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First impressions ES-20K  

post #1 of 26
Thread Starter 
Well, I got my ES-20K yesterday from B&H Photo, along with a Sima CT-2 (haven't tried that yet though), they were both on sale for a decent price. Delivery was faster then I expected as I just ordered it Sat evening!,,, Thanks B&H, also both were new & pristine. I was procrastinating for quite awhile over which brand DVDR to get, But had the ES-20K, & Sima, from B&H on (so called speed dial in my favorites,,, lol) finally decided to bite the bullet, and order before I lost the sale price. I was favoring the ES-20K from the beginning because most of my A/V equipment is Panasonic, a 36" TV, RV-26 DVD player, and a panny VCR too, but my A/V reciever, & matching tape deck is Kenwood, and finally a Pioneer CD changer. This is my 3rd panny TV, I have the 36"CRT, a 20" stereo presently, & previously a top of the line 26" TV/monitor comb. (which plum wore out after 14yrs of great service) plus, 4 HiFi stereo panny VCR's. In my opinion, I prefer the Panasonic brand because I like the clearest, sharpest, PQ, & sound (especially surround) and they do Deliver! on all their equipment.

Sorry for the rambling just putting forth my credentials, now for the review:
Ok, as far as the ES-20K goes, it Reeks of "Cheap'!,,, But I guess that's all you can expect nowadays, they might call it streamlined, I call it spartan, (but then again panny's always were spartan), Now, let's cut corners & take off all the buttons, & controls, from the front panel of the unit, & put them on the already too complicated, not user friendly remote, (heaven forbid it breaks, or you lose it). Then let's give them a menu, and owners manual, that is as user friendly as chinese arithmetic! what were they thinking? I have a Sylvania DVDR (by Funai) that a 5yr old blind kid could operate without looking at the book, and the remote is very intuitive. Oh, the best part, don't dare try to first set up this unit without connecting an RF cable from an antenna, or cable from the wall, (that's right, Don't connect to a cable box),,, Or, as I found out the unit will go into conniptions! Ok, I suppose it has all features I need, but sometimes I feel like I have to be a "secret agent" just to figure them out. The tuner is stereo, and ok, but not quite as good as my TV, although the sound is a hair better, being fed thru the A/V Vid 1 on my TV. Haven't tried recording yet, (stay tuned,,, lol) but playing a few commercial movies thru it, aside from the usual slightly grainy, & contrasty, panny playback, sight, & sound, was Great! that is once I stumbled blindly thru, and finding the right A/V settings. So, the bottom line IMHO, from IT being slightly Dyslectic, this unit is FINE!, and I do recommend it, once you get past all the frustration.

Next, I will report back with my findings on it's recording ability when I get a chance.

Well, I hope I gave you some entertainment, Sorry if I bored any, or all, of you with my candid observation.
post #2 of 26
[Ok, as far as the ES-20K goes, it Reeks of "Cheap'!,,, But I guess that's all you can expect nowadays,

Well it IS cheap. What, $150 after rebate? The remote on my 40lb Denon DVD player would cost more than that to replace. I too have the Pani ES20 and while cheap, the thing records very nicely, which is all you can ask for.
post #3 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by sirthx
[Ok, as far as the ES-20K goes, it Reeks of "Cheap'!,,, But I guess that's all you can expect nowadays,

Well it IS cheap. What, $150 after rebate?
Amen. My first Panasonic DMR-E20 in 2001 was $1800 (Can.) and it didn't have half the features the ES-20 does.
post #4 of 26
Thread Starter 
I think you're missing the point here, as more, & more major manufacturers sell out, and search out, chinese, mexican, Indian, and, or, any other, 3rd world country with coolie labor, & cheaper materials, in an effort to keep profits up, labor costs down, and flood the market with cheap goods, it is the average consumer (you, and I) who pays the price in loss of jobs, natural resourses, & loss of quality in an overabundance of crap! Hence: Ilo. Cyberhome, Presidian, Daewoo, Insignia, and etc. We're becoming a society of disposable goods. I have had one helluva time trying to find a decent quality made unit, that would hold up well, and yes I would be willing to pay a bit more for it, if I could find it? It seems like you can't trust big name company's anymore, as you can't tell where it's made, or how well it's made with all the farming out of labor, & materials being done these days.
post #5 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by MikDee
I think you're missing the point here, as more, & more major manufacturers sell out, and search out, chinese, mexican, Indian, and, or, any other, 3rd world country with coolie labor, & cheaper materials, in an effort to keep profits up, labor costs down, and flood the market with cheap goods, it is the average consumer (you, and I) who pays the price in loss of jobs, natural resourses, & loss of quality in an overabundance of crap! Hence: Ilo. Cyberhome, Presidian, Daewoo, Insignia, and etc. We're becoming a society of disposable goods. I have had one helluva time trying to find a decent quality made unit, that would hold up well, and yes I would be willing to pay a bit more for it, if I could find it? It seems like you can't trust big name company's anymore, as you can't tell where it's made, or how well it's made with all the farming out of labor, & materials being done these days.
Maybe I am missing the point. If I want a serious piece of gear, I don't typically look to Panasonic, Kenwood, Pioneer, JVC etc. They fill the mass-consumer demand (Joe Sixpak) while boutique brands can be FAR better made with a price-tag to match. You can still spend well over $10k for a stand alone CD player if you'd like, or even $50k+ for a turn table. No different from cars or cameras or whatever else you're into. There's always a choice. With regards to the Panisonic DVD burner, I just didn't want to spend a fortune on something that I know I will replace in a couple years with a hi-def version. My immediate need was just to dump stuff from my hi-def tivo to disc to create space. The Pani does this perfectly.
post #6 of 26
The ES20 was not built with playback of commercial DVDs and finalized DVDs in mind. The few playback features available for unfinalized discs (TimeSlip, CM-Skip) disappear once a DVD is finalized. Even my ancient Apex dvd player has more playback features than the ES20. But that's not a big deal for me as I use it primarily for recording. The times I use it for playback is for unfinalized discs since I can't play them elsewhere or with ChasePlay/DVD-RAM.
post #7 of 26
Thread Starter 
Ok, True that,,, If that's some peoples thing moneywise, But, I'm saying I recently picked up a cheap Sylvania unit because it has just about any feature you could want on a DVDR, Plus I found it, and the remote, to be so easy, straightforward, & intuitive, to operate that I couldn't believe it, plus it plays, & records, stabily and very good, on just about anything, while my present almost new panny player, stumbles, freezes, & macroblocks, on some of these same DVD's. The only feature lacking is (flex record, or 3hr record), Why couldn't Panasonic with their engineering, status, and in all their great wisdom come up with a more user friendly, fully featured unit something like this??? And if you think about it, this is not even a money issue. Granted IMHO the Panny has one of the best, if not the Best picture, & sound quality out there.
post #8 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by MikDee
I think you're missing the point here
I think your last post just proved your own point.
post #9 of 26
Thread Starter 
My quote
Quote:
And if you think about it, this is not even a money issue
What I meant was, it is not even a price issue, Funai can build a unit that is multi featured, simplistic, & user friendly, at probably even a lower price level. Why couldn't Panasonic? If I had to, I would rather pay the extra bucks to Panasonic for a model with comparable features that the panny is lacking! But, they don't even offer it, that's my gripe! I figured this unit would/should have had all these features as standard equipment, at this price level (it's original asking price) I wish they would take the hint, Jeez, this unit doesn't even have a (clock display), neither on or off, actually with it turned off there's no display?, and with it on, it either says (NodISC) or with a disc in, (SP 200) it looks like something a 5yr old who can't spell, would write. As a VCR replacement, it leaves alot to be desired. I am no techie, no novice either, but I feel bad for anyone with this unit, who even has trouble setting a clock on a VCR, and why do I have to press a display button to see time elapsed during playback, heaven forbid I should ask for a feature to give me total time of a movie on a DVD, so I can set Flexible Recording to copy it!,,, Which is the main feature I want to use this unit for, why I bought it.
I guess that's why this unit is discounted so deeply.
post #10 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by MikDee
My quote


What I meant was, it is not even a price issue, Funai can build a unit that is multi featured, simplistic, & user friendly, at probably even a lower price level. Why couldn't Panasonic? If I had to, I would rather pay the extra bucks to Panasonic for a model with comparable features that the panny is lacking! But, they don't even offer it, that's my gripe! I figured this unit would/should have had all these features as standard equipment, at this price level (it's original asking price) I wish they would take the hint, Jeez, this unit doesn't even have a (clock display), neither on or off, actually with it turned off there's no display?, and with it on, it either says (NodISC) or with a disc in, (SP 200) it looks like something a 5yr old who can't spell, would write. As a VCR replacement, it leaves alot to be desired. I am no techie, no novice either, but I feel bad for anyone with this unit, who even has trouble setting a clock on a VCR, and why do I have to press a display button to see time elapsed during playback, heaven forbid I should ask for a feature to give me total time of a movie on a DVD, so I can set Flexible Recording to copy it!,,, Which is the main feature I want to use this unit for, why I bought it.
I guess that's why this unit is discounted so deeply.
Do the Toshiba, Sony or Pioneer DVD recorders without a HDD have these features that you think the ES-20 should have? Is this a failing of just the ES-20, or are all the "major" DVD recorders the same? Are you unfairly picking on the ES-20, or is it the only "major" DVD recorder that lacks these features? Do you know?
post #11 of 26
MikDee,
My ES20 displays the time when it is off. I haven't looked if there is a way to make it display time when its on. Just a little FYI

Walt
post #12 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by MikDee
My quote

What I meant was, it is not even a price issue, Funai can build a unit that is multi featured, simplistic, & user friendly, at probably even a lower price level. Why couldn't Panasonic?
What you aren't taking into consideration is the balance between features and component reliability. Panasonic must hit a certain price point, yet still achieve enough reliability to produce limited in-warranty failures. Panasonic choses to skimp on certain features to achieve their goal. It's a philosophy that works because, overall, Panasonic units have proven that they can stand up to extended use.

Funai may chose to offer what you consider better features, but I'll bet a lot more Funai units will fail and be written off than Panasonics over a 5-year lifespan due to Funai's decision to go with cheap, minimum-standard components. And that is exactly the kind of decision that was at the heart of your rant about a disposable goods society. You can't be on both sides of the fence.
post #13 of 26
Thread Starter 
Walt, mine is an ES-20K black unit, don't know if there's any difference, but no the time display does not show atall, on, or off?

rgazarra, not sure about the other brand units, except for the Sylvania (funai)
haven't had them at home to know?

Jeffwld, I'm not on both sides of the fence, I bought the Sylvania DVDR because I had good service from Emerson/Sylvania products in the past, TV's, VCR's, even tho I knew the panny's would have one of the best PQ, Also,,, after much extensive research of reviews on my prefered brand Panasonic, and found quite a few reviews due to lack of what I consider important necessary features, & regarding macroblocking, & freezing up, on DVD's copied on a computer, and, or, during playback of new DVD movies with alot of sound, & action, which I experienced firsthand on my hardly used panny 2yr old RV-26 DVD player, (which had no such problem on the Sylvania), As I said, if the Sylvania was black, & had 3hr, or flex recording, I would put it right into my living room A/V cabinet, but after much procrastinating, I've decide to "bite the bullet" and try the Panasonic, and because I feel the Sylvania is pretty good, I may move it to the bedroom because I have no DVD player there, or I still may return it not sure yet? I bought the ES-20K to record movies primarily, played by my RV-26, but, I will be using it as a player also, because it has progressive scan, & the latest technology, BUT it is disappointing,
1) Because it has no DVD movie total time display to set record, or flex rec.,
2) No visible time display for my referencing to record
3) Fear of possible freezing up, skipping, & macroblocks, with playback of the same DVD's that had a problem on my panny RV-26 player
post #14 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by MikDee
...macroblocking, & freezing up, on DVD's copied on a computer, and, or, during playback of new DVD movies with alot of sound, & action, which I experienced firsthand on my hardly used panny 2yr old RV-26 DVD player, (which had no such problem on the Sylvania
You may have had your Panasonic RV-26 for 2 years, but that model was released in late 2001 and has ancient firmware compared to your Sylvania. The problems you are are experiencing are not the fault of the ES-20, but the vintage of the RV-26.

It's like trying to put carburetor cleaner in a fuel injection engine.
post #15 of 26
Thread Starter 
Quote:
You may have had your Panasonic RV-26 for 2 years, but that model was released in late 2001 and has ancient firmware compared to your Sylvania. The problems you are are experiencing are not the fault of the ES-20, but the vintage of the RV-26.
We''ll see Jeff, once I get a chance to try the suspect DVD in the ES-20 , (which happens to be a first generation movie copy off my computer)
post #16 of 26
Thread Starter 
Oh, and why is the ES-20 so Dyslectic as to require me to push enter in order to skip channels??? you can change channels with the remote channel button, But, if you punch in a channel number with the remote buttons, it's a no go,,, until you hit enter, and better do it quickly as the channel number is displayed onscreen, or else once the display dissappears, it won't work, and you'll have to start over again.
post #17 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by MikDee
Oh, and why is the ES-20 so Dyslectic as to require me to push enter in order to skip channels??? you can change channels with the remote channel button, But, if you punch in a channel number with the remote buttons, it's a no go,,, until you hit enter, and better do it quickly as the channel number is displayed onscreen, or else once the display dissappears, it won't work, and you'll have to start over again.
Just a FWIF, my Sony TV also requires pushing the "Enter" button when directly entering a channel number on the remote.

Mike
post #18 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by MikDee
Oh, and why is the ES-20 so Dyslectic as to require me to push enter in order to skip channels??? you can change channels with the remote channel button, But, if you punch in a channel number with the remote buttons, it's a no go,,, until you hit enter, and better do it quickly as the channel number is displayed onscreen, or else once the display dissappears, it won't work, and you'll have to start over again.
For some reason they are assuming a three-digit channel number. If you punch in 057 instead of 57, then you don't need to press enter. I am not sure why they designed it with three-digit priority, since not many cable systems have three-digit channels.

My Comcast DVR does the same thing, but at least the Comcast DVR has plenty of three-digit channels.
post #19 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by MikDee
If I had to, I would rather pay the extra bucks to Panasonic for a model with comparable features that the panny is lacking! But, they don't even offer it, that's my gripe! I figured this unit would/should have had all these features as standard equipment, at this price level (it's original asking price)
The ES20 has the fewest features compared to the previous Panasonic models (ES10), and judging from the press releases, the 2006 models (ES15/ES25) will have more features than the ES20. Although we do not know if anything has been removed until the manual is posted online.

The Pioneer 220/225 has a lot of advanced features and we will probably not see another non-HDD recorded with so many features. It may still be available from some retailers.


Quote:
I wish they would take the hint, Jeez, this unit doesn't even have a (clock display), neither on or off, actually with it turned off there's no display?, and with it on, it either says (NodISC) or with a disc in, (SP 200) it looks like something a 5yr old who can't spell, would write.
[EDITED]: When the ES20 is turned OFF, you can chose what is displayed. If you select Bright/Dim, it will always show the time. If you select "Automatic", it will not show anything when it is off. You can change this by pressing SETUP then select the Display option from the list (not the Display button), and then edit "Front Display". Apparently in the Panasonic world, "Automatic" means OFF! The user manual does a poor job of explaining this.

When it is turned ON, the front panel displays the remaining time if a disc is inserted, or OFF x:xx if you have an OTR recording in progress. It does not display the time. The clock display is a convenience, not a core feature.

Quote:
As a VCR replacement, it leaves alot to be desired. I am no techie, no novice either, but I feel bad for anyone with this unit, who even has trouble setting a clock on a VCR, and why do I have to press a display button to see time elapsed during playback, heaven forbid I should ask for a feature to give me total time of a movie on a DVD, so I can set Flexible Recording to copy it!,,, Which is the main feature I want to use this unit for, why I bought it.
I guess that's why this unit is discounted so deeply.
VCRs had dozens of years to mature as products. DVD recorders are still young comparatively and change every year, so that is to be expected.

If someone can't program a VCR, they are likely to struggle with DVD recorders and DVD formats. There is a big gap in usability between a TiVo and a DVD recorder in the eyes of the average non-technie consumer.

I have no clue why the ES20 did not provide the Remaining Time of a DVD. It is silly! It is such a simple feature that even my ancient Apex dvd player has. They should have added it with a firmware update.

But there are workarounds:

<u>For unfinalized discs</u>: If you TimeSlip, and press/hold the up arrow it will keep going until the end of the disc, so you can find out how long it is. Not pretty, but gets the job done.

<u>For finalized/commercial DVDs</u>, there is a different workaround: Go to the last chapter - the fastest way to do this is press 99 during playback. Most DVDs don't have 99 chapters so it always takes you to the last chapter. Once you are there, most chapters are around 5 minutes long, or if you want an accurate number, just FF through with the extended Display on (press Display twice).
post #20 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by MikDee
Also,,, after much extensive research of reviews on my prefered brand Panasonic, and found quite a few reviews due to lack of what I consider important necessary features, & regarding macroblocking, & freezing up, on DVD's copied on a computer, and, or, during playback of new DVD movies with alot of sound, & action, which I experienced firsthand on my hardly used panny 2yr old RV-26 DVD player, (which had no such problem on the Sylvania),

3) Fear of possible freezing up, skipping, & macroblocks, with playback of the same DVD's that had a problem on my panny RV-26 player
The LP mode on the new Panasonics is vulnerable to macroblocking because it uses full resolution - there is a price to pay for the additional resolution.

If macroblocking is an issue, a possible trade-off could be 4:20-4:40FR instead, or 3hrFR or better. Obviously this depends on individual picture quality preferences, TV size/quality, viewing distance, etc, etc, etc. Some people will barf at anything below XP :)
post #21 of 26
Thread Starter 
Quote:
[EDITED]: When the ES20 is turned OFF, you can chose what is displayed. If you select Bright/Dim, it will always show the time. If you select "Automatic", it will not show anything when it is off. You can change this by pressing SETUP then select the Display option from the list (not the Display button), and then edit "Front Display". Apparently in the Panasonic world, "Automatic" means OFF! The user manual does a poor job of explaining this
Thank You ncaahoops! Just tried that, and it works, I thought I had the 1 in a million unit that was defective. I had it set on auto. to conserve the units lcd display, who knew?

Quote:
For some reason they are assuming a three-digit channel number. If you punch in 057 instead of 57, then you don't need to press enter. I am not sure why they designed it with three-digit priority, since not many cable systems have three-digit channels.
And Yes, this works as you said also?

That's 2 perfect examples of why this unit is not very user friendly.

And finally, the PQ on this unit is not as sharp as I expected, my previous & present panny TV's, & VCR's, actually appear sharper. It doesn't matter if it's the ES-20K tuner, or thru the composite outputs, or while playing a new DVD movie, (actually my older RV-26 panny player appears sharper? even without progressive scan, but with a component connection). All of the ES-20K modes appear to have a softer PQ? is that possibly because of the new LSI chipset? haven't setup component A/V yet to try progressive scan, although I don't have a Hi Def TV set, but mine does produce a beautiful sharp pic.
post #22 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by MikDee
All of the ES-20K modes appear to have a softer PQ? is that possibly because of the new LSI chipset? haven't setup component A/V yet to try progressive scan, although I don't have a Hi Def TV set, but mine does produce a beautiful sharp pic.
MikDee, am I correct in thinking that your picture quality impressions are with the ES-20K connected to your TV via composite or S-video? I am interested to hear any user impressions of tuner/picture quality with it connected using component cables.
post #23 of 26
Thread Starter 
Presently only composite snapper, By the way, after further testing it seems to be only the tuner PQ that is a little lacking, DVD play, & record PQ do seem quite Good!
post #24 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by MikDee
And finally, the PQ on this unit is not as sharp as I expected, my previous & present panny TV's, & VCR's, actually appear sharper. It doesn't matter if it's the ES-20K tuner, or thru the composite outputs, or while playing a new DVD movie, (actually my older RV-26 panny player appears sharper? even without progressive scan, but with a component connection). All of the ES-20K modes appear to have a softer PQ? is that possibly because of the new LSI chipset? haven't setup component A/V yet to try progressive scan, although I don't have a Hi Def TV set, but mine does produce a beautiful sharp pic.
I don't know if you tried them, but there are a couple of things to tweak for picture quality: For recording, you can set the inputs to either darker or lighter. For Line-Inputs you can set Noise Reduction to On/Off. For output, you can select darker or lighter. For playback, you can you chose either Normal or Cinema (darker) mode. This produces a few combinations, but I dont know if they would make a significant difference with sharpness.

My setup is very basic with an ancient TV and such so I don't usually notice differences unless they are dramatic.
post #25 of 26
I agreed that the tuner could be better. My S-VHS recorder provides a better picture when I use it to just watch TV, compared to the ES20. However when I record a disc, it looks cleaner than what the tuner alone displayed. So I'm presuming the noise reduction must be doing its job. I have not tried recording with NR turned off.

The ES20 does have a better tuner than my old Sony XBR CRT TV. Also, a recording on the ES20 at 4 hour LP mode looks better than my S-VHS at 2 hour SP. Cleaner & more detail. So I'm happy with PQ. I am playing the S-VHS thru composite and the ES20 thru S-Video as my TV only has one S-Video input, so this may make a difference. Further experimentation is obviously needed. I'll also have to compare 6 hour modes from both machines. But for now I am watching a better recorded picture than I have been used to watching.

Mike
post #26 of 26
Thread Starter 
Thanks ncaahoops, Yes, I have played around with all those settings, presently I'm just using them all on default, they're fine, until I finally install it within my A/V cabinet. As I said the tuner is not quite as good as my panny 36"CRT TV, nor my panny HiFi Stereo VCR, so recording from it is a slight disadvantage,,, But, from any source, recording, & playback is Pristine! I doubt there is anything better out there, I am extremely pleased! By the way, can anyone tell me the optimum audio settings, it is confusing, Dolby Digital, DTS, PCM, bitstream, 96-48Hz??? I have a Kenwood Dolby Pro Logic 1 reciever, with 3front, & 2 rear speakers.
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