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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I done a lot more research on the above 3, I come up w/ the following questions on the Pioneer.


1) What if your camcorder is 19 x 10, whereas the pioneer only support 720x480. What happen if you plug in a camcorder that is 19x10 HD?


2) Does the USB port support input or can the Pioneer output recorded on to a USB port as well?


3) How do you do timer recording on satellite of say 2 events w/o that TVGuide? How do you switch chnl.?


4) in this thread

http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showt...php?t=1042190&


you guys said the 660 can record 1 show while I watch another. I read thru the whole manual, it doesn't seem to say that at all? Can someone confirm that?


5) Since the Pioneer has the biggest hard drive, and does 1080p, why would anyone consider the EH55S from panasonic in which the Panasonic only suport 1080i and a smaller hard drive? Likewise, is it fair to say whatever feature the Sony has, the Pioneer also has, as such there is no reason to consider the Sony 780?
 

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You do not specify if you are in the USA, Canada or elsewhere so this complicates your answer: all these machines are quite different in Europe/Asia compared to their North American versions, and in North America none are available in the USA and the Panasonic was discontinued in Canada a couple months ago with no replacement model planned. The Pioneer and Panasonic can record on DVD-RAM, the Sony cannot. No DVD recorder sold anywhere in North America will let you record one channel and watch another using satellite: this feature is only offered on dual-tuner PVRs offered by your satellite service provider. A DVD/HDD recorder will only allow this convenience with off-the-air broadcast channels (you record one channel on the recorder and watch another on the TVs own tuner).


The Sony and Pioneer are very similar and share some key parts like the burner, which is exceptionally good. In North America the Pioneers are preferable for their somewhat more refined circuitry and intuitive editing interface. The Pioneers are easily found on sale in Canadian stores and are available to USA residents via online sources. I'm not sure if the Sonys are even still available in Canada, since they don't come up on the Sony Canada website. Neither has TVGOS. (The European versions incorporate the Guide+ scheduling feature, similar to TVGOS, and in Europe the Sony is thought to have a slight edge in DTV tuner performance). Analog TVGOS DVD recorders have been phased out in Canada and the USA so if you want this feature your only option is to try and find one of the very few leftover Panasonics. The Pioneer 660 works like any other non-TVGOS recorder: you set the timer on the recorder and you also set the timer on your cable-satellite box. They do not have IR blaster accessories.


The Panasonic is primarily prized for its reliable TVGOS feature, Panasonic had the best version of this and the people who can't live without TVGOS just *love* their Pannys. But as I said, Panasonic has recently pulled out of the Canada market just like they pulled out of the USA a few years ago. New leftover EH55s are in extremely short supply causing many to turn to the second-hand marketplace.


The USB port on the Pioneer 660 is for input only, it will not let you download information to another device. I cannot answer your question about its compatability with camcorder screen ratios because honestly I don't know anyone who bothers with 16:9 HDTV camcorders.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for the reply. I am buying for myself and someone else, so it's going to be in use in both Canada and USA.


After I read your reply, I discover 1 thing that noone talks about: Pioneer has a hard drive optimization function, just like XP Pro's Defragmentation on its NTFS. The funny thing is, Panasonic doesn't seem to have this function as from their downloaded manual, it's not stated anywhere.


As to sony, they have a web site called


docs.sony.com


but the 780 is not there although the 730 is. The 730 didn't say anything about this feature neither.


Defragmentation is a necessity, usually done once a month on PC hard drive. The amount of R/W on a Panasonic or Pioneer, it is no difference. So a unit w/o such function is a big no no to me.


It seems Pioneer really knows what they are doing
 

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Glad to hear my answer helped you a little bit. You mentioned a new point, the hard drive optimization feature in the Pioneers, which you need to know more about. Be advised the "optimization" option does not appear or become available to you until the *machine itself* decides it needs optimizing- it will then suddenly add an "optimize" choice to its disk menu that is normally not there. This is a little like the S.M.A.R.T. feature in laptop hard drives: by the time it warns you about a problem, its too late anyway: the drive is hosed. So don't worry too much about "optimizing" on a DVR.


If you follow the threads here on AVS, the hard drives on these recorders are pretty reliable until you start making many edits on many programs that fill the hard drive to capacity. If you make a habit of always keeping the hard drive at least 20-25% free, you won't have any problems. If for some reason you do fill the drive almost completely, it is crucial to back up the newest recordings to DVD asap to free up space. And try not to "permanently" store edited material on the hard drive- this causes problems. If you bothered to edit it, it means you want to keep it, if you want to keep it get it the hell off the hard drive and onto a DVD to clear those edit points from the recorder memory and keep the disk unfragmented
.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by CitiBear /forum/post/14267650


Be advised the "optimization" option does not appear or become available to you until the *machine itself* decides it needs optimizing- it will then suddenly add an "optimize" choice to its disk menu that is normally not there. This is a little like the S.M.A.R.T. feature in laptop hard drives: by the time it warns you about a problem, its too late anyway: the drive is hosed. So don't worry too much about "optimizing" on a DVR.

do you mean the Pioneer 660 specifically? If so, is there a way to manually force an optimization every 2 months or so?
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by happy hopping /forum/post/14269572


do you mean the Pioneer 660 specifically? If so, is there a way to manually force an optimization every 2 months or so?

Yes, the 660 specifically and all previous models. The menu option to "optimize" remains inaccessible until the recorder thinks you need to use it, at which point it will display a large gray alert box on your television, suggesting you go to the disk menu where "optimize" is then revealed. Please understand this is pretty much a last ditch emergency system on the recorder: probably 70% of the Pioneer owners who have reported using it on these forums say the optimization hangs or fails and they end up replacing the drive. The only "safe" way to manually force an optimization is laborious: you'd have to copy the entire hard drive to a series of DVD-RAM discs, then delete every title on the hard drive, then re-copy the recordings back to the hard drive from the DVD-RAM discs in one long sitting so they all link up without leaving fragments.


A DVR is not a computer, it does not have elaborate OS instructions on how to recover from drive glitches, and it won't accept a "Norton Utilities" recovery disc. This is why its not recommended to fill up an entire 250GB drive with shows and attempt to use it as a video jukebox: you are asking for trouble unless every show is backed up to DVD. I know its very difficult for many people to accept these recorders do not live up to their "hype", but they don't, and if you max them out they will develop issues. 250GB is actually a ridiculous amount of storage to have on a simple DVD/HDD recorder: there is no quick way to manage that many recordings using the simple navigation tools built into the recorder (I have 62 shows on my 640 right now, and its a total pain to scroll up and down to locate a specific show). Again, these are not HTPCs, they are simplistic machines. The only reason you even see 250GB drives offered in these things is because hard drive suppliers lower prices and increase capacity every year, and smaller drives get outmoded. If you buy a 660, take my advice and do not fill it to more than 80%. And be sure to ALWAYS back up any shows you want permanently to DVD: if the hard drive ever fails, there is virtually NO way to recover your recordings.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by CitiBear /forum/post/14267650


... Be advised the "optimization" option does not appear or become available to you until the *machine itself* decides it needs optimizing- it will then suddenly add an "optimize" choice to its disk menu that is normally not there...

CitiBear - you must be thinking about another option that appears in the menu when there is an actual HDD problem, but is invisible at any other time. I can't think of the exact wording right now as I haven't seen it myself, but I read about other people getting it when the HDD malfunctions.

I have the 640, 550 and 650 Pios, and on all three units the "HDD Optimization" can be activated at any time. I regularly use it after backing up, and subsequently deleting a bunch of recordings.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by tac7 /forum/post/14271813


CitiBear - you must be thinking about another option that appears in the menu when there is an actual HDD problem, but is invisible at any other time. I can't think of the exact wording right now as I haven't seen it myself, but I read about other people getting it when the HDD malfunctions.

I have the 640, 550 and 650 Pios, and on all three units the "HDD Optimization" can be activated at any time. I regularly use it after backing up, and subsequently deleting a bunch of recordings.

Optimize is always available, but the machine does put up a message when it thinks you should optimize... that's prob. what CitiBear was referring to.


Initialize is the "hidden" option and only appears when the machine says so.
 

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tac7 is correct - the "Optimize HDD" is always present on the 640 (and I assume the later models too). When the recorder gets into a tizzy it displays an additional menu item labelled ""Initialize HDD".


So it is possible to invoke the optimization function any time you want. It seems to me that most people report it doesn't seem to have much effect. I've never optimized the hard drive in my or my wife's 640 and never had any issues in over a year of use (well over 2 years if you count my wife's 533). And my wife uses her 640 a >>lot
 

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Doh
. Let me say that again... DOH
! This is what comes of too many posts in one day: I start making mistakes. I suppose that's my clue to put down that keyboard and go experience the real world for a little while
.


happyhopping, my apologies: the more general advice I offered about recorder hard drives should hold true, but tac7 and Sean Nelson are correct, the optimize menu is always available. I think I confused myself after servicing a 633, a 510 and a 540 last month: its the *initialize* HDD option that is invisible until the recorder senses imminent disaster and displays an alert, or you replace the hard drive with a new one. Funny though- I could have *sworn* the same applied to the optimize function! I mean, now and then I think it would be a good idea and I don't even look, I was so sure it wasn't there! The mind plays funny tricks, I tell ya. Just to be absolutely certain, I just checked the Disc Setup screen of my 531, 540, and 450 and they ALL do have the Optimize HDD button available.


Especially when it comes to Pioneer info, it ain't over til Sean Nelson weighs in
. Never take a single poster's word for everything- wait for more shoes to drop! Sorry for the brain freeze...
 

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The Panny ES-55 does have a option called "format" for its HDD. This option will wipe out anything on the HDD. Since it only takes ~30 seconds I really don't know what it does. I've done it a few times when I've actually got down to nothing on my HDD but don't think it does the extensive "optimize" like on the Pios. I'm not sure how long the Pio takes to do its thing, but would think it takes longer than 30 seconds.
 

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Optimize on the Pioneers defragments the HDD. Format on the Panasonics deletes all the programs on the HDD and resets pointers, etc.


Very different!!
 

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I figured as much. I don't really care much how DVDs and I guess now DVDRs w/HDDs use the term format. In DOS days anyway a FORMAT could take hours and would do much more than delete programs and reset pointers. Maybe I'm thinking of a low level format vs. a quick format.
 

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I've never personally run the optimize routine on any of my Pioneers, but those who have report that it takes several hours to half a day on a very full 160GB unit, and often hangs or fails if the machine is near capacity (which makes sense, it needs at least enough free space to move around the largest fragment, which could be a two hour movie of 4GB in size or even larger.) Pioneers do not allow formatting or initializing unless they sense a major hard drive problem, or you replace the drive. Strangely, when I had a badly malfunctioning drive in my old Pioneer 520, the initialize alert never appeared, so no telling what Pioneers criteria is for a failing drive. Maybe it sensed the drive was hopeless and not worth initializing: I certainly thought so and threw it away. When I put the new drive in it of course gave me the initialize option.


Over the last three years I've replaced the hard drives in perhaps two dozen Pios of various models, all of which require initializing the new drive. This never takes more than 30 seconds, per jjeffs experience with Panasonics, so I think initialization on most recorders just sets up a very basic file system and deletes any pointers, they don't perform a full-bore low-level format. If you plan to recycle a used computer drive, erase it on the computer before installing it in your DVR, just to avoid potential formatting conflicts.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by jjeff /forum/post/14274198


I figured as much. I don't really care much how DVDs and I guess now DVDRs w/HDDs use the term format. In DOS days anyway a FORMAT could take hours and would do much more than delete programs and reset pointers. Maybe I'm thinking or a low level format vs. a quick format.

Yeah, I agree. For example, would a "format" on a DVDR block out bad sectors so that they are not used? I don't think so, but I could be wrong.


I think the format in a DVDR is closer to a quick format on a PC.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by jjeff /forum/post/14273960


The Panny ES-55 does have a option called "format" for its HDD. This option will wipe out anything on the HDD. Since it only takes ~30 seconds I really don't know what it does.

that is just a quick format. In PC, w/ Nero 8, they do the same thing w/ DVD RW, a Quick format. It's not useful. A format of hard drive to erase all prev. pointers would requires a full format.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by CitiBear /forum/post/14274501


I've never personally run the optimize routine on any of my Pioneers, but those who have report that it takes several hours to half a day on a very full 160GB unit, and often hangs or fails if the machine is near capacity (which makes sense, it needs at least enough free space to move around the largest fragment, which could be a two hour movie of 4GB in size or even larger.) .

exactly, and I agree w/ that 20% space. The more space you have, the faster the defrag. takes, as it gives the unit much more space to work w/ to defrag those movies.


---------------------------------------------


I do have 2 more questions on the Pioneer:


1) If I want to transfer 6 hr. or so of several VHS old tapes to a DVD+R, can I transfer the VHS contents to the hard drive first, then setup the movie transfer in 1 operation? Because I don't want to burn Multi-session DVD+R, I just want to burn all 6 hr. in 1 load to 1 DVD+R.


2) When we burn say a dozen AVI, MPG, or WMV files on a DVD+R using Nero on our PC, can we insert that DVD+R to the Pioneer and expect the pioneer to read the file format burn by Nero or other PC burning software?
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by happy hopping /forum/post/14283597


that is just a quick format. In PC, w/ Nero 8, they do the same thing w/ DVD RW, a Quick format. It's not useful. A format of hard drive to erase all prev. pointers would requires a full format.

But HDD DVDRs only offer one format, are you saying that a format on a HDD DVDR does not reset (erase) pointers? I think it does.
 

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When a Pioneer initializes or formats its existing drive (a rare occurence), it does the equivalent of a "quick format" on a PC: it simply erases its table of contents and removes all pointers to existing files, making the drive "appear" empty to the recorder OS so it will overwrite all existing files with new video. The old files remain on the drive until they're overwritten, as does the original low-level drive format/file structure. Only if you put a brand-new replacement drive in a Pioneer, will it do a complete low-level format, if it does not sense an existing Pioneer file system. This generally takes no more than a minute or two, since the recorder employs a very basic UNIX-derived file structure and format. It does not map out any "bad sectors" and such like a PC, so if the drive is flawed you will eventually have a crash that results in loss of videos. Having replaced the drive in quite a few Pioneers myself, I would advise spending the money for a brand new clean drive: if you install a recycled PC drive, your risk of problems is far greater.


Yes, you can easily record 6 hours of VHS to the Pioneer hard drive, set your chapter marks, and copy the entire six hours to a single DVD as a one-step process. But it isn't a good idea to do this: the 6-hour digital DVD format is much less "forgiving" than 6-hour analog VHS. Fitting six hours of video on one DVD requires a great deal of compression, some people claim they can tolerate this with off-air recordings but most find it completely unwatchable. A copy from 6-hour VHS would likely be even poorer quality. All DVD recorders are limited to a single recording format: the DVD MPEG2 standard. This works reasonably well out to about 3 hours on one DVD, any more and you start to see obvious compression artifacts. If you absolutely MUST fit 6 hours on a single DVD you could use the very expensive dual-layer Verbatim blanks to record 3 hours per layer for a total of 6 hours, but using the better-quality 3-hour speed on each layer. Six hours on a single-layer disc is probably better done on a computer, which you can use to create DiVX files with more adjustable compression from your VHS. It wouldn't be truly DVD-compliant, but many DVD players today can play DiVX files easily on a television display.


Each generation of Pioneer recorder adds more file compatibility for loading things on its hard drive. I have only used the 640 model of two years ago, this model can load DiVX files and MP3 audio files from a disc or USB thumb drive, but usually has a hard time recognizing them if both types of file are on the same disc. You're better off feeding it one type of file at a time. The later 650 and new 660 allegedly accept a laundry list of file types but I would not rely on this: recorders are notorious for not handling PC files gracefully. Basic DiVX files and MP3 audio are about all they can manage, if that. Those who expect them to be as flexible as a PC are invariably disappointed: they are designed to be simple authoring tools to make basic DVDs, nothing more. If you want to play with numerous file types on a large TV display, you are much better off buying a home theater PC.
 
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