Thanks tw, I think that's the route I'm going to go.
I did crack the cover (no way to get it apart without breaking the warranty
seal, I even tried the old hair dryer
trick but the seal kept trying to separate into layers. In the end I just ended up cutting it, I'll plead ignorance if it becomes a issue, I believe others have said their referb. came with the seal already broken
I couldn't see anything obvious with the drive in place, so I under took the somewhat difficult task of removing the drive from the machine. With the drive out I still couldn't see anything obvious, the gears seemed to move easily to a point. I did notice one broken cog of a white nylon gear lying under the drive, I couldn't find a gear with a missing cog though. After reinstalling the drive it worked exactly as before
I'm not sure if Wajo has documented the HDD before(he probably has
I seem to remember) but as long as I had it apart I noted the following: It's a Hitachi 160gb Jan '09 mfg., it's rated 5v 420ma and 12v 700ma, SATA 3gb/s 7200 RPM.
My machine lists a March '09 mfg date.
The following is My personal review of the 2160a features and picture quality
Since the DVD drive is bad, my review is going totally off the HDD. Picture quality should be exactly the same for a given speed. Features are also limited to HDD playback and recording.
Likes: Seems quite well built, metal parts, looks nice next to my other equipment.new
icon, this is a cool feature where each title that hasn't been played has a handy new
icon to easily identify if it's been watched or not.
Easy to start each title from the beginning or from where you last left off(resume).
Decent remote, well laid out, eject on remote, decent sized buttons.
The next feature is either a + or - depending on your preference, I think I like it though. On my other equipment when you have a S-video cable plugged in it automatically defaults to that input, no way to access the composite when a S-video cable is inserted. On the 2160a you can have both cables plugged in and you select which one you want to use, from the menu. It's not as easy as the automatic switching I'm used to but it does allow one to have both cables plugged in and easily switch between the 2. On my most used Panasonic I'm starting to get afraid I might wear out the S-video input from constantly unplugging and plugging it in(it's quite a tight fit).Picture quality
here's the controversial part, remember it's only my opinion, take the bad with the good or read no further. I tested using a commercial Monsters inc. DVD fed through a Sima CT-2
Previously I owned a Philips 3575 which I could not get it's contrast to work with my TV, it had what some have referred to as black crush
, the blacks were way too black and the whites where way too white(adjusting the contrast/brightness did make it better but I was never able to totally correct this). I'm happy to report the 2160a did not
have this issue, blacks and whites were just perfect on my 46" Sony 1080p LCD TV which is set to a neutral position for contrast and brightness.
HQ and SP picture quality were very good, basically as good as my best machines. I'd have no problems using this machine recording in SP which one is able to get something like 60 hrs. on the stock HDD.
As I noted when I tried the 3575 I did notice a big drop in PQ going down to the 2 1/2 hr speed(SPP). I believe SPP and above is 1/2 D1 resolution which I for one don't care for. 1/2 D1 is no worse than my Panasonics but what I like about Panasonic is they retain full D1 through the 4hr speed(should be 3hr but it's not).
As many of you know the disadvantage of full D1 on longer speeds is the potential for macroblocking(picture displays areas of small squares during high bit rate scenes). I didn't see significant macroblocking on the 2160a until the 4hr speed, on my Panasonics it becomes noticeable to me when one tries to fit more than about 3hrs per disc.
IMO macroblocking and resolution go hand in hand, you can't increase one without also increasing the other. With the drop in resolution on the 2160a it's able to decrease macroblocking on speeds above 2hrs but for that reduced macroblocking you also reduce your resolution. It's my personal preference to maintain full resolution to ~3hrs/disc, others may prefer the 2hr cutoff point that the 2160a has.
All in all I'm impressed with the 2160a and would have no problem recommending it. If one is recording from a noisier source than a commercial DVD, say analog or noisier cable(or even a noisy SLP VHS), you're probably better off dropping to 1/2 D1 on anything over 2hrs/disc. When I occasionally record off analog cable anything above(or at times even) SP looks like a macroblocking mess. I think I'll try and test the 2160a with a noisier signal to see how it handles it, I have a sneaking suspicion it may even be better than my Panasonics, more to come
Initial impressions recording off the built in tuner tuned to a quality HD broadcast are also good but I want to play around more before fully evaluating it.
edit: to expand on my last sentence
I did some more comparison recordings, this time using the 2160a's built in tuner, and feeding my Panasonic EH-55 I used a CM-7000 fed to it's S-video input.
I didn't notice a significant difference depending on the format of the recorded channel, that is differences were similar no matter if tuners were tuned to a SD or either of the HD formats. This is different than tests I have made with Panasonics line of DVDRs w/digital tuners where 720p channels recorded better than 1080i channels.
Overall the whole D1, 1/2 D1 was similar to my DVD tests. I just don't care for 1/2 D1 no matter what, it's just my preference. Personally on the 2160a I'd not use SP if I cared much about the PQ. With that in mind I concentrated mostly on the SP differences between my 2 test machines. Recording from DVD I didn't notice much if any difference between the two machines using SP, this wasn't the case recording from broadcast TV. While the 2160a did look quite good, if I closely analyzed the picture paying particular attention to small print the differences became quite obvious. On scenes where I could not read the small print on the 2160a I was able to read it on my EH-55. If I could just barely read the small print on my EH-55 I could not read anything on the 2160a. The lettering also seemed to stand out more on my EH-55 than the 2160a but I guess this would expected given the fact that I could see more resolution with my EH-55. I sure wish I could do screen shots like member bfdtv in the Tivo HD thread. They are so clear I'm sure they would show the difference. I did try using my digital camera pointed at my TV but the results were very dismal.
What to summize from above tests? If I had to guess I'd say since the line input SP recordings were very similar between the two test machines and since the tuner recordings differ, that the CM-7000(CECB external OTA digital tuner) is capable of more resolution than the built in tuner in the 2160a. Note for those not familiar with the CM-7000 it is generally regarded as the best CECB for sharpness, my guess is using a tuner like the Zenith DTT901(a very good tuner in it's own right but no s-video) would be quite similar to the 2160a.
Are the differences dramatic? I'd say no, but they are there. Is the EH-55 using a external tuner anywhere as convenient as the 2160a's built in tuner? Not even close IMO. Take from this last test as you want, I'm just reporting what I see. I still want to do some tests from a nosier analog cable connection but those tests will have to wait until later in the week.