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Panasonic DMR-EH55 User Review and Questions

post #1 of 881
Thread Starter 
Hello all,
After lurking here for a while searching for info on HDDVRs, I finally settled on the Panny DMR-EH55.
Being new to the DVD recorder arena, I have a few questions and will try to offer opinions on this box. I will try to answer any questions if anyone has any.
First off why I chose this box. Well, truthfully between the Pio 640-h and this one, it was a toss up. My recording needs are simple. Lots of cooking channel shows and the occassional sci fi channel offering. Since the Panny showed up at my dealer first, I grabed it. LOL Actually though since I probably will have to use the remote that comes with the unit (too complicated to try to use my universal with it), Panny does have a good reputation for more user friendly remotes. That may have tipped the scales slightly.

Ok, first impressions. Well, not much since I am currently trying to download the infamous and much discussed TVGOS. I decided to give that a try first. Not expecting miracles since I have Motorola 3412 from Comspazz, errr Comcast. This may be interesting though. The setup does ask whether you have a digital cable box. So maybe they have made improvements in the TVGOS. Those of you who have used the earlier version of this box or the TVGOS would know better than me.

Now for a question. The box is doing its setup thing right now and cycling through each channel. Does it get guide info from each channel? Or is it looking for the one channel where the EPG guide info is?

I ask this because even though I know that it gets EPG info when unit is in standby (ie turned off), it will switch channels. But does it cycle through each and every channel periodically, or simply switch to channel that pumps it the EPG info?

So, thats it for now. Will see what happens tomorrow (or later tonite. HEE HEE).
post #2 of 881
Congratulations on your purchase and thanks for offering your review/Q&A!

I could be wrong but I think the guide data are transmitted in specific channels, not one per channel. I know the timestamp is on PBS, not sure if the guide data is there as well.
post #3 of 881
In the past TVGOS got their info from one channel. I haven't heard anything about them changing this, so I'll assume for now that it's still the same.

Yes - your channels changing mean that it's searching for the host channel, and I'm pretty sure it will do this all the time, unless you leave your box on it when you stop watching. The station that it's on when you go to turn it on later, after it's been found should be the station I'm guessing, but I'm not too sure on that, as I've never had your type of setup before (digital cable box). There is a way to get into the menu to find out your local host channel. It's usually a local PBS station. I'm not sure of how to access the menu in the new Panny models, but it should be similar to the older ones. I can post this if you'd like.

Also, I thought that you had to leave the cable box on for the DVR to pick up the host channel info, but they may have changed this. It should tell you that specifically in the manual, I would think.

Good luck.
post #4 of 881
Thread Starter 
Yes Hoopster,
The EPG is usually on pbs "for analog cable". However, the problem here is that I am using a digital cable box which no longer has ANY analog channels. And the problem has been that the cable companies have not been passing the EPG data through on any of their digital channels. At least thats what I understand. Right now the dvd recorder is diligently searching the digital channels for EPG info, but I dont think it will find any. 900 or so channels to search.

I talked to the panny support guy and he doesnt think it will find anything either. Comcast is clueless as to EPG and digital channels. I will probably end up going manual in order to record digital channels.

Rammy,

Sry to confuse you, but, yes the dvd recorder has to be in standby (off) nad the cable box has to be on in order to get EPG info. That is what I have going on now. Sry if I wasnt clear.
post #5 of 881
Quote:
Originally Posted by smackbottom View Post

Yes Hoopster,
The EPG is usually on pbs "for analog cable". However, the problem here is that I am using a digital cable box which no longer has ANY analog channels. And the problem has been that the cable companies have not been passing the EPG data through on any of their digital channels. At least thats what I understand. Right now the dvd recorder is diligently searching the digital channels for EPG info, but I dont think it will find any. 900 or so channels to search.

I talked to the panny support guy and he doesnt think it will find anything either. Comcast is clueless as to EPG and digital channels. I will probably end up going manual in order to record digital channels.

Rammy,

Sry to confuse you, but, yes the dvd recorder has to be in standby (off) nad the cable box has to be on in order to get EPG info. That is what I have going on now. Sry if I wasnt clear.

It's been reported here frequently by many posters, that the TVGOS does not work with digital cable boxes. So I don't think you will get any guide info over the digital box.
You should however, still get analog channel listings, if you split the cable wire from wall, sending one line directly to the recorder, and a separate line to the digital box. You can then record analog channels while watching a different channel over the digital box.

Cable from wall into splitter...
One line to recorder
one line to digital box
S-Video and audio cables from digital box out to recorder (when you wish to record a digital channel you will do so over the recorders' line input channels L1, L2, or L3)
2nd S-Video and audio cables from digital box out to tv inputs-to watch digital cable without going thru the recorder...
S-Video and audio cables (or plain jane video-audio cables) from recorder out to tv 2nd inputs...to view recorder's tuner on the tv.
post #6 of 881
If you get a chance try a recording in the LP mode and see how it compares to the EH50 video quality wise. I mostly record reality shows. I don't want to have 15-30 DVD's of a season. I put about 4-5 episodes of a 1 hour show with the commercials cut out (42-43 Minutes after editing) on my Panny EH50 using LP setting. This is the deal breaker for me between the new Panny and Pioneer. The one that produces the best video quality at longer recording speeds is the one I am going with.
post #7 of 881
I have this machine and so far the TV Guide works well. It missed a few channels but it got almost all of the 200+ channels I get from my Cable company and that is straight from the box with no RF connection to the DVD recorder.
post #8 of 881
smackbottom,

Thanks for offering as our guinea pig!!!! I too have been waiting for this Panny unit to hit the shelves.

I am curious how this unit handles recordings/dubbings from the HDD in the 3 to 3 1/2 hour range using a DL DVD. I understand the DMR 15/25 require you to split the recording into two separate recordings - one recording for the first layer and a second recording for the second layer. Does this unit require to do this as well.

In reading most of the posts about this unit, the DL ability hasn't been discussed yet...can you give us some insight.

Thanks
post #9 of 881
Quote:
Originally Posted by owl1234 View Post

I have this machine and so far the TV Guide works well. It missed a few channels but it got almost all of the 200+ channels I get from my Cable company and that is straight from the box with no RF connection to the DVD recorder.


OWL1234,
Be good enough to give us some more info such as the name of your Cable company and what City and State your located in,

THANKS
post #10 of 881
Thread Starter 
Hello All,
Ok, here is where I am today.
Will try to answer as many questions as possible. Just remember this my first HDDVR and the manuals tend to be clear as mud. They tell you what to do but I like to know why and how things go together, so I will be trying other things to get more familiar with the box.

1. Westly-C
Quote:


It's been reported here frequently by many posters, that the TVGOS does not work with digital cable boxes. So I don't think you will get any guide info over the digital box.
You should however, still get analog channel listings, if you split the cable wire from wall, sending one line directly to the recorder, and a separate line to the digital box. You can then record analog channels while watching a different channel over the digital box.

Cable from wall into splitter...
One line to recorder
one line to digital box
S-Video and audio cables from digital box out to recorder (when you wish to record a digital channel you will do so over the recorders' line input channels L1, L2, or L3)
2nd S-Video and audio cables from digital box out to tv inputs-to watch digital cable without going thru the recorder...
S-Video and audio cables (or plain jane video-audio cables) from recorder out to tv 2nd inputs...to view recorder's tuner on the tv.

This is the setup I have resorted to at this point. I have manually recorded from the cable box successfully. Am using input1 from DVR at this moment. But, want to try switching again to input 3 to see if I can get irblaster to change to channel I want to record. Don't know if this possible since ir blaster wants to use tvgos thru cable box in order to work.

2. Ripper64
Cant compare anything to EH50 since I have never owned one. smile. sry

3. Owl1234
Are using a digital high definition cable box? Mine is the Motorola 3412 which is ALL digital now. There were analog channels being pumped through until about a month ago when they went purely digital.

4. tleipelt
Yes according to what I have read so far the same thing is required for dual discs.

And now for my and questions.

Something in their manual confuses me. It says that no video or audio is passed thru the rf cable from the dvr rf out. But practically every setup has the rf out being connected to the TV or vcr or cable box as well as the usual video and audio cables. Why would this be necessary?

Also, although is not related to what I am trying right now, but is related to statement above ,does anyone know why an rf modulator is needed when the tv has no audio/video inputs? This the same for other model setups I have seen and I am curious as to what that accomplishes.

Anyway, I shall solder (err soldier) on. Thanks for your input.
post #11 of 881
Quote:


Something in their manual confuses me. It says that no video or audio is passed thru the rf cable from the dvr rf out. But practically every setup has the rf out being connected to the TV or vcr or cable box as well as the usual video and audio cables. Why would this be necessary?

Allows you to connect the cable box downstream of the recorder without having to use a splitter (which reduces the signal to both the cable box and the recorder). Also, RF passthrough allows downstream devices such as TVs and VCRs with analog tuners to receive the analog off-the-air or cable signals so they can be tuned independent of the recorder.
post #12 of 881
Can you please check the Dual Layer Disc Recording again.

Because from what I understand on Panny models WITHOUT a HDD you have to CLOSE the 1st layer before you can record to the 2nd layer but on the EH75V with a HDD it says that you CANNOT RECORD DIRECTLY TO A DL DISC.

Instead you record directly to the HDD & then you can copy it from the HDD to a DL Disc & it will record from layer 1 to layer 2 without having to CLOSE the 1st layer like you have to do on the units without a HDD.

When playing back a DL Disc on either type of recorder they will keep playing from layer 1 to layer 2 without stopping (May be a slight pause on some players) just like a store bought dvd plays.
post #13 of 881
Quote:
Originally Posted by smackbottom View Post

Also, although is not related to what I am trying right now, but is related to statement above ,does anyone know why an rf modulator is needed when the tv has no audio/video inputs? This the same for other model setups I have seen and I am curious as to what that accomplishes.

The only viewable output from a DVD recorder is an analog signal from the composite, s-video, oe component outputs. None of these outputs an RF signal. Therefore if you have a TV without analog inputs, and only RF input, then you need an RF modulator (set to channel 3 or 4) in order to view the output. This is also the same for all DVD players. In this case, you can use a VHS tape recorder to modulate the signal.
post #14 of 881
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill1313 View Post

Can you please check the Dual Layer Disc Recording again.

Because from what I understand on Panny models WITHOUT a HDD you have to CLOSE the 1st layer before you can record to the 2nd layer but on the EH75V with a HDD it says that you CANNOT RECORD DIRECTLY TO A DL DISC.

Instead you record directly to the HDD & then you can copy it from the HDD to a DL Disc & it will record from layer 1 to layer 2 without having to CLOSE the 1st layer like you have to do on the units without a HDD.

When playing back a DL Disc on either type of recorder they will keep playing from layer 1 to layer 2 without stopping (May be a slight pause on some players) just like a store bought dvd plays.


You are correct. This model can't record DL disc directly. You need to copy to the HDD first than burn to a DL disc.
post #15 of 881
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill1313 View Post

Can you please check the Dual Layer Disc Recording again.

Because from what I understand on Panny models WITHOUT a HDD you have to CLOSE the 1st layer before you can record to the 2nd layer but on the EH75V with a HDD it says that you CANNOT RECORD DIRECTLY TO A DL DISC.

Instead you record directly to the HDD & then you can copy it from the HDD to a DL Disc & it will record from layer 1 to layer 2 without having to CLOSE the 1st layer like you have to do on the units without a HDD.

When playing back a DL Disc on either type of recorder they will keep playing from layer 1 to layer 2 without stopping (May be a slight pause on some players) just like a store bought dvd plays.

My question about this recording from HDD to dual layer is this: how does it handle this? Does it record a 3.5 hr show (say using SP quality) as one single title and seemlessly (other than layer change pause on playback of course) spans it across both layers of the DL disc? Or does it somehow invisibly record till the first layer is full, then close that layer, then continue where it left off and record to the second layer thereby creating two titles (for the one show). Now if it creates two titles, during playback a dvd player probably will just start playing the second title right following the first so it will be similar to experiencing a layer change pause.

I hope people with the e55 or e75 follow what I', trying to get across, haha. Thx.
post #16 of 881
Also, how loud is this thing? Is the hard drive running all the time due to having to download TV Guide data? I think they should scrap the TV Guide like Pioneer did but the Pioneer doesn't have DV input. Ugh. Seems like a lot of extra wear and tear on the harddrive as well as extra noise from it whirring away.
post #17 of 881
Another question about the eh55/75.

If you record something to the HDD you can later high speed dub it to a DVD blank. What about if you do some editing of the program while it is on the HDD, like say removing commercials, shortening, etc. Then can you still high-speed dub it to a DVD blank? I've read that on another brand (LG? can't remember), that if you edit a title then you can then only real-time record it to blank DVD (which sucks).

I took back my Panny es-15 due to freezing problem and unresponsive to remote commands. Apparnetly there is a firmware upgrade for all the new Panny's due to this issue. Have any eh 75/55 owners experienced this or upgraded with the firmware file (from Panny's website?

Anyways, from the time that I did have the es-15 I realized (like I read everyone saying even before I bought it, haha) that once you use a DVD recorder you will wish you had one with a HDD. So now am thinking of getting one with a HDD. I'd like to try the EH-55 but I think I will wait awhile to make sure I get one from the factory that already has the upgraded firmware. The new Pioneer has no DV input which I want and the Panny has the TV Guide which I DON"T want. Difficult!
post #18 of 881
Quote:
Originally Posted by ZZen View Post

Another question about the eh55/75.

If you record something to the HDD you can later high speed dub it to a DVD blank. What about if you do some editing of the program while it is on the HDD, like say removing commercials, shortening, etc. Then can you still high-speed dub it to a DVD blank? I've read that on another brand (LG? can't remember), that if you edit a title then you can then only real-time record it to blank DVD (which sucks).

I took back my Panny es-15 due to freezing problem and unresponsive to remote commands. Apparnetly there is a firmware upgrade for all the new Panny's due to this issue. Have any eh 75/55 owners experienced this or upgraded with the firmware file (from Panny's website?

Anyways, from the time that I did have the es-15 I realized (like I read everyone saying even before I bought it, haha) that once you use a DVD recorder you will wish you had one with a HDD. So now am thinking of getting one with a HDD. I'd like to try the EH-55 but I think I will wait awhile to make sure I get one from the factory that already has the upgraded firmware. The new Pioneer has no DV input which I want and the Panny has the TV Guide which I DON"T want. Difficult!

I had the remote freezing issue with my ES25, before I returned it, but the firmware upgrade seemed to fix it. I now have the EH75 and have already applied the latest firmware for this and don't have any freezing issues.

As for the highspeed copying, I have shortened one of my harddrive recording and it still allows me to make a high speed copy. I haven't actually done the copy yet, but it gives me the option to. The reason I haven't done it yet is because I can't figure out if Panasonic allows for automatic chapter marks, when making a recording. From what I can tell, it doesn't, as I haven't found any option to do it. If it doesn't this is a glaring an big ommission IMO.
post #19 of 881
Thanks for the info Chuck.

So the firmware fix did work for the es-25? You returned it for another reason (to step up the the eh75?).

Regarding the chapter marks. I remember on my es-15 that it made automatic chapter marks not while recording to the disc but only later when you eventually finalize it. After finalizing it then the chapters were there (every 5 min or so). Does the 75 not do that? I guess when you have the program on the HDD then you are able to edit and put chapters whereever you want to, then record it like that to dvd. But if I don't want to manually put chapters all the way through, can't I record form HDD to DVD and have it automatically put chapter marks in every 5 min? I think that is what you are getting at right? If you can't do that, then maybe auto chapter marks (upon finalizng to dvd-r discs) are only used when you record the program straight onto the dvd disc without using the HDD. That would be a strange omission.
post #20 of 881
Quote:
Originally Posted by ZZen View Post

Also, how loud is this thing? Is the hard drive running all the time due to having to download TV Guide data? I think they should scrap the TV Guide like Pioneer did but the Pioneer doesn't have DV input. Ugh. Seems like a lot of extra wear and tear on the harddrive as well as extra noise from it whirring away.

The Panasonics (and all the other DVD recorders with TVGOS, AFAIK) store the TVGOS on flash memory. There is no HDD noise during download because the HDD is not used. Pioneer is the only brand that stored the TVGOS on the HDD...hence the problem.

The TVGOS works well (not perfectly, but well) on the Panasonics.
post #21 of 881
Quote:
Originally Posted by ZZen View Post

Thanks for the info Chuck.

So the firmware fix did work for the es-25? You returned it for another reason (to step up the the eh75?).

Regarding the chapter marks. I remember on my es-15 that it made automatic chapter marks not while recording to the disc but only later when you eventually finalize it. After finalizing it then the chapters were there (every 5 min or so). Does the 75 not do that? I guess when you have the program on the HDD then you are able to edit and put chapters whereever you want to, then record it like that to dvd. But if I don't want to manually put chapters all the way through, can't I record form HDD to DVD and have it automatically put chapter marks in every 5 min? I think that is what you are getting at right? If you can't do that, then maybe auto chapter marks (upon finalizng to dvd-r discs) are only used when you record the program straight onto the dvd disc without using the HDD. That would be a strange omission.

Unfortunately, for all the good things the EH75 has, this is a VERy annoying ommission. I just made a copy of an old VHS tape to HDD then to DVD, using the highspeed copy(I shortened the recording so it does allow HS copying after an edit), and no automatic chapter marks.
post #22 of 881
Quote:
Originally Posted by ZZen

Thanks for the info Chuck.

So the firmware fix did work for the es-25? You returned it for another reason (to step up the the eh75?).

Regarding the chapter marks. I remember on my es-15 that it made automatic chapter marks not while recording to the disc but only later when you eventually finalize it. After finalizing it then the chapters were there (every 5 min or so). Does the 75 not do that? I guess when you have the program on the HDD then you are able to edit and put chapters whereever you want to, then record it like that to dvd. But if I don't want to manually put chapters all the way through, can't I record form HDD to DVD and have it automatically put chapter marks in every 5 min? I think that is what you are getting at right? If you can't do that, then maybe auto chapter marks (upon finalizng to dvd-r discs) are only used when you record the program straight onto the dvd disc without using the HDD. That would be a strange omission.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Chuck_IV View Post

Unfortunately, for all the good things the EH75 has, this is a VERy annoying ommission. I just made a copy of an old VHS tape to HDD then to DVD, using the highspeed copy(I shortened the recording so it does allow HS copying after an edit), and no automatic chapter marks.

Only after a real time dub from hdd to disc, or a recording made directly to disc, will chapters be automatically added every 5 mins after you finalize it.
post #23 of 881
That's one of the reasons I generally dub from HDD to RAM then convert the RAM to DVD-R using a third party PC program called TMPGenc DVD Author, which can add AUTO or custom chapter stops. I use the TDA, primarily though, because I like to add custom menus and it supports vr mode discs natively so there is no re-encoding involved during the authoring process in converting it to DVD-R.

I agree the lack of auto chapter stops option during HS dubbing is annoying, however, Panny opted for letting the use place custom chapter stops on the source program (hdd) prior to dubbing>so if you want to place custom chapter stops every 5 or 10 minutes, scan through the recording using the time slip feature to place chapter stops yourself, it should take all of five minutes. The chapter stops will transfer to disc during the HS dub. A hassle, but at least you'll get chapter stops.
post #24 of 881
As vferrari and Westy stated:

On the E80, the auto chapter marks were automatically inserted if you did a real-time dub from HDD to DVD. If you did a high speed dub, you had to put them in manually. Typically, I would just put in chapter points every 10 minutes by using the Time Slip button.

Try doing a real-time dub and I bet they will be inserted automatically every 5 minutes or so.
post #25 of 881
Quote:
Originally Posted by MorrisonHiker View Post

As vferrari and Westy stated:

On the E80, the auto chapter marks were automatically inserted if you did a real-time dub from HDD to DVD. If you did a high speed dub, you had to put them in manually. Typically, I would just put in chapter points every 10 minutes by using the Time Slip button.

Try doing a real-time dub and I bet they will be inserted automatically every 5 minutes or so.

I just don't have the patients to wait for the 4 hr VCR tape to copy to the HD and another 4 hr's to burn it to the DVD(since I do editing).

I'll try the timeslip button and insert my own chapter marks then.

Thanx for the info all.
post #26 of 881
Getting back to the TVGOS issue, the setup of the EH55 asks if you subscribe to digital cable. I realize the tvgos data is on an analog channel, but why would they ask this if it wont pick up the data over digital. Also the connections in the manual for recorder and cable box go like this: rf to recorder, then to cable, then to tv, with composite from cable box to in3 on recorder. It also states that the composite to in3 is necessary for tvgos to work (as is the ir blaster). I havent had much luck getting the tvgos to download with this setup (tonight will be my first 24 hour period though). Just my 2 cents. What a pain.
post #27 of 881
Quote:
Originally Posted by steve1214 View Post

It also states that the composite to in3 is necessary for tvgos to work (as is the ir blaster).

Hmm, I have the EH75 and I don't recall it saying specifically that the composite connection must be used(I'd rather use SVideo).

I've not received any guide data, but I don't have the IR Blaster set up right now.
post #28 of 881
"composite and/or svideo" - sorry chuck
post #29 of 881
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by steve1214 View Post

Getting back to the TVGOS issue, the setup of the EH55 asks if you subscribe to digital cable. I realize the tvgos data is on an analog channel, but why would they ask this if it wont pick up the data over digital. Also the connections in the manual for recorder and cable box go like this: rf to recorder, then to cable, then to tv, with composite from cable box to in3 on recorder. It also states that the composite to in3 is necessary for tvgos to work (as is the ir blaster). I havent had much luck getting the tvgos to download with this setup (tonight will be my first 24 hour period though). Just my 2 cents. What a pain.


steve1214 , I got the TVGOS WORKING!!! Here is what happened. I called panasonic again and talked to a different person. The info you get varies with every call. This person assured me that the guide would work and if not they would priority refer me to TVGOS to handle the problem. She said that even though I have a digital box the regular (non hd and digital BROADCASTS) are still analog . They are just being sent digitally. It made sense in light of things I have read lately.

Anyway, to male a long story short, I decided to try again. With these exceptions.

1. I split the rf cable with one going into the dvr and the other going into the cable box.

2. When selecting "cable with box" I also selected antenna as instructed in the manual. I hadnt done this the first time.

I let it go and by morning TVGOS was fully loaded. The box even tells you what time next update will be.

It seems to get its info from channel 99 which is the PBS channel in canada!! LOL
I am in Seattle. So it makes sense.

I will keep updating as I learn more. Will also be buying a few DL discs so I can test some of those other questions. Wish me luck.
post #30 of 881
Thread Starter 
PS steve 1214

You must plug svideo or video/audio cables into in3. The component on the dvr is for output only. Its a better picture option for those that have it.
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