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My new Magnavox 515 - some Issues

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 
My Pioneer DVR 640HS died, and after researching here I decided to get a Mag 515. I want to be fair here as I know a lot of people love the mag. But I have had my new Unit for a few weeks now and it is a mixed bag. I am "sort of happy" with it, but there are problems. The Manual is long and not easy reading . . . so please excuse me if there are workarounds to some of my Issues that I did not see them in the Manual :
  • Functionally the remote is fine. However the letters are NOT VISIBLE except in the daytime or under a lamp. I simply cannot read it. It is the ONLY remote I have ever had that uses tiny, light grey lettering on a black background. We watch a lot of TV in low lighting but I have to have to have the light turned ON right above me and then need to squint to see the letters. Not so with my other (many) remotes. See my photo comparison of a few of the keys and letters (below). All Remotes should have HIGH CONTRAST Lettering. I may try some of that sticky printer paper that you can peel the backing off of (Avery Labels, etc) - print the Text and cut out tiny squares then stick them on the Keys . . . :
  • the Skip command must be set to a specific time (30 secs is default) whereas the Pio started at 30 then went to 1 min, then 2 min, 3 min, then 10 min allowing very flexible jumping around.
  • you cannot quickly press Skip multiple times to skip . . . oh, say . . . 2 minutes. You must press, wait, press, wait, etc. You cannot press it 4 times in a row quickly
  • max fast forward is not FAST. Unlike the Pio, which if I pressed FF several times, I could span across a 1-hour show in about 15 secs . . . the max speed of this after pressing FF several times, is medium. It takes about 3 mins to get through a 1-hour show using max FF.
  • the Recorded shows are displayed as large rectangles with the first frame shown. As far as I can tell there is no "Text option" to allow you to see 10 or more titles listed on the screen. 6 titles max show up.
  • the names of the Recorded shows do not show up in the Display of the Recorded programs. Just the times. Basically when I have had 15 to 20 titles recorded, it becomes very difficult to find a single title to watch from that set because I do not know how to identify them. For example, I may have 7 crime drama shows recorded and the frames displayed are all similar with people and cops showing


Keys with Black Letters on the Key are fine
Keys with no letters but with light grey letters next to them are impossible to read
except for in daylight or under a lamp

The Good
the DVD burning interface is GREAT
the actual DVD burning is smooth and quiet
I love the 500 GB drive and it is great that I no longer am constantly running out of drive space
post #2 of 19
Some quick notes:

1. Click button for an index of info/help files:


2. Set SKIP/REPLAY times in General Setting > Playback menu.

3. One $10-13 universal remote that's *better* is here.

4. Get pre-titling of timer programs as described here.

Sorry, my orig. reply missed the fact you already had a 515.
post #3 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by PCdoc7 View Post

[*]the Skip command must be set to a specific time (30 secs is default) whereas the Pio started at 30 then went to 1 min, then 2 min, 3 min, then 10 min allowing very flexible jumping around.
[*]you cannot quickly press Skip multiple times to skip . . . oh, say . . . 2 minutes. You must press, wait, press, wait, etc. You cannot press it 4 times in a row quickly

I had three Pioneer units before I got my first Magnavox, and at first, I felt like the Magnavox was inferior in this regard. After using it for awhile, I began to prefer it to the Pioneers.

The Pioneer's "flexibility" in jumping around comes at a price - lots of button presses and a fixed delay before they are implemented. I have my Magnavox units set to skip ahead 1 minute and back 15 seconds. This works really well for skipping commercials. It actually ends up being significantly quicker and requiring fewer button presses than it did with the Pioneers.

Quote:


[*]max fast forward is not FAST. Unlike the Pio, which if I pressed FF several times, I could span across a 1-hour show in about 15 secs . . . the max speed of this after pressing FF several times, is medium. It takes about 3 mins to get through a 1-hour show using max FF.

For skipping large amounts of time quickly, I have the auto chapter setting at 15 minutes (there are 5 different times you can select for that).
post #4 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by PCdoc7 View Post

My Pioneer DVR 640HS died, and after researching here I decided to get a Mag 515. I want to be fair here as I know a lot of people love the mag. But I have had my new Unit for a few weeks now and it is a mixed bag. I am "sort of happy" with it, but there are problems. The Manual is long and not easy reading . . . so please excuse me if there are workarounds to some of my Issues that I did not see them in the Manual :

You won't get too many sympathetic responses here on AVS, PCdoc7: by default, this has become the Magnavox forum, and heaven help anyone who dares criticize the thing (you get tagged as a "boo-bird", and J. Edgar Hoover rises from the grave to open a file on you ). But I feel your pain: while it has many excellent qualities, the Magnavox can be a tough pill to swallow if you previously owned another brand DVD/HDD recorder and grew dependent on many features and interface refinements that were once common but go completely missing from the 515. You pretty much have to resign yourself to getting used to the Magnavox quirks and prehistoric interface. There are no workarounds that will give you on-the-fly skip settings, intuitive HDD navigation options, or custom thumbnails for HDD recordings. You will also discover there is no copy list function, so all edits are made on the original HDD recordings with no undo and no ability to rejoin titles after you divide them.

The Magnavox was designed to offer excellent quality at a popular price, but to meet that price point some features were left off. It costs half what a Pioneer 640, a Panasonic EH55, Toshiba XS or Sony HX sold for when last available in 2007: something had to give. It was thought that a reliable ATSC tuner/timer was more important than "luxury" features, and this has proved true for most first-time owners who think its just dandy compared to the limited DVD/VHS combos they had before. In exchange for the cruder interface, you do get the nice DTV tuner, a near-bulletproof burner drive, and ability to replace the HDD and burner yourself without fancy tools or expensive parts. The 6-hour chase play buffer is unique, and the ungarbled audio/dialog quality in "quick play" mode is WAY better than any other unit I've tried (great for speedy catchup of disposable reality shows and the news). Overall a very nice package, if not always ideal for everyone or every task.

To be fair, Pioneers have some killer drawbacks of their own: arcane service tools needed to replace HDD, won't recognize larger HDD than came with them, can't replace burners for less than $300, no real "undo" feature coupled with an all-too-easy title delete function, no ATSC or QAM tuners, and after 2005 models the remotes got as lame as the ones for the Magnavox. Pioneer only got around to refining its interface in 2005: earlier models like the immensely popular 520 sport an interface thats notably WORSE than the Magnavox. So, it depends what model recorders you're comparing, not just brands (they've all made turkeys or had odd design flaws).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nocturnal View Post

I had three Pioneer units before I got my first Magnavox, and at first, I felt like the Magnavox was inferior in this regard. After using it for awhile, I began to prefer it to the Pioneers.

Every time someone says that, I wonder if they just never really needed half the features on their Pioneer (Panasonic, Toshiba, Sony...), or if its Magnavox Stockholm Syndrome: there's never been any other DVD/HDD with American DTV tuner, its been the only DVD/HDD you could buy since 2007, so some owners maybe talk themselves into loving it out of necessity. I have a Mag 2160A and a 513: I admire them for their ruggedness and DTV tuners, but I don't love or even like them very much. The HDD interface obstructs me, the editing is hopelessly imprecise, and the inability to preselect thumbnails on the HDD prior to burning the DVDs is beyond maddening if you make a lot of DVDs.

PCdoc7 has already discovered the "joys" of the Mag remote: but he probably won't have to worry about that for long (the remotes are as pitifully unreliable as the main unit is ruggedly durable). I'm personally on my third Mag remote, my friends and family are all flipping out because they're on their second or third as well and Funai is charging $33 now for replacements. Third-party remotes are available but not optimal. Meanwhile, I've been using the same Pioneer remote since 2005 to control all three of my Pios (they use different codes off the same remote). Not one button has gone bad, the paint on the buttons doesn't even show wear, and I *pound* on those Pio skip buttons- if only I could make it work my Magnavox, too.

Quote:


The Pioneer's "flexibility" in jumping around comes at a price - lots of button presses and a fixed delay before they are implemented. I have my Magnavox units set to skip ahead 1 minute and back 15 seconds. This works really well for skipping commercials. It actually ends up being significantly quicker and requiring fewer button presses than it did with the Pioneers.

Its relative to how you prefer to run the machine. The multiple skip presses on the Pioneer are annoying, but worth it to me because I constantly modulate how far forward or back I want go in the editing screens. The Magnavox pre-set skip intervals are perfect for normal playback, but somewhat obstructive to quick editing of commercials.

Quote:


For skipping large amounts of time quickly, I have the auto chapter setting at 15 minutes (there are 5 different times you can select for that).

Depends on why you're trying to fast fwd very quickly: chapter skip is not a visible search- sometimes you want to see where you're headed. Although I can't say I ever found the Magnavox fastest speed search "too slow": it seems on par with Pioneer, Panasonic and JVC.
post #5 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by CitiBear View Post

Every time someone says that, I wonder if they just never really needed half the features on their Pioneer (Panasonic, Toshiba, Sony...), or if its Magnavox Stockholm Syndrome: there's never been any other DVD/HDD with American DTV tuner, its been the only DVD/HDD you could buy since 2007, so some owners maybe talk themselves into loving it out of necessity. I have a Mag 2160A and a 513: I admire them for their ruggedness and DTV tuners, but I don't love or even like them very much. The HDD interface obstructs me, the editing is hopelessly imprecise, and the inability to preselect thumbnails on the HDD prior to burning the DVDs is beyond maddening if you make a lot of DVDs.

I was only commenting on the skip function - which I do prefer to the Pioneers.

I don't do any editing on any of my DVDRs. If I want to save something, it goes on a DVD-RW for transport to a PC. Editing on any of these machines is crap compared to a PC - as are the menus on the resulting DVDs.

As far as remotes are concerned, I have had zero problems thus far with any of my Magnavox remotes (one of which has had daily use since late 2009). On one of my Pioneer remotes (which hasn't even been used very much) the skip buttons don't work anymore. The Pioneers do have a big advantage in that they have multiple control codes though (so two machines in the same area don't conflict).
post #6 of 19
Thread Starter 
Wajo - Thanks for your helpful and non-defensive response. For $13 the Phillips is definitely worth a try - it has legible lettering, and I am near a Walmart. You know, I have a Harmony 1100 touchscreen which I love for simple things like my PS3 and the TV display - but it is cumbersome for Remotes where you need to use a lot of keys - so I use the Harmony to turn all Units ON and OFF at once (that's a Godsend !!) - and the DVDR remote.

The biggest problem is that the Titles are not listed in the recordings - the main advantage for me is being able to record tons of shows and quickly find what I want to watch later. The Mag basically kills that ability. I know I can manually edit the titles and I did have to do that as well with the Pio since it did not list ALL titles (not sure why). However as to the actual manual Titling, I will have to try that again. I did try it last week with an existing recording and the Interface seemed very difficult. I am used to the Pio interface where you see a complete set of all letters and numbers on the screen and could quickly add in even long Title names by just moving around the "one screen" and selecting characters. With the 515 you see "A B C" only on the first screen - making me think I need to go through multiple screens for each key - there must be an easier way so I will need to research this further.

Nocturnal - I like your setting of 1 min forward and 15 secs back. Tried it last night. I hit 1 min until I am past the ads and the show starts again . . . then hit Back for the 15 secs once or twice so I do not miss something important in the show.

CitiBear - I almost went with a Panny but the overwhelming support of the Mag swayed me. I do sense an almost cultish allegiance to the Mag units here - but I also know that this forum used to have a cultish allegiance to the Pioneer a few years back. I can see why you are on your 3rd remote, because the keys feel very mushy and they have no rigidity - to the point where if you push down at a 30-degree angle instead of straight down the key (especially the small ones like Record) will actually move sideways, which can't lend itself to lasting long.

A possible compromise workaround - My Pio HDD is fine but the burner is dead. I may just connect the two units in series - use the Pio for the daily quick recordings and when I see something I want to burn to DVD . . . use the Mag. Seems a pain but not really as I only burn DVDs once in a while, such as a UFC Event or a Blockbuster movie.

Saving the Pio HDD content - I had some great shows and movies on the Pio that I never deleted because I wanted to burn them to DVD - but could not burn on that crappy, dead drive. I figgered they were toast . . . then yesterday I tried playing a show from the Pio HDD and recording it on the Mag HDD using the 3-RCA-jack connection and it worked fine. Then I burned the show onto a DVD. Hooray ! !
post #7 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by PCdoc7 View Post

....I tried playing a show from the Pio HDD and recording it on the Mag HDD using the 3-RCA-jack connection and it worked fine. Then I burned the show onto a DVD. Hooray ! !

Since both the Magnavox and your Pio have a S-video connector you may want to give it a try, it should give you better picture quality than the yellow RCA composite connector for video, just a thought. S-video cables can be had anywhere from a couple of dollars and up depending on the store.
post #8 of 19
FWIW, I agree with the the Mag remotes lack of durability. My Philips 3576 remote is much more durable and has been in constant use since 2008 and still feels brand new.
post #9 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by PCdoc7 View Post

Wajo - Thanks for your helpful and non-defensive response. For $13 the Phillips is definitely worth a try - it has legible lettering, and I am near a Walmart. You know, I have a Harmony 1100 touchscreen which I love for simple things like my PS3 and the TV display - but it is cumbersome for Remotes where you need to use a lot of keys - so I use the Harmony to turn all Units ON and OFF at once (that's a Godsend !!) - and the DVDR remote.

The biggest problem is that the Titles are not listed in the recordings - the main advantage for me is being able to record tons of shows and quickly find what I want to watch later. The Mag basically kills that ability. I know I can manually edit the titles and I did have to do that as well with the Pio since it did not list ALL titles (not sure why). However as to the actual manual Titling, I will have to try that again. I did try it last week with an existing recording and the Interface seemed very difficult. I am used to the Pio interface where you see a complete set of all letters and numbers on the screen and could quickly add in even long Title names by just moving around the "one screen" and selecting characters. With the 515 you see "A B C" only on the first screen - making me think I need to go through multiple screens for each key - there must be an easier way so I will need to research this further.

Pre-title timer programs as described here.

Using the title menu is described here.

On titling, there is only one screen to contend with. It starts on cap letters A, B, C, but for the other character options, press the UP or DOWN arrow to move to that side menu to select which you want, then OK on the option, which moves you back to the title line.

* * * * * * *
post #10 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by PCdoc7 View Post

I am used to the Pio interface where you see a complete set of all letters and numbers on the screen and could quickly add in even long Title names by just moving around the "one screen" and selecting characters. With the 515 you see "A B C" only on the first screen - making me think I need to go through multiple screens for each key - there must be an easier way so I will need to research this further.

The quickest way (on the Pioneers also) is to do it like texting - using the number keys on the remote to enter letters. Magnavox's method of entering special characters and numbers isn't very intuitive, but it's not so bad once you get used to it.
post #11 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by PCdoc7 View Post

My Pio HDD is fine but the burner is dead.

What kind of symptoms is it showing? Grinding and slipping? Spindles on stand-alone recorders tend to get dirty and start slipping and may need a good cleaning. What type of discs are you trying to burn? Sometimes switching to a better brand (Verb AZO, or T-Y discs) will solve problems.
post #12 of 19
hi folks.......

just a quick input here... it's possible that the ' slow ' response referred to earlier may in part be due to the fact that the Mag machines are DEFINETELY slower to respond in most instances than their Philips ( 3575 / 3576 ) counterparts... i noted this almost immediately after purchasing my 513 and having been used to the 3576's quicker response for a couple of years....

the ' skip ' function is a skosh more delayed, in that you have to wait a bit longer before repeating a ' skip ' press...

many, if not most, other functions are also slower to respond than the 3576s are... even the ' power off ' function reacts more slowly than the Philips machines do...

my guess is that this is either due to more complexity of the firmware ( eg features added, etc ), or a possible attempt by Funai to reduce the incidence of lockups for folks like me who get ' fast button-itis ' when editing shows...

rgds,
ron g
post #13 of 19
Yes, as another who is used to the Philips 3576 response times, it makes my 513 and 515 units almost unbearable to use.
post #14 of 19
Thread Starter 
Thanks Wajo - I now am able t edit the Titles with ease.

Question 1 - Skip 123 shows this refurb has 220 hours on the Hard Drive - acceptable ?
It says nothing about the Laser.

Question 2 - I am having a problem with the one-touch dubbing of a single title. It is using a 2-hour max on the DVD, but whatever is left over is showing up as a separate selction (which is just the available empty space). But the "Empty Space" shows up on the menu as a Video Title selection ! ! I tried to delete it but the only option is "Overwrite". Why is it adding this 2nd, empty selection to my Menus on the non-finalized and also on the finalized DVD ?

Here I had a 1:44 duration title and dubbed it to a DVD-R and you can see the result :



SuperEye - my Pio DVD drive started grinding and making coasters. At the advice from here I spent 30 bucks for a stack of 8x TY DVD-R discs, bue they had no effect on the problem. If it was easy to access the internals of the unit I would have tried cleaning ther spindle, but did not want to go through a lot of hassle since it really sounds BAD and the chance of me fixing it is probably very low.
post #15 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by PCdoc7 View Post

Thanks Wajo - I now am able t edit the Titles with ease.

Question 1 - Skip 123 shows this refurb has 220 hours on the Hard Drive - acceptable ?

It says nothing about the Laser.

220 HDD hours is not bad at all considering the HDD is always recording in the background... not as good as some refurbs with 1 or 2 hours, but still OK.

Laser RD/WR stats can be seen with SKIP 321, as described here.

Quote:
Originally Posted by PCdoc7 View Post

Question 2 - I am having a problem with the one-touch dubbing of a single title. It is using a 2-hour max on the DVD, but whatever is left over is showing up as a separate selction (which is just the available empty space). But the "Empty Space" shows up on the menu as a Video Title selection ! ! I tried to delete it but the only option is "Overwrite". Why is it adding this 2nd, empty selection to my Menus on the non-finalized and also on the finalized DVD ?

The Empty Space is part of the +VR Std (the "Reserve Fragment").

I usually just leave mine in place, but you can Overwrite them as described here.

"One-touch" dubbing doesn't give you any control over rec mode etc. I recommend you use the Dubbing menu for all your HDD>DVD dubs, as described here.

* * * * * * *
post #16 of 19
Thread Starter 
jjeff - if the Svideo added lines of resolution will make a difference that the human eyes can detect - then I want one.

As a side note - too bad us PPV recorder guys (Disclaimer - for personal backup only) cannot get the HD package from Comcast - since the HD shows won't record and the HD Fury II looks like crap. Really, I have thought it might be possible to order BOTH the non-HD and the HD and use an A-B remote controlled coax box for the best of both worlds (switch to non-HD whenever I want to record - but then I would need 2 cable boxes). But actually, even when I play a BluRay disc . . . at first I'm like "wow look at that Picture quality !!" . . . then 20 mins later I am not even thinking about it and am instead engrossed in the show. So I have come to believe the extra resolution is not worth the extra bucks. Still it would be interesting - to see the look on the Cable Guy's face when you direct him to your 2-cable faceplate on the wall.

Wajo - thanks a lot for posting the links to existing info. I admit I could have found some of these answers had I searched longer. There is a huge amount of info to look through, so these links you provided saved me a lot of time.

I now have the 2 units happily hooked up in series and have burned several discs yesterday, figured out how to finalize them, etc. I also moved a couple shows from the Pio HDD to the Mag HDD and burned them. I thought I would never get those to disc !! Your herculean efforts are much appreciated. The 515 does have some shortcomings - but IT BURNS RELIABLY !!! That's worth a LOT. With the crippled Pioneer and the working Mag duo, I am a happy camper.

BTW I did enter Skip 321 and it says:
DVD-WR = 0:19 (19 mins seems off since I have burned several DVDs now)
DVD-RD = 7:52 (obviously that's not much time at all)

Then I entered Skip 123 and unfortunately it shows the FW as that oddball
HD6A269726V1E version. I may apply the Super FW update, but in reading the things that it "Fixes" - I don't really see a need for it yet, and in general with Firmware updates the Tech Support pages often state . . "If it ain't broke . . . don't fix it". Plus I cannot find the Original Firmware file in Funai's site (they only have one FW file there and it is the Super FW) in case I needed to revert back. So I will wait for now.

Thanks again guys for all your Help !!
post #17 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by PCdoc7 View Post

BTW I did enter Skip 321 and it says:
DVD-WR = 0:19 (19 mins seems off since I have burned several DVDs now)
DVD-RD = 7:52 (obviously that's not much time at all)

Then I entered Skip 123 and unfortunately it shows the FW as that oddball
HD6A269726V1E version. I may apply the Super FW update, but in reading the things that it "Fixes" - I don't really see a need for it yet, and in general with Firmware updates the Tech Support pages often state . . "If it ain't broke . . . don't fix it". Plus I cannot find the Original Firmware file in Funai's site (they only have one FW file there and it is the Super FW) in case I needed to revert back. So I will wait for now.

Your RD/WR times are prob. accurate since the burner alternates between RD/WR, as described here.

I agree on the "don't fix it" thing. There is no user accessible FW version to revert back to, you'd need Funai involved to get the OEM FW. If you ever decide to updgrade or a new FW appears, here's the FW Update help file.
post #18 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by PCdoc7 View Post

jjeff - if the Svideo added lines of resolution will make a difference that the human eyes can detect - then I want one.

Composite and S-Video in/out of a DVD player are both 480i resolution wise. However DVD-Video is a component format and keeps the video separated into three channels. Since your Magnavox(as most consumer recorders) won't accept component in - your best bet is to use the S-Video as jjeff suggested. S-Video keeps the Luminance + green on one video channel and the blue and red on the second channel of S-Video. Composite does not separate any of this and adds dot crawl and other unnecessary artefacts.

Resolution is only one out of many important specs.
post #19 of 19
^^Super Eye is indeed correct, technically composite and S-video are both only 480i but when I did testing using both SVHS and DVD I got noticeably better picture quality using S-video. As Super Eye said both dot crawl and artifacts are reduced with S-video. In my tests using a resolution test pattern I also saw more lines using S-video but that could be more to due with reduced noise(and ability to see the lines) than the format itself.
To me it's a no brainier to use S-video whenever possible but with things like regular video tape or even laser disc, S-video isn't really an option. Of course like everything it's best to try all your options, some devices may indeed look better using composite but that's more to due with the device and not the format
Unfortunately S-video is basically a dead format now days, our DVDRs are really the only current devices using it. DVD players dropped it quite a few years back and it's all but impossible to find on any current HDTVs
Of course component is even better than S-video but as Super Eye noted component was only on a few DVDRs and most of those were not the best quality so you didn't really gain anything over using S-video with a better quality DVDR.
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