and is frustration personified. But don't for a second assume that the irony of that is wasted on me...I find it highly ironic that that process turns out to be the one I prefer.

Not that your POV isn't valid. Mine is that I had a choice to make...spend more than twice as much to get an otherwise equivalent DVD recorder and do the editing ahead of time off-line using the most rudimentary of interfaces, or save a good chunk of change and do it online easily in real time. Both approaches have their ups and downs.

If you characterize online as taking an hour for an hour program, well that's true, and if I had to sit in rapt attention and do nothing but that, the "hour" would indeed be frustrating. But I'm using that hour just like someone who is doing a pre-edited dub in the background would. I'm making a dub right now, while the rest of my life is happening around me. I'm also on the internet, I'm watching a "Buffy" rerun on my main system out of the corner of one eye, and being just vigilant enough out of the corner of the other one for commercials to pop up on the dub (two displays...since 1982 the only way to fly) plus I made a couple of phone calls and straightened up the house.

So I'm multitasking, just like I normally do 24/7. To me, its easier to spend 2 or 3 minutes DURING that hour to press "pause" on one remote, shuttle forward on the other, unpause, and continue (about 6 times per hour) than it is for me to jump through ergonomically hostile hoops for 10 minutes or more before the fact. And unless you've done it 30 or 40 times, I'll bet it takes longer than that to do the pre-edit of an hour program.

On balance, I like my way. You do have to be there, and there is a slight "spoiler" factor (also there to some degree with pre-editing), but once I saw how unnecessarily complicated Panny's version of consumer editing was, it was no contest. I'd prefer offline ONLY IF the editing was more like professional systems, or even like Final Cut Pro. It's not. It's disgraceful how poorly implemented it is, and I won't buy into it.

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post #16 of 24 Old 08-23-2003, 08:49 PM
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The editing process can be streamlined significantly by using the time slip feature to quickly navigate through the program to place chapter stops where necessary PRIOR to going into the editing user interface. Then you can enter edit mode and and just navigate to the marker stops and set your edit points. It's a lot quicker than navigating around "manually" within the editing user interface.

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post #17 of 24 Old 08-24-2003, 10:42 PM
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TomCat wrote:
> It's disgraceful how poorly implemented it is, <

I agree that it could stand a lot of improvement. Editing requires entry to a separate "mode", and you lose your position whenever entering or exiting that mode. Why? That's clumsy. Plus, when you enter editing mode, you lose the ability to place markers, use TimeSlip, commercial skip, or even jump to the end of a segment. Dividing segments is _another_ separate mode, and you have to go in and out for every split you make.

The UI on the Pannys is clumsy and not well thought out in many ways. Unfortunately, they've been making them for a long time now and either there's no motivation to do it right, or they're just not capable, without somebody else to copy from.

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post #18 of 24 Old 08-25-2003, 03:48 AM
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The drawbacks with the Panasonic Editing UI are the main reason I do most of my DVD-RAM/vro editing on the PC with Panasonic's MovieAlbum software that came with my LF-521 MultiDrive. Besides having an intuitive interface, the cuts and markers are always made (and shown) right at the I-frame so I have WSYWIG feedback on where the edit/marker is going to be made unlike with "on deck" placed markers and cuts (where you get the "illusion" of frame accurate cuts). I know this doesn't help most users, especially if the program you are editing resides on the HDD and cannot be transferred to DVD-RAM unless trimmed or if you don't have a PC DVD-RAM drive and MovieAlbum. I agree, though, it shouldn't have to be this way.

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post #19 of 24 Old 08-26-2003, 04:52 PM
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Vic wrote:
> unlike with "on deck" placed markers and cuts (where you get the "illusion" of frame accurate cuts). <

I don't think this is a complete illusion, or is it? DVD-Rs I've burnt have a small pause at cut points, but only the desired frames are displayed. But then, that's on the Pannys, with the "non-smooth" option set.

On other DVD players, does this get ugly (with spurious frames before/after the cut visible)?

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post #20 of 24 Old 09-01-2003, 11:40 PM
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Is there any advantage to a HDD if I only intend to copy old VHS and 8mm tapes? I'm wondering if I can do any crude editing or take advantage of the variable recording quality if I don't have a HDD?

I feel like I would need a HDD to do editing, but it seems that everybody that has one talks about the flexibility it gives them in recording shows. Nobody mentions copying old tapes so maybe I don't need a HDD if this is all I will do.

Thanks in advance.
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post #21 of 24 Old 09-02-2003, 12:49 AM
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TomC

the HD is just as valuable for doing old tapes as anything else...

let's say (for example) you are archiving down your tapes of your favorite series.. and they are 'out of order' on the tapes... or let's say you have duplicates and want to choose the best versions..

1) dump the tapes into the HD, as one long program
2) use the internal editing to split them into the seperate episodes
3) then trim commercials (if present)
4) once you have them all (or enough) down on the HD, arrange them in the 'proper' (ie, broadcast or production) order
5) make a menu/playlist with episode titles
6) burn baby burn
7) burn baby burn a backup copy if you wish
8) once you're satisfied, erase the episodes on the HD
9) wash, rinse, repeat

you get the idea...

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post #22 of 24 Old 09-02-2003, 08:26 AM
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Thanks Londo!

That answers my question. Editing is limited or non-existent without that HDD which is what I needed to know.

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post #23 of 24 Old 09-02-2003, 08:55 AM
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Sorry, but after I walked away from my computer I realized that I still have a couple more questions.

Does the variable recording work without a hard drive? I know that the machine adjusts the quality based on the size of the program, but how can it know the size of the program if you are feeding the signal in real time? Doesn't it have to "see" the file size before it sets the variable quality?

Again, without a hard drive, can I put it 20 minutes, stop, get a thumbnail, put in 40 minutes of something else, stop, get another thumbnail etc. and then finalize? I know I can't change the order, but for me this is not a big factor, but I would like to know I could put in multiple small things on the disc and get thumbnails for each of them prior to finalizing.

Thanks again.

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post #24 of 24 Old 09-02-2003, 09:15 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by TomC
Does the variable recording work without a hard drive? I know that the machine adjusts the quality based on the size of the program, but how can it know the size of the program if you are feeding the signal in real time? Doesn't it have to "see" the file size before it sets the variable quality?
TomC
The unit determines the amount of free space on the disc. You manually enter the desired recording time and the bitrate is automatically calculated. The variables are known before the real-time recording begins.
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