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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've been reading a lot on this forum, and you guys have helped me narrow down the field for a replacement for my Sony RDR-HX900. I was originally considering the Magnavox unit, but I am willing to spend a bit more to get a machine that will make better quality discs. I intend to use the machine for some TV show recording, and some backup of Hi8, D8, and miniDV cassettes.


I see that BH has both Pioneer and Panasonic machines. In my last post, people claimed that the two brands were similar in quality. I also think that I read somewhere that Pioneer had stopped making units, and that BH was selling what might be left.


I was just wondering if anyone could recommend one brand, quality-wise, over the other. I would be looking at:


Panasonic DMR-EH596A 250gB vs. Pioneer DVR-660HS 160gB.


Am I better off with the Panasonic if Pioneer has stopped making new units?


Bill
 

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I believe both are pretty similar build quality and feature set. If you have previously used Pioneer I'd probably say to stick with that brand because the operation and feel would be similar to what you were used to, same with Panasonic if you're used to Panasonic I'd get the EH-59.

If you've never used either brand I personally would go with the Panasonic because they are still made and down the line if you wanted to get another it should be easier to fine a new Panasonic than Pioneer. Panasonic also has the advantage of their $130 flat rate repair which which they may extend to your international Panny, I've read they do with the Canadian Panasonics. Flat rate repair covers parts and labor and is a steal considering major parts for a HDD recorder generally approach or exceed the initial cost of the machine.
 

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As recently as a month ago I wouldn't have thought this, but after more extensive experience with the Magnavox H2160 I have to honestly say it is the absolute best choice in todays market if you have never before owned a Panasonic, Pioneer or Toshiba XS. Those older DVD/HDD models have a certain finesse and additional options not found on the Magnavox, as a long-term Pioneer owner I found the Magnavox hard to accept at first.


However, if you have not owned one of those other "luxo" recorders, you'll never know the difference and you'll find the Magnavox a stunning value proposition (you can buy one to use now plus two spares for the future for about the same cost as a single import Pioneer 660 or Panasonic EH69 at B&H). The Magnavox equals the Pio and Panny in recording quality at the SP and SPP (2.5 hour) speeds, in some cases surpasses them, and it includes a reliable ATSC/QAM tuner for digital broadcasts and cable (the B&H units have no digital tuners, requiring a cable/satellite box or ATSC converter to feed their line inputs).


Owners of the Sony RDR-HX900 tend to be fanatical about their machines, the suggestion of the lowly Magnavox blowing it out of the water sounds like heresy. But the reality is, aside from impressive build quality the RDR-HX900 was really no great shakes. It made beauttiful recordings but was rather limited in terms of editing and other features compared to Pioneer, Panasonic or Toshiba XS. From a strictly functional standpoint, a Sony RDR-HX900 owner could adapt to a Magnavox H2160 more easily than an owner of the more versatile older models. Among other advantages, the Magnavox hard drive is easily replaced or upgraded, and spare burners cost only $67 from the mfr, making affordable DIY repairs possible.


I love my Pioneers and would never give them up, they have incredibly flexible recording options for advanced users (Panasonics are not quite as versatile upfront but can be tricked into aping all the Pioneer features). If you're like me, a heavy user of editing functions who makes many many DVDs, you might find the $400+ price of an import Pioneer or Panasonic a good value. But for typical users that price is ridiculous and excessive when the Magnavox does much the same thing for as little as $159 and adds an integrated ATSC tuner. Most dealers who sell the Magnavox have a liberal return policy- I strongly recommend giving the Magnavox a whirl before committing yourself to the much more expensive imports. If you like it, you can save a small fortune, if you don't, at least you'll be totally clear on choosing the Pioneer/Panasonic.
 

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Not surprising that I agree with CitiBear on this. Unless you use the 4 hr mode, you are unlikely to see a difference in the quality of your recordings. I guess it comes down to the following things. The Magnavox has a usable tuner, and a huge price advantage, good return policy, a warranty, a large library of information from places like this forum, but limited editing functionality. The Pioneer and Panasonic machines have no usable tuner, no warranty, are pretty rare so there is little information about them (around here) and are pricy, BUT they have good editing features and flexable record options.


If you aren't familiar with the workings of a Pioneer or Panasonic, give the Magnavox a try.


I wouldn't replace my Panasonic DVD recorders for a Magnavox, but I have been using Panasonic machines for six (!?!) years now, and I can almost do editing in my sleep. I don't even have to look at the remote because my fingers know where all the buttons are. If I were starting out, product familiarity wouldn't be an issue, so I would be buying a Magnavox, no question.
 

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Ditto to what Church said..... I've just started really using my Philips 3575 (predecessory of the Magnavox 2160) on a regular basis, and I have to say the PQ on recordings made off the internal tuner clearly bests the CECB-fed PQ of my Panny hands down. The problem is I can slice and dice and edit a program on the Panny in a few minutes, and I'm still on the upside of the Philips's learning curve. When I master that, I'll probably use the 3575 for OTA recording and reserve the Panny for VHS dubs.


For somebody coming to DVD recorders for the first time, or who's not married to the Panasonic or Pioneer interfaces, choosing the Maggie seems a no-brainer.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks for your discussion and input. How would each unit be for the archiving of miniDV cassettes, or Sony Digital8 cassettes? With the Sony unit I had, I could put one hour of video onto one DVD and I thought the quality was excellent. I always thought that this preserved the quality of the miniDV cassette as much as possible.


Is it true that that Magnavox can only do 2 hr DVD's, and not 1 hr DVD's? Won't I be losing some quality by putting 2 hrs onto a DVD rather than just one hour? Does the Panasonic or Pioneer have a 1 hr mode?


It certainly seems like both units would be useful for me.


Thanks,

Bill
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by doswonk1 /forum/post/18204472


I've just started really using my Philips 3575 (predecessory of the Magnavox 2160) on a regular basis, and I have to say the PQ on recordings made off the internal tuner clearly bests the CECB-fed PQ of my Panny hands down.

Really? I had a 3575H, and the recordings from my Channel Master CM-7000 CECB to my Panasonic EH75V through s-video in beat the recordings with the Philips directly from it's tuner anyday, with any material for sharpness and clarity. Same as with the Maggie H2080 from it's internal tuner (I tested both the 3575H and the H2080).


Recording to the 3575H (or H2080) from an external tuner I had no major qualms about, though. It seemed to at least be alright.


What kind of CECB are you using? If it's something like that soft, blurry "DTVPal" (which I have, also, so I know full well how it looks), then I can see it.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by bhoy022673 /forum/post/18205443



Is it true that that Magnavox can only do 2 hr DVD's, and not 1 hr DVD's? Won't I be losing some quality by putting 2 hrs onto a DVD rather than just one hour? Does the Panasonic or Pioneer have a 1 hr mode?

AFAIK every DVDR made has had a 1hr speed. Personally I never use it since I notice very little difference from SP 2hrs/DVD. Panasonic calls the 1hr speed XP while I believe Funai calls it HQ.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by bhoy022673 /forum/post/18205443


Is it true that that Magnavox can only do 2 hr DVD's, and not 1 hr DVD's? Won't I be losing some quality by putting 2 hrs onto a DVD rather than just one hour? Does the Panasonic or Pioneer have a 1 hr mode?

Panasonics and Pioneers can be set to fit 65 min, 70 min, 75 min etc to fit to disc. Panasonic calls it FR settings and Pioneer calls it MN settings. The CDN Sony RDRHX780 currently available from Canadian retailers uses the Pioneer MN settings.


The Canadian Sony also has a DV input for Sony camcorders but since it has to transcode DVC to MPEG-2, you may be better off using the S-Video out of your camcorder. It depends on which unit converts the signal better. If your camcorder has a crappy digital to analog convertor (what you get out of S-Video) then you may be better off letting the (currently available from Canadian retailers) CDN Sony RDRHX780 convert DV to Mpeg.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jjeff /forum/post/18206481


Personally I never use it since I notice very little difference from SP 2hrs/DVD.

Many of the concerts I archive have smoke and fast changing light levels/colors. Some of these concerts are grainy to begin with and under these circumstances the 1 hr setting makes quite a difference. The 2 hr bit rate setting tends to be bit starved under the above conditions.
 

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The Magnavox H2160 can record in the 1-hour speed, its called HQ instead of the more typical XP but its the same thing you had on the Sony RDR-HX900. Whether you would get exactly the same quality of dub from your camcorders is another question, and you may not like the answer. Like most "cult" recorders, the RDR-HX900 could occasionally cough up truly breathtaking recording quality (if the planets were aligned, it liked your camcorder, and it liked the blank disc you loaded). If you had the bad luck to get totally addicted to this specific "look", you're probably screwed: the machines that were so good they made your eyes bleed four years ago are invariably the same machines that are unrepairable doorstops today (Sony will not service the 900, they don't even stock replacement burners).


Most recorders aim for just below "blow your socks off" video quality: it makes the machine more consistent from one recording to the next. Jaw-dropping recorders were rare back in the heyday of DVD standalones, today they're completely gone: neither Panasonic, Pioneer or Magnavox will make XP recordings directly comparable to your old Sony 900. If you accept this ahead of time, you'll be far less frustrated with whatever new recorder you buy. Each of the current alternatives has an advantage over the others, unfortunately the only one you can "audition" is the Magnavox (because Wal*Mart or J&R will take it back, B&H will not want to take back the Pioneer or Panasonic just because you don't like it).


The Pioneer has easily-set in-between recording speeds in five-minute increments from 60 to 110 mins, and ten-minute increments from 110 to 240 mins. This lets you precisely match bitrate and DVD capacity to program running time. Pioneer also has the most stable inputs for dubbing from tapes, and the most sophisticated editing/copylist system. Panasonic has an automated set of variable recording speeds similar to Pioneers, some people prefer this while others find it frustrating to use, but the end result is the same. Panasonic also adds subtle enhancements to optimize their LP/4-hour speed, many here who rely on that speed for sports prefer Panasonic. The Magnavox averages the two approaches: it uses a surprisingly refined LSI-style video encoder which can beat Pioneer or Panasonic at XP or SP depending on the source. OTOH its not quite as predictable as the Pioneer when dubbing from tape, its slower LP speed is optimized for smooth motion at the expense of softening detail, and its editing interface is cruder. The Sony RDR-HX780 mentioned by SuperEye is available in Canada (but not USA): its a clone of the Pioneer 560 (without the DVD-RAM features) at a much lower price ($299 at Future Shop), adding another option for Canadians to consider.


Take your pick.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by wajo /forum/post/18206141


Is that the one you had for one day?

No - I had the 3575H for somewhere between three weeks and a month.


Maybe you're thinking of the Philips non-HDD DVD recorder I had (the one with TVGOS and component inputs), before I went and traded it in for the Panny E85H the next day.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by CitiBear /forum/post/18208417


The Sony RDR-HX780 mentioned by SuperEye is available in Canada (but not USA): its a clone of the Pioneer 560 (without the DVD-RAM features) at a much lower price ($299 at Future Shop), adding another option for Canadians to consider.

The latest Future Shop flyer has the HX780 marked as "final clearance"...so anyone who's been waiting to pull the trigger on this one better not count on it as an option for much longer.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rammitinski /forum/post/18205916


Really? I had a 3575H, and the recordings from my Channel Master CM-7000 CECB to my Panasonic EH75V through s-video in beat the recordings with the Philips directly from it's tuner anyday, with any material for sharpness and clarity. Same as with the Maggie H2080 from it's internal tuner (I tested both the 3575H and the H2080).


Recording to the 3575H (or H2080) from an external tuner I had no major qualms about, though. It seemed to at least be alright.


What kind of CECB are you using? If it's something like that soft, blurry "DTVPal" (which I have, also, so I know full well how it looks), then I can see it.

OK, Ramm, maybe I overstated the case a bit.... With good HD-source material like recent Masterpiece Theater "Emma" mini-series, I think the 3575 gives a slightly better picture. To feed the DVDR from the CECB, the signal goes through a digital to analog conversion to leave the box, then through the analog connection to the DVDR, then an analog-to-digital conversion to get recorded to the HDD. There has to be a tad of quality loss from that process.

It's noticeable to me, but not significant enough that I'm going to entirely stop recording to the DMR-E85 from the Zenith DTT-901 box. The 901 isn't quite up to the CM-7000's standards, but overall I'm happy with its combination of reception stability and PQ.


Maybe this weekend I'll swap my 7000 back into the mix for a while. I do have a DTVPal, too--I like its guide better than the 901's--but I'm keeping it out of this critique. I also have an old Samsung SIR-451 that I'd like to play with more.


The bottom line is that any of these CECB/DVDR combos beat the pants off fuzzy old analog broadcasts, unless you're having reception problems.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by JeffWld /forum/post/18210142


The latest Future Shop flyer has the HX780 marked as "final clearance"...so anyone who's been waiting to pull the trigger on this one better not count on it as an option for much longer.

I would worry too much about the over-sensitive copy protection tendencies of their recorders, though, which started either after the HX900, or the comparative model right after that one (7-something something, I think it was). Unless maybe the Canadian models don't suffer from that problem.


My HX900 is still running fine, but that's because I haven't really used it at all in a couple of years. I kept buying a new model every year, and then storing away the old ones, so I've got four, good old HDD models in total now - three Pannies (E85H, EH75V, EH55) and the one Sony (a Toshiba and a JVC sure would've rounded out things nicely - and I came within an inch of buying both. Came close to buying a Philips, too, but Walmart never re-stocked them around here. Went in the store plenty of times with the cash in pocket hoping, though). The only one I'm currently using is the EH75V (man, that thing is great - it truly is the best of the bunch, small hard drive or not. They had one more on the shelf when I bought mine, right before they disappeared for good. I really wish I had grabbed that other one now, but I didn't know just how great it was going to be at the time).


I probably should buy one Maggie just for good measure, too, before they're all gone. I really did like the H2080 more than the 3575H when I had them (in fact, I would've kept it, if the particular one I had wouldn't have been so darned buggy).
 

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Ramm, did I understand you to say that you think the EH75 is superior to the EH55? That is an interesting position if true, because I have both,and since I finished with my VHS dubbing, they are identical, except for the hard drive size. Are you still playing VHS tapes with it?



As far As the OPs initial question, I have never use a Pioneer, so I really cannot compare the DVR-560HS with the Panasonic DMR-EH596A. I have never even heard of an EH596A. A google search on that model only brings up this thread! There is an EH59, that is at W-I[no listed suffix], J&R[EH59E], and B&H[EH59GA-K]. It maybe at other sites as well.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Church AV Guy /forum/post/18212657


Ramm, did I understand you to say that you think the EH75 is superior to the EH55? That is an interesting position if true, because I have both,and since I finished with my VHS dubbing, they are identical, except for the hard drive size. Are you still playing VHS tapes with it?

I played and recorded to a tape when I first got it, just to make sure it worked. Haven't used the VCR side since, though.


I don't know - for some reason, the EH55 just seems a little less solidly built to me. I haven't used it all that much, but I feel like I could see it breaking down a lot sooner than the EH75V ever would. The hard drive is a lot noisier, too. Maybe it's just the one I got, as far as the noise. Either that, or it's ready to go anyways - I did get it (supposedly) new off of ebay, after all.


I don't know if the fact it's a Canadian model has anything to do with it, but I wouldn't think so. I remember inspecting the US display model at Fry's here when it was out, and it seemed the same. Maybe it just seems that way because of the EH75V's bigger chassis.
 

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I agree the EH-55 does seem a little flimsy, kind of like all '06 VHS less Pannys. The EH-55 is built on the ES-15/25 chassis which is fairly light weight. My EH-55 HDD is a little noisy also but I'm sure it will go for years. IMO '05 was the last year of the real solid and quiet Panasonics, my '05 EH-50 while not as feature laden as the EH-55 is quieter and has a more solid feel. Even though it has a smaller HDD I bet the retail on the EH-50 was more than the 55.

I can only imagine how the pre '05 Pannys were built, like everything else as newer models come out they figure ways to cut costs.

I'm guessing Tivo is doing this also. The Series 3 had a better built quality and more features than my Tivo HD and from what I've heard of the new one it will be a cheapened HD, with maybe a few more features. Apparently it pays to buy early, for build quality anyway.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rammitinski /forum/post/18211783


I would worry too much about the over-sensitive copy protection tendencies of their recorders, though, which started either after the HX900, or the comparative model right after that one (7-something something, I think it was). Unless maybe the Canadian models don't suffer from that problem. ).

The Sony RDR-HX780 is a clone of the Pioneer 560 (without the DVD-RAM features) as CitiBear mentioned. So I don't think it suffers the CP problems of previous Sony models. At least mine doesn't. Every digital cable broadcast I recorded went fine. So far I transferred 11 VHS commercial tapes and only one would not copy due to CP message. So far I transferred about 60 VHS taped broadcasts and all went fine.

Quote:
Originally Posted by JeffWld /forum/post/18210142


The latest Future Shop flyer has the HX780 marked as "final clearance"...so anyone who's been waiting to pull the trigger on this one better not count on it as an option for much longer.

I was afraid of this. I know Visions sold out all units and so did London Drugs. Bestbuy and Futureshop still advertise as stock here in Van. The Sony store also carries them.


I heard a rumour that a new CDN Sony DVD HDD unit may hit the CDN market. They still make about a dozen DVD HDD models in Europe and possibly they may convert one for NTSC/ATSC 110 volt use. Only a vague rumour.


CitiBear, do you know if the Sony Europe DVD HDD models are based on Pio or Sony?

Thanks.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rammitinski /forum/post/18213495


I played and recorded to a tape when I first got it, just to make sure it worked. Haven't used the VCR side since, though.


I don't know - for some reason, the EH55 just seems a little less solidly built to me. I haven't used it all that much, but I feel like I could see it breaking down a lot sooner than the EH75V ever would. The hard drive is a lot noisier, too. Maybe it's just the one I got, as far as the noise. Either that, or it's ready to go anyways - I did get it (supposedly) new off of ebay, after all.


I don't know if the fact it's a Canadian model has anything to do with it, but I wouldn't think so. I remember inspecting the US display model at Fry's here when it was out, and it seemed the same. Maybe it just seems that way because of the EH75V's bigger chassis.
Quote:
Originally Posted by jjeff /forum/post/18213590


I agree the EH-55 does seem a little flimsy, kind of like all '06 VHS less Pannys. The EH-55 is built on the ES-15/25 chassis which is fairly light weight. My EH-55 HDD is a little noisy also but I'm sure it will go for years. IMO '05 was the last year of the real solid and quiet Panasonics, my '05 EH-50 while not as feature laden as the EH-55 is quieter and has a more solid feel. Even though it has a smaller HDD I bet the retail on the EH-50 was more than the 55.

I use my EH55 a LOT, and it was also Canadian. I have an EH75 as well, and I can't say I think either is more solidly built. I really like both of them. I also have a US built EH50, and I can't say I think it's better built than the 55 or 75 either. The processor is a bit slower though.


On another note. I bought some DVDs last week, and have made a backup copy for myself [I really hate all the unskipable material on purchased disks these days]. I have to admit, on my 32 inch HD television, the copies are indistinguishable from the original. These recorders really do a great job. Here is the funny thing: I noticed that the episode lengths varied quite a bit, by over a minute and a half from one to another. It turns out that when these were boradcast, there was a "last week on..." clip in the beginning of each one that's missing from the DVD. That is what accounted for the time difference in episode lengths.
 
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