Originally Posted by PeterTheGeek
The Magnavox does have loss-less high speed copy to DVD disk. When I did my hard drive upgrade I used some old DVD+RWs I had. When I copied back to the hard drive I had to what they call real time copy. It basically plays the DVD and re-encodes the data.
At least you can do several titles at the same time on the disk and have them saved as separate files on the hard drive.
I bold-ed one of your remarks above for clarity. This issue of only being able to do a real-time re-encoded copy from DVD back to HDD is probably the root of advanced Magnavox users' frustration. With older machines of other brands, the high-speed lossless copy is both faster than the Magnavox and works in either direction
, as long as the backup DVD is formatted as a backup DVD (not a video DVD-R) or you used DVD-RAM discs. For example, my 2005 Pioneer 531 began failing this past winter. This model (and other Pios, Panasonics, etc) can make a high speed lossless straight digital copy of 2 hours of SP material from HDD to backup-format DVD in about 12 minutes, so it took me about 4 hours/18 discs to back up an 80GB HDD. After repairing the unit, it took four hours to restore those files back to the HDD, for a total of 8 hours approx.
While dull work, 8 hours is not really that
bad since I might need the backed-up files again later, and I was able to restore 38 hours of "live", editable, lossless material back to the HDD without enduring real-time and video degradation. Had I upgraded to a much larger HDD capacity, this restoration method would have preserved the larger useful capacity while retaining the original file quality (and defragmenting the drive in the process). While not ideal, its at least a reasonable alternative that lets you achieve the goal. Unfortunately new-generation designs like the Mags appear not to have bi-directional high-speed lossless dubbing, it only works in the HDD to DVD direction. This drawback must be weighed against other advantages, however: the Magnavox is half
the price Pioneer and Panasonic recorders sold for, and it includes an excellent ATSC tuner not available in any other DVD/HDD model.
The Magnavox HDD replacement interface is not fussy or overcomplicated like some of the Panasonics and Toshibas (which were picky about specific HDDs and locked at their original capacity limit no matter how big the replacement), and the Magnavox uses a built-in service mode to replace its drives (Pioneers require expensive service remotes and service discs to accept new HDDs). If you drop a new 500GB HDD into your 160GB Magnavox, it recognizes the entire 500GB, no problem. The newest Magnavox MDR513 ships with a 320GB drive, which obviates the need to ever upgrade it really. The dream of shoehorning an enormous terabyte HDD into these DVD/HDD recorders loses its appeal when you realize how slow and cumbersome their navigation is: 320GB is the practical limit and I find 500 to already be way too much. You also hit a technical limit of 999 max titles on the HDD with all PVRs, so at a certain point higher HDD capacity becomes moot.
There is no mouse or command line in the recorder OS: navigating many hundreds of titles with the remote arrow keys is hopelessly inefficient even with the sleek scrolling Pioneer interface, the far clunkier Magnavox navigator would have me punching walls at anything beyond 160GB. Be careful what you wish for. (That said, I am in frequent contact with an AVS member who hot swaps terabyte drives in and out of his Pioneers, filling them to full capacity with aviation coverage. Its doable for such very long form material you expect to only view from the HDDs.)
If there isn't that much interest, I'm not going to try to do this by myself. (...) I can't imagine that the directory structure would be that difficult but then I haven't figured it out yet either.
There's no lack of interest, there is HUGE interest, its just that sales of DVD/HDD recorders have dropped off sharply and most of the old hands here long ago gave up the fantasy of easily-tampered-with HDDs. Hollywood stepped in early on, pressuring hardware mfrs to make the HDD raw data as inaccessible as possible outside the recorder chassis. They all colluded, resulting in an assortment of proprietary Linux-based file systems and OSes. No computer can host one of these HDDs and make any sense of them other than data salvage projects: certain software can reveal the individual files, but they cannot be directly manipulated as video. You have to manually catalog all the various pieces, stitch them together (blindly) in the correct playback order, then convert them into a standard video file format usable by and visible on computers (AVI, DiVX, whatever). The reward for all this effort is just not worth the time and trouble, unless of course you have priceless material on a damaged HDD that you must salvage at any cost.
As for editing the files directly off of the hard drive. That will be much harder.
See above: there is little to no interest in harvesting these raw files if they cannot be viewed or worked with as direct video files. Kinda defeats the point.
As for resizing the file system. I am hopeful that won't be too hard. It depends on how blank space is kept track of. I'm hopeful it will be modify a number and maybe put an entry in one directory for the blank space.
If you're referring to making a bit-by-bit clone of the original HDD to a larger replacement HDD, while retaining the additional capacity of the replacement drive
, this has been attempted without success many times before. I mean, really, REALLY tried: hundreds of times by hundreds of European Sony RDR-HX recorder owners alone. Throw in another few thousand Panasonic, Pioneer, Toshiba and JVC owners and believe me: if there was a way to pull this off it would have been found by now
. It can't be done: if you clone an existing drive, you clone the capacity limit right along with the videos. These mfrs are not as dumb as you'd think: they put more effort into enforcing capacity limits and frustrating HDD file access than they do any other aspect of the recorder. Very few recorder models will address a larger drive capacity than they shipped with: put in even a completely blank terabyte drive and the typical Sony, Panasonic, or Toshiba will format it as 80 or 160GB. Most Pioneers will recognize larger capacity up to a terabyte, if you use the stupid service remote/service disk tools. The Magnavox apparently has no capacity detection limit (as long as the new HDD is empty). Replacing the HDD in an older JVC is so absurdly difficult most owners give up and dump them in a closet (not even JVC remembers how to install them).
A few years back, there were
two or three one-off, very chintzy low-end DVD/HDD models (RCA, Radio Shack, Polaroid) that supposedly did use near-normal HDD file formats. But these were rare exceptions to the rule, and such crummy-quality recorders that most users tired of them quickly or didn't bother. For all intents and purposes, DVD/HDD recorders are closed systems. If you want flexible, easy to handle video files and spontaneous expansion options, you're stuck with PC-based DVR solutions.