Seeker47 posted: Can you provide contact info for this person ? (Not just the general email address.)
His name is Mark Passmore. He did not give me an email address, and I only have the main Pioneer number, but maybe you can get through to him. He called me because I had written a letter to the COO of PNA, Tom Haga, complaining about the lack of a firmware upgrade to handle the faster media. Passmore said they're working on it, but I shouldn't hold my breath, because it's a low priority, especially since they're pulling out of this market in North America altogether. I have stocked up on Verbatim 8x media. I'll look into getting a spare burner as well. I don't see any other machines out there as good as my PRV 9200, and I'm going to use it until it dies, or I die, whichever comes sooner.
You're right that the Pioneer 8x burner steps down to 4x when it's confronted with 16x media. The people at Verbatim informed me that this is because the 16x media require more laser power. The 8x burner can't provide the power to burn even at 8x, not enough power for the 16x media, so it steps down to 4x, which to me means there's a greater chance of burn errors. In addition, it's going to wear the laser out that much faster. For all those reasons, I wanted the firmware upgrade so I could safely use 16x media. I already stick to 4x when I author DVDs on my computer, because thoses discs are even more prone to burn errors.
In addition to everything else I've seen on this thread, I think there's one more thing driving the nail in the coffin of these machines: I suspect there have been quiet phone calls made by certain lawyers, pointing out the potential for lawsuits if a hard drive DVD recorder equipped with a digital tuner ever hits the market. Imagine the quaking of knees in the broadcast industry if the idea of direct digital copies off the air or over cable became a reality.
The FCC rule certainly played its part. But the simple response to that would have been to bring out machines with ATSC tuners, and that's not happening.
Just a hunch, but I'll bet I'm right.
Pioneer's main number is 310-952-2000. You can write to Haga (COO) or Passmore (Supervisor of Customer Support) at:
Pioneer North America
2265 E. 220th St.
Long Beach, CA 90810-1639
The more people jump in on this, the better chance there is that something will happen. We'll get nowhere through the regular customer support channels.