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Recommendations for DVD recorder (specific requirements)

post #1 of 172
Thread Starter 
Hello,

I initially began posting in the DVR section, as I was entertaining the idea of upgrading through my cable service.

It's become apparent that won't work (I tape more than most DVRs can hold...and, my interest in offloading the DVR to DVDs won't work, because you need to set each recording separately (so, I can't tell the DVR to record four hours of programs to a DVD recorder).

You can read the thread here (my first post is linked - it spans maybe 20 posts total): http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showt...8#post17063398

Anyways - as you'll read, I decided to continue taping via VCR (at least for the foreseeable future), and convert my VCR tapes to DVD using a VHS-DVD recorder.

My initial plan to purchase the Sony I'd read about was thwarted, when Best Buy didn't have any. The two they had in stock with tuners (an LG and a Panasonic) both got pretty horrid reviews from CNet and were fairly expensive.

I think I'd like to get one WITH a tuner since it'll have longer usability. My primary concern was copyrights (in terms of TV shows) -- however, I can't really afford to replace all the VCRs with DVD recorders (and I still have the dillema of the numerous VHS tapes).

So, if anyone can take a look at that other thread and provide some recommendations, that would be fantastic and much appreciated!

Thanks!

Chris
post #2 of 172
Quote:
Originally Posted by lemur21 View Post

Hello,

I initially began posting in the DVR section, as I was entertaining the idea of upgrading through my cable service.

It's become apparent that won't work . . .

I think I'd like to get one WITH a tuner since it'll have longer usability. My primary concern was copyrights (in terms of TV shows) -- however, I can't really afford to replace all the VCRs with DVD recorders (and I still have the dillema of the numerous VHS tapes).

Chris

Dispell any notion of purchasing a VHS/DVD combo recorder for transfer of videotaped recordings to DVD. The last satisfactory VHS/DVD combo recorders for VHS to DVD transfers were the Panasonic ES series combo recorders last produced in 2006.

What are your current options?

For direct videotape to DVD transfers connect a VCR to an input on a DVD recorder and record from that input.

The best current transfer method is to connect a VCR to an input on a Magnavox 2160 HDD/DVD recorder and transfer videotaped recordings to its hard drive, edit the material (if you like) and high-speed dub the material to DVD.

See the first post in Wajo's sticky thread as the gateway to a wealth of information that should answer whatever questions you may have:

http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=940657
post #3 of 172
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by DigaDo View Post

Dispell any notion of purchasing a VHS/DVD combo recorder for transfer of videotaped recordings to DVD. The last satisfactory VHS/DVD combo recorders for VHS to DVD transfers were the Panasonic ES series combo recorders last produced in 2006.

What are your current options?

For direct videotape to DVD transfers connect a VCR to an input on a DVD recorder and record from that input.

The best current transfer method is to connect a VCR to an input on a Magnavox 2160 HDD/DVD recorder and transfer videotaped recordings to its hard drive, edit the material (if you like) and high-speed dub the material to DVD.

See the first post in Wajo's sticky thread as the gateway to a wealth of information that should answer whatever questions you may have:

http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=940657


The only issue is that would entail me purchasing *another* VCR for the transfer (as I don't have any not being used); and VCRs ain't all that easy to come by these days, alas....

I'll check out the rest of that thread. I know the SONY I was looking to purchase *had* in fact, received good ratings from CNet....
post #4 of 172
For vcrs, check your local pawn shops, or Salvation Army type thrift stores. You may be able to find one in good condition there, at a bargain.
post #5 of 172
Please don't take this personally, lemur21, but the reason all the good recorders were pulled from the market three years ago (leaving only the useless combo recorders) is that people believe the tools at cNet actually know what the hell they're talking about. They tell people what they want to hear, that the Sony VHS/DVD combo is "just great", because the average consumer is utterly convinced the combo recorder is exactly what they want "oooh, look honey, only one machine for VHS and DVD, we can copy our tapes and get rid of the clutter..."

Well, it isn't true, combo recorders are crap and have been since day one (except for a few old Panasonics long discontinued). Current models are worse than ever, the upgrade to ATSC tuning has destroyed what little functionality they once had. Our DTV system is faulty, transmitting all sorts of glitch signals that recorders with tuners interpret as record restrict signals. This means they often won't record anything: they stop in the middle of a show or movie. If that doesn't discourage you, the damn ATSC tuners constantly disturb the accuracy of the recorder clock timers, causing freeze-ups and other failures. These problems afflict almost every single model with an ATSC tuner, worst of all the Sony combos. There are more reports here on AVS of horribly disappointed Sony combo buyers than any other product. Oh, yeah, one last thing: todays combo recorders are not particularly interested in letting you copy your tapes to DVD. They flatly refuse to copy any commercial Hollywood tapes you might own, and they'll lock out quite a few home recorded tapes as well, because they perceive false "record inhibit" signals in every minor tape glitch.

So forget the combo. People at this point are giving away VCRs to get rid of them: spend ten minutes looking thru your local Craigs List and buy a mint used Panasonic for $20 from your neighbor up the street. Hell, do you have family? Friends? Ask around: maybe you can get two for free- the squeaky wheel gets the VCR. For the DVD recorder, if you expect to actually record anything you need one of the two existing models still available that are "known good": the Magnavox H2160 or the Panasonic EZ-28. They cost about the same price, the Magnavox is the better buy because it includes a hard drive which makes tape dubs much easier (you can trim unwanted bits, edit things together or seperate them before making the DVD, put in chapter marks so you can jump to your favorite parts, etc.) Look at the top permanent thread in this recorder forum: its about the Magnavox and how to get the most out of it. There's a reason for that: its pretty much been the only recorder over the last two years with an ATSC tuner proven to not be a complete trainwreck. Order one from Wal*Mart online. If you insist on buying the Sony instead, at least buy from a store with a 30-day return/refund policy: you will regret it, if not within a week definitely within a month. Make sure you can get your money back.
post #6 of 172
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by CitiBear View Post

Please don't take this personally, lemur21, but the reason all the good recorders were pulled from the market three years ago (leaving only the useless combo recorders) is that people believe the tools at cNet actually know what the hell they're talking about. They tell people what they want to hear, that the Sony VHS/DVD combo is "just great", because the average consumer is utterly convinced the combo recorder is exactly what they want "oooh, look honey, only one machine for VHS and DVD, we can copy our tapes and get rid of the clutter..."

Well, it isn't true, combo recorders are crap and have been since day one (except for a few old Panasonics long discontinued). Current models are worse than ever, the upgrade to ATSC tuning has destroyed what little functionality they once had. Our DTV system is faulty, transmitting all sorts of glitch signals that recorders with tuners interpret as record restrict signals. This means they often won't record anything: they stop in the middle of a show or movie. If that doesn't discourage you, the damn ATSC tuners constantly disturb the accuracy of the recorder clock timers, causing freeze-ups and other failures. These problems afflict almost every single model with an ATSC tuner, worst of all the Sony combos. There are more reports here on AVS of horribly disappointed Sony combo buyers than any other product. Oh, yeah, one last thing: todays combo recorders are not particularly interested in letting you copy your tapes to DVD. They flatly refuse to copy any commercial Hollywood tapes you might own, and they'll lock out quite a few home recorded tapes as well, because they perceive false "record inhibit" signals in every minor tape glitch.

So forget the combo. People at this point are giving away VCRs to get rid of them: spend ten minutes looking thru your local Craigs List and buy a mint used Panasonic for $20 from your neighbor up the street. Hell, do you have family? Friends? Ask around: maybe you can get two for free- the squeaky wheel gets the VCR. For the DVD recorder, if you expect to actually record anything you need one of the two existing models still available that are "known good": the Magnavox H2160 or the Panasonic EZ-28. They cost about the same price, the Magnavox is the better buy because it includes a hard drive which makes tape dubs much easier (you can trim unwanted bits, edit things together or seperate them before making the DVD, put in chapter marks so you can jump to your favorite parts, etc.) Look at the top permanent thread in this recorder forum: its about the Magnavox and how to get the most out of it. There's a reason for that: its pretty much been the only recorder over the last two years with an ATSC tuner proven to not be a complete trainwreck. Order one from Wal*Mart online. If you insist on buying the Sony instead, at least buy from a store with a 30-day return/refund policy: you will regret it, if not within a week definitely within a month. Make sure you can get your money back.


LOL - I don't take it personally - I asked the question.

Actually, though, the SONY I was looking at didn't have a tuner, however. I was content to purchase one w/o a tuner, because its sole purpose was going to be changing over the VCR tapes to DVDs (and that was worth the price...to me). I know - with a tuner - there are all sorts of other dilemmas, which is why I was leaning towards a DVDR w/o a tuner (I recognize the shortcomings, but was content to deal with them for now, until a better solution for what I wanted to accomplish presented itself).

Although - in the other thread, someone said that any inability to record to a DVDR was scare tactics -- if you hooked up your DVDR to your cable line, and the show was able to be recorded by the VCR, it *would* be recorded by the DVDR...I'm getting the sense you disagree with that.
post #7 of 172
Some DVD recorders are really sensitive to copy protection flags. Sonys are among the worst of the lot, often "seeing" flags that aren't there, or ending a recording because a commercial happened to have one. I would skip that brand. Sony makes some good stuff but their recorders of the last few model years have sucked beyond endurance.

The Magnavox hard drive recorder and any decent VCR (some are still on eBay) paired together is your best choice. Or get the Maggy and a combo DVD player/VCR and just use the VCR part for tape playback.
post #8 of 172
Quote:
Originally Posted by lemur21 View Post

Although - in the other thread, someone said that any inability to record to a DVDR was scare tactics -- if you hooked up your DVDR to your cable line, and the show was able to be recorded by the VCR, it *would* be recorded by the DVDR...I'm getting the sense you disagree with that.

More wishful thinking, and outright misinformation. You can't make assumptions of what a digital recorder will agree to record based on what a VCR records: VCRs pre-date broadcast copy protection, so they cannot "see" it, so they will record absolutely anything. Because digital recorders, especially those with DVD burners, were only allowed on the market if they included harsh copy protection circuits, all DVD recorders respond to copy inhibit signals. Older pre-2007 models worked as they were supposed to: the recording lockout only activates in the presence of genuine, intentional protection signals such as you might find on some PPV or premium cable/satellite channels, or protected studio VHS tapes. But something went horribly wrong when DVD recorders were updated for ATSC: they now activate the lockout all the time, randomly, whether or not there really is a protection signal. Their sensitivity is all screwed up, and the faulty sensor circuit is included in both tuner and tunerless models of any given mfr. Current combos even apply the protection sensor to their VCR sections, so those don't record anymore either.The tunerless Sony you're considering is no exception.

Unfortunately no one wants to believe this, or they hear it and have a hard time believing big companies like Sony would dare sell such useless junk. But truth is stranger than fiction, and this is the truth: the only current recorder models exhaustively reported to AVS as not having these problems are the Magnavox H2160, the Panasonic EA-18 (tunerless) and Panasonic EZ-28 (ATSC tuner). If you must have a combo, the tunerless Panasonic EA-38 is the best bet but is not as reliable as the non-combo models. The Panasonic EZ-48 (combo with tuner) is second runner up behind the Sony as the most hated recorder on AVS: that should tell you that even within the same mfr and similar-looking models there is tremendous variation in usability.

All of this craziness is why you see so many "refurbished" or used DVD and DVD/VHS recorders at closeout outlets online, in stores and on eBay: they don't work. That creates a domino effect, accelerating the consumer perception of DVD recorders being "hard to use, overpriced and worthless". It also further drives people into subscription recorders like TiVO or cable-satellite PVRs: those work perfectly and record everything, because they don't have DVD burners and the recordings are "trapped" inside them. (Yes, you can copy from them to an external DVD recorder or computer but then you're again at the mercy of protection sensitivity in the copying deck.)

Shop wisely.
post #9 of 172
I'll just reiterate what was said, Sony makes some great products (I have many Sony products) DVD recorders is not one of them
Decent VCRs are a dime a dozen around here, Pawn shops and CraigsList.org are littered with them. Many times a newer combo recorder will see pauses or breaks on your tape as a separate title and will therefor create a separate DVD title. Most of the times the break isn't where you want it to be. If you want to do any editing get a DVDR w/HDD, if you just want to dump the contents of your tape to DVD a simple DVDR only should work just fine.
I'm not knocking Cnet, but if they suggested a current Sony DVDR, they got it wrong
post #10 of 172
Thread Starter 
Guys,

Been reading the responses, etc.

OK...from what I'm reading, the Magnavox H2160 (with tuner) is the best bet.

I did see two VCR/DVDR combos advertised this weekend:

Samsung DVDVR375A (tunerless)
Toshiba DVR620 (tunerless)

Best Buy does have the Panasonic 18K and 28K. Apparently, the Maganvox still gets the better rating?

A few others I've found:
http://www.overstock.com/Electronics...3/product.html
http://www.overstock.com/Electronics...6/product.html

The second one looks pretty good - and looks like something I could use long-term...does this Magnavox also get good feedback in terms of recording network TV?

At BJs, they have the following options
http://shop.bjs.com/Sony-DVD-Recorde...VVviewprod.htm
and the same Samsung from Best Buy

My sister has a Lite-On 9015G combo that she swears by (but, apparently, is no longer manufactured). Were all Lite-On's good? I could continue to search on craigslist for something like that.

Or, is the Magnavox H2160 really the best deal -- I'm not only looking for the near-future (in terms of converting my VCR tapes to DVD), but also, potentially for the future...

Chris
post #11 of 172
If you're thinking long-term, forget everything but the Panasonics and the Magnavox. If you can afford the Magnavox, buy it: the hard drive feature is priceless and once you use it you'll be thrilled you took the chance. The tunerless Panasonics are more reliable the the models with tuner, the Magnavox is as reliable as the better Panasonic. Pick whichever one you can afford.

Current Sony, Samsung, LG, JVC and Toshiba all have issues and will bite you sooner or later. Unless your budget is VERY small, and you get a VERY cheap price, they arent worth the risk. Magnavox or Panasonic would be the best way to go.
post #12 of 172
Have the Canadian Pioneers finally gone away?
post #13 of 172
I didn't mention the Canadian Pioneers because scarcity has driven prices far beyond "combo" territory and they don't have ATSC tuners.

Pioneer has dropped their DVD recorder business, so the Canadian supply dried up awhile back. They still appear on eBay via Montreal dealers now and then, but prices have skyrocketed with scarcity. Four months ago you could get a closeout Pio 460 for $239, at that price it was the best bargain in DVD/HDD history. But now they go for upwards of $379, not far off the original 2008 list price of $429 at CostCo. For that kind of money, its much easier and quicker to buy a global-version Pioneer 560 or 660 or Panasonic EH-58 or -68 via the several USA-based importers.

Earlier global-market Pioneers were a bit of a pain to use in North America, but several AVS members have bought the global 560 and 660 recently and told me offline that they're as simple to set up and operate under NTSC as the Panasonic global models. In terms of features the Pioneer 560/660 and Panasonic 58/68 are dead even: the Pioneers have a slight advantage due to their full manual control of flex record speeds but if that doesn't interest you all four are about the same. Choose based on your budget and brand preference. The global-version Pio 560 and 660 are identical except for the larger HDD in the 660, and they do NOT have the (actually useless) ethernet features the Canadian models had, otherwise the global 560/660 are the same as the Canadian 560/660. The Panasonic EH-58 and 68 are the same except for larger HDD in the -68. Note none of these have ATSC tuners, you would need to connect a cable or satellite decoder box to record TV (or an ATSC conversion accessory). Those interested primarily in "free" off-air broadcasts should consider the Magnavox instead.
post #14 of 172
Quote:
Originally Posted by CitiBear View Post

...The Panasonic EH-58 and 68 are the same except for larger HDD in the -68...

Not to be annoying or pedantic, but thay are not the same. The gracenote feature and the grouping titles into folders feature are only on the EH68. here may be more, but these are the ones I know are limited to the EH68 only. The overall functionality is the same though, as you say.
post #15 of 172
Thanks for the correction, ChurchAVGuy- I was hoping you'd pop up with exact specifics on the newer global Panasonics.

The GraceNote and folder grouping features are available on the Pioneer 560 and 660, as well as the Panasonic EH-68, but those features don't make them particularly preferable to a Panasonic EH-58. Unless you really think you're going to load a ton of music CDs onto your DVD recorder hard drive to use it as an audio jukebox, GraceNote will not affect you. Title grouping is useful only if you plan to record mostly in slower (poorer) video speeds to fit hundreds of hours of video on the HDD and use it as a video jukebox. Most buyers in this price range would probably opt for higher-quality recording speeds and not leave titles sitting on the hard drive indefinitely, but if you do want a video jukebox folder groups can be a helpful organizing tool. The larger HDD capacity of the Panasonic EH-68 and Pioneer 660 might make folders more desirable.
post #16 of 172
Quote:
Originally Posted by CitiBear View Post

I didn't mention the Canadian Pioneers because scarcity has driven prices far beyond "combo" territory and they don't have ATSC tuners.

Sony RDRHX780 models are still available retail in Future Shop for $350.00, at least here in Vancouver. Actually I just checked their website and they're going for $320.00 there. But Future Shop doesn't ship to the US and that model doesn't have an ATSC tuner.
post #17 of 172
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by CitiBear View Post

If you're thinking long-term, forget everything but the Panasonics and the Magnavox. If you can afford the Magnavox, buy it: the hard drive feature is priceless and once you use it you'll be thrilled you took the chance. The tunerless Panasonics are more reliable the the models with tuner, the Magnavox is as reliable as the better Panasonic. Pick whichever one you can afford.

Current Sony, Samsung, LG, JVC and Toshiba all have issues and will bite you sooner or later. Unless your budget is VERY small, and you get a VERY cheap price, they arent worth the risk. Magnavox or Panasonic would be the best way to go.



OK - let's assume I get the Magnavox 2160 -- so I can dub tapes, etc.

For other TVs - how is this one? http://www.overstock.com/Electronics...47&PID=3136390

Would that work to tape basic shows?

Basically - let's say I don't pull the trigger on anything but the H2160 this year, but later on, I want to get some DVD recorders to replace the VCRs (since I'm going to continue taping by VCR for now) - what do I need to know/what can I look for, that will help me determine if the DVD recorder WILL let me tape broadcast tv shows (just basic stuff on ABC, NBC, etc.), or, if it's going to give me a hard time...

I'm very near the end - I think I'll pull the trigger on the H2160; but - I have 4 VCRs in my house, currently...I can't afford 4 H2160s, just to tape broadcast TV....
post #18 of 172
It is unclear which Magnavox is in that promotion, but from the picture it looks to be one of the lesser-quality models (there have been a few clunkers) and the ad does not indicate ATSC tuning. For the same price, they have the Magnavox 3505, a fairly reliable model with ATSC tuner that got decent reviews here on AVS. The major complaint lodged against it is its faulty auto-clock feature interferes with many functions, but if you set the clock manually its about as bug-free a recorder you can find under $100. A firmware update can be downloaded which fixes the auto-clock feature, and refurbished models may already have had it applied. Either way its no big deal, most recorders have auto-clock issues so setting the time manually is always a good idea.
post #19 of 172
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by CitiBear View Post

It is unclear which Magnavox is in that promotion, but from the picture it looks to be one of the lesser-quality models (there have been a few clunkers) and the ad does not indicate ATSC tuning. For the same price, they have the Magnavox 3505, a fairly reliable model with ATSC tuner that got decent reviews here on AVS. The major complaint lodged against it is its faulty auto-clock feature interferes with many functions, but if you set the clock manually its about as bug-free a recorder you can find under $100. A firmware update can be downloaded which fixes the auto-clock feature, and refurbished models may already have had it applied. Either way its no big deal, most recorders have auto-clock issues so setting the time manually is always a good idea.


What is 'auto-clock'? Having it self-determine time and/or adjust for DST?

Going forward - if I decide to NOT purchase DVD recorders to replace VCRs this year; what am I looking for? ATSC tuner? That will help ensure that the DVD recorder can record broadcast TV, with no real risk of it being incorrectly diagnosed as "copy-protected?"

Thanks for all your help -- I'm sure these are complete newbie questions.....
post #20 of 172
If I were you I would not move any TV off of the VHS to DVD in MHO, unless you are going to watch them more than 4 0r 5 times. You could transfer home recordings, but anything else is probably a waste of time. If you have basic cable and are still getting the lower 30 channels in analog, some of the staions like TBS are showing reruns from the last 4 years and some even in blocks of one whole season. A newer DVDR with a Hard drive will record to the hard drive up to and may even be more than 12 hours at a time. You can then divide these recordings and put them onto DVD's in automatic high speed as opposed to real time. I am not against transfering from tapes if you have the time, it just seems like a waste of time and money. You can always watch a tape if you keep your VCR's as backup.

Replace one VCR at a time as you have the available resources. Once you start on the Hard Drive to DVD path, you will probably wonder why you ever taped a VHS tape.
post #21 of 172
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by timtofly View Post

If I were you I would not move any TV off of the VHS to DVD in MHO, unless you are going to watch them more than 4 0r 5 times. You could transfer home recordings, but anything else is probably a waste of time. If you have basic cable and are still getting the lower 30 channels in analog, some of the staions like TBS are showing reruns from the last 4 years and some even in blocks of one whole season. A newer DVDR with a Hard drive will record to the hard drive up to and may even be more than 12 hours at a time. You can then divide these recordings and put them onto DVD's in automatic high speed as opposed to real time. I am not against transfering from tapes if you have the time, it just seems like a waste of time and money. You can always watch a tape if you keep your VCR's as backup.

Replace one VCR at a time as you have the available resources. Once you start on the Hard Drive to DVD path, you will probably wonder why you ever taped a VHS tape.


It's really more to reduce the number of tapes I have...as I mentioned, originally, my ability to watch tapes is very sporadic. It's not unusual for a build-up of 50 tapes to accumulate, before I start tearing through them.

So.....transferring 50 tapes to DVD/RW - eliminates a HUGE pile of VCR tapes; makes the wife happy ; and leaves me with a spindle instead of this huge pile.

Time-wise...if I can set and go, I can dub 23 tapes a week (5 workdays - 1 before I leave; 1 when I get home; 1 when I go to bed and 4 on each weekend day).
post #22 of 172
Will you be tossing these DVD's out when you are finished? If that is the case then just record to Hard Drive and watch from there, and then delete. Is your goal to watch them or archive them?


You could probably record two tapes a day plus the shows on TV that fall in between the recording of the two tapes. You could follow the steps of Austck and put your Hard drive on the outside in a swappable Esata unit and when a Drive gets full, put another one in its place and then you would not even have a pile of DVD's stacking up.
post #23 of 172
Quote:
Originally Posted by CitiBear View Post

It is unclear which Magnavox is in that promotion, but from the picture it looks to be one of the lesser-quality models (there have been a few clunkers) and the ad does not indicate ATSC tuning. For the same price, they have the . . . 3505, a fairly reliable model with ATSC tuner that got decent reviews here on AVS . . .

By scrolling down in the listing the Magnavox is identified as model ZC352MW8. The owner's manual may be downloaded at the Funai website. The specifications show a NTSC/ATSC tuner.

I have no personal experience with this model.

The problem with so many Funai-built recorders is sample variations and/or quality control.

I do have personal experience with two Funai-built "450" combo recorders. The first is a Sylvania ZV450SL8 of April 2007 manufacture. This attractively-styled machine had an unreliable clear QAM tuner and several other problems. It was given away. The second is a Magnavox ZV450MW8A of August 2008 manufacture. This machine has a clunky appearance but is somewhat similar to the Sylvania in a number of respects. This Magnavox 450 is a good performer with a reliable clear QAM tuner. Another poster had two similar Funai-built Toshiba combo recorders. One of those Toshiba machines was problematic (too sensitive "copy protection") and the other, manufactured in August 2008 like my Magnavox 450, provides good performance.

My Magnavox 2080 HDD/DVD recorder manufactured in July 2007 is a flawless performer and has a reliable clear QAM tuner. Yet, I've read of other posters having difficulties with 2080 models. I have a Philips 3576 HDD/DVD recorder manufactured in February 2008. The clear QAM tuner in this 3576 is useless--the machine has since been set up for ATSC (antenna) reception where it is a satisfactory performer. I have two 2160 HDD/DVD recorders of May and December 2008 manufacture. Both these 2160 models have good clear QAM tuners. I have read other posters' reports of clear QAM difficulties with the 2160 "A" versions of 2009 manufacture.

You pay your money and you take your chances.
post #24 of 172
Yes, the auto-clock feature automatically searches for a time signal so you don't have to set the clock or remember DST changes. Unfortunately auto-clock doesn't seem to work that well, especially on newer models with ATSC tuners: set the clock manually once every few months and you should be better off.

You are in an odd situation with so many VCRs and a limited budget to replace them. One DVD recorder with hard drive can do the work of multiple non-HDD recorders, so if you get the Magnavox H2160 you'll give yourself some leeway. If the goal is to get rid of tapes piling up, you should just stop using the vcrs, because the tapes will only pile up again after you transfer the current stack of 50. The Magnavox HDD can hold between 60-100 hours at its better-quality recording speeds, approx the same capacity as 50 VHS tapes recorded at SP. While it is recording to HDD, it can still be used to play DVDs, giving you additional time management options. Recordings made on the Magnavox HDD can be backed up to DVDs at high speed (about 20 mins per DVD), so if you start running out of space on the HDD its quick and easy to offload to DVDs.

So you actually might not even need more than the Mag H2160 and perhaps one other less expensive recorder like the Mag 3505 to handle your recording needs. Instead of buying a DVD recorder for each room, just get good inexpensive players instead (Phillips makes nice ones in the $40 price range). Whenever you want to catch up on the backlog, view it off the H2160 hard drive or burn a couple DVDs from it and bring them to play in another room. If you feel you want to keep the VCRs around, you would need an ATSC converter box for each one if recording off-air. The two best adapters are the Zenith DTT901 and Channel Master CM7000. Since your priority is to cut down on clutter but still be able to stockpile TV shows for later viewing, its probably a bad idea to try and keep the VCRs going: the money you would spend on multiple ATSC converters would be better spent on the Magnavox and a couple of DVD players.
post #25 of 172
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by CitiBear View Post

Yes, the auto-clock feature automatically searches for a time signal so you don't have to set the clock or remember DST changes. Unfortunately auto-clock doesn't seem to work that well, especially on newer models with ATSC tuners: set the clock manually once every few months and you should be better off.

You are in an odd situation with so many VCRs and a limited budget to replace them. One DVD recorder with hard drive can do the work of multiple non-HDD recorders, so if you get the Magnavox H2160 you'll give yourself some leeway. If the goal is to get rid of tapes piling up, you should just stop using the vcrs, because the tapes will only pile up again after you transfer the current stack of 50. The Magnavox HDD can hold between 60-100 hours at its better-quality recording speeds, approx the same capacity as 50 VHS tapes recorded at SP. While it is recording to HDD, it can still be used to play DVDs, giving you additional time management options. Recordings made on the Magnavox HDD can be backed up to DVDs at high speed (about 20 mins per DVD), so if you start running out of space on the HDD its quick and easy to offload to DVDs.

So you actually might not even need more than the Mag H2160 and perhaps one other less expensive recorder like the Mag 3505 to handle your recording needs. Instead of buying a DVD recorder for each room, just get good inexpensive players instead (Phillips makes nice ones in the $40 price range). Whenever you want to catch up on the backlog, view it off the H2160 hard drive or burn a couple DVDs from it and bring them to play in another room. If you feel you want to keep the VCRs around, you would need an ATSC converter box for each one if recording off-air. The two best adapters are the Zenith DTT901 and Channel Master CM7000. Since your priority is to cut down on clutter but still be able to stockpile TV shows for later viewing, its probably a bad idea to try and keep the VCRs going: the money you would spend on multiple ATSC converters would be better spent on the Magnavox and a couple of DVD players.



I don't necessarily have a 'limited' budget to replace them...my concern is that I might buy a DVDR with a crappy/limited tuner, and then, I can't record.

The main issue I have is this -- I have four VCRs, hooked up to TVs. It's not *normal*, but it's not completely impossible that - at one point - all of those VCRs would be recording simultaneously. That would mean, I'd need 4 DVDRs, I imagine.

DVD players is no issue - every tv has a DVD player hooked up already.

So - my plan was this: continue recording on VCR tape...convert about 19 tapes a week over to DVD, and watch the DVDs. Yes, I'll keep accumulating VCR tapes - but, it may be as few as 4-5 per week; and then, I'll transfer those, and create DVDs out of them -- and then, the VCR tapes can be re-used...point is, they won't be PILING up.

At some point - yes, it would be GREAT to have a DVDR w/hard drive on EVERY TV -- and, maybe that's an option....more likely, it would be one DVDR w/hard drive (the one I'm buying now) and three DVDRs with tuners, that would just record to a DVD directly.

But, that second part won't happen this year; hence my question as to what 'features' or specs should I look for, to ensure I don't end up with a bunch of DVDRs that can't record regular broadcast TV shows (i.e., ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX).

Chris
post #26 of 172
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by DigaDo View Post

By scrolling down in the listing the Magnavox is identified as model ZC352MW8. The owner's manual may be downloaded at the Funai website. The specifications show a NTSC/ATSC tuner.

I have no personal experience with this model.

The problem with so many Funai-built recorders is sample variations and/or quality control.

I do have personal experience with two Funai-built "450" combo recorders. The first is a Sylvania ZV450SL8 of April 2007 manufacture. This attractively-styled machine had an unreliable clear QAM tuner and several other problems. It was given away. The second is a Magnavox ZV450MW8A of August 2008 manufacture. This machine has a clunky appearance but is somewhat similar to the Sylvania in a number of respects. This Magnavox 450 is a good performer with a reliable clear QAM tuner. Another poster had two similar Funai-built Toshiba combo recorders. One of those Toshiba machines was problematic (too sensitive "copy protection") and the other, manufactured in August 2008 like my Magnavox 450, provides good performance.

My Magnavox 2080 HDD/DVD recorder manufactured in July 2007 is a flawless performer and has a reliable clear QAM tuner. Yet, I've read of other posters having difficulties with 2080 models. I have a Philips 3576 HDD/DVD recorder manufactured in February 2008. The clear QAM tuner in this 3576 is useless--the machine has since been set up for ATSC (antenna) reception where it is a satisfactory performer. I have two 2160 HDD/DVD recorders of May and December 2008 manufacture. Both these 2160 models have good clear QAM tuners. I have read other posters' reports of clear QAM difficulties with the 2160 "A" versions of 2009 manufacture.

You pay your money and you take your chances.



So much of your post is over my head

ATSC, NTSC, QAM - no idea what any of that means. I'm sure there's a place to look it up, but - in laymen's terms, can you explain them?

More to the point - does one of them, essentially, 'guarantee' that I'll be able to record broadcast (CBS, NBC, ABC, etc.) tv shows? (I'm not looking to record HBO, etc., at all.
post #27 of 172
Quote:
Originally Posted by lemur21 View Post

So much of your post is over my head

ATSC, NTSC, QAM - no idea what any of that means. I'm sure there's a place to look it up, but - in laymen's terms, can you explain them?

ATSC-Over the Air Digital transmissions captured from an antenna
NTSC-US broadcasting standard for Analog over the air and cable transmissons
QAM-tuner allowing for reception of cable systems', free unscrambled digital transmissions

A dvd recorder (or tv) with the ATSC/NTSC/QAM digital tuner will allow for recording broadcast tv stations' digital signals if using an antenna, and for picking up the unscrambled digital channels available through cable.

All new tvs are now built (per gov'ment rules) with digital tuners. Select dvd recorders are being made with them as well.
post #28 of 172
Quote:
Originally Posted by lemur21 View Post

I don't necessarily have a 'limited' budget to replace them...my concern is that I might buy a DVDR with a crappy/limited tuner, and then, I can't record. The main issue I have is this -- I have four VCRs, hooked up to TVs. It's not *normal*, but it's not completely impossible that - at one point - all of those VCRs would be recording simultaneously. That would mean, I'd need 4 DVDRs, I imagine. DVD players is no issue - every tv has a DVD player hooked up already.

Continued use of the VCRs is certainly an option, but it isn't desirable or very efficient (dubbing tapes to DVD is time consuming and a pain to do constantly). You would also need an ATSC conversion tuner box for each VCR, at a total cost of $200 (less if you were able to get your two $40 subsidy coupons from the feds before the program ran out of money). Since you seem to have some initial flexibility on budget, the first thing to get is the Magnavox H2160 (because we don't know how much longer it will be available- could be two years, could be two months). Get it while you can, its a sweet unit as primary off-air recorder.

After that, keep your eyes peeled for refurbished deals on Magnavox 3505 models at about $99 apiece or Panasonic EZ-28 models around $140-180 (although really if you can afford $180 whats the point- get another Mag 2160 with the hard drive, refurb $160 or brand new $229). The Magnavoxes and Panasonic have built-in ATSC tuners for the current digital broadcasts, and they usually record reliably without interruption or false reactions to record-prohibit signals. At the moment these are the only models that can be specifically recommended as proven-reliable for off-air recording. As time passes, we may hear of others, but you have to check around forums like AVS periodically to find out: there is no way to tell from just looking at a recorder or reading its mfr specifications whether it it has problems shutting down in the middle of a broadcast. You would have to buy it and see for yourself, or get feedback from people who already own it.
post #29 of 172
Quote:
Originally Posted by lemur21 View Post

So much of your post is over my head

ATSC, NTSC, QAM - no idea what any of that means. I'm sure there's a place to look it up, but - in laymen's terms, can you explain them?

More to the point - does one of them, essentially, 'guarantee' that I'll be able to record broadcast (CBS, NBC, ABC, etc.) tv shows? (I'm not looking to record HBO, etc., at all.

Westly-C has succinctly addressed the definition of terms.

To address your question about the specific "networks" you mentioned:

If, when you refer to "broadcast," you mean reception of CBS, NBC and ABC through an antenna you would be concerned with "ATSC" reception.

If, when you refer to "broadcast," you mean reception of CBS, NBC, and ABC through cable you would be concerned with "clear QAM" reception.
post #30 of 172
Quote:
Originally Posted by lemur21 View Post

I don't necessarily have a 'limited' budget to replace them...my concern is that I might buy a DVDR with a crappy/limited tuner, and then, I can't record . . .

hence my question as to what . . . should I look for, to ensure I don't end up with a bunch of DVDRs that can't record regular broadcast TV shows (i.e., ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX).

Chris

My earlier post that was full of terms, "clear QAM," "ATSC," etc. and listed model names and production months/years was an indication of the frustration that we all experience.

A number of the recorders I own would seem to be very nearly the same. But there are a wide range of performance differences. When one finds that a product manufactured in a certain month/year performs better than the same or similar product manufactured in a different month or year, how is one to know what to buy?

When it comes to the Magnavox 2160, this model is the culmination of several years of growing pains with various Philips designed but Funai-built hard drive recorders sold under the Philips, Emerson, Sylvania and Magnavox brand names. The outstanding 2160 models produced in May, August and December 2008 have had very few problems. The problems that have been reported are most often related to a failure of production line "quality control."

There were several changes to the 2160 "A" versions built in March and May of 2009. These changes were probably associated with the software changes required to switch over from the use of PATA hard drives to the use of SATA hard drives. It's my thought that these 2160 "A" versions were not thoroughly "use tested" prior to entering regular production. Now the 2160 "A" owners must use workarounds to maintain functionality. As more of these 2160 "A" versions have entered daily service there are other problems that have come to light. But owners' usage patterns vary so much that a problem that is frustrating to one owner may be of no concern to another owner.

So, it's not always easy to recommend some products. That's why I found it more than a coincidence that my Magnavox ZV450MW8A of August 2008 manufacture and another poster's similar Toshiba recorder, also manufactured in August 2008, are well regarded by both of us. Yet, my Sylvania ZV450SL8 of April 2007 manufacture was pretty much a "lemon," but my Magnavox 2080 of July 2007 manufacture is a flawless performer when connected to the raw Comcast coax cable while my Philips 3576 of February 2008 manufacture is useless when connected to the raw Comcast coax cable.

That's why you pay your money and you take your chances.
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