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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi there - question for the Panasonic and Pioneer experts - my HS2 appears to be on it's last legs. In the past week there has been a "lag" in responding to some remote control commands...for example: I hit function, timer recording, enter the channel but then when I try to scroll to the date field the screen freezes. If I wait about 30 seconds I can then select the date and then the on time but then when I try to select the off time it again freezes and I have to wait again - if I hit the remote button repeatedly it shuts down into the recover mode. This situation has never happened before.


I was able to move everything off the HDD to RAM today and did select erase all titles and format the HDD but this has not solved the problem so I fear the issue is non HDD related.


Given the age of the unit it's probably not worth repairing so I will probably look for a replacement. I realize my only option is the European models (Panasonic without the NTSC tuner or perhaps the Pioneer which I think has both the NTSC and PAL tuners - I would prefer to have the NTSC tuner but can settle for using line out from cable box ie. the Panasonic solution - right now I use a two-way splitter to be able to record via analog tuner or cable box).


I have tons of DVD-RAM discs around the house - would a Pioneer unit recognize a DVD-RAM recording made on a Panasonic unit? Also, I use the shorten segment option in the Panasonic quite frequently to do very short edits (as short as 2-3 second intervals in some cases). Do the Pioneer units have this capability in an easy to use way?


I'm leaning towards another Panasonic unit since I have so many DVD-RAM discs around that I want to someday convert to DVD-R's and also have many unfinalized DVD-R's around.


Thanks in advance for any advice. Tom
 

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As it happens, jjeff and I recently conducted some tests regarding DVD-RAM compatibility between Panasonic and Pioneer recorders. We discovered that they can read each others DVD-RAM burns just fine, with a couple of caveats:


Panasonic has a rather moronic "feature" which requires manually telling the machine to format RAM discs a certain way to enable "high speed dub to/from HDD". There is no apparent reason for this except to screw over people who could not afford a Panasonic HDD-equipped model: the non-HDD Pannies do not format DVD-RAM in a way that permits lossless speedy dubbing if you later put those discs in another Panasonic which does have HDD. (This is the single most pointless "feature" I have ever seen on any recorder.) Pioneer follows generic DVD-RAM formatting: any RAM disc made on any RAM-capable recorder (Panasonic, JVC, Toshiba) can be HS copied back to the Pio HDD, and RAM titles recorded on any type of Panasonic (HDD or non-HDD models) can be HS copied to the Pio hard drive. Apparently Pioneer completely ignores whatever half-assed flag setting Panasonic uses to enable HS copy mode: this is fine on the Pioneer side but causes a problem for Panasonic if you format a RAM disc in the Pioneer- the Pioneer does not set the "flag" Panasonic requires to allow HS copy to its HDD. This is a problem only if you want to move things between machines: you must always format RAM media on the Panasonic HDD machine so it can embed the HS copy flag, then you're good.


A more annoying issue is the two mfrs inability to read manually entered title names from each others RAM discs. They seem to read the table of contents differently: the titles you enter using a Panasonic will not show in the Pioneer nav screen, and vice versa. The "other" machine will usually revert to default date/time of recording as the title display. If you put the disc back in the machine that recorded it, the titles are still there, they're just invisible to the other mfrs machine. So if you HS copy titles from the Panny-formatted RAM disc to the Pio HDD, or vice versa, you have to manually re-enter your custom title info on each HDD copy. There is some variation here which was difficult for us to understand completely: sometimes the machines do display each others title names properly, it depends whether the recording was made in real-time or dubbed from HDD and several other factors. The thumbnail images seem to carry over intact.


Assuming a person with a dead Panasonic is considering replacing it with a Pioneer, the most important question is "can you losslessly[/I ]copy RAM backups made from your Panasonic onto the Pioneer HDD for further manipulation and backup to DVD-R?" The answer to that is yes, the recordings transfer perfectly from Panny to Pio, aside from unpredictable handling of the title names. Once moved over to a Pioneer, a former Panasonic owner should be reasonably happy: you retain DVD-RAM ability and the 720 x 480 LP resolution of the Panasonic, and also gain complete simple manual control over FR speeds (no more having to figure workarounds for the auto-only Panny FR). If you want a Pioneer as a companion to a Panasonic, this also works reasonably well, as long as you remain aware of the Panasonic RAM-formatting gotcha and use the Panny as the formatting machine for new RAM discs. The "shorten segment" feature of the Panasonics is called "erase section" on the Pioneers, its very easy and reliable to work with: in five years of using and repairing countless Pioneers I have never had the editing system crash or cause any issues for the HDD.


At this point a Panasonic HS2 is quite old and may not be worth sending out for the $135 flat-fee repair, although thats certainly an option. If it were me, I would probably just replace it with a new multi-region Panasonic EH-58 or EH-68: these don't have analog NTSC tuners, or ATSC digital tuning, so you would need cable/satellite service or an ATSC converter box in either USA or Canada. The import Panasonics can be quite pricey, so its worth checking eBay occasionally for the "pure Canadian" NTSC Pioneer 460, 560 or 660 which sometimes undercut the Panasonics by almost $100. Reputable dealers like B&H Photo or J&R Computers here in NYC have just started offering the final Pioneer 660 multi-region machines as well, for about the same price as the Panasonics. The previous multi-region Pios (550 series) were a major headache to use in North America, but several members have recently PM'd me to say the new 660 multi-region is as easy to use as the Canadian models. Note however the multi-region Pios do not have the ethernet port or GraceNote CD audio database features of the Canadian 660 model.
 

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I agree with what Citibear said and while the Canadian Pioneer would have the analog tuner it would lack the ability to play or finalize your unfinalized Panasonic -R DVDs.

Personally I'd go the international Panasonic route because you're probably more familiar with the operation of Panasonics and two, who knows how much longer analog cable will be around.

Not sure if you're familiar with this thread but it has links and lists basic features for various international and other Panasonics.
 

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cdtommie, jjeff brings up a good point I didn't address because you only mentioned DVD-RAM discs as your media. A Pioneer will read and losslessly copy your Panasonic DVD-RAM discs, but it will not be able to read any unfinalized Panasonic DVD-R discs. If you have very many of those, you'd definitely want to either repair your HS2 or replace it with a similar multi-region/global market Panasonic like the EH-58.


BTW I also forgot to mention that Pioneers can accept input from any common USB computer keyboard, making title entry a breeze. This somewhat mitigates the title name issues when exchanging/copying DVD-RAM recordings from your Panasonic.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks CitiBear and jjeff for your input. I'm going to go the Panasonic 58/68 route. I guess the only concern is that these machines don't have a US warranty I assume but since my HS2 has lasted this long I should be good for several years. jjeff, I did read the thread you referenced before posting and it has been invaluable. Thanks again, Tom
 
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