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Yet Another Panasonic ES15 Review...  

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
I'm finally getting back to add my observations.

My source is a Cablevision-provided Scientific Atlanta Explorer 8300HD (Hi-Def with Hard Drive) cablebox, connected to the Panasonic ES15 via the SA-dedicated 'Copy-To-VCR' output connectors using S-Video + Audio.

The monitor here is a JVC LT-40FH96, which is a 40" 2-Megapixel (1920x1080) LCD display which upconverts to 1080P output.

The ES15 is connected to the JVC TV via Component.
[The ES15 replaces the ES20, which is waiting to be moved to a different room]

(BTW, - The JVC LCD is HIGHLY recommended.)

Any comparisons are from the 'new' Panasonic ES15 to the 'old' predecessor Panasonic ES-20.

Many Thanks to MrRetroGamer, kents, SimonBelmont, ncaahoops, et al, for their salient posts; also thumbs up to bobkart, vferrari, kelson, et al. They collectively dig a bit deeper (and ask/answer solid questions) to all our benefit.

I'll just add a few more comments here, mostly responses:
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

"MrRetroGamer:
Remote seems to be slightly redesigned - larger fonts/numbers on keys. Keys seem to be identified easily and placement is good."

Agreed.
I still miss the 'Eject' on the remote!


"MrRetroGamer:
If they have properly dealt with the signal RF noise problem, they might have a winner! So far I do NOT detect RF interference on TV passthru or recording like I did from the ES20. This is GOOD!"

I also experienced RFI video noise with the ES20, albeit occasionally, sporadically, and seemingly indiscriminately. Video was sometimes blurry/animated, but mostly just the live feed thru the cablebox menu. I believed it might have bled thru to the recorded program, but did it? Recorded images did not take on the 'buzzy' and animated sine-wave modulated images of the menu. Very Odd and unresolved with the ES20.

I changed cables, moved cables, right-angled cables, left-angled cables, to no avail with the ES20. The ES20 was persistently inconsistent re RFI noise. Perhaps this was close proximity RFI from the cablebox, or from the refrigerator compressor motor, microwave, TV, the audio amplifiers?? Heck, Amityville is but a half-hour drive from here... WooBuzzWooo...
(Hmmm/ whooshhhh - perhaps the fan in the ES20???)

No Matter:
The ES15 exhibits NO RFI noise. NONE. NaDa. Kudos to Panasonic for shielding this ES15 deck the way the ES20 should have been. Dead Quiet video.


"MrRetroGamer:
Initial observations indcate proper audio sync when played back on other equipment, which is good like ES20. I don't like watching TV recorded like bad Kung-Fu movies!"

My ES20 never exhibited this anomaly, but occasionally our Cable Box sure did.
I'd guess it was your source feed.


"kents:
…I'm not ready to draw any conclusions, but the implication is that the new model is more efficient with its VBR recording. The ES15 still claims 500 line resolution in LP (4 hour) mode."

Yes, the ES15 makes an Excellent recording in the LP/4-Hr mode, as did/does the ES20. I believe the ES15 is a bit more noise-free, but I offer no more than my subjective opinion.

[An A/B comparison of the same ES20 / ES15 recording at the same recording speed cannot be instantaneous; therefore the subjective evaluation, as such, is suspect to the viewed playback lag.]

I'm very pleased with what I've thrown it at LP.
LP recordings are Excellent; SP and XP recordings are superlative.


"kents:
- One thing thats BUGGING THE CRAP out of me - the new ES15 remote doesn't have a tray open (Eject) button, you gotta use the console button to eject. Sure, you have to go to the unit anyway, but it changes the way I work. "

Agreed. I got used to using the Eject on the remote as a 'reset'/'re-read the disk'. It changes the way I work too.


"kents:
- there are several UI changes in the menu and front panel with the 15 showing more info, such as the % complete on finalizing certain disk formats."

Yes, a welcome addition. As a bonus, the ES15 finalizes faster than the ES20.


"Ncaahoops:
* When you Open/Close the tray of a recorded disc that has not been finalized, you get a screen that asks you if you want to finalize. The bizareness of it is that you press RECORD (!) to finalize! What genius thought of that? :-) The manual is not very clear on how to quickly ignore that message."
"The only thing I can think of that could be a nuisance with the ES15 is whether the auto-Finalize screen can be discarded quickly when removing unfinalized DVDs..."

Oddly enough, ncaahoops, I find this works rather well!
Push 'Open/Close' once on the deck, and it asks you if you want to Finalize. Push 'Open/Close' a second time and the disk ejects :)
IMO, that's a pretty easy override...

...If you KNOW that you've recorded all the data you planned to on that disk, just push REC on the deck as above and it takes you right to the Finalize screen, which saves you from going into the Disk Management menu via the Functions button on the remote and to it's bore-down-to-the-Finalization menu. This is a quick and easy way for both the tyros and the more experienced users to Finalize a disk.


"Bill1313:
Thanks ncaahoops, And lets hope they fixed the "PAUSE" issue with the "FR" Recording Mode because to me that will be a big issue when people ask me what to buy."

Already confirmed here; Pause works in FR mode :)
Additionally, when Paused, both a pop-up on the TV appears, and the 'Brighter Red' REC lamp on the ES15 display (ref to a dimmer/smaller indicator lamp on the ES20 display) located on the ES15 console flashes.


"Simon Belmont:
...One last thing I find annoying is that you don't get a sign that the recorder is "paused" unless you want to leave the "status" on display at all times."

See above- 'Additionally, when Paused, both a pop-up on the TV appears, and the Bright Red REC lamp on the ES15 console flashes.'


Mechanical: The ES15 is quite different mechanically from the ES20. The ES15 is NOT an 'updated' ES20:
- Different Drive
- Different connector layout on rear of unit.
- Quicker responses to user inputs.

I'd like to pull the covers off both ES20 and ES15, but I'll leave that for someone else...

In summary: In my opinion the Panasonic DMR-ES15 is an Excellent DVD Recorder at a bargain price.
post #2 of 10
Thread Starter 
The big news is that the 3 'coasters' I had which were recorded on, but would not Finalize on, the ES20 (one Taiyo Yuden, one TDK Taiwan and one Sony Taiwan, all with the last recording in FR mode to fill the disk), have Successfully Finalized On The DMR-ES15.

That now makes 100% finalization of all disks I've recorded (!)

The ES15 has found 'more' recording space on all the in-process disks I recorded on the ES20.
That is, 3hrs recorded at LP on the ES20 shows 1 hr remaining. I put that same disk in the ES15, and it reports typically 1 hr and 9 minutes remaining. I believe this is why those disks that wouldn't finalize on the ES20 are now able to be finalized on the ES15 - i.e., the ES15 makes more efficient use of, or 'saves', some smidge of recording space to allow Finalization.
post #3 of 10
Great report on the ES15! This bodes very well for the 2006 Panasonic models as it looks like they have made improvements and fixed some of their 2005 model bugs!

Did you try any FR mode recordings that start before midnight and end after midnight? This was an ES20 bug since it always recorded at the worse possible quality (8hrEP) regardless of the FR duration.
post #4 of 10
Quote:
the Bright Red REC lamp on the ES15 console flashes.'
Excellent Observation. Being that I complained about the es20 not having some animation when paused, I'm surprised I didn't notice. It's as though they were listening to some of our complaints. jfroth1, Thanks for mentioning my name among some great people on this forum.

This unit does finalize fast. There is almost no time when a title is stopped.
post #5 of 10
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ncaahoops
Great report on the ES15! This bodes very well for the 2006 Panasonic models as it looks like they have made improvements and fixed some of their 2005 model bugs!
Thanks ncaahoops. The ES15 is an Excellent recorder.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ncaahoops
Did you try any FR mode recordings that start before midnight and end after midnight? This was an ES20 bug since it always recorded at the worse possible quality (8hrEP) regardless of the FR duration.
No, I preset the record speed (usually LP) and I record from the SA8300HD 'on-the-fly' to the ES15 by synching them simultaneously.


But I tried this: (I'll try to type/describe this correctly; bear with me):

I want to record two movies in the Same Day on the same blank off my cablebox harddrive, consisting of first a 3-hour movie, and then add a 2-hour movie, with the result to maximize picture quality at ~LP-speed for both movies, and utilize the maximum recording space.

So I load a blank DVD-R, and I do NOT remove it during this test, and set the Timer to record a 1 and 1/2 hour recording from Line / IN1, let's say seven hours from now, i.e., in the near future. I am hoping/assume the ES15 takes this extra recording 'room' into account for this DVD blank.

That 'should' leave 1.5 hours open after recording my 3-hour movie at FR.

It didn't.

My 3-hour movie filled the disk (Yes, filled it) even though I had the timer programmed for a 1.5 hour movie while the 'eject' was never pushed. I assumed that the ES15 would 'see' the 1.5 hour blank space for the movie #2 allocated in the future, and leave 2.5 hrs at FR for me to record the 3-hour movie at FR.

Oh well, blanks are inexpensive.
post #6 of 10
jfroth - I would expect the recorder to use whatever speed is assigned in the schedule window, versus the machine examining all the scheduled content and trying to fit it.

There is a FR option when scheduling which I've not messed around with. Here, I would presume that it uses FR for the duration of the one single scheduled event.
post #7 of 10
From my limited experience with multiple Timer recordings including FR, FR seems to fill up the DVD for the current recording as you mentioned, and it does not try to accomodate any of the upcoming recordings.

It may be a good idea for Panasonic to create two different Timer FR modes:
* One would fill-up a DVD with a single recording (just like they do now)
* The another: accomodate multiple timer recordings on a single DVD, eg get one day's worth of programs on a DVD. With the current setup we only have the option to specify the last program as FR, since FR would fill up the DVD.
post #8 of 10
As I consider it ncaahoops comments, we sort of have a manual way of doing that if you specify a fixed bitrate for all programs except the final scheduled program which would then be set to FR.

That way you can expect the disc to be full at the end of the day, and decide which bitrate to use for the other programs for yourself to get close to the quality desired.
post #9 of 10
Quote:
With the current setup we only have the option to specify the last program as FR, since FR would fill up the DVD.
This is an issue that is prevalent to my older DMR-E30 also. It would also be nice to have some "preset" speeds like 2hr 20min FR (this is the most common time I use because it allows 6 typical comedy episodes with 5 min of space left for extra room on the disc.
post #10 of 10
I agree - they should add more recording modes between SP and LP, since that gives us more flexibility... Pioneer's MN-32 is a great implementation of such a feature.
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