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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am looking for a DVD recorder to do only a few things while producing the fewest coasters. I have read through this forum and my head officially hurts.

I have a computer that I will use for a digital camcorder so I am not concerned with that or with copying commercial DVD's.

***I will be sending the DVD's to my husband who is currently serving in Iraq, so they MUST be playable in his laptop computer ***

I would like to:

1. Save tv shows from DirecTivo to discs, hopefully fitting in multiple episodes. Commercial cutting is optional or I can even record while watching the shows and ff through them ON the recording.

2. Put small segments of tv shows like The Daily Show on these discs also.

3. Be able to put onto DVD old camcorder(non-digital) home movies to save and back these up.

What would be the simplest (I am an RN, not an Engineer) DVD Recorder to buy without spending too much money?

I saw an RCA 8040N at Weaknees for $199, no shipping or we do have WalMart, Target, BB, SamsClub, etc.

I appreciate your help.

Thanks, Michelle
 

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You can't go wrong with a Panasonic, Toshiba or Pioneer recorder.


Having one with a hard drive will really make things easier: you could dump programs onto the HDD, edit at your leisure, then high-speed dub to DVD-R.


Best of luck!

Peter
 

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The Pioneer 220/225, while discontinued, are excellent bargains. The 220 is WalMart's version and can be found on their website for $198; you may or may not find it at your local WalMart store, which has the newer (but not necessarily better) 231.


The 225 is the Best Buy version with identical specs. Up until recently, Amazon.com was blowing these out for $160 but I noticed they upped the price to $180 (I wonder why?). I have one that I bought for $160 but the other day I found an Open Box model at Best Buy for $135. Except for a small nick on the cover that hides the front inputs, and a manual that was thrashed due to poor packing, the machine is in perfect shape. I'm going to make sure there are no problems with it before sending back the one I got from Amazon. My local BB was also blowing out their remaining stock of 225's for $150, but believe it or not the Open Box one was in the best shape (the "sealed" boxes had considerable damage to them).


There's nothing wrong with the RCA you are looking at, but at $200 it's not that great of a bargain. Whatever you do buy, make sure that you get it from a retailer with a generous return policy and no restocking fees, in case the discs it makes aren't readable on his laptop, and/or you find the machine too complex to operate.


As your husband is serving his country (and please, tell him thank you from the bottom of my heart): have you looked at your nearest PX to see what they offer and what their prices are? I would imagine you could pick up something for considerably less than the $200 you can get the RCA for.


As far as simple to operate: unfortunately, NO DVD recorder out there is as easy to use as a VCR. They're a bit more complex to hook up (you can't use the "antenna out" to hook it up to your TV, you MUST use the composite video or s-video or Component Video) and once you finish recording there is an extra step called "finalization" which allows the disc to be playable in other players.


You also have to choose the right type of disc depending on the brand; RCA is a "plus" format machine, Pioneer and Toshiba are "minus" or "dash" format, most Panasonics are minus/dash but the newest ones will also record to +R, Sony's and LG's will do both. You also have to choose between write-once (+R or -R) which means you can only use the disc once, or rewriteable (+RW/-RW) which means you can use the disc over and over like a video tape, but these aren't as compatible as the write-once.


If you are using -RW, you have to choose between Video mode (most compatible, but you cannot edit on it) or VR (lots of fancy editing features, but not playable except in the newest players).


For simplicity's sake, record all your content onto write-once (+R or -R depending on brand of machine) and remember to finalize. It's simpler for you, and more likely to be playable on your husband's machine. Write-once discs are extremely cheap nowadays so you dont have to worry about costs, and your husband doesn't have to worry about mailing discs back home.
 

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This applies regardless of which brand you buy:


Since you want to send DVDs that will be playable on the laptop, record in the video-mode - not VR-mode - format. Each time you press record and stop there will be a new Title on the disc's menu. When the disc is near full, Finalize the disc so it can be read by the laptop (or other DVD player).
 

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$200.oo limits your choices. Models with hard drives (which are also more complicated to use) are a must for editing start at $400.00. Although you can get a Pioneer 420 or 520 at closeout prices and it gets fairly good remarks in this forum. I think Walmart sells them as a 421 or 521. Different model numbers used so that they don't have to price match with other sellers.


As RonDawg says the -R format discs are the best way to ensure compatibility with computer software or for that matter a home player. Tayio Yuden are considered the most reliable and Supermediastore.com has the lowest prices. And, be sure to finalize the disc.


Putting aside the political and military blundering, also let your husband know how much we appreciate his service to our country. We also appreciate your sacrifice. I just hope he and all of his buddies can come home ASAP.
 

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If what you want is simplicity and great archive recording results, the new Pioneer recorders offer this.


The main gripe from people is that the new recorders don't allow more advanced manual recording options. This was given up so it would be more simple to use and not confuse people as much.


As far as recording archival content, you simply hit the record button and continue to press in increments until the recording time you want is diplayed. This is a timerless record option.


If you want to record manual timer recordings, simply press the timer button, if the option for manual record isn't up, press the menu button on the remote. Then step through your date and time selection. To add times and dates, you directly enter them through your remotes numerical buttons instead of cycling through all the numbers. This makes it a bit more easy to set. Once all is done, push the enter key twice to make the timer selection.


Very simple.


You can also record on the new dual layer DVD-R DL discs, if you want to maintain a very high XP recording mode to keep all your videos in the best quality with longer playing content.


Have a good one
 

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Quote:
You can also record on the new dual layer DVD-R DL discs, if you want to maintain a very high XP recording mode to keep all your videos in the best quality with longer playing content.
True, however, I would caution AGAINST using dual layer media at this time since it is relatively new and expensive and may introduce playback compatibility problems on your husband's end which is exactly what you want to avoid for now. Pioneer, Toshiba, and Panasonic all offer very good quality and reliable products and relatively easy one touch recording features. Low end non-HDD model numbers include the Panasonic DMR-ES10 and the Pioneer 220/225. I cannot remember the Toshiba non-HDD model number. The Samsung R120 (?) looks good as well. Good luck
 

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If you are looking for simplicity in operation, I would advise against the Toshiba XS34. Even though it produces fine video quality, the interface is daunting and complex. JVC was less complex, but still not all that intuitive.


I would stick with Pioneer or Panasonic, and stay away from the off brands...
 

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I was checking eCost's web site. They are an AVS sponsor. I have bought several items from them without problems(just don't sign up for their Email hotsheet)). Check their clearance area some good bargains on DVD recorders w/o HDD.
 

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In addition to what others have said, I'd add:


1) Buy from a place where you know you can return the item within a reasonable amount of time, if defective. Like all mass-produced micro-electronics, bad DVDR's can happen.


2) Recording on a DVDR is different from any other recording you have done, so read the manual and expect "weird things" to happen in your first several recordings. Start with good quality DVD rewritables and recordings that aren't real important to you. That you can get aquainted without losing anything irreplaceable or any money on media. Don't get frustrated. Most of the problems you have are operator error or lack of information. It takes knowing the machine and a little patience when you first start recording...........Or you may have no problems at all. Some people don't.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by vferrari
True, however, I would caution AGAINST using dual layer media at this time since it is relatively new and expensive and may introduce playback compatibility problems on your husband's end which is exactly what you want to avoid for now.
Not just that, but DL media is FRIGHTENINGLY expensive. Far too expensive to be shipping halfway around the world so that hubby can watch his favorite programs on a laptop in the middle of the desert.


I'm sure that as long as he's getting his favorite programs to watch, he's not going to be all that choosy about PQ.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I am still unsure of whether to work an extra shift and get an HD model or not. Will I be able to record small segments with a non-HD? How do people deal with commercials with a non-HD? Pause the record, and then FF playback, unpause record like I did with the VCR? It is not a problem for me to watch the shows as I record them.

Your advise on -R's was great. I had done DVD copying(with the computer) for him for movies we have that he could not live without, and did notice a difference in playback for the -R's vs the +Rs in our dvd players of different ages. He did say one or two had frozen during play in his laptop, but since our Playstation 2 seemed to play all copied discs better than the regular DVD players, I did not realize this was an issue. I thought it may have something to do with the quality of the media as I had read that media made in Japan, regardless of brand, seemed to do much better than those made in Taiwan.

Although I am still deciding on HD vs Non-HD, I will be going with a Panasonic or Pioneer as I have little patience for off-brand electronics and making of coasters. I also like things that might even last as long as Iraq (or at the rate they are going, at least the first decade of it.)

You have all been wonderful. Thanks so much to ALL of you! I will send your well-wishes to my husband, also.

Since this forum is YOUR place of expertise and hopefully you have no need to visit mine, I just wanted to give you the title of the book that this Registered Nurse has given to my loved ones this year-I think I have bought like 5 of them. The book is called "YOU- The Owner's Manual" by Michael F Roizen, MD and Mehmet C. Oz, MD. I have found it to be of sound medical advise. The best thing other than that is that it is actually an enjoyable and funny read. It is new this year in hardback, less than $20 but cheapest at SamsClub at about $15.

I will let you know what I get. Thanks again!!!
 

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In the end, the HDD will save you a lot of grief. It will enable you to collect and store both short and long segments, edit out all unwanted footage, then do a high-speed dub to a DVD-R, which will play on your husband's laptop. This is one case when spending a little more will be greatly worth it.


From my personal experience I can recommend either the Panny E-80, E-85 or Pioneer DVR 533H.


You can always come to this forum for advice on getting started with either of these machines (you won't be alone).


And as a former Marine, I wish your husband a safe tour of duty, and a grand homecoming.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Thanks, again. I have been reading other threads and am alarmed by the EPG/Tv guide stuff. I have DirecTivo and don't want ANY of that........I was getting ready to buy a Panny EH50S or the Pioneer 533H......now I am timid. Can we find an older model that is before this feature was added?
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Michellefire
Thanks, again. I have been reading other threads and am alarmed by the EPG/Tv guide stuff. I have DirecTivo and don't want ANY of that........I was getting ready to buy a Panny EH50S or the Pioneer 533H......now I am timid. Can we find an older model that is before this feature was added?
If you don't want/need the TV guide system, Pioneer 220H w/o a hard drive (Walmart may still have some for less than $200) or Pioneer 520H with a hard drive. No Tv Guide system, auto record feature on line input 1 to auto record from satellite, great picture quality down to 2 hr 25 minutes, PCM stereo at FINE quality (1 hour). 520H has DV input/output. 520s are getting scarce--if you have a Good Guys nearby they apparantly carry them. Some brick and mortar stores near me still have a few.


Pioneer 531 from Walmart, if you want to deal with the TV Guide system, has good reviews and can be had for $337, you get possibly upgraded PQ at longer times (debate on how much of an upgrade goes on in this forum), dual layer capability, and XP+ to hard drive, but lose the auto record feature, a slightly better menu interface, the 2 way DV input.


I have Directivo and my 520H works great in conjuction with the sat dish.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Michellefire
Thanks, again. I have been reading other threads and am alarmed by the EPG/Tv guide stuff. I have DirecTivo and don't want ANY of that........I was getting ready to buy a Panny EH50S or the Pioneer 533H......now I am timid. Can we find an older model that is before this feature was added?
If editing commercials is not important to you, and/or you're willing to do it by pausing the commercials while watching the recording, you can get several non-HDD models which (so far) lack the TVGOS. Machines such as the older Pioneer 220/225, the current 231/233, or the Panasonic ES-10. They're also considerably cheaper too.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·

RonDawg said:
As your husband is serving his country (and please, tell him thank you from the bottom of my heart): have you looked at your nearest PX to see what they offer and what their prices are? I would imagine you could pick up something for considerably less than the $200 you can get the RCA for.


Thanks for the suggestion, RonDawg. I have been to the online military exchange before and their prices have not been good. As I was wearing thin shopping for a good price, I found the Pioneer520H there for $349, no shipping or taxes. I am going to call a few local BB and WM for open box/discontinued tomorrow, but if they have nothing, I will probably order from the exchange. Their non-hd models are about $200, maybe slightly less-not as good a buy. Just didnt wanna stomache the TV Guide stuff.

Squonk having this model with his DirecTivo really helped, too.
 

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Although it's not the BEST price for the 520H, $349 is still well worth it. It's only $50 more then what Good Guys is asking, but unless you have one locally the savings are moot; their online site lists it at the old $599 MSRP.


As you have probably read elsewhere, the Pioneer x20 series are well recommended, and the 520 is simply the pinnacle of that series, with both a hard drive and DV-in for your digital camcorder.


The best part of all: NO TV GUIDE EPG!!!
 

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Michellefire--I just noticed you are from St Louis--so am I. I have done a lot of the leg work for you if yo still want to look around. If you live anywhere near Fenton/Valley Park/Arnold there is an American Furniture and Electronics store off of 141. They have a Pioneer 320H, which I had never seen anywhere before, for $150.00 on display. It is a non HDD Pioneer with the same electronics as the 520H, and has a DV in. I think it is the same as the 220H with the addition of a DV input. They also have the Toshiba XS34 there for $399 surprisingly, but that has the TV Guide and as others have noted may be more complex to get used to. They used to have Pio 520Hs there but are now sold out (I got mine there for 399).


You may also want to check out Ultimate Electronics. They have some sale prices on a bunch of recorders and they had a lot of closeout recorders--Panasonics, Sony and some Pioneers. They have the new Pio 633H for $479 and I think the Pio 533H for $379. They have a bunch of Panasonics, hard drive and non hard drive on closeout.


Your decision really comes down to a hard drive or non hard drive model. If you don't want a hard drive, that 320H for $150 would be hard to beat.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
I DO actually live near Arnold, and had checked out the Best Buy in Fenton-there were some displays for sale but no remotes, and that is a real pain. I kind of have my heart set on the HDD models now, and especially want one with no TV guide thing until they learn to turn it off. Bummer they are out of the 520H, so I may actually get it from the online exchange (military)....think I will get the one from American to tide me over and hook up to my other DirecTivo. I can really see becoming an electronics "junkie". Is usually my hubbie who goes out for milk and comes home with a big HDTV and surround sound.

Thank you again for all your help. Didn't think it would be this big a decision. Any model which would do the weedwacker for me for the rest of the summer would really be sold, though!

Thank you.

Michelle
 
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