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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
This weekend I bought an LG LRA-516, but am having second thoughts.


A little background... I originally set out only to buy a DVD player. I don't have high definition anything -- just an 10-year-old Proton television that has a beautiful picture.


When I told the salesman at Stereo Exchange in NYC that I wanted a player that would play all formats -- I had read that some players don't play all kinds of DVDs -- he pointed me to the LG recorder unit. Said that although it does more than what I requested, it was best for playing back all DVD formats.


Being able to record from DVR and VCR seemed good to me, so I went for it. I had originally thought to spend about $200, but the unit was $319.


Here are my two main issues after having installed the unit:


1) The LG recorder only has S video in connection at the front, which I'm using to connect to Time Warner DVR cable box. But the additional room at the front of the LG with cables sticking out -- about 2" clearance -- makes the unit not fit in the cabinet where it sits. The front doors won't close. If superior quality and functionality of the LG is worth it, I'll modify the cabinet -- cut a chuck out of the back, so the unit can hang out the back.


2) I was encouraged to purchase VERY expensive cables for better picture/sound than what standard cables that came with the unit would provide. First, two S Video cables -- one from LG to TV, one from Time Warner DVR to LG -- that the salesman assured me would give much better picture quality than composite. Second, two pairs of high quality Monster audio cables that would provide much better sound that what the salesman referred to as "Radio Shack" quality of cables that came with the unit. The total cost of all six cables was $300 -- just about the cost of the unit itself! I actually don't mind spending that money, if it truly is worth it. But it's killing me that I spent as much for cables as for the unit itself.


So here are my questions:

1. Is this LG unit worth it, given that it doesn't fit in my space? Or is there a comparable unit out there that has all the S video out and in connections in the back?


2. Was I a jerk to buy those cables, or are they worth it?


Thanks for any insights. And sorry for the length of this post.
 

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Tough questions. It is possible to have cables that cause poor picture and sound. Often this is at the connector. It also can depend on the cable's length. My opinion is that the cables included with a component are the lowest-quality that still produce a good signal. Upgrading to better cables can be good, but those high-end ones are too expensive for me so I settle for a middle grade.


I'm not familiar with LG but I can't imagine a good-quality DVD recorder not having S-Video inputs on the back. The Pioneer recorders (except for the DVR-233) have two sets of inputs on the back as well as one set on the front. Plus they have two sets of outputs on the back. Multiple inputs and outputs are a requirement for how I connect my Pioneer recorder.


My guess is you'll always resent the LG because of that cable in the front. My vote is to exchange it for something that better fits your system. When you said "plays all formats" does this mean you want one that plays PAL as well as NTSC? That is harder to find.
 

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1. For the price you paid, you can definitely do better. If you need +R/+RW recording capability, you can do better with the Sony RDR-GX300 priced at $300, but sometimes sold for less. Note that the latest Sony GX315 has the same problem as the LG: s-video in front only, though it also has DV-in which the GX300 lacks. If you need both DV-in and rear s-video, search out the discontinued Sony RDR-GX7; note this model will record to +RW but not +R, though it will play both.


If you can live with +R but not +RW recording, the newest Panasonics are capable of this. If you all you need is +R/+RW playback, but not necessarily recording, the Pioneers, along with the newest Panasonics and all the Sony's, are capable of this. Non-HDD Panasonics and Pioneers can be had for under your desired $200 price point.


2. There is a lot of hype about cables. Monster brand is undoubtedly good, but there is a lot of debate as to whether or not they are worth the money. I do recommend that you use anything but the ones "that came in the box" as these are undoubtedly the cheapest possible cables (otherwise they wouldn't be free). Personally, I use mid-priced thick cables with gold-plated connectors. If you buy other than Monster brand, you can often find these for not much more than the cheap stuff. I like the Philips brand of cables, though these are a bit hard to track down. Target has a cheaper version of Monster but they are a bit short (4') for many applications and they don't have longer ones in stock.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
RonDawg,


Thanks for the reply. Arising from what you said, I have some further questions. Please bear with me because I'm new at this, and don't understand some of the terms in your reply. So here goes.


"If you need +R/+RW recording capability..." I guess that means ability to record on two kinds of DVDs -- the kind you can record on only once, plus the re-writable kind. I don't know for a fact that I need both. But sounds like it would be good for more flexibility.


"If you need both DV-in and rear s-video..." What is DV-in?


"If you can live with +R but not +RW recording..." Would there be limitations?


Perhaps I should step back and say what I need the recorder for, what I need it to be able to do:


* Play back all formats of DVD. Want to avoid situations I've heard about where movies you get, or a DVD from a friend, is in a format that cannot be read by the unit. When I say all formats, think that should include DivX, but not sure if I really need that.


* Want very good picture quality in playback.


* Record in such a way that DVDs I make can be easily used by recipients with any kind of player -- laptop computer, DVD player hooked up to TV, Mac desktop computer, etc. Can't have any problems where recipients of my DVDs can't read them.


* Need to hook up two other devices to the unit: old VCR, so I can transfer tapes onto DVD (won't be doing a lot of this, but nice to be able to do); Time Warner DVR cable box (this is the one I presently have to hook up via S-Video port at front of LG unit).


* Don't need hard drive, because I don't think I'll be editing movies, etc. My needs are more simple, basic.


That about says it. Thanks for any time you or anyone else can give to this in responding.
 

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"If you need +R/+RW recording capability..." What he is really asking is whether you need the "+" format or would be willing to accept something that only handles the "-" formats and/or RAM. My guess is you don't care. The main reason to care is that one already has a unit that uses one media type. For compatibility, "-" may have a small advantage over "+".


"What is DV-in?" Digital video. This is handy when recording from a digital camcorder.


+R and -R are record-once media. +R/W and -R/W can be rewritten quite a few times. -RAM disks can be rewritten a huge number of times, and are viewed as more reliable for long term storage.


"Play back all formats of DVD." This may be possible, but most of us do not often use our DVR's for viewing DVD's. There are at least two reasons: (1) playback quality is generally inferior to dedicated DVD players; (2) we don't want to burn out the laser in our expensive DVR's when we can get better playback quality from a much cheaper DVD player.


"Want very good picture quality in playback." Use a DVD player, not a DVR.


" Record in such a way that DVDs I make can be easily used by recipients with any kind of player -- laptop computer, DVD player hooked up to TV, Mac desktop computer, etc. Can't have any problems where recipients of my DVDs can't read them." Not possible. However, any DVR will make disks that play back well on recent DVD players, PC's, etc.


"Need to hook up two other devices to the unit." Easy to find. Just read specs in inputs to be sure.


"Don't need hard drive, because I don't think I'll be editing movies, etc. My needs are more simple, basic." Without a hard drive, you will not be able to record more than two hours at reasonably good quality. For sporting events, you may not even be satisfied with the two-hour recording speed. I do several things that would be difficult or impossible without my hard drive:


1. Record four hour programs at good quality.

2. Record several programs at good quality.

3. Record video tapes longer than two hours without intervention. I can later conveniently divide these videos into smaller segments to put on DVD's. Much easier than queuing up the tape for the second recording in real time.
 

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No problem about the questions -- that's what this forum is all about.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bcooper
"If you need +R/+RW recording capability..." I guess that means ability to record on two kinds of DVDs -- the kind you can record on only once, plus the re-writable kind. I don't know for a fact that I need both. But sounds like it would be good for more flexibility.
Actually + simply means it's a different format from -, which is the original consumer DVD recording format. Both come in write once and rewriteable formats. Certain - format machines also have the ability to record onto -RAM.


Having the ability to do both formats does make a recorder more flexible, but the majority of people don't need it. +R holds no advantages over -R, and according to some it's not as compatible with older machines. +RW, however, does hold some advantages in that it has some of the abilities of -RW(VR) but most of the compatibility of -RW(Video). It also requires no finalization or unfinalization to work. It's the closest thing to VCR-like ease of use when it comes to DVD recorders.


I need dual format because I first got into DVD recording nearly 4 years ago using a Philips DVDR-985 which is + format, and I still have many discs from that machine. When I was in the market for an HDD-equipped model, I needed something that would dub my old discs onto HDD for further editing. The Pioneers would play them but wouldn't dub them to HDD, and the Panasonics of that time just spit them back out (this was before the newest series which has + format compatibility). The ONLY HDD-equipped recorder that would accept my old + format discs onto its HDD was the Sony RDR-HX900.

Quote:
"If you need both DV-in and rear s-video..." What is DV-in?
DV-in is the ability to connect a digital camcorder to your DVD recorder (or computer video capture device) using an all-digital connection without having to convert the signal to analog first, which will just be converted back to digital by the recorder. This is supposed to preserve the picture quality, though some feel it's not that much of an improvement. DV-in is also known as IEEE 1394, but the majority of people know it by the trademarked names of FireWire (Apple Computer) or iLink (Sony).

Quote:
"If you can live with +R but not +RW recording..." Would there be limitations?
This is a quirk unique to Panasonic's latest line of recorders. Up until now, Panny's weren't known to play well with + format; I have friends with Panny recorders and players that wouldn't play my discs made by the Philips 985, but those same discs play just fine in their other players.


IMHO, Panasonic did it backwards: they should have enabled +RW rather than +R, for the reasons I already stated above. This is especially since Panasonic, who until the latest series didn't record on -RW media at all (-RAM was, and still is, their preferred rewriteable medium), didn't bother to include VR recording capability on -RW discs. If you want fancy playback and editing features, you were forced to use -RAM which has near-zero compatibility with any player not made by Panasonic themselves. At least +RW is compatible with most machines.

Quote:
* Play back all formats of DVD. Want to avoid situations I've heard about where movies you get, or a DVD from a friend, is in a format that cannot be read by the unit.
All DVD players and recorders will play back commercially-produced DVD's such as pre-recorded movies you get from the store or Blockbuster Video. The issue of compatibility is with consumer-recordable DVD's.


In addition to the multi-format units, the Pioneers will also play back plus format discs as well. Most if not all of the + format units will also play back -R's and -RW's recorded in Video Mode; -RW(VR) is usually not playable in a + format recorder.


Where you have to be careful is with -RAM; again, few recorder models outside those made by Panasonic, and almost no players outside those made by Panasonic, are compatible with this format. If you know of friends who have -RAM capable recorders and like to swap discs in this format, you'll have to stick with Panasonic, Toshiba, and a couple of other brands.

Quote:
When I say all formats, think that should include DivX, but not sure if I really need that.
Very few DVD players and even fewer recorders can play DivX discs, and to my knowledge even those recorders that will play this format won't record in it. DivX is fine for exchanging video files over the internet (to keep file sizes down) but with the advent of DL and true Hi-Def recording on the horizon, I'm not sure if it's a viable format for standalone recorders. Considering the lack of players, not to mention recorders, with this compatibility I wouldn't worry about it.


Quote:
* Want very good picture quality in playback.
IMHO the Sony's are the best here; I don't know about the latest GX315 and HX715/915, but the GX-7/GX-300/HX-900 utilize a 12 bit/108MHz digital to analog converter; most DVD recorders use 10 bit/54 MHz converters.


However, most forum members are of the opinion that you should use a dedicated player for playback, and leave the recorder for recording and editing only. It makes sense on an economic level: for less than what the Sony RDR-HX900 costs ($800), you can buy a nice HDD-equipped DVD recorder AND a top of the line DVD player with HDMI upconverting.

Quote:
* Record in such a way that DVDs I make can be easily used by recipients with any kind of player -- laptop computer, DVD player hooked up to TV, Mac desktop computer, etc. Can't have any problems where recipients of my DVDs can't read them.
-R is your best choice, followed by +R. Next in compatibility is -RW(Video) followed closely by +RW. -RW(VR) only compatible with the newest players (no more than a year or two old). As stated above, -RAM only compatible with Panasonics and a handful of others.

Quote:
* Need to hook up two other devices to the unit: old VCR, so I can transfer tapes onto DVD (won't be doing a lot of this, but nice to be able to do); Time Warner DVR cable box (this is the one I presently have to hook up via S-Video port at front of LG unit).
In that case make sure your DVD recorder has at least two rear inputs, with at least one being S-video (composite OK for your old VCR unless it's an S-VHS unit). Most machines will have this. The LG's and the new Sony GX315 are the exceptions.

Quote:
* Don't need hard drive, because I don't think I'll be editing movies, etc. My needs are more simple, basic.
For not much more than what you paid for your LG, you can get an HDD-equipped recorder from either Pioneer or Panasonic. Don't discount an HDD-equipped model unless you simply can't afford it; it makes editing a LOT easier. You can also save on disc space, and thus save on discs, because you're not recording extraneous material like commercials that you'll simply skip over. On the Pioneer and Panasonic models, with the shorter program lengths due to editing you can then adjust the bitrate to maximize the picture quality.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by bcooper
Was I a jerk to buy those cables, or are they worth it?
There's a very easy way to find out - try the cables that came with the unit and see if you can tell any difference in the picture and/or sound between them and the expensive cables. (Be sure to let us know what you find!)


Sure, the free cables are "cheap", and their specs may not be as good as more expensive cables, but if you can't tell the difference then why pay more? I personally think that there's a lot of unjustified hype surrounding cables, and $300 for them sounds a lot to me like a salesman fishing for an easy catch.


The only caution would be if you're planning to upgrade your display or sound system - it's possible that a difference you can't see/hear now may become more apparent with upgraded equipment.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
RonDawg -- Thanks for taking the time to answer so carefully. I'm getting clearer about all the issues. You may have noticed I posted again yesterday about the Pioneer 533H, which seems like a good unit for my needs from all I've read here.


One question, however. You said, responding to my question about picture quality on playback, that a few of the Sony units "utilize a 12 bit/108MHz digital to analog converter; most DVD recorders use 10 bit/54 MHz converters."


Can you explain a little the difference between those two configurations? I imagine the 12/108 has a better resolution than 10/54. But I'd like to understand it better, in case its important enough to guide me in my choice of a unit. The Pioneer 533H does use a 10 bit/54MHz converter.


Thanks. And please don't be offended if you saw that in my post of yesterday, I asked again about the difference between + and - recording, even though you explained it to me. I'm not extremely technically knowledgable, and I couldn't grasp it. But I do appreciate the time you took to answer my questions.
 
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