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Londo's Toshiba RD-XS32 dissection thread..  

post #1 of 647
Thread Starter 
Well, I just got back from Best Buy with a RD-XS32. I spent the ride home reading the manual and will be spending the next 2-3 days beating up on it and dissecting it next to an E80... so if you have SPECIFIC questions, put them here and I'll try to answer them if I don't get them while I do my own stuff...

Initial Reactions on reading the manual -

- GREAT GOOGLY MOOGLY! I've seen electronic test equipment with smaller manuals! It it DETAILED and is well above the writing style of the Panasonic manuals, not perfect, but the information is there.. and speaking of information..

- IN THE MANUAL(s) - TILT! OVERLOAD! TOO MUCH INPUT! There is a TREMENDOUS amount of info on the manual. Do not try to digest it all at once! Small bytes... small bytes..

- FLEXIBILITY. Consider the E80 a Kodak 2 m/pixel digital camera. The Toshiba is a CANON Digital Rebel. YIKES! YOU can adjust SO MUCH on this that I think that this is were the 'perceived black level problem' (see below) comes from. First rule of this unit. If you don't know what it does DON'T MESS WITH IT. You don't know what it may affect.

- THE BLACK LEVEL ISSUE: Since I haven't set it up yet, I can't give a definative answer, but know this: THERE ARE TWO BLACK LEVEL SETTING FOR RECORDING. One that was mentioned before with 'auto' and four steps above it. THE OTHER ONE IS 'NORMAL' and 'ENHANCED BLACK'. Initial impression in E80 terms.. NORMAL = LIGHTER, ENHANCED = DARKER. More on that later.

- AUDIO TWEAKING: The Panasonic E80 records the AC3 @ 256k. THE NORMAL, DOLBY Spec'ed bitrate for AC2.0 is 192k. The Toshiba DEFAULTS to 192k with an option for 384k (or LPCM). *NOTE THIS* (per the book)

Panasonic 4.7gb = 2hr SP @ 256k
Toshiba 4.7gb = 2hr 06 mn @ 192k
Toshiba 4.7gb = 1hr 54 mn @ 384k

You will either record MORE or LESS on a disc than a Panasonic when using SP, but NOT THE SAME... (unless you are recording really high quality music, 384k is WAY overkill..) Panasonic took a 'happy medium'.

MORE LATER, I'll start in earnest (know whut I mean?) in the morning...
post #2 of 647
Quote:
Originally posted by Londo
Initial Reactions on reading the manual -

- GREAT GOOGLY MOOGLY! I've seen electronic test equipment with smaller manuals! It it DETAILED and is well above the writing style of the Panasonic manuals, not perfect, but the information is there.. and speaking of information..

- IN THE MANUAL(s) - TILT! OVERLOAD! TOO MUCH INPUT! There is a TREMENDOUS amount of info on the manual. Do not try to digest it all at once! Small bytes... small bytes..
Yes indeed .. it really does dwarf the Pioneer and Panasonic manuals eh?
Looking forward to this thread and glad you have it in front of you now.
post #3 of 647
I suppose I can wait a few more days, pending the outcome of what I shall call....
"The Londo Experimentions". :cool:

I'm enjoying it already. Thanks Londo! Looking forward to more of your feedback...
post #4 of 647
Awesome! I guess it's also going to be my choice. Keep us updated!!!
post #5 of 647
Londo, don't leave us hanging, please keep posting.

One specific question since you mentioned flexibility: Is it possible to instruct the recorder to burn in 1x mode even if the DVD media used allows higher speed?
post #6 of 647
Quote:
Originally posted by jtoras
Londo, don't leave us hanging, please keep posting.

One specific question since you mentioned flexibility: Is it possible to instruct the recorder to burn in 1x mode even if the DVD media used allows higher speed?
I haven't been able to find that anywhere on my XS32. :( It seems like all of the new 4X burners are like that -- why they didn't add a user-adjustable speed setting is beyond me!
post #7 of 647
What happens when you use a 1X or 2X disc then? Does it try to record it at 4X, or does it default back to the speed of the disc?
post #8 of 647
Thread Starter 
OK, OK.. I'm starting to dig in more.. still following the RTFM rule... hardware hands on later this afternoon... questions noted for later when get there..

ITEM: Menu creation -

YIKES! Best short description I can say is imagine TMPGenc DVD Author in firmware. Someone mentioned that you can grab a frame to use as a menu background, this is true.. it also appears that you can build a library of said frames ON THE HD for use in other discs(!). You can adjust the color of text, asjust the color ot the menu HIGHLIGHT.

ITEM: Something missing from the E80. It has a 'relief recording' mode that if you were trying to record to a RAM/DVD-R disc and it was not going to fit it would automatically switch to the hard drive for the entire recording. Here it's a 'relay recording'. It will start recording to the RAM/DVD-R and then, 10 MINUTES before it runs out of space on the disc starts PARALLEL recording to the HD, so you can edit the two pieces back together.

ITEM: AUTO CHAPTERING. Unlike the Pannys where you get chapters ever 5 minutes, here you can SELECT chapters ever 5, 10, 15 or 20 minutes.

ITEM: COMMERCIAL SKIP: also, unlike the Panasonic where just forward a fixed amount, you can set this to jump 5, 10, 30 seconds or 5 minutes(!)

ITEM: INSTANT REPLAY: Toshiba has taken a page from TiVo, you also have an 'instant replay' button that will jump BACKWARDS, settable from 5,10,30 seconds or 5 minutes

ITEM: Media Library - the unit has a built in 'media library' that will maintain information on about 3000 discs you have recorded, including the titles, remaing run time, recording speed, menu background, etc.. etc.. it also has the ability to sort , organize, search this, etc. All maintained on the HD. But wait! (I hear you cry!) if I lose the HD (reformat) I lose all this right?? Wrong. Like all good computer systems, it has a BACKUP/RESTORE to DVD-RAM function! ( Backup, reformat, reload). It appears that you can also maintain a list of 'titles' (ie. 'FRIENDS', "CSI: Miami", 'ENTERPRISE") that you can refer back to when when making menus and setting timers!

Gentlemen, this is NOT just a DVD Recorder.
This is a Digital Video Recording Computer System.

my earlier analogy about an KODAK/CANON should be restated as an original Atari PONG (E80) to a fully loaded XBox (Toshiba).


I keep reading...
post #9 of 647
The Tosh only burns as fast as the fastest media code the disc supports-- so it burns 1X on 1X media, 2X on 2X media, etc. Although I gave it a CMC-made 2X disc and it burned it at 1X -- so it must have some level of intelligence to hold its nose and do the best it could. ;)

As for Londo's comments--
Yep, it makes a catalog of all the still frames you made for use on any DVD you make in the future. I use that when I'm making DVDs of TV series-- do a screen cap of the show's title screen or the like and then use it on every menu. You can control colours, transparancy, etc, which it then remembers-- it just basically adds it to the list of menu templates (Along with the built in menus). It's really neat. The only thing that bothers me is you can't then save just the menu (to backup, move to a different unit, etc).

Commercial skip and instant replay are GREAT for marking chapters around commercials.. I just skip-skip-skip-replay (when I see commercials)... makes it happen very quickly. How do you do this on the Panasonic units? FF/RWD?
post #10 of 647
Thread Starter 
ITEM: Visual Style.

I was going to mention this last night and totally forgot.

The Toshiba has NO BUTTONS ON THE FRONT PANEL.

They are all located on the TOP/FRONT edge of the unit, on an angled strip. Why? Put any other unit in a rack, try to use the front buttons, that is after you bend over, twist your head to see what you are doing. Here, just walk up, look down and there they are. All clearly labeled and NICE SIZED (no little thin bars for a button here.. nice round firm buttons to push!). 10 out of 10 points for style here!

er.. I just realized how that last sentence sounds... heh heh..
post #11 of 647
Quote:
Originally posted by Londo
- THE BLACK LEVEL ISSUE: Since I haven't set it up yet, I can't give a definative answer, but know this: THERE ARE TWO BLACK LEVEL SETTING FOR RECORDING. One that was mentioned before with 'auto' and four steps above it. THE OTHER ONE IS 'NORMAL' and 'ENHANCED BLACK'. Initial impression in E80 terms.. NORMAL = LIGHTER, ENHANCED = DARKER. More on that later.
Wow, this is great news! I almost bought one of these, but the black level uncertainty scared me away. If it has these settings, then it sounds like it's not even an issue.

I'm really looking forward to reading your next posts.
post #12 of 647
The "normal" and "enhanced black" is in the playback options, though, correct? I was thinking that may have something to do with recording as well but Zenith2525's post said that his tests showed that it didn't matter what that was set to for *playback* as it seemed to record the same. I'll see if I can test that for myself later on (as I have noticed in my own recordings some inconsistencies with what that black level setting is at for PLAYBACK and how recordings look on other units)

I still say that depending on how you use the recorder (mostly for yourself, or making tons of discs for others) really affects whether or not the black level "issue" really is an "issue". For me, it's not, as most of the discs I make are for personal use.
post #13 of 647
Thread Starter 
jmscott42 -

on page 157 it's under Picture/Audio settings and the implication is for playback...

HOWEVER on page 161, under DVD Recorder operation, where the other options are set (Picture Record Mode), it says "only use this setting when you cannot adjust the brightness satisfactorly with custom picture settings in Picture/Audio settings (page 157).."

so it's ambigious, and only a through testing will tell (which will come later tonight or tomorrow)...

stay tuned...
post #14 of 647
Londo, does the unit flag 16x9 material as 16x9 when recording? Thanks!
post #15 of 647
Quote:
Originally posted by jmscott42
The Tosh only burns as fast as the fastest media code the disc supports-- so it burns 1X on 1X media, 2X on 2X media, etc. Although I gave it a CMC-made 2X disc and it burned it at 1X -- so it must have some level of intelligence to hold its nose and do the best it could. ;)

Thanks for the answer.. pretty much what I thought then. In a way, this can be a workaround for those who wish to override the default 4X burning speed of the recorder. Still not as flexible as being able to slow it down when burning on 4X discs, I realize.
post #16 of 647
As I've mentioned on other threads, I usually get around the burn speed issues by using 2X DVD-RW media to burn a disc that I can then make copies with using my computer burner. It's a bit more time consuming, but I'd rather do it that way than find out my burns aren't working well on discs I am using to archive things I want to last. I've had decent luck with Made in Japan 2X TDK or Panasonic 2X DVD-Rs but those are getting harder and harder to find. It's just as easy to burn a 4X Taiyo Yuden disc at 2X on the computer.
post #17 of 647
If Londo somehow "solves" this black level issue, he should seriously be considered for the Pulitzer Prize ;)
You Go Londo!
post #18 of 647
Londo or any other Tosh owner,

Would it be possible for you to do a screen shot of a menu screen so we can see how it looks with a background picture? It sounds neat!

Thanks...
post #19 of 647
Thread Starter 
I'll get a few menu screens over the next coupla of days.

Still haven't dissected the 'bug' of black level, I've been approaching this thing slowly, but I WILL make a rendering on the 'black bug' no later than Satuday afternoon (so if I decide to return it, I can get the E85 while still on sale)..

I'm nothing short of OVERWHELMED by the amount of 'tweaking' and such that are possible on this machine... no matter WHERE you are, there is an option for a 'quick menu' to access commonly used functions instead of wandering thru a maze of twisty little menus all the different.

VISUALLY the GUI/UI for this unit is supurb. This a Mac running OS X.3 compared to the E80/E100 as a Commodore 64.

Some short notes so far -

You can maintain a table of six "A/V Quality Settings (bitrate, audio, etc)" as in SP, LP and... whatever you want.. remember the idea of FR's indivdual episodes to make them 'fit' a disc but you had to either be there to stop it or lop off the excess later? No more. You could define a "SP" setting that gives a default of 135 minutes in a 4.7gb disc (3 x 45 minutes edited). Record each, edit each and it (appears) that you will have the right time the first time.

The TOSHIBA will read RAM's recorded on the E80 GRUDGINGLY... it will accept the video, but cannot transfer over the titles, recording dates, etc...

As it comes out of the box, the Toshiba plays E80 discs DARKER than the E80 plays them back or other players. Could the black level bug actually be in the E80 still? in the form of being TOO BLACK??? More testing is in order.

I'm going to sleep now.. tomorrow will be the big testing day for 'black bugs'
post #20 of 647
Quote:
Originally posted by Londo
VISUALLY the GUI/UI for this unit is supurb. This a Mac running OS X.3 compared to the E80/E100 as a Commodore 64.

Yeah, it is pretty impressive in comparison to the other models .. and as a Mac OS X.3 user, you're right on there too :)

Good luck with the black bugs
post #21 of 647
That was also the first thing I noticed.

Just how "pretty" the GUI was comapared to the E80 I sampled. Being that I like eye-candy, that's a good thing. ;)
post #22 of 647
Thread Starter 
FIRST MAJOR COMPATIBILITY PROBLEM

Took a RAM disc full of DVD-R compatible programs recorded on the E80
HS Dubbed them to the XS32 HD - no problem
Edited them on the XS32 (FRAME ACCURATE!) - no problem
made a menu up - no problem
start to dub - PROBLEM!

"These programs can not be HS Dubbed because they were not recorded in DVD-R Compatible mode"

devloping...
post #23 of 647
That's bizarre... not that I think it matters in this case, but you do have DVD-R Compatibility Mode set to Main, correct? Are you sure they were made with the proper compatibility mode on the Panasonic? (Don't they have equivalent settings?)

I wonder if the Panasonic's AC3 256kbps setting freaks the Toshiba into thinking it's not a DVD-compatible format?
post #24 of 647
Thread Starter 
MORE DETAILS

Finally brought a piece of recorded video into the PC for examination...

E80 video - 704x480 @9.2 Mb/s (max) vbr 256k/s AC3 2.0

- video was recorded SP
- mpeg headers always says 9.2mb/s max but will be less in reality


SX32 video - 720x480 @6.5 mb/s (max) vbr 192k/s AC3 2.0

- Still 'SP' recorded, but MPEG video header more realisticly reflecting max video rate
- Audio rate lower (of cource, audiblely no difference)
- DIFFERENT FRAME SIZE!!!!!!

That explains the discrepency between "DVD R Compatible" between the two..

IMPORTANT!! IMPORTANT!!

If anyone already has an E85, can you record 5 seconds of video @ SP on a RAM of anything and EMAIL ME THE VRO FILE!!!

SUPPOSEDLY the Panasonic and Toshiba units are the same under the skin (the blank ram packed with the Toshiba was a Panasonic in the shell). I would like to know if the video resolution and headers (and audio?) were changed in the the E85 as well.

EITHER WAY, this COULD be a problem if you already have a E80/E100 and plan on upgrading to the XS32, none of your old recorded programs will be 'transferrable' to the XS32. 704x480 is a prefectly legimate resolution (Broadcast D1) but I do remember that it was one thing that people kevtched about the Panasonic was it "wasn't standard 720x480" and that 256 audio was 'odd'.....

sill digging....
post #25 of 647
Good investigating Londo. A roundabout way would be to fix the problem on a PC w/DVDPatcher, write it back to DVD-RAM, then import it into the RD-XS32. But, I don't know what ramifications there would be from changing 704x480 to 720x480.
post #26 of 647
Thread Starter 
INITIAL BLACK LEVEL TEST....

same recording source (previously recorded E80 disc played back into both units)...

one side of the diagonal the E80, the other the XS32 - can you tell which???

THIS IS NOT A FINAL TEST, just an initial crack... need to do much more..

http://images.andale.com/f2/106/115/...napshot005.jpg
post #27 of 647
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally posted by Brajesh
Good investigating Londo. A roundabout way would be to fix the problem on a PC w/DVDPatcher, write it back to DVD-RAM, then import it into the RD-XS32. But, I don't know what ramifications there would be from changing 704x480 to 720x480.
- DVD Patcher will not work on a VRO file

No, there is not 'fix' for this other than re-encoding.
post #28 of 647
Oops, you're right. I guess you have to convert to mpg with TMPG DVD Author, then back to VRO w/some tool. Too much of a pain.

Re: your screenshot, the left is a tad darker maybe, so I'd say that's the XS32. Lots of motion jaggies evident in the above screen-grab.
post #29 of 647
Thread Starter 
the left is the E80 :)

and the screen grabs were frame snaps taken via Womble Video Wizard. Just an initial test, but wanted to get something out...
post #30 of 647
THANKS Londo! I've been DYING to see an example of this.

It's not too too bad of a problem in this shot, at least to my eyes. Yes, I can definitely see it though.

If there is at least a minor feature adjustment that can be made to improve this problem, as suggested by a couple people here, I could live with this compromise. (This is assuming that this shot is based on the default setting, and assuming that this shot is representative of the problem).
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