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Help! Which DVD player should I buy: Panny E55?  

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 
I would like to get a Low-Priced DVD Recorder for my daughter for Christmas & I was looking at the Panny E-55 but I don't know if I should go DVD-Ram or what? Are there any other recorders I should be looking at in the under $200 Range? Also I see DVD-Ram Discs that say "No Cartridge" what does that mean? She has an old Proscan 8680Z DVD Player now which I don't think will play any type of the recording formats so I don't think formats will be a problem but anything you can tell me on that might also help & yes I know the Panny doesn't have a Digital Input but I think she can live without that & the 2-Channel Stereo sould be ok with her Pro-Logic IIx Receiver. The big thing I'm worried about is I don't want her to record a lot of things only to find out in the future that she can't play them back on anything. She would be taping her soaps everyday just for playback & then maybe copying a "Lot" of old TV programs from video tape to DVD's. Thanks in Advance for Any help you can give me.
post #2 of 23
The E55 doesn't have a hard drive and that ends my interest in it and all similar DVD recorders. Nothing else matters when there is no hard drive. It is just not worth spending time picking the best non-hard drive recorder. You should hold off on a purchase until you can afford one with a hard drive. If that is all you can justify spending on a DVD recorder then the other frivolous details pale in comparison.

This is similar to buying a computer which only has a floppy drive and no hard drive. Just not worth taking home in this day and age.

Maybe I am spoiled?

Dave
post #3 of 23
Thread Starter 
Yes one with a hard drive would be nice but I would think she would be able to live without one because mostly all she will be doing with it is taping her soaps & maybe copying some TV Series from VHS tapes to DVD. So what your saying is she should just live with her VCR? :) I would think she would be better off with just a DVD Recorder for now & later buy one with a Hard Drive & then retire the DVD Recorder to the bedroom. So what's your take on the Panasonic or do you have any other brands or formats I should look at look at?
post #4 of 23
Quote:
This is similar to buying a computer which only has a floppy drive and no hard drive. Just not worth taking home in this day and age.

Maybe I am spoiled?
Well, maybe not spoiled....but I don't think your analogy is necessarily applicable.

From personal experience (I have both a non-HDD based DVD recorder, Panny E50, and an HDD based recorder, Panny E100), there certainly is justification for buying a recorder without an HDD.

For basic purposes, like recording soaps (watch once, then erase) and converting VHS tapes to DVD (assuming no macrovision copy protection), a non-HDD recorder is a very viable option.

Granted, an HDD-based recorder provides greater flexibility and capacity, but even a non-HDD recorder can be used for basic editing like trim-editing and can store up to 6 hours (or 8 on some models) of video.

A floppy-only PC would be far more crippled (almost totally) compared to a non-HDD based DVD recorder that can still function quite well and be very useful.
post #5 of 23
Thread Starter 
Steve, So what's your take on the E55? Is it a good DVD Recorder for her? & hopefully it has a Menu System she can understand & figure out :D
post #6 of 23
First, I will admit that I am partial to Panasonic DVD recorders (I own 2 of them) and I am very, very happy with both products [E50 &E100].

I can't comment on the functionality of the E55's EPG (Electronic Programming Guide), other than to say that some folks on this forum have expressed some issues with it. A search might help to dig up some old posts on this topic. It would seem to me that anyone using a DVD recorder to record soaps or series television would benefit from an EPG or the ability to use a timer, much like the way timers are used on VCRs. I've read on this forum that the E55's EPG can present some issues, but that timer recording works very well.

Once programs are recorded onto DVD-RAM (re-usable disks), selecting them is pretty simple with Panasonic's 'direct navigator' function. Panny remotes have a 'direct navigator' button on them to enter this function. The recordings will appear in a menu list. If no title has been entered, the recording usually defaults to the date/time of the recording. So selecting the right recording to watch is pretty simple. The same will work if recording onto -R disks, but these are not re-usable. Once their recording capacity is hit, the disk cannot be used again except for playback. It is the -R disks that your daughter would use (after 'finalizing' the disk) if she wanted to take recordings over to a friends house to watch. She could use DVD-RAM, but few standalone players will play -RAM disks.

For converting VHS tapes over to DVD's, assuming no macrovision copy protection exists on the VHS tape. Conversion is a simple process. Record onto DVD (probably -R for long term retention), enter a title, do some trimming at the end or middle of a recording can all be done on the E55. THe VCR will have its outputs connected to one set of the E55's inputs.

I've seen the E55 advertised as low as $199, so the price is certainly right. To me, it is worth buying a name-brand recorder for $50-$60 more than no-name brand el cheapo recorders. For a light user for soaps, series tv, and VHS archival, I think the E55 would be fine for your daughter's straightforward, simple needs.

Good Luck
post #7 of 23
Thread Starter 
Steve, Thanks for the great reply & now I'm off to find the best price on it & the lowest I've seen is that $199 price but she lives in another state so I have to have it shipped to her & so far Circuit City seems to be the best price around $225 because of the free shipping & I want to buy it from a major chain just incase she has problems with it so she can return it to a store in her area. She's pretty good at knowing how to Timer Record things on her VCR so hopefully she should be able to figure out how to Timer Record things on the Panny. Thanks Again!
post #8 of 23
Quote:
Originally posted by Bill1313
Steve, Thanks for the great reply & now I'm off to find the best price on it & the lowest I've seen is that $199 price but she lives in another state so I have to have it shipped to her & so far Circuit City seems to be the best price around $225 because of the free shipping & I want to buy it from a major chain just incase she has problems with it so she can return it to a store in her area. She's pretty good at knowing how to Timer Record things on her VCR so hopefully she should be able to figure out how to Timer Record things on the Panny. Thanks Again!
Get the ILO HDR04 at Walmart, your daughter will be extremely happy with it!
post #9 of 23
Bill, you might want to look into doing what I did for my son when he went to college. I got him a Panny E75 which combines the dvd and vcrs into one unit. This way he can trade tapes with friends who have vcrs and also rent/watch dvd movies (plus record either to the dvd or the vcr as he chooses).

I got it at CC. They had a $50 rebate on that model, as did Panny themselves. I don't know whether CC still hjas the rebate going, but I looked at the Panny site just now and their $50 rebate is still active.

Steve, I own a 55 (as well as twpo 80s). What do you mean by the Panny EPG? Do you meann the TV Guide online that the 85 has , and has gotten a lot of bashing on this forum? The 55 doesn't have that. Just set timer programs just like on the 80.
post #10 of 23
Quote:
Steve, I own a 55 (as well as twpo 80s). What do you mean by the Panny EPG? Do you meann the TV Guide online that the 85 has , and has gotten a lot of bashing on this forum? The 55 doesn't have that. Just set timer programs just like on the 80.
Yes, that is what I meant. My mistake if the E55 does not have that feature (all the better for Bill's daughter).

The E75 (or E74 version from Sam's Club) is a good suggestion if space/compactness is an issue. The combo unit will be more pricey, so be aware, just in case cost is an issue.
post #11 of 23
Thread Starter 
The E75 looks ok but it's over $300 with the rebate & Tax plus she already has about 4 VCR's & she knows how to dub from them & the E55 is really the same as a VCR you just have to select the "Right" Input. But yes a combo would be nice. As for the ILO it looks ok except it only has 1 Rear Input & the E55 has 2 Rear Inputs & I think that might be better for her. 1 for her Cable Box & 1 for her VCR & she would be real unhappy with the front inputs having to be hooked up all the time. I will still take a look at the ILO if my local Wal-Mart has one. How is the Build-Quality on the ILO? As for the Menu System for Timer Recordings I'm sure she could figure it out if it was like her VCR's because on them she always hated using VCR+Plus & just wanted to use the "Regular" Timer Menu so if it was like that she would have no problem at all with it. & I don't think she would use any fancy Program Guides.
post #12 of 23
Bill,
You might want to search this forum regarding the ILO.....as I recall, quite of few negative posts.
Good Luck
post #13 of 23
Bill, if your daughter is recording more than 2hr per disk of soaps, she may be very disappointed with the PQ of the E55, or any non-HDD DVDR. DVD recorders give great picture at SP mode but the PQ falls off rapidly as you try to record longer on a disk -- just over compression. I am convinced that LP and EP modes were put on DVD recorders purely to serve the marketing of them as VCR replacements.

Since the summer, about half a dozen people here at work have purchased the combo DVD/VCR recorders (Panasonic or JVC) to replace their VCR recorders. They are used to popping in a tape and recording 6 hr worth of programming (NASCAR and sports) at EP mode. So far they have all complained that the quality of EP mode is "garbage" compared to VHS. The NASCAR watchers especially -- they complain that on EP mode they can't read the scrolling stats across the top of the screen with the DVD where they could with VHS. The Panasonic owners are non too impressed with 4 hr LP mode either, while the JVC owners say LP mode looks about the same as on the VCR.

At the current $200 prices for non-HDD DVDRs I have been continuously tempted to just pick one up just to get pause and chasing playback during an NFL game. But given that my primary use is to record >2hr sporting events, the complaints of my coworkers has convinced me a non-HDD unit would be a waste of my money.
post #14 of 23
Thread Starter 
She only records a 1 hour soap everyday & then only a few tv programs throughout the week. If I remember right? she uses a seperate tape for her soap & other tapes for other programs. While I think of it how does the Panny do with skipping commercials because that's the big thing I think I will hear from her because her VCR has "Commercial Advance" & she just loves that & she tells me it works perfectly on her Soap. I known on the Panny you can skip ahead by pushing a button but does it turn out to be a pain if you overshoot or undershoot commercial breaks? She also is no fuss bug when it comes to Picture Quality & she only has a run of the mill Analog TV set. I'm more worried about the life-span of it than anything else & the Format Type & I feel now is not the time to be spending a lot of money on DVD Recorders unless you can afford it because if it can last 5 years or so HD Recorders & HD DVD's should be here & hopefully the prices then won't be out of sight. I also liked the Panasonic because it was a brand name & those off brands scare me. If it was just for me I might give an odball brand a shot but I don't think I want to go that route giving it to someone else.
post #15 of 23
Bill,

For the use as you have specified, everything I have read about the E55 is good. It would be my 2nd choice for a non-HDD recorder (the JVC DRM10 at $250 being my first for other reasons). Your daughter should be very happy with it and the advanced features of a DVD recorder such as chasing playback, pause and timeslip. I would recommend, however, that you include with the gift a 5-pack of DVD-RAM disks to get her started. Panasonic or Fuji are the common brands and a 5-pack will run you an additional $20. She'll never wear them out from re-recording, only from physical abuse. If she's been a good girl, Santa should get her 10.
post #16 of 23
Thread Starter 
Yes, I figured I would include some Panasonic DVD-RAM & Panasonic DVD-R Discs to get her going (You would think that Panasonic could at least include 1 in the box though), but if I can get ahold of her boyfriend maybe I can have him pick them up for her instead & save poor old dad a few dollars :D
post #17 of 23
Walmart has the best price on Panasonic DVD-RAM in DVD cases. About $4 each including 6.5% sales tax in 5-packs.

Dave
post #18 of 23
Bill : I bought an E55 last February. I love this machine. I record programs from Comcast Digital Cable. The HBO channels seem to have better picture quality, than the regular cable channels ( no commercials either )., so I usually stick to recording movies from HBO. <p>The PQ on two hour SP when played back on a Sony NS725p is much better than I expected. I did record two movies, that I also own in commercial dvd. The PQ is close enough to commercial dvds, that I have to A-B the commercial dvd and the recorded dvd, before I say"yep, you can see a difference between the two." Although, PQ is good enough, that I would be happy to watch the SP recorded movies, and never buy the commerical version. and "yep, the Sony is a better player than the E55, but not by so much I wouldn't want to use the E55 as a player."<p>PQ recorded on SP on regular Cable Channels is as good as the source material. <br>LP on reg. cable is Ok, LP on HBO cable is good. <br>I only use EP on the History Channel stuff. The original material wasn't all that sharp to begin with... and I guess I don't expect miracles. EP is watchable, but not for programs you wish to archive.<p>Wonder of Wonders, the E55 has copied 4 out 5 commercial VHS tapes. Only the 1 so far, has refused to submit to the indignity of being copied.<p>Home movies, in Beta and VHS format have been recorded onto Ram Discs, and then taken to the PC for authoring (titles and menus and editing ) using TMPGenc Author 1.5. You can recrod the Home Movies directly to DVD-R also<br>The DVDs of the home movies look Better than the original.<p>The E55 has a Commercial Skip feature, but it only goes some 50 some seconds forward or backward. It does take some labor to advance or reverse to the next part of the regular program....but I don't really mind.<p>The Ram Discs are great if you want to use the <i>Time Slip</i> feature, where you can start a program at 9:00 pm, come home at 9:30 pm and watch the program from the start while the E55 keeps recording. Ram is good for editing on the E55 or a PC. Don't worry about Cartridge Ram, the E55 uses the less expensive non-cartridge discs without problems. The "Cartridge" is a protective case for the disc, I do not think most newer PC DVd burners or readers use cartridige ram anyway.<p>The DVD-R discs the E55 uses, have played back on a Sony DVD player, Samsung DVD player, Xbox, and my PC NEC 2500a DVD Burner and Samsung DVd-Rom<p>I love the E55 so much, I bought a 2nd one<br>Before buying the 2nd E55, I thought about buying a DVDR with a hard drive .After A LOT of reading of this forum, I decided not to spend $500.00 + on technology that I do not think is yet, all that reliable.<p>Skip the cheap recorders. You get what you paid for applies. A bit more money will get you a better guarantee of relaibility and quality. Long Term ? Who knows, but I'd rather put my hard earned dough on a NAME BRAND, rather than ilo, govideo, brokethebank, cybersomebodyorother, or ma and pa kettle DVDRs.
post #19 of 23
Thread Starter 
Dave thanks for the tip on RAM's at Wal-Mart. Rxtian, Thanks that makes me feel much better about the E55 & I really din't want to buy a no-name brand recorder. Maybe you can answer me this: If the VCR is plugged into the E55 using Composite Video can the Panny output the Composite Video in S-Video to the TV? or must all the Video Connections be the same flavor? because her TV only has 1 set of inputs & it's either S-Video or Composite Video but not both. Thanks.
post #20 of 23
I can't answer for the E55 or Rxtian but my E100 will output video on all of it's outputs regardless of which input is in use. I think that is true for all DVD Recorders, Panasonic and all others? Except this is not true for the coaxial RF output going to the TV set. It only passes through to the output, what is on the coaxial RF Antenna input, . They are probably just soldered together inside the unit? So they function as an Antenna pass-through connection.

Dave
post #21 of 23
Thread Starter 
I'm not following you? If the VCR is hooked up to the Panasonic Composite Video Input & the Panasonic is hooked to the TV with an S-Video Cable.......will the TV get the Picture from the VCR? In other words will the Panasonic upconvert Composite Video to S-Video? I don't really care what the RF Output will do because she won't be using it. I'm asking because I want to send her a drawing of how to hook everything up or she will never figure it out :D
post #22 of 23
Quote:
my E100 will output video on all of it's outputs regardless of which input is in use.
That's what I said and that's what I meant. I guess I am guilty of including too much additional information that I should have left unsaid.

Dave
post #23 of 23
Thread Starter 
OK got it :D So my only other question is, can anyone tell me if the E55 output upconverts everything like the E100. I would download the owners manuall to check but so far I haven't been able to get it to work.
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