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Ok, I had 2 Panasonic DVD Recorders before. First, a DMR-HS2 (HDD unit) and then a DMR-EZ48V (VHS Combo). Both broke for the same reason - the typical problem with all these panasonic recorders where the Laser fails to read any disc. I also tested out the PADMREH69 and it was fine, but I only had it for a short amount of time, so I'm sure after heavy use it would break in the same fashion as my other Panasonics did.


I am trying to stay away from Panasonic DVD Recorders because I simply don't trust them anymore based on the issues I had and the issues others here have had. When they did work, I liked them a lot. The quality of the recordings were good, the menus and everything else were fine. But I feel it's just a matter of time before the Laser stops reading discs again.


I then tried replacing the broken panasonics with the Magnavox ones they sold at Walmart - ZC320MW8B and ZV427MG9 and I couldn't believe how much worse they were. The interface looks like a Commodore 64 computer from the early 80s and the recordings looked like they were made with a microwave, not a dvd recorder. The display of the recordings also didn't cover the whole screen, regardless of changing any settings. They also worked extremely slow and were just horrible all around. Even though they were hooked up identically as my Panasonics. I also tried a Sony DVD Recorder RDR-VXD655 which also made bad quality recordings like the Magnavox models PLUS it didn't let me record half the stuff from my DirecTV DVR due to copywrite restrictions, while the Panasonics and Magnavoxes never had that issue.


Here's what I'm looking for, a DVD recorder that produces quality recordings without copywrite restrictions, but that are more trustworthy and less likely to break down from heavy usage like the Panasonics (does something like that even exist?) and I absolutely do not need a recorder with HDD because I will never use that feature. So I don't want to waste money on a feature that is useless to me. I just want to record quality recordings from my DVR and also dub stuff from VHS tapes. It will be heavy sage. And I do not want to have to worry about it breaking down like Panasonics did. What DVD recorder is my best option? And I'm not looking to spend much money. I was considering the Toshiba DR430 or DVR620 . I like the prices, but I have a feeling these are gonna be exactly like the Magnavoxes. Please help.
 

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The Toshibas are made by Funai which also makes the Magnavoxes, if your not happy with the recording quality of a Magnavox you won't like a Toshiba.

I use Panasonics everyday and finally after 6 years I had a laser failure, actually 2 but again this was after literally 1000s of hours of heavy use. Nothing lasts forever, especially lasers in standalone DVDRs, they just wear out. IMO the only brand that may come close to Panasonic in life might be the Funai(Magnavox or Toshiba) models, a positive they have going for them is when the laser goes bad you can purchase a replacement drive for
 

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Those Magnavoxes you tried are made for display and sale in Walmart stores (primarily) and are not high quality devices.

 

Funai does make better models but they have HDDs, which you don't want. Here's some info on the higher-quality Magnavox models still available online-only thru Walmart (and other online sellers).

 

Other people seem to like the Tosh 620? YMMV.
 

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Like many people here, xtc, you are stranded by an unfortunate intersection of consumer culture vs technology. The problem is standalone DVD recorders are a dead product category: Americans hate them, so no "premium" mfr has officially sold them in USA since 2007 (Canada hung on thru 2009). Funai/Toshiba/Magnavox has had the USA market all to themselves for the past six years, while Canada sporadically seems to get a couple of LG DVD/HDD models of arguable quality (some consider them way better than the Magnavox DVD/HDD, others think they're about the same, while another faction swears they're worse). Recorders remained more popular in Europe until very recently, but as demographics skew younger sales have fallen off to where last-holdout Panasonic is on the verge of dropping their BluRay and DVD recorders altogether (again leaving the field exclusively to Funai, for however long Funai wants to be bothered).


So the basic answer to your question is no, there aren't any alternatives in standalone disc recorders. The only non-HDD models left are the Magnavox/Toshiba twins, which are very simple, or the higher-spec Magnavox DVD/HDD units, which are essentially the same as the cheaper models with an added HDD and tuner. Most seem to feel the Magnavox DVD/HDD are the best of the Funai lot, but reaction to them is very personal so it is best to take advantage of the liberal WalMart return policy and just try one yourself for a few weeks. Used properly, they are better than many people think, but those who started with more advanced brands like Panasonic often can't stand the Magnavox and never warm to it. The sole alternative to the Magnavox would be the import Panasonic DVD/HDD model DMR-EH59, which is fantastic but expensive at $395. Quite a few Panasonic fans here have bought the EH59 and are very happy with it (it has even more features and interface enhancements than older Panasonics). If you live in Canada, check places like Future Shop for the LG DVD/HDD, which has some admirers but is seldom reported on to AVS: might be worth a try.


We really don't have the luxury of choice anymore: we can only buy what is available to us. Since you loathe the Funais and have had terrible luck with Panasonic, you have no options. You might consider a used Panasonic ES model, these are frequently available on Craigs List for less than $100. Laser failure in the Panasonics is actually fairly rare: what most people assume to be laser failure is really just grime on the disc clamp causing the disc to slip and be unreadable. AVS member DigaDo has posted many tutorials on how to disassemble and clean Panasonic burners- once cleaned they work fine again. (Although if you hear a loud thudding or knocking noise when you load a disc, that does indicate laser failure).


You could also think outside the box and consider PC alternatives. Since all you want a recorder for is to make discs from your satellite PVR, a cheap PC with cheap replaceable burners would do you just fine. You can pick up a solid older Windows XP or Win7 box for less than $200 if you hunt around, add a video input system if it doesn't already have one, and the PC should last you indefinitely if used solely to make discs from your PVR. There's no need to connect it to the internet, so you'll never have a virus problem. After a couple thousand DVDs the burner might fail, if so just snap in a new one for $25.


Given your particular requirements, I would bite the bullet and opt for the Panasonic import EH-59. If you don't want to spend $395, monitor the B&H Photo/Video website , as they often have open-box demo units available for $250. As jjeff said, give the unit room to breathe and it should not experience premature laser failure. Follow DigaDo's instructions for yearly burner cleaning, and you should get at least 4-5 years out of it. One caveat: you haven't told us exactly how long your previous Panasonics lasted before failing. It is possible you have unrealistic expectations- DVD recorders on average last 3-5 years before failure. If you were expecting them to last 15-20 years like a VCR, you will be bitterly disappointed: they are all a ticking time bomb. Exceptions abound, and a lot of lucky AVS members are still using DVD recorders they bought in 2004. But that is not typical: DVD recorders historically have the absolute worst price>durability ratio of any consumer electronics item. At this point in the curve it may not matter anyway: when your next recorder dies five years from now, stores may not even be selling blank discs anymore. Recordable DVD is going the way of 8-track tapes.

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Originally Posted by xtc  /t/1523728/question-for-the-experts#post_24515067


The display of the recordings also didn't cover the whole screen, regardless of changing any settings.

Note this is more dependent on your cable/satellite decoder box than the DVD recorder. Most decoders now output a letterboxed 4:3 signal to DVD recorders, so that is what they record (smaller image centered in a black border). If your decoder cannot be set to output 16:9 over composite, no DVD recorder will give you full screen dubs. You would need a PC with video input that accepts 16:9 via analog component or HDMI outputs from the decoder box/PVR.
 

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