Pioneer 533-H Getting "Repair Err" Message - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 7 Old 09-13-2010, 10:29 AM - Thread Starter
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Machine will let me record and edit but has problems when burning a disc. It will get to finalization, then say cannot finalize and this error message comes up. The machine then freezes up and has to be unplugged before working again. The error message is not in the owner's manual. Can this be fixed or is it time to buy another machine? I liked this one because it recorded on dual layer discs.
Thanks!
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post #2 of 7 Old 09-13-2010, 11:41 AM
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It isn't nice to hear, but your 533 has already exceeded its useful life expectancy by more than two years. Based on postings here and elsewhere and Pioneers internal info, most 533s died within 24 months of purchase. So, before going any further, take some comfort from the fact you got an exceptionally long run from a rather poory-designed recorder.

I am a heavy user of Pioneer DVD/HDD recorders, all models since the first one. They are all very good, some are really excellent, but the 531-533-633 of 2005 were a gigantic mis-step that nearly sank the company. That year, unlike Panasonic and Toshiba, Pioneer tried to add the TVGOS feature "on the cheap" by installing it as software on the HDD rather than as a dedicated hardware chip. This resulted in three incredibly unstable recorders subject to the vagaries of easily-corrupted, difficult to reinstall TV Guide software. When the Guide goes down, it takes the whole recorder with it, and its a huge PITA to repair. Its also very very difficult to determine whether a given problem is caused by TVGOS corruption, HDD failure, a worn-out DVD burner, or some combination of the three.

The first thing you should probably do is forget you ever heard of DL discs. For one, the 533 was never intended to burn them properly: the feature was a last-minute firmware change added to some but not all 533s. You are lucky it burned DL discs at all, never mind for five years- most 533s have terrible trouble handling DL. If you are using anything but Verbatim +R DL media, you are using garbage: the Verbatim +R DL is the only DL media that has proven reliable for DVD recorder use (PC burners will record to a frisbee or a coffee can lid- they can use any brand). The 533 is limited to -R DL, and -R DL has always been pretty awful.

The second thing you should do is try some TY/JVC 8x-speed premium DVD-R single-layer media: you can order it from supermediastore.com, rima.com and other web stores. This is the media your 533 was specifically designed to burn, its high-quality made-in-Japan stuff engineered especially for DVD recorders instead of PCs. If your 533 can finalize these discs, it still has some life left in it and has probably just lost the ability to cope with other media (TY/JVC also make the only good -R DL media, you could try that too). If your 533 can't finalize TY/JVC media, the burner may be shot or a problem in the HDD software is preventing the process from completing. You could search eBay and other sites for a good generic Pioneer DVR-109 burner that was sold for PCs, the same burner is used in the 533. Remove the burner from your 533, open both burners, and swap their green controller boards. Install the "new" burner in your 533, and it should work normally again. If it does not, mourn its passing and move on: the 533 is hell to fix, Pioneer is out of business, and the current Magnavox 513 DVD/HDD at Wal*Mart is a far better use of your money.
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post #3 of 7 Old 09-13-2010, 12:23 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for the great info CitiBear! I only used it 8 - 10 times a year to edit football games ( those we won and make DVDs from them. That is why I liked the DL feature as I could record them at a high speed, edit the games and save them at a high speed. If you don't mind, please recommend a machine that has the best quality at the 2 1/2 to 3 hour speed required for even many edited football games.

PS - it allows me to get to the finalize stage (and these are just the 8x DVD discs) but says cannot complete finalization. Sometimes it also says "cannot repair disc" on the monitor, while it displays the "repair err" on its own display.
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post #4 of 7 Old 09-13-2010, 03:47 PM
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There are two types of "repair err" displays, which usually indicate a problem with the HDD or a recordable DVD. Often the machine fixes these almost immediately and you dismiss the alert by pressing any key on the remote. But if the alert reads "cannot repair Hdd" or the "Hdd err" and it can't be dismissed, there is a serious problem in the HDD drive that is generally not fixable and the machine will become progressively less operational. On the burner side, if you keep getting "cannot repair disc" alerts, this usually means either the burner is worn out or your blank media has changed formulations to something the recorder can't recognize and burn correctly.

A "cannot repair disc" alert related to DL media is not unexpected given the age of the 533 and the peculiar nature of modern DL discs. But if you are also getting "cannot repair disc" alerts and finalization fails on 8x single-layer media, something is seriously wrong in the burner or the recorder software. You could try replacing the burner, as I described in my previous post, but its a roll of the dice and hard to find a working replacement 109 burner today.

Its difficult to suggest a replacement recorder you'd like, because the market for quality DVD/HDD machines has dried up in North America and the choice has dropped to almost nothing. Brand new, the only machine available in the USA is the Magnavox MDR513 at Wa*Mart online. This is actually a pretty good unit, but it does not accept DL media of any kind and its 3-hour speed on single-layer discs may or may not suit your sports recordings (it sacrifices some clarity/resolution in favor of smoother movement/action: some people like this, others do not). The best DVD/HDD recorders for use with DL media were the later Pioneers, because their multidrive burners were optimized for both + and - media, single or double layer, R and R/W as well as DVD-RAM media, and they kept the excellent MN variable-speed feature of your 533. Unfortunately these were discontinued when Pioneer was forced to restructure itself right out of the video business in 2009.

The Canadian 450-550-650 models of 2007 and the final 460-560-660 models of 2008 are the ones to look for: you can sometimes find these at a good price on eBay or Craigs List (anything under $300 for a minty one is a good price). The older 540-543-640 of 2006, and the similar Sony 780, are good recorders but their image quality (especially at the 3 and 4 hour speeds) is not as sharp as the 2007 and 2008 models. Some web dealers like J&R, B&H, World Import, and 220electronics occasionally have stock of leftover "international" versions of the 560 or 660, these can cost $250 for a demo unit or $500 new-in-sealed-box. The "international" version needs to be switched from PAL operation to NTSC for North American use, which can be tricky unless the dealer does it for you. Overall, the Canadian version is a better deal if you can find one with "low mileage" and a reasonable price.
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post #5 of 7 Old 09-14-2010, 07:59 AM - Thread Starter
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Thx again. I am going to try the different media to see if that makes a difference. Also, people have told me that with an investment of $300 or so in my computer, I could (technically turn it into a Blu-ray recorder. So I will look at that option also. My problem with that is that it is beyond my current comfort and knowledge level.
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post #6 of 7 Old 09-14-2010, 09:05 AM
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There are a LOT of members here who have migrated to or prefer the home theater PC alternative, but as you surmise its kind of an "acquired taste" and not nearly as simple and comfortable as a standalone DVD/HDD recorder (it also ties your audio/video system completely to your PC, a concept with its own set of pluses and minuses).

It really depends on how much recording you do and what your habits are. If you really do only make discs a dozen times a year of local football games, you might adapt very well to a PC solution. A big advantage of the PC, depending on the DVD or BD creation software you choose, is the control and flexibility it gives you. This comes with a learning curve, and IMHO is not worth it for typical consumer recordings of TV shows and dubbing lots of VHS/Beta tapes. But its very nice when applied to occasional projects consisting of your own camera sources. The whole BD thing has gone off the rails into unexpected developments, so you may or may not want to spend more for a BD burner instead of a standard DVD burner. Recordable BD has kind of stalled on the launch pad: its trickier to work with and until recently the discs were very expensive. During the time BD blanks were expensive, many users opted to make shorter-play high def AVCHD discs using normal DVD blanks, these play in HD quality on a BD player. AVCHD has become so pervasive as the "home HDTV recording format" that BD-R itself can seem like the bridesmaid at its own wedding. It also pays to consider who you are making the discs for: if its just yourself, they can be any format, but if you distribute them to the team and fans, it might be best to stick with ordinary DVD awhile longer until BD players become common household objects.
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post #7 of 7 Old 09-15-2010, 05:47 AM - Thread Starter
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Thx again for all the info. Good news is new media (Verbatim) is working in the Pioneer.

(Never mind question on AVCHD - found that it is method that the HD PVR does use so I am looking into that method as well!)
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