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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm a newbie to DVD Recorders and need some help finding a good quality DVD recorder. Cost is not a big issue because I think I can control that by the size of HDD included in the package, if having any at all. But I do need some guidance as to which brands have the fewest flaws in picture quality. I'm not interested in buying something that is cheap, rather something that is good. I have no preference as to type of media used. I like the concept of HDMI output, as it is probably the interconnect of the future, but worry a bit about how well it will be implemented, just having it is not enough. I'ved heard good things from LordSmurf on another forum about JVC picture quality due to LSI chip set but most other groups seem to favour Panasonic. Consumer Reports seem to favour Toshiba.


Any help appreciated to help my research efforts. I find staring at units on store shelves does nothing to help, except me know which brands are readily available. That probably gives more indication of retail profitability than anything else.
 

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I've owned 3 different recorders (Philips, Sony, and Pioneer) and I feel the Sony has the best PQ of them all. Even those who don't like Sony for its lack of editing features usually say that the PQ was one of the few good things about it.


The current Sony models don't have HDMI, but the upcoming HX715 and HX915 (due next month) are supposed to. They're also supposed to have additional features that address some, but not all, of the criticism aimed at Sony recorders, particularly the HX900.


The latest Pioneer x31/x33 series reportedly have better PQ than the famous x20 series, but to my knowledge none have HDMI out.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I'm a little nervous about the reliability of Sony burners, I've read about problems with past models, maybe the newer models have fixed the problem.

Quote:
They're also supposed to have additional features that address some, but not all, of the criticism aimed at Sony recorders, particularly the HX900.
Could you expand on the criticisms directed at the HX900?


Your reference to picture problems with x20 Pioneers has to do with picture dropouts from poor quality sources?
 

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Sony's don't have a flexible recording mode which utilizes the best space for the dvd-r. You can ony record in increments ie. 1, 1.5, 2, 2.5 hours etc whereas with most other recorder if you're recording a 1:45 min segement for example, you would want to choose the flexible recroding mode which utilizes disc space better and give you a little better quality. In addition, I believe the older Sony's didn't let you divide the segment on the hard drive; this problem has been addressed in the upcoming ones. However, they still don't offer flexible recording.


There's a thread here on one of the new Sony's. Do a quick search, don't think the buyer was too happy. I would stick with the new Pioneer series. They're getting a lot of good reviews.


here's a quick link:
http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=566175
 

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Really happy with my 2 new DVR-531Hs. They replaced a DVR-420H and a DVR-220.


Guide is excellent if it's usable for you, or if not, just use the manual recording options. They are very easy to use as well.


Performance parameters are greater than the previous Pioneer models also.


Editing is a bit easier to navigate as it's more setup for the novice by asking questions and explaining the differences in the options.


Recording quality is by far the best I've seen after comparing it to the previous Pioneer recorders I had, an early model Toshiba recorder, an ILO recorder, and the Panasonic E80H and E85H recorders I had. This is the first DVD Recorder that I found to be as near perfect as I could hope.


Looks like Panasonic may have a good new generation recorder, but after seeing performance flaws on the others I had, after all the bad reliability reporting on them, and my experience with Panasonic electronics in general, I doubt I'll ever buy anything that's Panasonic again.


Toshiba's new recorder looks nice, but I don't trust them as they let the black level bug go on much to long and my Toshiba recorder that was sent back, was thrown on the market with European time and date standards. It was such a pain doing a recording, because you had to covert to the US's standards first. It went straight back to Crutchfield.


The only brands that I'd feel comfortable with are the Pioneers and Sonys, but I also have reservations about Sony.


When it comes to a newer format like DVD recorders, you can't be brand loyal or you'll get bit on things you don't like. I know, I was brand loyal to Panasonic until I found I really disliked the DVD recorders I bought from them. I also wasn't the biggest Pioneer fan until I tried the recent DVD Recorders and Universal DVD players.


You can only try what seems like a good recorder and audition it. Make sure to buy from a reputable dealer that has no restock fees, a no questions asked return policy, and at least 30 days to return for a full refund.


BTW, the Pioneers are the only recorders right now able to record on the new dual layer 8.5 GB DVD-R DL format.


See my review of the new Pioneer Recorders here.


Good luck.
 

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Mike Up... Your synopsis of the 'top 4 brands' was very good. LG has dual layer recorders out. Not sure, but, I think + format. That doesn't mean I'll buy one tho.


Wasn't the 531 strictly a Walmart model? Or am I thinking 533? Good price if as you state a good machine. But, I'm waiting for the new Sony's with DL and hopefully better feature set. Also, waiting for the money to buy one.


Bnbhoha... Are you sure the Sony 900 has 1, 1.5, 2 and 2.5 bit rate recording. I thought(read here) it only had 1, 2 and 4.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jay Davis
Mike Up... Your synopsis of the 'top 4 brands' was very good. LG has dual layer recorders out. Not sure, but, I think + format. That doesn't mean I'll buy one tho.


Wasn't the 531 strictly a Walmart model? Or am I thinking 533? Good price if as you state a good machine. But, I'm waiting for the new Sony's with DL and hopefully better feature set. Also, waiting for the money to buy one.


Bnbhoha... Are you sure the Sony 900 has 1, 1.5, 2 and 2.5 bit rate recording. I thought(read here) it only had 1, 2 and 4.
The DVR-531H is strickly a Walmart model although I heard Costco also carries that DVR-531H in Canada.


As far as the Sony, I think the new ones only support DVD+R Double layer (dual layer name is trade marked and is the property of the DVD Forum). I don't believe Sony supports dual layer DVD-R DL recording.


Have a good one.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Up
...Looks like Panasonic may have a good new generation recorder, but after seeing performance flaws on the others I had, after all the bad reliability reporting on them, and my experience with Panasonic electronics in general, I doubt I'll ever buy anything that's Panasonic again...


The only brands that I'd feel comfortable with are the Pioneers and Sonys, but I also have reservations about Sony.


When it comes to a newer format like DVD recorders, you can't be brand loyal or you'll get bit on things you don't like. I know, I was brand loyal to Panasonic until I found I really disliked the DVD recorders I bought from them. I also wasn't the biggest Pioneer fan until I tried the recent DVD Recorders and Universal DVD players.


You can only try what seems like a good recorder and audition it. Make sure to buy from a reputable dealer that has no restock fees, a no questions asked return policy, and at least 30 days to return for a full refund.


BTW, the Pioneers are the only recorders right now able to record on the new dual layer 8.5 GB DVD-R DL format.


See my review of the new Pioneer Recorders here.


Good luck.
Boy, you sure sound like me, Mike, especially when it comes to ex-Panasonic loyalty after going though various Panasonic DVD recorders.



satwar: Per your question:

Quote:
Originally Posted by satwar
Your reference to picture problems with x20 Pioneers has to do with picture dropouts from poor quality sources?.
I own a 420 and multiple 520s. Yesterday I copied the VHS tape from hell to one of my 520 for friends with no problems, no black out, at all. The tape was a cheapo, off brand when originally purchased who knows how many years ago. TV programs were recorded to it in SLP over and over and over again--the family was not interested in recording to saving programs. Then, when they decided to save the 8mm films their father had made, they were copied, in SLP, to this already over used, low quality tape.


To say the VHS tape wobbled, had lines, picture drop outs is an understatement. Really, I have never before played such a dreadful quality VHS tape. The 520 handled it flawless, though.


Even though I love my 420/520s, I did pick up a 531 when some friends and I were near a super Walmart last night (it's 40 miles away). I am real curious to compare the picture quality with my 520s. Also, I have cable [full service for $12.50/month!!!] rather than satellite at my cabin, so I'll use it there rather than at home (DirecTV) if I like it as much/more than the 420/520s.


This is rather off-topic here, but I took a DVD-RAM recorded on a Panasonic ES10 to CC today. I'm in the market for a new notebook. Out of curiosity the sales person agreed to see if it would play in the Sony Viao VGN-FS660W. To my and the saleperson's surprise, it did.


No, I didn't buy it, but I was curious whether only Toshiba notebooks, which mention DVD-RAM, would play the movie.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thanks for giving all your excellent comments, it's giving my searching some focus. It looks like the new Pioneers have something worth looking at closely. Panasonic has a lot of supporters and detractors, kind of a strong split of opinion, which has me confused as to what's going on. Maybe the brand needs some tweaking that some users do better than others, I don't know. I'm certainly a little more cautious about the brand than I used to be.


One brand that caught my attention today was the new LG 250 Gb HDD unit. It seems to record almost every DVD format (except DVD-RAM), plays back the widest variety of audio/video files I have ever seen, has DVI input and goes for the same price as the Panasonic 120 Gb HDD. Supposedly uses the LSI chip set, which has potentially state-of-the-art noise reduction from analog inputs. Sitting on the shelf beside the others in the store it looks like a deal. I just bought their PC DVD burner (4163B) which seems to burn every media format known to man, and am very pleased with the quality. I find, though, the lack of a S-Video input on the back panel unforgiveable in this price range. Anyone had any experience with LG units, past or current models.


No comments about JVC yet. Is LordSmurf the only spokesperson for this brand?
 

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satwar: I had a JVC and, like many, many others, experienced the LOADING error. As have others, it did not go away even after JVC serviced it. I thought the picture quality was extremely nice, but it gets a 1 on a scale of 1 to 10 for dependability.


Actually, I still have that *#&@ JVC unit. It's back in it's box while I decide what to do with it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Yes ngohit, I've heard that a lot of JVC users are frustrated with the "loading" bug. I'm amazed that in this day and age that brand name manufacturers can make products like that, let alone risk their reputation. It makes you question the quality of their product development. On the other hand everybody makes mistakes and I'm sure they could probably fix the problem right but it wouldn't make economic sense for them. Probably more profitable to weather the storm and come out with new product without the bug.


Is it fair to say that the new crop of JVCs have resolved the problem?
 

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Quote:
Is it fair to say that the new crop of JVCs have resolved the problem?
What new crop would that be?
 

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I have a Philips DVD recorder (no HDD) and it failed to record and play after about 6 months. I took it in for a free service but the same problem appeared again soon. I was not the only one after reading from other forums. Currently I use a Hauppauge PC TV tuner card. A friend has a LG with 80GB and it would not record or play any discs after about 4 months. He bought a Panasonic afterwards. I like Pioneer and Sony's new models even though JVC is supposed to have better picture quality at the slower speeds. The Sony's 1.5 hrs and 2.5hrs speeds are especially helpful. I read somewhere that Sony's TV reception/recording is a bit better than Pioneer. Editing may be another issue although the lack of a title divide feature in the older 900/1000 has been added in the new 510/710/910 (not sure if all 3 models are available in the N. America market or not). Anyway I am used to Sony's sharp looking picture so I vote for it. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Quote:
Originally Posted by vferrari
What new crop would that be?
My understanding is that the DR-M100S does not have the "loading" bug problem.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by satwar
My understanding is that the DR-M100S does not have the "loading" bug problem.
Feel free to roll the dice with JVC my friend. With the latest releases from Toshiba, Pioneer and Panasonic, I'm not sure the JVC even has the slight PQ advantage it once did with its encoder. And most DVD recorders support multiple disc formats now. Based on the loading bug debacle which I have experienced (multiple times) first hand, I would be hard pressed to recommend JVC over its competition at this point. They have really tarnished their reputation, that moron Lord Smurf notwithstanding.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Quote:
Originally Posted by vferrari
Feel free to roll the dice with JVC my friend. With the latest releases from Toshiba, Pioneer and Panasonic, I'm not sure the JVC even has the slight PQ advantage it once did with its encoder. And most DVD recorders support multiple disc formats now. Based on the loading bug debacle which I have experienced (multiple times) first hand, I would be hard pressed to recommend JVC over its competition at this point. They have really tarnished their reputation, that moron Lord Smurf notwithstanding.
I agree, I think JVC is a bit of a gamble, and I in no way dispute your experience, nor am I endorsing JVC. Reliability is just as important to me as picture quality, which makes the JVC brand more difficult to include on a short list.


I've certainly read a lot of good things about Pioneer, their latest crop seeming to advance their standing considerably. Definitely makes my short list.


The story with Panasonic is still confusing to me, with a lot of mixed reports. Maybe it's a case of finicky compatibility with different sources, if such a thing is possible. Any experience you have with Panasonic compared with other brands would be appreciated. LordSmurf has quite a list of deficiencies with Panasonic but this is by no means a universal feeling. Many claim Panasonic to be far ahead of the other brands. It's confusing.


I've read some concerns about a "black level" bug in Toshibas, which has supposedly been resolved with the new crop coming out.
 

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I have the ES10 and love it!


3 weeks-40 discs(TDK/Ty) from VAS and DATIVE=only one failed recording due to a fingerprint i had put on the disc when loading.


I am impressed with how it cleans up VAS and it makes exact duplicates of DATIVE.


JVC-SA-VAS>composite>best picture as using the SA-video link seems to bypass the internal correction filters on the ES10


All of these disc have played back on another Panasonic,Cheap Magnavox and computer.


I have 3 Panasonic components;

RV31 player from 2001

XR50 reciever from 2004

ES10


I have never had a problem with any of these.
 

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Quote:
Sony's don't have a flexible recording mode which utilizes the best space for the dvd-r. You can ony record in increments ie. 1, 1.5, 2, 2.5 hours etc
But is FR really an issue when you have high speed dubbing? You have 1:45min recorded in SP on your HD: would you go with high speed dubbing or FR? I would go with high speed since there's no quality loss.


Quote:
The story with Panasonic is still confusing to me, with a lot of mixed reports.
I think you hear more opinions on the Panasonics, good or bad, because they've been around longer and to be honest, more people own them. Heck, I have two and when I purchased them, there wasn't all these brands and options. At the time, there where already tons of people on forums that was made just for those recorders dissecting them. These other recorders are newer and in time, will gain more opinions as time passes and more people buy them.


By all means I'm not defending Panasonic since I own no other brands for comparison but the two I have. All I can say is that the two years I own them gave me no problems. There was the problem of running into bad media but I think that's universal.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dustinlc
But is FR really an issue when you have high speed dubbing? You have 1:45min recorded in SP on your HD: would you go with high speed dubbing or FR? I would go with high speed since there's no quality loss.
I think the idea is that if you have a choice of more than just "SP", "LP", "EP", etc., then you can choose to record to the HD with the most that would just exactly fill a DVD so you can get the best quality, then high-speed dub it to the DVD. For example, if you're recording a series of 30-minute TV shows which take 25 minutes after commercials are removed, then if you record at a mode that gets 2:05 on a DVD you can get five shows on 1 disc. If your only choice is SP at 2:00/disc or LP at 4:00/disc then you can't fit 5 shows in with quality close to SP mode.
 
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