First thanks for the replies! I posted this in three places and these are the only responses so far.
Mobo, I see your point. But if you want to see REALLY bad comp hardware, look at Pinnacle AV/DV which eats something like 15 GB per hour, has no tuner, drops frames like crazy, and has a lousy deinterlacer. Hauppauge software is pretty bad, but Sage Recorder makes up for some of that. All in all ive been pretty happy with the results, when it works. But that Mpeg editor it comes with isnt worth the bytes it occupies.
Stand-alone recorder wasnt for me though, too little control over it, no way to edit commercials, too much copy protection, too little geek factor, etc. But I DONT want to have to use the computer to play back the recordings either, hence my motivation for burning dvd's. Guess thats where I part from the htpc group.
The codec issue is bizzare. Its files CAN be written directly to disk (after conversion to vob format) and played on commercial dvd players, yet I have had problems with computer software that doesent recognize it. Im guessing software is balking on a header and wont even try to decode it, while stand-alone doesent care about the header and just plays it. For example, IFOedit says it doesent recognize the "new" format, and playes the video with no sound. Stranger yet, IFOedit USED to work when I had WinDVD installed. It apparently took something with it when I uninstalled it. As if its choking on the audio, standard mpeg layer 2 a 384 kbps, or the multiplexing, but not the video.
leebo, the original .mpg files play fine on anything that will play them at all, including media player and inside Ulead's program. You can scroll to end, and there is no synch problem (though media player doesent scroll real well). Its not the dvd-r disks imcompatability with player, i already went around on that and found BeAll media to work fine on the panasonic, and my toshiba never had a problem with any brand. Ripped disks play fine.
Problem appears to be in ulead's VOB's since when I HAD windvd installed, it played the disks and vob's exactly like the stand-alone player does. I used to use it to check the results before I burned them, but it expired and I dont want to pay for it. At that time everything was working well, and it continued to work well until recently whenI tried using a full-d1 format on a recording of Bananas... every full-d1 recording since then has had the synch problem after conversion to vob's.
Today I'm feeling more like it may not be a problem in the original recording, but is a problem in ulead movie factory. A new problem just occured with a 6.5 hour recording of the Godfather 1 and 2. Its in half-d1 format with a 2.4 MBps data rate, so the file is still like 7 GB long. Movie factory totally chokes on it, it appears it suffering from numerical overflow when it processes the extra-long recording. It acts like its fine, I can extract one of the two movies, put in chapters, the preview is fine, but when it makes the VOB's there are twice as many as there should be and their hosed (dont play). Ive seen similar things on disks complied from many half-d1 format files where it size estimate blows up, because with commercials the recording is too long, but its not when commercials are edited out. In this case its size estimate is wrong but the resulting VOB's usually work. With the godfather, its estimates are correct but the VOB's are hosed. Go figure. I get so tired of debugging commercial software.
I'm gonna try on other computer to see if my main machine has gotten corrupted by all the crapola ive put on and taken off of it, and look for an alternate to MovieFactory cause I doubt its the computer.