Pioneer / General DVR Observations - AVS Forum
Forum Jump: 
Closed Thread
 
Thread Tools
post #1 of 31 Old 08-27-2005, 03:00 PM - Thread Starter
AVS Special Member
 
Sean Nelson's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2001
Location: Vancouver BC, Canada
Posts: 3,304
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 17
Well I was planning to wait until retirement in October, but I'd been leaning toward the Pioneer x33 models and when Future Shop here in Vancouver put the 533 on sale a few weeks back I decided it was too good to pass up. So I've now joined the ranks of DVR owners. Let me give you some of my initial impressions, written from the point of view of someone new to DVRs.


On the joys of owning an HDD DVR

These things are way cool. A day after I started playing with it I knew I could never go back to VCR land. I'm going to get another one (hopefully they'll put the 633 on sale soon) for our larger TV in the basement. The things I like the most are:
  • I never have to get up to switch tapes (don't get a DVR with HDD if you are trying to loose weight!)
  • I can record anything instantly just by pressing a single button. I don't have to get a tape (or DVD) loaded into the machine, and I don't have to worry about whether I rewound the tape or might be taping over something I want to keep. It's a tremendously liberating feeling.
  • Chasing playback is great. No frustration any more when something interrupts a live show - just hit "record". If your interruption goes away in two minutes, you don't have to wait for the show to end, just hit "play" and you can immediately start watching from the point you left off.
  • The DVD-like experience. I say "DVD-like" referring to both the quality and the digital nature of the recording. You can pause forever without any flicker or worrying about the tape burning out. You can slow-mo, single-step, and scan forwards or backwards with no static. You can jump forward and backward to chapter marks instantly, and you never have to rewind or search your way through a tape to find what you want.


On the joys and frustations of the Pioneer

What do I like about the machine? Well there's a lot to like, really:
  • It seems quite straightforward to use for a machine with so much functionality. I tried to compare the "user experience" of different machines by downloading the manuals and looking through them, but I have to say that you really can't get a feel for what it's like to use these things until you have a chance to actually operate them. So I can't make any informed claims as to how easy the Pioneers are to use compared to the other models, but I will say that the system generally feels pretty intuitive to use. (This doesn't necessarily apply to the EPG - see below).
  • "Scan 1" mode is terrific. I haven't read anything about this in the other posts here, but it's definitely worth knowing about. It plays a program at 1.5X speed WITH AUDIO. The audio is processed so that it has a normal pitch, so it's quite understandable unless a person is talking too fast. Great for some types of shows that you want to get through quickly.
  • Commercial skip also works well. It does NOT automatically detect commercials, it's a pair of buttons on the remote that skip ahead and back 30 seconds. Instead of fast-forwarding through a commercial you just hit the button a few times (4 taps = 2 minutes) and you instantly jump ahead in the program. When you find yourself past the commercials, hit the "skip back" button once so you don't miss the first part of the show.
  • Good recording quality for my needs. I'm not overly fussy about quality, I just want something that's not so bad it calls attention to itself. My unit is currently attached to a 27" Toshiba flatscreen TV viewed from a distance of 8 feet, and I can't tell the difference between SP mode and live television. If you look for them, you can see artifacts in material recorded at LP mode, but I don't notice them if I'm engaged in the show I'm watching. EP and lower modes have more obvious problems and I'm sure you'd want to avoid them for any material you plan to keep.
  • It's really nice to be able to watch a DVD or something recorded on the HDD at the same time as recording something else onto the HDD.
  • The front-panel display is nice and big. I can read the numbers on the display from my seating position 8 feet across the room, even without my (-0.75 diopter) glasses.
  • I find editing to be very easy to do. I've heard posters complain that editing has to be done using a tiny window, but the window is actually about 1/4 of the screen size and I had no problems using it. The other portion of the screen is used to show what type of editing you're doing, show a timeline of where you are in the show being edited, and to show what playback mode you're using (normal, reverse, scan 1-2-3, etc.). I find this information very useful. For example, when removing commercials from a 30-minute HDD title I plan to burn to DVD, I use "scan 4" speed to go forward quickly (it only takes a few seconds) to about the 1/3 point in the timeline - this is where the first commercials appear. I couldn't do this easily without being able to see the timeline and also know that I was in "scan 4" mode. I can narrow in on the edit points quickly using the different forward/reverse scan modes and "commercial skip" buttons (see above). When I've entered the start and end points of the commercial I want to erase, the machine repeats a short clip showing the scene just before and after so I can see what it's going to look like. If it looks good, then I can go ahead and commit the change, or go back and change the start or end point. It takes me about 5 minutes to remove the commercials from a 30-minute show using "erase section". This includes: commercials before the show starts, three sets of commercials during the show, and commercials after the show ends - so it works out to about a minute per deleted section.
  • I like having the titles of recorded shows automatically picked up from the EPG. It means that you don't really have to do anything in order to make sense of what you have on the HDD.
  • The ability to sort your list of recorded shows by time, title, or genre makes it easy to keep things organized.

What about the bad points? Well, it's not definitely not perfect folks. My pet peeves include:
  • "WAIT". Why the heck does it do this when you turn it on? It wouldn't be so bad if it was consistent (I expect my computer to take a minute or so to boot up and it's no big deal). But the Pioneer usually turns on right away, except for 20-30% of the time it sits there with "WAIT" on the display and "Please wait a moment" on the screen for what seems like forever (but which is actually almost exactly 45 seconds). This is probably my biggest frustration with the unit (and I can live with it).
  • Every once in a while (around once a week so far) the machine seems to go into "HDD chatter" mode and stop paying attention to everything. It's like the "WAIT" problem, but more frustrating because there's no indication - it seems like the machine simply froze. With patience, it eventually finishes doing whatever the heck it needed to do and starts to respond again.
  • No "TV/Video". If you're used to VCRs, then you're probably used to the idea that you run the RF signal THROUGH the VCR to the TV (ie, wall outlet to VCR, then VCR to TV). You use the "TV/Video" switch on the VCR to control whether the TV sees the raw RF signal from the cable company, or whether it sees the channel that the VCR's tuned to / tape that it's playing. The Pioneer doesn't have this (other DVRs may not have it either). The only thing that ever comes out of the "RF OUT" on the DVR is whatever's going into "RF IN". In effect, the DVR acts like a splitter with one of the outputs permanently wired to it's internal tuner, and the other output wired to the "RF OUT" connector. The only way to actually see DVR output (what's playing from a DVD or the HDD or what channel the DVR is tuned to) is to connect the "line out" (composite, S-Video or component) jacks from the DVR to the "line in" jacks on your TV (or other equipment that feeds into the TV).
  • Remembers where you were in every show on the HDD. This is probably a "feature" for most folks, but what happened to me is that my wife watched an entire show on the hard drive and the "resume point" for that show ended up pointing to the end of the show. When I came along to watch it, it started up at the end of the selection (in the middle of a commercial so I couldn't really tell if it's the beginning or the end of the show), played the last 1 or 2 seconds of the show, then stopped on the last frame because there was nothing more to play. At first I thought there was something wrong with HDD playback. In defence of the machine, there's a "resume timeline" that's shows you where playback will start (if you have the machine set to display 8 titles at a time in the "Disc Navigator"), and once I got used to checking it my confusion was eliminated. The resume point can be easily reset by pressing "stop" one extra time when you finish watching a show, but I think that a good design would be to clear the resume point if you watch a show through to it's end.
  • When you're entering titles for a show, there's no indication of where the title will be split in two to fit into the two lines alloted for it in the menu when you transfer the show to a DVD. Getting the titles to look OK is pretty much a hit and miss affair unless you start counting characters. The Toshiva XS34 manual shows some marks in the title entry field where the end of the lines would occur - this would be a welcome feature in the Pioneer.
  • Title entry is significantly speeded up by using special keys on the remote. They're well documented in the manual (on page 79) - but it would be nice to have a "help" prompt on the title entry screen so that pressing the "Help" button on the remote brings up a list of these keyboard shortcuts. I can easily imagine people stuck using very slow the cursor-key entry method because they aren't aware that there's a faster way.
  • It's really annoying to enter the "1" character in titles - all of the other numbers can be entered by pressing the remote key enough times to step through 3 or 4 letters (for example, to enter "2" you press the "ABC" button four times to cycle through "A", "B", "C" then "2"). But the "1" key is used for symbols and you have to press it 8 times to get to the digit "1".

And other comments which, for me, are neither good nor bad:
  • The unit's hard drive really does chatter when downloading the EPG. In fact it often chatters when watching a show through the tuner (during which the EPG is supposedly not being downloaded). I can hear the chatter clearly enough from where I sit about 8 feet away from the unit, but I don't find it distracting and I'm totally unconcious of it while actually watching a show.
  • As has been discussed in this forum, there is no "Chapter Mark" button on the remote. To insert chapters, you have to "edit" the program after recording it. Not a problem for me, but might be frustrating if you are used to being able to mark chapters as you watch a show (note that the machine will put chapter marks into a show that you're recording every time you press the "pause" button).
  • The text in the various menus and options is pretty small. I realize that they're trying to cram a lot of stuff into the screen, but watch out if you have a small TV and/or sit far away from it. I tried it on a 20" TV sitting 8' away and it was marginal. 27" at 8' was a lot easier on the eyes. 40" widescreen at 8' was no problem.
  • I've had only a brief opportunity to try copying shows from plain VHS tapes using a composite connection. As I mentioned before I'm not overly concerned about the quality as long as there are no obvious problems, and it looks like I'm not going to have any issues with what this unit can do. From what I can see (without looking too hard) the limiting factor is the source material at speeds down to at least SP.
  • I've been able to burn DVD-R and -RW media (Maxell) without any problems. Haven't tried dual layer discs yet (and probably won't until the cost-per-GB gets a lot closer to single-layer media).


On the joys and frustations of the EPG

I list these separately because I believe the EPG software is common to most of the new models from Pioneer, Toshiba, Panasonic, and other brands that include EPG functionality. So these comments may well apply to them as well.

The good news:
  • I had no problems loading the EPG here in Vancouver BC connected to Shaw cable. I have the cable running from the wall into the DVR, then from the DVR to the TV (there's actually a split coming out of the wall and the other leg goes to the VCR). The guide populated with days 1, 2 and 8 within 12 hours of plugging the unit in, and over the next week it filled in all 8 days in advance.
  • I like the features in the EPG. It's fairly easy to get around in (once you learn all of the magic keys on the remote, see below). You can use the arrow keys to go up/down a channel at a time, or forward/backward a half-hour at a time. You can use chapter skip / slow-mo buttons to go up/down a page in the channel listings or forward/back by 24 hours. And you can type numbers to jump directly to a given channel or to jump ahead/back by a given number of hours. The guide is fairly responsive (once it shows on the screen, see below).
  • "Search" is great - I love being able to easily find all the occurrences of a particular show and be able to set them up for recording.
  • The "Keyword" option of the "Search" feature remembers your searches. So if you've entered "Family Guy" as a search at any point in the past, it will be there for you to select and easily search again. This makes it super convenient to search for shows that you're interested in. (You can also delete or edit these remembered searches).
  • Program descriptions in the guide are generally quite good. Here's an example:

    Family Guy
    "Running Mates" (Animated) Peter and school-board candidate Lois have divergent views on an education issue, so Peter decides to run against her. Seth MacFarlane. TV14 (Strong Language, Suggestive Dialogue)

    The "search" feature in the guide searches on the description contents as well as on the title, so you can search for plot keywords or the names of major actors.
The bad news:
  • It often takes several seconds between the time you hit the "TV Guide" button and the EPG screen actually appearing. When I first got the unit I often found myself hitting the button several times because I wasn't sure if I actually hit it or if the unit detected the IR signal. I've since discovered that when you hit the "TV Guide" button, the display switches from the channel number (ie, "13") to the current date (ie, "8/20"). Once I discovered this, it reduced the frustration level by about 50% because I no longer worried about whether I actually hit the button or not, I just had to relax and wait for the screen to appear.
  • Although the guide is easy to navigate, the buttons you use to do this are not terribly obvious or well documented. I recommend visiting the support section of the TVGOS web site (http://www.tvgos.com/support/) for some useful tips.
  • It would be really nice to have a shortcut key to go directly to the "service bar" at the top of the EPG rather than having to hit "Menu" and select the "Go to service bar" option.
  • Alphabetical search has a couple of annoyances. You search alphabetically by selecting a letter (ie, "E"), after which the guide lists all of the titles that start with that letter. I'd like to be able to enter the next letter (ie, "F") if I'm looking for a show that falls near the end of the "E's" (ie, "Eyes") so that I can hit the up-arrow a few times to find the show, rather than having to do dozens of down-arrows or down-pages. But the guide shows ONLY the "F"s in that case. What's worse, is that if there are a LOT of shows that start with a given letter, you can't see them all. For example, I seached for shows starting with "S" and only got as far as "Simpsons". The next entry said "Searching for data...", but selecting it and hitting enter does nothing. Annoying, but can be worked around by using the "Keyword" option of the "Search" feature.
  • It's pretty much guaranteed that the EPG will not populate it's channel list in the order you want them. You can edit the channel list to put things in the order you want, but it's a bit of work to do.
  • Too bad that entering search keywords in the EPG software uses a totally different technique than entering titles. Fortunately, search keywords are remembered so you rarely have to enter them.

Other EPG comments:
  • So far after 3 weeks of use I haven't experienced any of the problems noted by other EPG users (wrong clock setting, missed timer recordings, etc).
  • The guide is set up by default to change it's "channel preview" window to whatever channel you're currently looking at in the guide. Personally I find this to be a fairly useless setting - who cares about what's on channel 10 NOW when you're setting up to record shows hours or days from now? Fortunately it's possible to change this so that it continues to show whatever channel you were tuned to when you switch to the guide (see TVGOS web site above).
  • The EPG is designed around a paradigm where a white "information box" is opened up below the currently selected item. This is used everywhere in the guide, even where it's just a distraction and wastes screen space. For example, when searching for shows alphabetically, you get a white screen-wasting information box below the selected letter of the alphabet, when all that's really needed is to highlight the letter using a different colour. Because of the box, not all of the letters fit on the screen at once and you have to scroll through them.

Conclusion:

The Pioneer 533 was money well spent for me. The only remaining questions I have are on the reliability of the hardware and of recoding scheduled shows - for those answers I'll just have to wait and see.

There definitely are annoyances with the machine ("WAIT" being the worst for me), but no more so than Microsoft Windows holds for me. And despite Windows' problems I'd still rather have a computer running it rather than not having one at all. The same applies to the Pioneer - despite the problems, I'm much, much happier with the machine than I was before I bought it.

Before experiencing this machine I had some doubts as to whether it might be better to wait for machines that could record HD content (ie, record and playback HD content via HDD, even if they downconverted to SD for burning to DVD). But now I have to say that the features and convenience are so great that HDD DVD-R systems are well worth their price even if they become obsolete within a couple of years.
Sean Nelson is offline  
Sponsored Links
Advertisement
 
post #2 of 31 Old 08-27-2005, 03:26 PM
Advanced Member
 
probepro's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 1999
Location: Chicago, IL
Posts: 533
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
Sean Nelson, not sure, but this may be the longest post I've read on this board. You've pretty much covered everything, so I really have nothing to add, except glad to hear you're enjoying your 533 as much as I'm enjoying mine. Oh, there is one thing. You look awful young to be retiring, unless your're a dot-com billionaire, or something.
probepro is offline  
post #3 of 31 Old 08-27-2005, 03:32 PM
Member
 
Rosalie's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: Florida
Posts: 43
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
Sean, Bravo! What a great assesment of your dvd-r. As a newbie who hasn't decided yet, it gave me a much better feel for what the Pio did and how it was done. I wish you could do the same for the other machines. Thank you..

"Alphabetical search has a couple of annoyances. You search alphabetically by selecting a letter (ie, "E"), after which the guide lists all of the titles that start with that letter. I'd like to be able to enter the next letter (ie, "F") if I'm looking for a show that falls near the end of the "E's" (ie, "Eyes") so that I can hit the up-arrow a few times to find the show, rather than having to do dozens of down-arrows or down-pages. But the guide shows ONLY the "F"s in that case. "

I don't suppose it is as simple as selecting the first letter -S- , then g oing arrow right once and typing the second letter of your word? Just a thought because that is how the search feature works on our Comcast box remote.
Rosalie is offline  
post #4 of 31 Old 08-27-2005, 03:39 PM
Advanced Member
 
gshelley61's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Location: USA
Posts: 808
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
Welcome to the world of standalone DVD recording!

I've owned and checked out probably 20 different models from Panasonic, JVC, Pioneer, Sony, Toshiba, Lite-On/ilo/Gateway... they all have their strengths and weaknesses. My primary use of standalone DVD recorders has been as hardware MPEG2 encoders that happen to store their files on optical disc. For most video to DVD transfers, they simply work better and are much faster than computer capturing/encoding methods (unless you really know what you are doing and have the right combination of hardware and software).

I have to say that these new Pioneer units (531/533/633) are the most well thought out machines for the video hobbyist I have seen so far. I am really happy with my 531.

Enjoy your new Pioneer!
gshelley61 is offline  
post #5 of 31 Old 08-27-2005, 04:12 PM
Senior Member
 
Oldemanphil's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 449
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
Great post Sean;
I've owned an assortment of non-HDD DVD recorders and I have to agree with you that the features of the Pioneer 53X series have spoiled me. I can't go back to a non-HDD model.

I have my Pioneer hooked to a 50" Toshiba and don't use the Pioneers EPG, as my cable companies provided EPG can control recording on the Pioneer with its supplied VCR Commander(IR blaster) and software.

I have not personally experienced the "HDD chatter". The only time I notice any noise is when finalizing a DVD. I admit that my age, I can't hear very well.

Without the EPG configured, I think the power up "wait" times are shorter. They haven't been enough of an issue for me to time them. They are shorter than my computers boot time at any rate.

THe 53x Pioneer series are certainly not perfect. but they work for me AND no one has built a perfect DVD recorder yet.

PS, I'm already retired and my goal is to record DVDs of all the movies shown on cable... :rolleyes:
Oldemanphil is offline  
post #6 of 31 Old 08-27-2005, 06:11 PM
Member
 
vanquint's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 127
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
Wow.. Great review. Not sure which way I'm going yet. (Pio or Panny)

Read this part, now I have a question:

Quote:
No "TV/Video". If you're used to VCRs, then you're probably used to the idea that you run the RF signal THROUGH the VCR to the TV (ie, wall outlet to VCR, then VCR to TV). You use the "TV/Video" switch on the VCR to control whether the TV sees the raw RF signal from the cable company, or whether it sees the channel that the VCR's tuned to / tape that it's playing. The Pioneer doesn't have this (other DVRs may not have it either). The only thing that ever comes out of the "RF OUT" on the DVR is whatever's going into "RF IN". In effect, the DVR acts like a splitter with one of the outputs permanently wired to it's internal tuner, and the other output wired to the "RF OUT" connector. The only way to actually see DVR output (what's playing from a DVD or the HDD or what channel the DVR is tuned to) is to connect the "line out" (composite, S-Video or component) jacks from the DVR to the "line in" jacks on your TV (or other equipment that feeds into the TV).
I have Comcast Digital Cable with it's own guide. Will not use the EPG. So can I only use Composite cables from the VCR and STB (doesn't have S-Video) to the recorder inputs, then component to the TV, and ignore the RF-In/Out altogether?

Would that limit what I can record from the STB?
vanquint is offline  
post #7 of 31 Old 08-27-2005, 06:30 PM
Member
 
Nocturnal's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 196
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sean Nelson
"Scan 1" mode is terrific. I haven't read anything about this in the other posts here, but it's definitely worth knowing about. It plays a program at 1.5X speed WITH AUDIO. The audio is processed so that it has a normal pitch, so it's quite understandable unless a person is talking too fast. Great for some types of shows that you want to get through quickly.
I used this feature a lot on my old Beta VCRs (they did 2x instead of 1.5x), and I had really been missing it with VHS (I've never seen it on a VHS machine). I was very pleased when I found this feature on my Pioneer 520, and both of the other Pioneer units I've purchased since then also have it. Do other DVR manufacturers also include this feature?
Nocturnal is offline  
post #8 of 31 Old 08-27-2005, 06:40 PM
Member
 
Nocturnal's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 196
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by vanquint
I have Comcast Digital Cable with it's own guide. Will not use the EPG. So can I only use Composite cables from the VCR and STB (doesn't have S-Video) to the recorder inputs, then component to the TV, and ignore the RF-In/Out altogether?
You can do that if you want.

Quote:
Would that limit what I can record from the STB?
No, but it may prevent you from watching one cable channel while recording another (depending on what other connections you have or haven't made).
Nocturnal is offline  
post #9 of 31 Old 08-27-2005, 08:04 PM - Thread Starter
AVS Special Member
 
Sean Nelson's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2001
Location: Vancouver BC, Canada
Posts: 3,304
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by probepro
You look awful young to be retiring, unless your're a dot-com billionaire, or something.
Well, that picture is probably almost 10 years old now... ;)
Sean Nelson is offline  
post #10 of 31 Old 08-27-2005, 08:07 PM - Thread Starter
AVS Special Member
 
Sean Nelson's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2001
Location: Vancouver BC, Canada
Posts: 3,304
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rosalie
I don't suppose it is as simple as selecting the first letter -S- , then going arrow right once and typing the second letter of your word? Just a thought because that is how the search feature works on our Comcast box remote.
When you cursor to the first letter and hit "enter" the guide says "searching for data" for a few seconds and then comes up with a list of all the shows whose titles start with that letter. As far as I know there's no way to enter a second letter.
Sean Nelson is offline  
post #11 of 31 Old 08-27-2005, 08:24 PM - Thread Starter
AVS Special Member
 
Sean Nelson's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2001
Location: Vancouver BC, Canada
Posts: 3,304
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by vanquint
I have Comcast Digital Cable with it's own guide. Will not use the EPG. So can I only use Composite cables from the VCR and STB (doesn't have S-Video) to the recorder inputs, then component to the TV, and ignore the RF-In/Out altogether? Would that limit what I can record from the STB?
You should be able to record anything you can see from the STB. The only issue would be how you schedule the recordings. To schedule a recording that comes through the STB, you have to make sure that the DVR turns on and records from the correct line input at the appropriate time, and that the STB turns on and switches to the correct channel at the same time. Generally speaking, there are three ways to do this:
  • Schedule the recording on the Pioneer and have it's IR blaster control the Comcast STB. I haven't used this feature, so I can't say for sure if this is possible without using the EPG. I seem to recall reading a post somewhere that the IR blaster setup is done using the EPG, so it may not be possible. Other Pioneer owners - please chime in if you have any definitive info on this.
  • Schedule the recording using the Comcast STB and have it's IR blaster control the Pioneer. This means you'd have to leave the Pioneer turned on so that it could recognize the "record" signal from the STB. You could only do this if the Comcast STB has an IR blaster and it can produce the correct codes for a Pioneer VCR (the Pioneer DVR recognizes the "Record" signal for a Pioneer VCR).
  • Don't attempt to have either box control the other, and schedule the recording separately on both boxes. You can do this if the Comcast STB has the ability to automatically turn on and switch to the correct channel - this kind of functionality is usually accessible by selecting the desired show in it's guide and activating a "record" function within it. I've used this method quite successfully for VCR recording with the Motorola DCT 2000 that's hooked up to Shaw cable here in Vancouver.
One thing to note: if you don't use the EPG then the shows you record won't get titled automatically - instead they'll end up with titles like "date time L1"
Sean Nelson is offline  
post #12 of 31 Old 08-27-2005, 08:27 PM - Thread Starter
AVS Special Member
 
Sean Nelson's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2001
Location: Vancouver BC, Canada
Posts: 3,304
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nocturnal
I used this feature a lot on my old Beta VCRs (they did 2x instead of 1.5x), and I had really been missing it with VHS (I've never seen it on a VHS machine). I was very pleased when I found this feature on my Pioneer 520, and both of the other Pioneer units I've purchased since then also have it. Do other DVR manufacturers also include this feature?
A good question. Since owners of other DVRs probably wont poke into this Pioneer thread, I'll open up a new thread to ask the question.
Sean Nelson is offline  
post #13 of 31 Old 08-27-2005, 08:33 PM - Thread Starter
AVS Special Member
 
Sean Nelson's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2001
Location: Vancouver BC, Canada
Posts: 3,304
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by gshelley61
My primary use of standalone DVD recorders has been as hardware MPEG2 encoders that happen to store their files on optical disc. For most video to DVD transfers, they simply work better and are much faster than computer capturing/encoding methods (unless you really know what you are doing and have the right combination of hardware and software).
I agree wholeheartedly. I got an ATI "All-In-Wonder" video card with the last computer I purchased with the idea that I might be able to use it to capture VHS tapes and as an occasional DVR, but I quickly discovered a number of problems. The most annoying one is that the MP2 files created by the ATI software caused Windows Media Player to crash. I didn't want to use the ATI-proprietary video formats because I never, ever want to archive stuff using a non-standard file format. And while the MP2 files played OK in other software (like Power DVD), the fact that Media Player didn't like them cast a cloud of suspicion over them in my mind. I also found the auto-recording feature of the software often produced files with awful (to the point of being unwatchable) video quality.

A standalone DVR eliminates all that hassle, highly recommended.
Sean Nelson is offline  
post #14 of 31 Old 08-27-2005, 09:25 PM
Senior Member
 
Oldemanphil's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 449
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
Quote:
One thing to note: if you don't use the EPG then the shows you record won't get titled automatically - instead they'll end up with titles like "date time L
Not sure which EPG you meant here...but my STB controlled PIO 531 somehow picks up the auto title from my SA3250HD STB and its cable company EPG. I have the PIO EPG turned off.

Tip, I also find that if you set the PIO default thumbnail to the 30 sec or 3 minute choices, it will pick the correct title more frequently. When default thumbnail is set to the default start of program option, I often get the title from the previous program due to poor network timing. :)
Oldemanphil is offline  
post #15 of 31 Old 08-27-2005, 09:46 PM
Member
 
UnWillyn's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 88
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sean Nelson
One thing to note: if you don't use the EPG then the shows you record won't get titled automatically - instead they'll end up with titles like "date time L1"
Sean,
So far, I've not "woken" the EPG on my 533. No antenna, no cable. Just line inputs and DirecTv. I've only used manual recording to date.

Interestingly, most everything I've recorded off of Directv so far IS properly titled !!! The only exception I've had was a National Geographic program.

I was a bit surprised at first, but I'm not complaining :-)

I'm beginning to think that I never want to see "EPG" displayed on my unit.
UnWillyn is offline  
post #16 of 31 Old 08-27-2005, 11:41 PM - Thread Starter
AVS Special Member
 
Sean Nelson's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2001
Location: Vancouver BC, Canada
Posts: 3,304
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by Oldemanphil
Not sure which EPG you meant here...but my STB controlled PIO 531 somehow picks up the auto title from my SA3250HD STB and its cable company EPG. I have the PIO EPG turned off.

Tip, I also find that if you set the PIO default thumbnail to the 30 sec or 3 minute choices, it will pick the correct title more frequently. When default thumbnail is set to the default start of program option, I often get the title from the previous program due to poor network timing. :)
Cool! I assumed the titles were coming from the EPG, but the stations must be transmitting them as VBI (Vertical Blanking Interval) data during the program. So then I stand corrected - you don't need to enable the EPG on the Pioneer in order to get your programs automatically titled.

Thanks for the feedback, you too UnWillyn!
Sean Nelson is offline  
post #17 of 31 Old 08-28-2005, 03:13 AM
Member
 
Nocturnal's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 196
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sean Nelson
So then I stand corrected - you don't need to enable the EPG on the Pioneer in order to get your programs automatically titled.
On my 633 (with EPG disabled), programs are automatically titled when I use the record button on the remote to initiate the recording. However, if I use a manual timer setting to record a program, I get the date/time/channel information as you pointed out earlier. Since nearly all of my recordings are done with manual timer settings, this is a bit of a drawback for me.

The 520 is better designed in this regard. Not only will it automatically title your recordings regardless of how they were initiated, it also allows you to set your own title while you're making a manual timer setting.
Nocturnal is offline  
post #18 of 31 Old 08-28-2005, 06:09 AM
Member
 
vanquint's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 127
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sean Nelson
  • Don't attempt to have either box control the other, and schedule the recording separately on both boxes. You can do this if the Comcast STB has the ability to automatically turn on and switch to the correct channel - this kind of functionality is usually accessible by selecting the desired show in it's guide and activating a "record" function within it. I've used this method quite successfully for VCR recording with the Motorola DCT 2000 that's hooked up to Shaw cable here in Vancouver.
This would probably be the best way. My Comcast Digital box doesn't have an IR Blaster. I've read that the EPG doesn't work with Digital channels/On Demand, just Analog (< 99). So why bother, the Pio's IR Blaster won't work.
My Motorola box has "Record" for each program. When it's chosen, it's automatically set. It then says to program your VCR timer with manufacturers specs.

Separate may be the easiest way.
vanquint is offline  
post #19 of 31 Old 08-28-2005, 08:08 AM
AVS Special Member
 
MrMike6by9's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2002
Location: Lutherville, Maryland
Posts: 1,272
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by vanquint
This would probably be the best way. My Comcast Digital box doesn't have an IR Blaster. I've read that the EPG doesn't work with Digital channels/On Demand, just Analog (< 99). So why bother, the Pio's IR Blaster won't work.
My Motorola box has "Record" for each program. When it's chosen, it's automatically set. It then says to program your VCR timer with manufacturers specs.

Separate may be the easiest way.
I have a 420H and Comcast digital and use that method for recording. Each unit (the DVDR and the box) is set with its own timer and I usually pad at both ends, just in case. I originally bought the 420 because it wasn't too expensive if the tech wasn't ready. Now, I am wondering if I should get a second DVDR.

PS, I agree with the OP, a very nice write-up.

YMMV

"Typos are very important to all written form. It gives the reader something to look for so they aren't distracted by the total lack of content in your writing."

- Randy K. Milholland
MrMike6by9 is offline  
post #20 of 31 Old 08-28-2005, 07:24 PM
 
squonk's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 2,129
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by gshelley61
).

I have to say that these new Pioneer units (531/533/633) are the most well thought out machines for the video hobbyist I have seen so far. I am really happy with my 531.

Enjoy your new Pioneer!

Well, at the risk of incurring the rath of the Pioneer 531/33/633 Anti-Defamation League, let's not go overboard. The many other threads on the Pioneer recorders document extensively some of the shortfalls and omissions of the new line vs the x20 Pioneer recorders. Won't regurgitate all that here again, but:

the new menu interface is clumsier and more labor intensive than the 20 series in many respects, requiring multiple button pushes were one used to suffice;

the new models dropped several features which many found useful on the x20s--in particular there is no auto record function on Line input 1 which is very handy for those with satellite boxes;

the new models dropped the chapter and navi mark buttons on the remote (to make room for the EPG stuff) which was of convenience to some( ie marking chapters while recording for easy commercial removal)

the new models apparantly only have a DV input feature, where the x20 series the DV input was bidirectional, allowing one to control the camcorder with the recorder, and also allow 2 way input via computer

the addition of the EPG has been a very mixed blessing, and has been extensively detailed so much so that it is a dealbreaker for some, as it appears to have been slapped on as an afterthought. Some have found a way to avoid or work around it, but those who have cable or sat have virtually no use for it.

So I'm glad you enjoy your 531, and Sean's review covers the pros and cons very well, but in the interest of full disclosure to those who are reading these threads, there are real pros and cons to each model and some real steps backward in terms of usability on the new models that some would maintain were not well thought out.

PS by the way there is no WAIT instruction on the x20 series requiring you to sit around for 45 secs or so while the recorder gets its act in gear. So that would be another frustration of the new models which would be irritating as noted....
squonk is offline  
post #21 of 31 Old 08-29-2005, 09:40 AM
 
squonk's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 2,129
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
P.S. See Pioneer 531/533/633 bugs thread.
squonk is offline  
post #22 of 31 Old 08-29-2005, 10:23 AM
AVS Special Member
 
aydu's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Central Illinois
Posts: 3,655
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 27
It is ironic that people object to "wasting" 45 or so seconds so that they can get on to watching a tv program - which is likely a total waste of time.
aydu is offline  
post #23 of 31 Old 08-29-2005, 10:24 AM
AVS Special Member
 
rgazzara's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: Philly, PA
Posts: 2,257
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
It's all in the eye of the beholder.

RG
rgazzara is offline  
post #24 of 31 Old 08-29-2005, 07:14 PM - Thread Starter
AVS Special Member
 
Sean Nelson's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2001
Location: Vancouver BC, Canada
Posts: 3,304
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 17
I experienced loss of the TV Guide over the weekend and I thought I'd fill you folks in on what I observed. As noted in the OP, I'm on Shaw cable in Vancouver BC, and have the 533 hooked up direct to the analogue cable. The postal code I'm using for the EPG is "V5R 3K4".

On Sunday morning I went into the TV Guide and discovered the following message in the area of the screen where the channels and shows are normally displayed:

Update information will be available within 24 hours. The Guide is rebuilding your channel list based on your setup change

I hadn't made any setup changes, and wasn't offered a choice of different channel lineups when I initially set up the system (so I assume that only one lineup applies to my postal code). Having another look at the TVGOS web site, I noticed that the section describing when guide data is downloaded mentions that "setup information is downloaded continuously". So I'm guessing that this event was caused by some change to this downloaded setup information.

During the Guide outage, I could still see recordings that I had previously scheduled (via the Guide) by navigating to the "Schedule" item in the Guide service bar. Although I could see the scheduled recordings, I wasn't able to make any changes to them. Navigating to one of the scheduled recordings and pressing the "Enter" button on the remote dumped me out of the guide and back into the live program. I had a number of shows scheduled (via the Guide) to record during the outage, and these recorded normally.

Monday morning the Guide data reappeared and everything looks like it's back to normal. I never made any attempt to reset the machine or change any settings. I hadn't made any channel lineup changes prior to the outage so I can't tell you if any such customizations would have been lost. I also never scheduled any manual timer recordings so I can't tell you how they would have behaved during the outage.

It's annoying to have been without the Guide data for a day, but so far the event doesn't seem to have caused any other disruption to my system.
Sean Nelson is offline  
post #25 of 31 Old 08-29-2005, 09:21 PM
Member
 
Nocturnal's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 196
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sean Nelson
During the Guide outage, I could still see recordings that I had previously scheduled (via the Guide) by navigating to the "Schedule" item in the Guide service bar. Although I could see the scheduled recordings, I wasn't able to make any changes to them. Navigating to one of the scheduled recordings and pressing the "Enter" button on the remote dumped me out of the guide and back into the live program.
Instead of pressing "Enter" at that point, you need to press the Menu button on the remote. That opens up a schedule options menu on the left, and you should have an option to edit the timer setting there. This is non-intuitive, and I don't think there is any on-screen prompt to make you aware of it (it may or may not be in the manual; I didn't check).
Nocturnal is offline  
post #26 of 31 Old 08-30-2005, 05:10 AM
AVS Special Member
 
aydu's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Central Illinois
Posts: 3,655
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sean Nelson
I experienced loss of the TV Guide over the weekend and I thought I'd fill you folks in on what I observed. As noted in the OP, I'm on Shaw cable in Vancouver BC, and have the 533 hooked up direct to the analogue cable. The postal code I'm using for the EPG is "V5R 3K4".

On Sunday morning I went into the TV Guide and discovered the following message in the area of the screen where the channels and shows are normally displayed:

Update information will be available within 24 hours. The Guide is rebuilding your channel list based on your setup change

I hadn't made any setup changes, and wasn't offered a choice of different channel lineups when I initially set up the system (so I assume that only one lineup applies to my postal code). Having another look at the TVGOS web site, I noticed that the section describing when guide data is downloaded mentions that "setup information is downloaded continuously". So I'm guessing that this event was caused by some change to this downloaded setup information.

During the Guide outage, I could still see recordings that I had previously scheduled (via the Guide) by navigating to the "Schedule" item in the Guide service bar. Although I could see the scheduled recordings, I wasn't able to make any changes to them. Navigating to one of the scheduled recordings and pressing the "Enter" button on the remote dumped me out of the guide and back into the live program. I had a number of shows scheduled (via the Guide) to record during the outage, and these recorded normally.

Monday morning the Guide data reappeared and everything looks like it's back to normal. I never made any attempt to reset the machine or change any settings. I hadn't made any channel lineup changes prior to the outage so I can't tell you if any such customizations would have been lost. I also never scheduled any manual timer recordings so I can't tell you how they would have behaved during the outage.

It's annoying to have been without the Guide data for a day, but so far the event doesn't seem to have caused any other disruption to my system.
I have had this exact same experience here in the US. My EPG did not reload for 2 days, so I did a reset of the machine and it downloaded again the next day. By resetting, I lost my recording selections, but retained those recordings that were already on my disc.

I'm hoping this is not a frequent event with the EPG.

I contacted Pioneer customer service and they are totally clueless. Based on the answers I got from them, I'm guessing the clueless status applies to their responses regardless of the question asked.
aydu is offline  
post #27 of 31 Old 08-30-2005, 09:59 AM
 
squonk's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 2,129
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by aydu
It is ironic that people object to "wasting" 45 or so seconds so that they can get on to watching a tv program - which is likely a total waste of time.
I think the point is, given a choice between a unit that has a bunch of issues and bugs with the EPG, and that has a wait time to power up, and a recorder that has none of those issues, I'd prefer the one without the wait time and related issues. The comment was made in the context of comparing the newer models and the older models, and related to the comment that the new ones were "so well thought out." I see a lot of evidence that they were not well thought out in many areas.
squonk is offline  
post #28 of 31 Old 08-30-2005, 07:45 PM - Thread Starter
AVS Special Member
 
Sean Nelson's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2001
Location: Vancouver BC, Canada
Posts: 3,304
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nocturnal
Instead of pressing "Enter" at that point, you need to press the Menu button on the remote. That opens up a schedule options menu on the left, and you should have an option to edit the timer setting there. This is non-intuitive, and I don't think there is any on-screen prompt to make you aware of it (it may or may not be in the manual; I didn't check).
Oh-ho, thanks for that! Indeed, selecting a scheduled show and pressing "Enter" does exactly the same thing (dumps you out of the guide and into the live show) when the guide data is loaded too. The "Menu" key is the trick.

Kind of a dumb design, IMHO. To get the show set up as a scheduled recording to start with you select it and hit "Enter". Seems like the same key combination ought to work for modifying an already-scheduled recording...
Sean Nelson is offline  
post #29 of 31 Old 08-31-2005, 06:50 AM
Newbie
 
foneman's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 6
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
yes, wait-time can be an annoyance - a simple 'countdown timer' or 'time bar' would at least make it seem less!!
foneman is offline  
post #30 of 31 Old 08-31-2005, 07:28 AM
AVS Special Member
 
aydu's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Central Illinois
Posts: 3,655
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by squonk
I think the point is, given a choice between a unit that has a bunch of issues and bugs with the EPG, and that has a wait time to power up, and a recorder that has none of those issues, I'd prefer the one without the wait time and related issues. The comment was made in the context of comparing the newer models and the older models, and related to the comment that the new ones were "so well thought out." I see a lot of evidence that they were not well thought out in many areas.
Tour point is different than mine.

As to your redefined point:

My TV, VCR, and DVD recorder are all fairly new. Each of them has some boot time associated with them.

True, the days of "instant on" devices may be gone, but the current generation of A/V devices provide outstanding performance, and feature sets, compared to previous generations.

The current crop of DVD recorders with hard drives incorporate significant information via the EPG, and ease of programming by using that interface. The tradeoff, is that the units do some processing of information when not being used, and that some boot time is encountered at times.

I'm sure both of these issues could be eliminated with increased processing power in the units themselves, and a more efficient download process for the EPG information.

These would likely add cost to the units, which would put them out of reach of many consumers.
aydu is offline  
Closed Thread DVD Recorders (Standard Def)

User Tag List

Thread Tools
Show Printable Version Show Printable Version
Email this Page Email this Page


Forum Jump: 

Posting Rules  
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off