You sound like my other half
Reading your post reminded me of my horrors with 5 EZ units: EZ17's and EZ-27.
In the ~3 month period I had with my EZ-28 I got some great recordings but did have several anomalies. Missed recordings, corrupted disc and cascading 00000. My unit always cleared with by holding down the power button 10 seconds to force a shutoff. Never the U99 though. The machine didn't die like my x7's but I was waiting for the day. I finally returned it after it screwed up a important recording while trying to chase play using a almost new Panasonic RAM
Most of my failures with my EZ-x7's were to -RW discs so when I got my EZ-28 I made sure to use PANASONIC RAMs. Well they also had issues so I really don't believe the failures are disc related. I just think the EZ machines are flaky. I'm sorry to hear about your U99. That takes the machine from flaky status to downright AVOID status. A missed recording 2% of the time might be acceptable(not desirable) but a downright machine failure is unacceptable, IMO.
As far as what I did was to purchase a EH-55 from Canada. It lacks the VHS drive but included a nice 250GB HDD and more important is reliable
as are all my ES machines. Using a CM-7000 CECB I am able to get digital recordings that are ~95% of my EZ machines. To me I'll take the 5% hit if I can guarantee 100% recording success.
Now if you wanted to go the combo route I'd suggest a EH-75(w/HDD) if you can find one. If you wanted to omit the HDD I'd try and find a old ('05) ES-30. I have several, and other than the occasional spindle cleaning it's 100% reliable. Note none of the units have a digital tuner. I understand it might be important to some, it was VERY important to me being OTA only, but I just couldn't stomach the problems with the EZ units to make it work for me.
As far a 3575/6 PQ I'd have to say it totally depends on what you expect. I personally like to record in a FR speed of ~3hrs/disc. Using that speed I "personally" was not happy with the 3575. You may be different, and if using speeds like SP the difference is even less. Personally it sounds like you're used to the Panny picture so what I might suggest would be to purchase a 3576 at Sams Club(maybe a friend has a membership?) or Walmart for ~$50 more. If you're ok with the PQ then good, be done with it and keep the Philips. If you're not happy with the PQ then I'd personally suggest a '06 or 05' Panny ES series machine and some type of external digital STB to get better recordings. Note a '07 EH-55(w/HDD) from Canada would also be a good choice as well as possibly a '08 Canadian ES-18 or ES-36 w/VHS. They have the analog tuner and are based on the more reliable ES design. Link to those:http://www.panasonic.ca/english/audi...rder/index.asp
If you're OK with the Philips that would sure be your easiest route. It would not only be cheaper than some of the other options I mentioned but will also be handy with it's built in HDD and digital tuner. Because the Philips has the HDD you will find out you are able to use the 1 and 2 hour speed more often for time shifting since you don't have to worry about the 1 or 2 hour limitations of a DVD. I think the Philips records something like 68? hours in HQ to its HDD.
My father switched from his Pannys to a 3575 and hasn't looked back. Well
we actually both thought it was acting flaky by occasionally not finalizing DVDs, but it turned out to be a un-noted "feature" that the machine would not allow finalizing of discs less than 1 hour prior to a scheduled event. I think Wajo discovered this hidden "feature"
Lastly people may wonder why other people may not have problems with their EZ machines and guys like you and I have had many problems. My explanation to this would be, how much does the average person use their DVDRs for scheduled recordings?? My guess would be the people with little to no problems rarely use their machines or don't use scheduled events that much. Just a thought
I gave up on the thought that I might just be getting select bad units after the 3 or 4th new unopened
unit went bad.
jhollister, personally I wouldn't worry about finalizing your discs before the firmware update. I never had problems after firmware updates, it's just the updates did nothing to fix my problems.
BTW one more advantage to the Philips unit. It has a option to UNFINALIZE -RW discs. That is you can finalize the -RW disc, play it in another player, then unfinalize the disc and add more back to it on the 3575. I sure wish the Pannys had that feature, I'd sure use it.