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Panasonic DMR-ES10 PQ  

post #1 of 43
Thread Starter 
Hi all.

I picked up an open box DMR- ES10 as part of the coupon deal at Best Buy a few days ago ($111 plus tax--not bad). It's my first recorder, so I'm new at this. I haven't spent tons of time with it, but I have noticed an obvious "graininess" to the picture when viewed through the unit's own tuner. If I toggle between the TV tuner and the recorder tuner, the pic quality difference is obvious.

As far as I can tell, I have set it up correctly. So maybe there is something else you can suggest, or maybe I missed something. In set up, I told the machine that I am viewing with a standard 4:3 480i television. I have tried both component and composite video connections along with the standard left-right audio connections.

I think the graininess is adding to what appears to be a pixilization of the picture on recordings (via RAM). Obviously, if the tuner displays a degraded picture, the machine is going to record a degraded picture.

Also, does anyone know what recording quality the machine chooses when you select one touch record on RAM? XP, Normal, LP, etc??

Thanks for any suggestions you might have.
post #2 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by scottland7
I think the graininess is adding to what appears to be a pixilization of the picture on recordings (via RAM). Obviously, if the tuner displays a degraded picture, the machine is going to record a degraded picture.
On my Panasonic (an E75) many of the artrifacts I see in the picture are a playback issue, at least the XP and SP speeds. If I play DVD-Rs I've recorded on another DVD player they look very good. They don't look as good as commercial DVDs, but do look better than they do when played back on the Panny.
post #3 of 43
Thread Starter 
Thanks, jpurkey, for your reply.

I wonder if your experience is similar to mine? If you are recording on another recorder and playback looks fine on the Panny, perhaps the image that the other recorder is recording is simply cleaner to start with.

Try turning on both your Panny and your other recorder and simply watch a particular channel through the DVD recorder's own tuner. How does the PQ compare between the two machines?

The PQ is smoother and more refined through my TV tuner than through the Panny recorder's tuner. I just can't figure out why and if there's something I can do to improve it. Ultimately, the quality of the recording is directly related to the quality of the original picture.

BTW, what model is your other recorder?
post #4 of 43
Thread Starter 
Sorry jpurkey. I just realized that I misunderstood your previous post. You actually recorded DVD-R on the Panny and it played more cleanly on your other player than on the Panny itself. Got it.

Still, that somehow seems counterintuitive. It would seem that your cleanest playback would be on the machine that actually recorded the material.

Other ES-10 owners--I am desperately seeking your feedback regarding the clarity of the picture on your ES-10 tuner. Am I nutty or have I done something wrong in set-up? Why the "graininess"? And is that "graininess" causing the pixilization/artifacts I see on RAM recordings using what was supposed to be the new and improved LP mode.

Unfortunately, I am planning to return this puppy unless I can figure out what is going on. My wife watched the same recording and described the picture as "distracting". Please help.
post #5 of 43
I just bought an ES10 today and notice the same poor PQ through the tuner. I am watching it on a JVC DILA which does a fine job with the DVD output, but the tuner just doesn't look like good. Since I am not using the tuner (have an SA8000 DVR) I am not too concerned, but it does seem like something is wrong.
post #6 of 43
Thread Starter 
MVPinBoynton,

How are you planning to use your ES-10? Simply to dub from your DVR to disc? Just curious.

Is it reasonable to assume that the picture distortion from the tuner could contribute to the pixilization/artifacts I see in LP playback of recorded material? I am baffled because this unit was supposed to have significantly improved playback in LP mode (500 lines resolution and almost SP quality according to what I have read).

I tried a recording in SP (2 hour mode) tonight and there was no pixilization. The picture was a little soft though and faces of people appeared to lack clarity. I guess you have to go with XP (1 hour mode) to get little or no distortion.

I must say, I'm disappointed and expected more from this Panny.

Anyone else having similar issues? Is there something we can try to remedy the problem or does the tuner simply stink?
post #7 of 43
LP is awful on any MPEG2 recorder. Of course some folks watch this on a small screen and don't mind artifacts...but for myself anything less that the highest bit rate results in unacceptable PQ.
post #8 of 43
I have the ES10. I have only used its SVideo output so far, haven't really any need to try anything else. It looks HORRIBLE. It is almost exactly the same problem I see when I let my receiver upconvert composite to SVideo. It is reminiscent of screen-door, it looks like it has created pixels, making the picture seem digitized. It is really bad.

But DVDs recorded from my DTivo on the ES10 look just fine on other players, equal to the original D* signal in the 2 best recording modes. (haven't tried any other speeds, yet) It is the output of the ES10 that is an issue. I thought about returning it until I realized I simply don't care. I only need the video hooked up to see the OSD, anyway. All my watching is done on a nice Denon, so it simply won't come up.

I should mention....This screen-door-like effect also occurs when simply watching from the tuner or passing through signal from another source. Essentially anything output looks this way. It is most easily noticeable on large, single-color areas, like in cartoons.

Oh, watching on a Toshiba MT700, but I'm sure I would see this on any screen, at least with certain picture content.
post #9 of 43
Scottland7,
My primary need for this recorder is for copying form the DVR as well as copying older camcorder tapes to disc. I had been using a JVC DR M10; which I was quite pleased with, but it developed the "Loading Error". Since I was out of warranty, it appeared to be about the same cost to buy this unit. Then I read that JVC is fixing the problem beyond the warranty for free. I do like some things about this Panny unit better than the JVC, so I will probably keep both of them.
post #10 of 43
On the E75 VCR/DVDR combo I can quickly switch input back and forth from the VCR to DVDR. By doing so I can see that the picture viewed through the VCR is definitely better. The DVDR image has what I can best describe as banding of colors, rather than a smoot gradient from one shade to another. Both the DVDR and VCR get input from the same S-Video cable so you would think they'd be the same, but the DVDR signal is apparently processed somehow before being sent to the TV.

However, I don't think it is that bad. I don't notice it 99% of the time without the back and forth checking. Usually it takes the right type of color gradient for it to really to stand out. Sometimes I'll see the banding in the sky, then the angle of the picture changes and I don't see it.
post #11 of 43
Thread Starter 
Well, at least I'm not crazy. It sounds like the tuner output is simply poor. For playback or dubbing from another source, it seems the consensus is that the unit is fine. But for those who expect to use the unit to directly record television programs (like me), it may not be the best choice. How unfortunate, considering that this is an entry level unit that I suspect a lot of folks are purchasing to replace their VCR for TV recording.

Can I expect this type of tuner problem across brands? Are there some brands with tuners that reproduce a clean signal? While there are plenty of advantages of using a DVD recorder even with this sort of problem, I expected that "tapeless" recording would be consistently crisp and clean. Perhaps I expected too much from such a new technology.

Other suggested units would be appreciated. Thanks for all the feedback.
post #12 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by scottland7
Well, at least I'm not crazy. It sounds like the tuner output is simply poor.
You're certainly not crazy, but I don't agree about the tuner. On my ES10, recorded video quality is as good as I would have expected -- it's not great, but I'd say it's at least as good as the best VCR. However, it is true that video passed through the ES10 is being processed, probably through the compressor, and looks pretty bad. There may be a way to defeat this, but I just hooked my TV up to my STB so the ES10 can be completely bypassed when I'm watching TV straight from cable.
post #13 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by ccdengr
I just hooked my TV up to my STB so the ES10 can be completely bypassed when I'm watching TV straight from cable.
You just passed PQ101 :)

The owners manual even recommends using a splitter.
post #14 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by scottland7
Sorry jpurkey. I just realized that I misunderstood your previous post. You actually recorded DVD-R on the Panny and it played more cleanly on your other player than on the Panny itself. Got it.

Still, that somehow seems counterintuitive. It would seem that your cleanest playback would be on the machine that actually recorded the material.

Other ES-10 owners--I am desperately seeking your feedback regarding the clarity of the picture on your ES-10 tuner. Am I nutty or have I done something wrong in set-up? Why the "graininess"? And is that "graininess" causing the pixilization/artifacts I see on RAM recordings using what was supposed to be the new and improved LP mode.

Unfortunately, I am planning to return this puppy unless I can figure out what is going on. My wife watched the same recording and described the picture as "distracting". Please help.
Hello All, and Scottland7

I have had this machine for about a month
and in that time , I have made a few recordings.
All have been of the impressive variety. However,
I did notice that the tuner is sub-par. I do not use it
at all, so it really does not make a difference to me.
Scottland7, you are not mistaken. the tuner does
do a bad job. On my off the air antenna and
component inputs to my TV, it is definatley imbued with
vertical lines of a fine nature. As I have stated, I do not
use the tuner. I have an HDTV Set Top Box that down-
converts to any manor of output. The recording from it
are spectacular. I would suggest that you get yourself
one of those, You and your wife will be amazed at the
results.

Viddy...
post #15 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by mimason
The owners manual even recommends using a splitter.
I think it only recommends a splitter if both a VCR and the ES10 are being connected.

The ES10's RF out is not driven by the ES10 at all (it just loops through), if I interpret the note on page 7 of the manual correctly. That signal may or may not be clean (I didn't try it) but it doesn't go through the unit's tuner.

It appears that the video signal that goes through the ES10's tuner is always passing through the video compressor and so has some degree of compression artifacting. You'll want to hook up your TV in some manner to allow you to bypass the ES10 processing and still get a signal from ES10 recording. In my setup, I ran S-video from my STB to my TV and hooked the ES10 up to the STB's RF output, but the optimal setup depends on whether you have an STB, what outputs it has, what inputs your TV has, etc.
post #16 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by ccdengr
In my setup, I ran S-video from my STB to my TV and hooked the ES10 up to the STB's RF output, but the optimal setup depends on whether you have an STB, what outputs it has, what inputs your TV has, etc.
Agree. I am set up this way also.

I guess you're right about the manual and splitter but I was trying to indicate that the more direct and clean signal path will yield the best results. Passing signals through components rarely improves quality.
post #17 of 43
I guess I am a little slow. I just realized that the picture should be worse due to the unit compressing the signal to be able to record it. I have a Tivo that has the same issue; but since it is on an SDTV it isn't as big a deal. I did find improvement on that PQ when I added a signal booster. I have been spoiled by the great quality of an HD DVR, which is an exact duplicate of the signal. I haven't tried copying to the S10 from it yet. That is what really matters to me.
post #18 of 43
There seems to be some confusion. Tuner is something that receives and decodes channels. Video processor is something else, and a DVDR has at least 2 of them. One is used on inputs for recording (video ADC) and one for output (video DAC). The problem with the ES10 seems to be the output video processing.

As I said, I haven't tried anything but Svideo, but it seems to be an issue on all 3 outputs from the other posts. I have not tried recording from the tuner, either. But if you can record from the tuner and the burned disc plays much better on a different DVDp, the tuner is not poor, just the video output. My recording so far has been from a DTivo only, and the burned discs match the Tivo's output from what I can tell. So the recording processing is just fine.

This is annoying that its DAC (and whatever else is involved in the video output processing) is so incredibly bad, but it isn't a big deal to me. I only got this to record, not play.
post #19 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by Spiky
This is annoying that its DAC (and whatever else is involved in the video output processing) is so incredibly bad, but it isn't a big deal to me. I only got this to record, not play.
Well, that's not my experience at all. I've been using the ES10 to play back both its own recordings and DVD movies, and it works fine. I'm not sure what the source of your problem is, but I don't think it's got much to do with the playback circuitry of the ES10 unless you have a defective unit.
post #20 of 43
Thread Starter 
A lot of great info and suggestions, but some is simply to techno-savvy for me. With your indulgence, let's take a couple steps back and see if I can better understand what may be going on.

I have analog cable connected directly to the ES10 and then back out to the television. When I turn on the ES10 and change the input mode on my TV to receive its picture, the picture is grainy and "unclean". When I change the input mode on the TV back to TV, the picture is cleaner (as nice as one can expect from analog cable at least). I have tried both component and composite outputs with the same result.

The picture the ES10 produces using commercial DVDs is very clean. It seems the problem is what it produces through its tuner that it then records when I ask it to record a television program.

Can someone explain in simple terms what might be going on and if there is a "work around" that will allow the unit to record a television program more cleanly than its tuner (or compressor or whatever) currently presents? I ask this on the assumption that, to record a television program, it has to use its own tuner to reproduce the signal that is to be recorded.

Man, the more I type the more I confuse myself. Let's see if I confused you as well.

Thanks.
post #21 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by scottland7
Can someone explain in simple terms what might be going on and if there is a "work around" that will allow the unit to record a television program more cleanly than its tuner (or compressor or whatever) currently presents?
There are two issues: what the signal looks like "just passing through" the ES10 and what the recorded stuff played back looks like.

For the first, if you're just watching the TV signal directly, find some way to hook up your TV so it can see the video signal without it passing through the ES10.

For the second, the ES10 by its nature has to lose picture quality to record the video. The more it can fit on one disk, the lower the quality. If you don't like the PQ of the ES10, then take it back -- but I doubt you'll be happy with any other DVD recorder either. I use 4-hour mode, and the PQ is adequate for me in that mode, watching on a 42" ED plasma.

I think the people who are saying that the ES10 has a "bad tuner" are probably confusing the issue, or there's something odd about their setups that I'm not appreciating.
post #22 of 43
I have been using my ES10 now for a week and I believe that the PQ appeared bad to me more because of the SD on my HDTV rather than the unit itself. I am quite pleased with the quality of the PQ now and the recording off of my HD DVR is outstanding. I am now very happy with the ES10.
post #23 of 43
In simple terms.

Recording quality from an SVideo cable is quite decent. I'm very happy with it for that. This is why I'm keeping mine.

Watching TV on it is bad.
Watching what you are recording while recording it is bad.
Watching a DVD on it is ok.
post #24 of 43
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Watching TV on it is bad.
Quote:
Watching what you are recording while recording it is bad.
Actually, this is where I am confused. If the picture you see while watching tv through the ES10 is bad, then doesn't it make sense that the recording of that bad picture is also going to be bad?

It is clear that folks who are using the unit to record/dub previously recorded material from Tivo or a HD DVR are happy. Makes sense because in that case you are dubbing from a high quality source. But if the TV PQ on the ES10 is poor when recording directly from television, then you are recording from a low quality source, no? Am I oversimplifying or missing something?

Please know I am not trying to slam the ES10. There is a lot to like about it. But if its weakness is its inability to produce and record a clean signal from television, then it would probably not be recommended for people planning to use it for that purpose. If there is a work around, I would love to try it.

Thanks for all the great feedback here and throughout the forum.
post #25 of 43
"If the picture you see while watching tv through the ES10 is bad, then doesn't it make sense that the recording of that bad picture is also going to be bad? "

YES

"It is clear that folks who are using the unit to record/dub previously recorded material from Tivo or a HD DVR are happy. Makes sense because in that case you are dubbing from a high quality source."

Correct. As in computing "Garbage in, Garbage out"

"But if the TV PQ on the ES10 is poor when recording directly from television, then you are recording from a low quality source, no?

YES again.

"Please know I am not trying to slam the ES10. There is a lot to like about it. But if its weakness is its inability to produce and record a clean signal from television, then it would probably not be recommended for people planning to use it for that purpose. If there is a work around, I would love to try it. "

There is, and it's simple. Use an external tuner. No need
to buy one. Simply use an old VCR. Works wonders on
bad tuners. :

1) Cable box output to VCR antenna input
2) VCR Audio/Video output to ES10 Video/Audio Ins.
3) ES10 Composite/Component/Svideo outs to TV

(No need for this step if you're cable box already
has video/audio outputs. Simply plug you're cable
box's audio/video outs into the ES10)

Panasonic dropped the ball on the Tuner for the ES10
and no input level adjustments. BUT I have alternate
ways of doing both, so I dont care. I DO care for the
12 bit encoding on the Analog to Digital converter it
uses. Its one of the best.


"Thanks for all the great feedback here and throughout the forum."

It's fun to see all these posts.

Viddy...
post #26 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by scottland7
But if the TV PQ on the ES10 is poor when recording directly from television, then you are recording from a low quality source, no? Am I oversimplifying or missing something?
Yes, you are. The degradation has nothing to do with the tuner and is simply a consequence of the video compression. I don't know how to explain it any more clearly. What you are watching when the signal is passing through the ES10 is pretty much the same as what's being recorded, whether you're recording it or not. Saying that the tuner is "bad" for that reason is inaccurate, but if that's what people want to believe, fine.

Bottom line: If you don't like the ES10's PQ, then take it back and try something else.
I'm happy with the ES10 and I don't have any recommendations for what DVD recorder would be better, but maybe others do.
post #27 of 43
I record from a DirecTV TiVo to my ES-10. The picture quality is almost indistinguishable from the original at 2-3 hour compression. I haven't tried the tuner.
post #28 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by scottland7
But if the TV PQ on the ES10 is poor when recording directly from television, then you are recording from a low quality source, no? Am I oversimplifying or missing something?
Quote:
Originally Posted by ccdengr
Yes, you are. The degradation has nothing to do with the tuner and is simply a consequence of the video compression. I don't know how to explain it any more clearly. What you are watching when the signal is passing through the ES10 is pretty much the same as what's being recorded, whether you're recording it or not. Saying that the tuner is "bad" for that reason is inaccurate, but if that's what people want to believe, fine.
Since I started this mess...

I am not saying the tuner is bad, I am saying the output on Svideo cables is bad. I can record and the disc looks fine. If I watch this unit recording something, it looks poor. If I take that disc out and watch it in a different player, it looks better. I'm really not sure why this can't be understood.

That's it. I could probably tweak the output to be a bit better, or maybe it would look better with a different cable type, but I didn't get it to play, just record.

So I don't really care how it plays. But if somebody looks at how it plays and thinks it is crap, they will miss that it does an excellent job of recording for under $200.
post #29 of 43
I'm not really seeing the degradation that some of the posters here are implying it will have even if I'm not using the CATV/Air tuner. I have a DISH sat receiver plugged into S-Video in1, and I have s-video out to a Sony 30" HDTV. I've been searching for signal degradation when just watching in pass-through, and sometimes I think I may detect some, but it's hard to know if it's DISH compression or elsewhere, as I don't have any quick way to switch the inputs around to compare apples to apples.

There seems to be some conflicting information in this thread as to whether s-vid in and out passthrough through the ES10 will degrade the picture or not. I'd like to hear more about this. For now I don't really have any other way to hook things up, without neutering the use of the es10, I plan to use it as a VCR, and will do some time shifting of hour-long shows for the ability to pause and skip commercials. So far it really seems to be great for that, with no hard drive, the DVD-ram is impressive.

Thanks!
post #30 of 43
Ok, here's another datapoint: I have an E95 and an HS10, both using their internal tuner on analog cable. Both are being fed by equal length rg6 taps directly off a channel-vision 8 port distribution amp. The composite video output from each is going to a sony 4 input switch connected to a 27xbr tv.

From the strongest to the poorest stations on the cable, the video output from the HS10 looks 'grainier/noisier' than the video output from the E95 [both viewing the real-time 'live' signal].
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