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Advice: DVD-Recorder that Plays NTSC/PAL?

post #1 of 25
Thread Starter 
Hey folks,

Building an Home Theater, just got an Onkyo TX-SR606 & LN52A650, we are now looking for a good DVD Recorder.

TIVO and a Cable Provider provided DVR is not an option, we are looking for a good DVD Recorder that can record cable shows (flagged content). FYI, we have FIOS.

Deal Breaker Feature (in addition to recording on DVDs):

1) The ability to play both NTSC and PAL discs & includes an HDMI slot with quality upconverting capabilities

Optional Features in Priority (if available):

1) We would really prefer if it could play dvix & xvid formats of a disc (or of a USB (see 4))

2) If and only if this is available,we would love that it included a VCR/VHS slot as well so we could easily transfer VHS to DVDR (but this is not required, just an option)

3) USB slot that when a HD is plugged it could play a range of formats for both audio/video

Does this even exist?

Thank you in advance for all your help!!!
post #2 of 25
I'm fairly sure that your chances of getting something that you will be truely happy with are pretty slim. My suggestion would be to get a dedicated player with all of the desired features for your home theater . I'm not really up on the current players, but there must be several that will do what you want. The general rule of thumb is that recorders make passable but not great players. If you want a great player, get a player. Many/most people on this forum have a dedicated player in their system and don't use their recorder for general DVD playing.
post #3 of 25
Doesn't exist with all the features you want in one box. The thing that Americans can't seem to wrap their minds around is that Hollywood insists all recorders be essentially crippled from doing anything useful. Consider yourself lucky if your DVD recorder can at least make a DVD, anything beyond that is expecting too much. Forget about connecting memory cards and DiVX sub-formats and PAL conversion: ain't gonna work.

As Church AV Guy said, there is no "one box" solution that covers all the bases. Get yourself a basic VHS/DVD combo recorder for recording AND a good dedicated DVD player to handle your DiVX and PAL needs. (BTW the only DVD recorders I've ever seen that would seamlessly play PAL discs as NTSC were the old JVCs which have been out of production since 2005.)
post #4 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Church AV Guy View Post

I'm fairly sure that your chances of getting something that you will be truely happy with are pretty slim. My suggestion would be to get a dedicated player with all of the desired features for your home theater . . . If you want a great player, get a player. Many/most people on this forum have a dedicated player in their system and don't use their recorder for general DVD playing.

Hi church,
Obviously, I'm going to agree with you on the dedicated player recommendation.

To the OP: buy a recorder to record/playback TV broadcasts, but buy a real player to play DVD's. Click on the Oppo link at the top of this page and look at the 981HD. This is a high-end player that won't break the bank and will play NTSC and PAL and DivX and XviD and just about anything. As far as upconverting goes, the 981HD was made for it. It has HDMI but no component output. It will in all probability do a better job at upconversion than your TV's scaler and will certainly be better than any DVD recorder or budget player (which themselves are generally inferior to a good TV's scaler). If you are putting together a HT system with a good 1080p display of 50" or larger, get a high-end player and enjoy what you paid for (I can never understand people who pay $2000+ for a high-end display then look to go cheap on the components that feed it). I have a 981HD feeding a 50" Panasonic plasma and as a result I have no interest in blu-ray.
post #5 of 25
Before buying anything, especially a player, check with sellers who sell international recorders such as, Pioneer and Panasonic,. Last year I purchased 2 Pioneer hard drive recorders that play and record NTSC and PAL. I purchased them from World Import. Allot has changed since my purchase and they may have a recorder that meets many of your requirements.

Most LCD's, especially the name brands, will up-convert better than a DVD player. There is no need to spend big dollars for a DVD player. Let the LCD do the up-converting you will not be disappointed.
post #6 of 25
The "global" or "region-free" Panasonic and Pioneer recorders are more trouble than they're worth to the average American user and cost nearly $500. For that much money you can buy a damned good VHS/DVD recorder and an excellent dedicated player, and still have change left over. These pricey "global" machines are strictly for those who already own similar DVD/HDD recorders and are desperate for direct replacements. Their ability to play PAL discs on a USA display is much more limited than that of dedicated players. Unless you are far more tech-savvy than average, and have money to burn, and a specific need, the "global" Panasonic/Pioneer units should be avoided.
post #7 of 25
Thread Starter 
What's a damn good VHS/DVD Recorder that doesn't break the bank?

I was originally looking at this:

http://us.lge.com/download/product/f...spec_sheet.pdf

as it fills all my features, but your saying get a separate DVD/VHS Recorder & a standalone OPPO DVD Player?
post #8 of 25
Quote:

I don't know what that was, but it caused my computer to freeze up and I had to reboot it. I was using Firefox, but I normally use Opera. I went back to Opera, but I don't dare click it on again. People, be forewarned.

From the URL, it looks likes something from LG. If so, stay away from their recorders, as they are known to have some reliability issues.
post #9 of 25
Didn't work for me either, although it didn't lock up my Firefox it just opened Adobe to a blank screen which I had to X out.
post #10 of 25
The link worked OK for me. The product is a LG RC897T.
post #11 of 25
O.K. on the kids computer with HS internet and FireFox it came up fine.
Nice looking machine and it sure has all the features, RAM, IR blaster, Digital tuner, Dual layer, etc.
Personally I tried a LG a couple years ago and wasn't impressed with the 2+ hr picture quality. I believe LG like most other brands drops resolution on all speeds above 2hrs. It was a deal breaker for me. Another deal breaker for me, but maybe not you is the lack of a S-video input. When making backup copies of DVDs or if you use a Cable STB line output you should get a fair amount better picture using S-video vs Composite.
Also do a search on LG recorders. I remember one a while back(not sure if it's the same model as link) but it was basically from people agreeing how much they disliked the LG recorder. I'd be skeptical.
post #12 of 25
CitiBear, please provide some detail so we understand why the international recorders are more trouble than they are worth and why these recorders are limited in playing PAL DVD's. I have owned two International Pioneer HD recorders for two years and they play all my PAL DVD's without limitations.

The hard drive enables recording several episodes of a program, such as, Man vs Wild, Survivorman, Ice Road Truckers, etc., delete the commercials, and record each show onto a single DVD. Each episode is separately listed, named and includes a thumbnail.

Thank you.
post #13 of 25
I agree with Kelson that an OPPO is a good idea. I have their 980, which cost only $169, free shipping from Amazon. It converts PAL to NTSC, NTSC to PAL, will just pass through either. It is easy to hack to make region free. Great upconverted picture.

About world models of DVDRs. I have not owned one, but I may have to buy one, if my Pio 640 craps out. So, I have looked into them, but not for a few months. They will record in PAL or NTSC, and will play back both. But, it is my understanding that they do not convert, so if your TV will not display PAL, you are SOL. Also, I don't believe any of them are hackable to make them region free, so you wouldn't necessarily be able to play back all commercial discs. Another thing is that many don't have analog tuners compatible with the US, and none have digital tuners compatible with the US.

So, I would recommend the OPPO, and the best available DVDR, which in the US is a Philips 3576. But, if you don't need the digital tuner, and can go to Canada to get a DVDR, I would check out the Pios.
post #14 of 25
I believe World-Import sells them region-free pre-hacked.
post #15 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rammitinski View Post

I believe World-Import sells them region-free pre-hacked.

Interesting. I didn't spot that in their info. But, do they convert?
post #16 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by kjbawc View Post

Interesting. I didn't spot that in their info. But, do they convert?

No, but they sell converters, although they're pretty expensive.

Wait a minute - now that I think of it, I think they do sell a couple of "off-brand" models that convert. But they're expensive, too.
post #17 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by ernie6 View Post

CitiBear, please provide some detail so we understand why the international recorders are more trouble than they are worth and why these recorders are limited in playing PAL DVD's. I have owned two International Pioneer HD recorders for two years and they play all my PAL DVD's without limitations.

Because depending on which specific version of a recorder you get from which specific vendor, it will either work identically to a USA/Canadian model, or it will drive you out of your cotton-pickin mind trying to get it working properly in the USA. I cannot tell you how many notes I've received from desperate users on this and other forums begging for advice on how to make these eccentric machines work. There are "gotchas" galore with these global-market machines, with one of the most egregious examples being Pioneer. I love Pioneers, use them exclusively myself, but I wouldn't touch an "international" model if you gave it to me. There are no less than half a dozen versions of the DVR-550 alone, which are all different from the 650 versions. If you get the "wrong" version of a global Pioneer, there is almost no way to set timer programs on it or adjust its settings: a major disappointment for many who contact me. Even getting the menus to display can be a problem. Most recently, I've heard several complaints of the HDMI output being totally distorted.

The region-free and PAL functionality are not guaranteed: again, depends on the exact model variation, who sold it to you, and whether they hacked those features adequately. Most "global" Pioneer recorders will not convert PAL to NTSC on the fly: they will play PAL, NTSC or SECAM but only when matched with the same-format or auto-compensating display. If you are still using a large CRT screen (there's still a lot of 32" Trinitrons out there), you will likely not get a watchable PAL image from a "region-free" recorder without an add-on converter box.

We're talking major money, here: all these global recorders are HDD-equipped upscale models that run a minimum $450 plus shipping. If it were $99, I'd say go ahead, risk it and see what happens. But for $500, you're far better off making the extra effort to get a new North American model from Canadian sources if you want a nice DVD/HDD recorder. For PAL playback and/or conversion, any number of good, affordable players are available. It is an unfortunate fact that heavy use of a DVD recorder as a player rapidly wears out its burner: reason enough to have a dedicated player on hand, even though it seems duplicative.

The worldwide international recorder versions can be an okay deal if you get a good price, a return/refund guarantee, and most importantly you are a total gearhead who can puzzle your way around invisible settings menus and other issues. But if you're a typical consumer who just wants something to work right out of the box, you run a 50/50 risk of being severely disappointed by one of these units and would be better off looking for a new Canadian or second-hand USA model instead.
post #18 of 25
There were only two minor issues with the Panasonic EH67 I got from World-Import. The first was in finding and selecting NTSC from the menu system. I was using the HDMI output, so it worked okay with my VIZIO television, had I been using the video out, it might have been a different story. (I am ignoring the SCART connectors.) I don't remember if the screen was badly distorted or not, but I didn't have any problem seeing well enough to select NTSC from the menu, and then all the screen issues went away. The annoying factor was the PAL/NTSC selection was in the last menu screen of the setup menu. It should have been first.

The second issue, almost a non issue, was the supplied power cord. It is unpolarized with two large round-pins. World-Import supplied a small adapter in the box that allowed me to plug it into any socket. The problem here was, the adapter is small, and it got wedged under a piece of packing so I had to hunt for it. If I hadn't known it was included, I very well might have missed it.

Aside from the two things, the machine has required no extra effort to use, and has been reliable and solid. As you say in your first sentence, " it will either work identically to a USA/Canadian model, or it will drive you out of your cotton-pickin mind trying to get it working properly in the USA." the EH67 is almost identical to the US EH55 model. The menus are a different color,and the phrase-save feature is not there, but aside from that, it is great. It even works properly with the very old remote control from the E80 that I use, mainly because it has a DVD drawer open/close button. That open/close button also works on the EH67. No headaches here.

I *DO* understand you that this is the exception rather then the rule though. With international models, it can really be a roll of the dice. I was lucky.
post #19 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Church AV Guy View Post

There were only two minor issues with the Panasonic EH67 I got from World-Import. The first was in finding and selecting NTSC from the menu system. I was using the HDMI output, so it worked okay with my VIZIO television, had I been using the video out, it might have been a different story. (I am ignoring the SCART connectors.) I don't remember if the screen was badly distorted or not, but I didn't have any problem seeing well enough to select NTSC from the menu, and then all the screen issues went away. The annoying factor was the PAL/NTSC selection was in the last menu screen of the setup menu. It should have been first.

The second issue, almost a non issue, was the supplied power cord. It is unpolarized with two large round-pins. World-Import supplied a small adapter in the box that allowed me to plug it into any socket. The problem here was, the adapter is small, and it got wedged under a piece of packing so I had to hunt for it. If I hadn't known it was included, I very well might have missed it.

With the SCART connectors and the round prongs of the plug, it sounds like it was primarily designed for the UK.
post #20 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by rgazzara View Post

With the SCART connectors and the round prongs of the plug, it sounds like it was primarily designed for the UK.

I would have thought so also, BUT, I think the box said region 3 on it.

I need to remember to point out some other things that I rarely remember. 1) The tuner is of no practical use. I use DirecTV, so I just plug in the S-Video from the DirecTV receiver to the recorder, so it is of no use to me which is why I keep forgetting to mention it. 2) There is *NO* guide. 3) I have no PAL disks, so I have never tested that aspect of the machine. (I suppose since I have the machine I should get a PAL disk to test it, but I never have.)
post #21 of 25
So to program does it use the classic schedule list, like the ones used on the non HDD Pannys(where you can prename recordings) or is it like the manual TVGOS scheduler.
If it's the first option some people may actually prefer it although since getting my TVGOS setup I like that option best but before that I really didn't like the manual TVGOS option although it's the only option for TVGOS equipped DVDRs, at least on the EH-55 anyway.
Oh one other question, what year design do you think the EH-67 is? Does it have the quieter DVD drive found on the '05 Pannys or would say it's more like the '06 line(such as the EH-55 and ES-15). I wouldn't think it's like the EZ line. Or rather hope it isn't anyway
The EH-67 seems to be kind of a odd machine in that I think the rest of the world is mostly using the EZ design.
post #22 of 25
Panasonic fans have it a little easier (sometimes a lot easier) than Pioneer users when it comes to the "international" model versions. In the USA, at any rate, I've only seen two Panasonic global models for sale: the EH67 owned by ChurchAVGuy and another model number which I can't remember offhand. Panasonic does not market half a dozen near-identical regional models like Pioneer does:there's pretty much just the one "universal" EH67 design, which seems based on the stable ES/EH generation instead of the newer, buggier EZ series.

Compromises with the Panasonic EH67 used in USA are very clear-cut and easy to understand: no tuner functionality whatsoever (tuner is analog PAL only), no TVGOS like the American models had (the PAL version being inaccessible here), and one or two slight hurdles getting the recorder switched over to NTSC operation from the default PAL. If you strongly prefer the recording qualities of a Panasonic, don't care about a tuner because you have cable/satellite, and don't mind making manual timer settings, the EH67 can be a nice alternative as a new or replacement machine. Once set up for NTSC, its overall "feel" would be similar to older USA-spec models used in the same scenarios. And its far cheaper than a "new old stock" EH55.

Pioneer, on the other hand, can drive you to drink with their cluster-*#@& of similar-yet-wildly-different international variants. Some of these are as easy to adapt as the Panasonic EH67, others are all but impossible to get working in the USA. There is no way to tell which version is which because all the current international versions + the North American version use the same damn model numbers, and the older global models are still marketed right along with those, making it even more confusing. When it comes to Pioneers, its best to go for a new Canadian model or a used USA model. They generally come in at a final delivered cost on par with the "international" models, without the aggravation. The global Pioneers can be a big roll of the dice: don't bother except as a last resort, especially since they're still available as new North American versions thru Canada. Get 'em while you can.
post #23 of 25
Okay, for the record, I checked yesterday evening, and the box says region 2, not three.

I can't argue with anything that CitiBear has said. I think his assessments are accurate as far as Panasonic machines go, and I have no experience with Pioneer, so I have no commnet there.

jjeff, I have never tried to schedule a recording, so I can't answer your question on recording programming. I've been using this machine for quite a while, but I never thought to check the DVD drive out to see what model year it is. It seems to sound about the same as my EH55, but I never really deliberately compared them.

The manual is available on line if you want to look it up here. It's MOSTLY in English.
post #24 of 25
Darn, darn darn!

The EH67 has the "automatic signal sense" feature that I use to record from my Dish tuner with - but it only works over scart and not in NTSC mode. I don't know if it works exactly the same, but it at least looks similar enough.

Now, for scart I *may* be able to use an adapter, but the NTSC part is definitely insurmountable.

Darnit! If that worked here, I'd buy one in a minute. All I do is set the programs to be recorded through the Dish guide, and the recorder starts and stops automatically for each recording (mine also titles the recordings, but I don't know if the EH67 does that, too).

Thanks for that manual link, Luke.
post #25 of 25
Thread Starter 
Although, the LG RC897T looks from the fact sheet that it would be an awesome purchase as it includes all my requested features, sadly as I look over the reviews from Circuit City/CNET/Best Buy they repeat the mantra that it breaks quite often.

Anyone have any other ideas? Thanks
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