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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Holy cow this is confusing. After reading until my eyes have crossed several times over, it appears if I want a DVD Recorder with a HDD, it comes down to either the Pioneer DVR-460-H which is the Canadian model or the Phillips DVDR3576H. The main purpose for wanting the HDD is to record sporting events and burn them to a DVD when needed. So my question to you experts here is which one is the one to buy? If it matters, we have Cox Cable here in Oklahoma. If there is another model that I missed and should be considering, feel free to list it. I just didn't find any other models in the posts here that are being made right now. I did see where Toshiba was coming out with 4 new models but they didn't have hard drives if I remember correctly. Thank you very much in advance.
 

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OK is a distance from CND but maybe you're looking at getting a Pio from a US online reseller?

For best PQ you should really be recording from the digital HD channels. If they're from broadcast networks then they're probably clear QAM. In this case I'd go for the Philips (or Maggy 2160). If they're from ESPN, ESPN HD(and probably most non network sports channels) probably?? aren't in the clear. In that case you'll probably be happier recording from a digital STB (preferably one that outputs WS over S-video). Another option would be a cable company DVR and simply offload to a cheaper HDDless/tunerless DVDR, editing in real time

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In the second scenario (STB only) the Pio should work quite nicely(or even the Philips). The HDD will save you time vs. real time editing.

In the third scenario you could opt for a cheapo ~$100 DVDR or if you wanted to spend more and get better 2+hr recording quality a Panasonic EA-18 or EZ-28 should work quite nice.

Panasonics have the advantage of being able to use DL disc and also fit ~3hrs of decent quality full d1 resolution video/standard DVD. If your edited events go much over 2:07 you my appreciate this.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thank you for your reply jjeff. I understand some of your answer and some is greek. Let me see if I can provide a little more information which may be of some help. There are numeros Pioneer 640's on eBay and that is where I would purchase it.


Cox Cable in Oklahoma is broadcast in a digital signal. If I want to watch something in Hi Def, I have to suscribe to the Hi Def service which I haven't yet. However, I am planning on buying a Hi Def set this year so at that point, I will be replacing the digital box with a Hi Def box. Now I am a little confused on why it matters on what signal is being broadcast since neither the Pioneer or the Phillips records in Hi Def.


The most basic difference between the two recorders is the Pioneer has an analog tuner and the digital tuner, isn't that correct? That isn't a big deal since I receive the TV signal via cable right?


One of your answers implied that recordings over 2 hours don't look very good on the Pioneer or the Phillips and that is why I might want to look at a Panasonic non hard drive model. So is it Panasonic that makes the best quality non HDD recorders at the moment? Maybe going with a non HDD recorder is the way to go and just use rewriteable disks in case I don't want to keep the sporting event.


Comments please.
 

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Most cable companies provide your local channels in clear HD QAM. Even though a DVDR like the Philips 3576 cannot record in HD you will get a much better picture if you're recording from a Wide Screen HD channel. If the source is better the end result will also be better. This is why I suggested the Philips (a DVDR with a QAM tuner) if the channels you wanted to record from were "in the clear QAM" (not scrambled QAM like ESPN HD and such).

AFA speeds above 2hrs/standard disc, I think with the Pioneers you can still get full d1 resolution (using MN?) but not with the Philips and most all other DVDRs. They feel(I think) that you won't get adequate bit rate keeping full resolution on speeds above SP. Personally I can't stand half d1 and would rather see a little macroblocking(picture breaking up into small squares) in areas of fast movement than half d1. I suppose it's a matter of personal preference but I know I'm not alone in this thought.


The problem with recording direct to DVD (not from a cable company DVR) is if you want to edit the material(like cut out commercials), everything would have to be done real time, push pause during the commercials and then remember to un-pause when the action starts again. This is where the HDD comes in handy. Record to HDD and then just edit out the unwanted parts and finally burn High Speed to DVD R.

You can use a disc type on Pannys and Pios called RAM. A RAM disc is similar to a small HDD. It's the same capacity of a standard DVD but you can edit out unwanted parts after the recording is done. The caveat with RAM discs is they're more expensive (+$1/disc vs. ~30 cents for a standard DVD or ~$1 for RW discs) and they're harder to find as well as not too many players play RAM discs.


For just timeshifting (without a HDD) I'd be inclined to use -RW discs and if you wanted to keep them as is (no editing) just keep them. If you ever got tired of them you could always reformat them and start a new(as you can do for RAM discs). If you got a HDD model then just use the less expensive (non reusable) R discs.
 

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The Philips has the digital tuners, so if you really want those, go for that. I have a Pio640, and love it. I record from the S-Vid output on my Comcast HD box, and make fine looking recordings, in SP, but LP isn't too bad. One thing the Pio will do that the Philips won't is to do a "disc backup." You can make exact bit-for-bit copies of -R and +R discs, using the HDD, at high speed.
 

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When DVD recorders were first introduced, the mfrs were spooked by Hollywood into essentially crippling them from recording a proper signal. Instead of automatically sensing what kind of signal they're getting (16:9 widescreen or 4:3) and creating a dual-format DVD optimized for any size display, they took the cowards way out, which was to make 4:3 the default recording size. Nine out of ten DVD recorders will take any widescreen 16:9 material and turn it into 4:3 letterboxed. While this is fine on an older glass-tube type of TV, it results in a much smaller image on todays 16:9 flat-panel TVs. The image is framed by black on all four sides, so in order to fill the screen you need to use the zoom control on your TV. This magnifies the already lower-res image and doesn't look too good.


This is why jjeff recommended the Phillips/Magnavox as the "better" option. These recorders are the ONLY models available with both a hard drive and an ATSC/QAM tuner. Digital tuners directly receive a 16:9 signal and recorders equipped with them will make full 16:9 DVDs. Other machines, like the Pioneer 460, don't have 16:9 tuners and would be dependent on your cable box for a signal. There is no guarantee any given cable box will output a 16:9 signal for any given channel that will trigger 16:9 recording in any given recorder using its line inputs.The Panasonics have the ATSC/QAM tuners but don't have hard drives. The hard drive is extremely useful, you can fake it out by renting a cable box with hard drive and then connecting it to a DVD recorder but it isn't quite the same advantage or functionality, and again no guarantees you'll get true 16:9 on the DVDs.


Averaged across a dozen recordings, all three brands will have more-or-less the same picture quality using the same recording speeds. At the 2-3 hour speeds, the Panasonics look marginally sharper with some material (but not all). The Phillips/Magnavox might look a tad softer. And the Pioneer is somewhere between. The Pioneer and Panasonics can use single-layer, dual-layer and DVD-RAM media, the Phillips/Magnavox is limited to standard single-layer DVD.


Note the primary advantage of the Phillips/Magnavox, its 16:9 recording ability from its built-in 16:9 tuner, is completely lost if you use a cable box as your source. You only get the 16:9 benefit with off-air or "free" cable-QAM channels fed to the machine without the decoder box. If you need the box for all your favorite channels, you might prefer the Pioneer if you can get one at a decent price. They are slightly more rugged than the Phillips and have somewhat better editing features. But the Phillips is also quite good, and much easier to buy in the USA.
 

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My Pio 640(not my Pio531 though) essentially equals my Panny models(2006-7) at 4 hour record mode- I have run side by sides,same channel same inputs. I would assume the Pio 460 is as good as 640
 

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At what preset speed does the Pioneer switch to half d1 (less resolution)? Isn't it possible with a Pioneer to select this somehow by using the MN (flexible record) modes?

With Pannys you can force it into half d1 by setting FR for 4hr 1 min. (with a new disc) but I know of no way to force it to half d1 in speeds faster than or including LP(4hrs/disc).

Since I don't like half d1 I don't worry about going that way, I'm more worried about keeping it in full resolution mode.
 

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When Panasonic received a ludicrous amount of positive attention from the AV press over their switch to "full D1 all the time" resolution, all the other mfrs took note and followed suit (even though full D1 is often inappropriate at some speeds with some material- instead of being forced, it should be an option). Pioneer went way overboard and moved their half-D1 changeover point to somewhere close to six hours (SLP) in MN mode or the fixed SLP speed.


One really has to take a lot of the DVD recorder feature claims with a grain of salt: so many of them are actually only useful in a "perfect" AV world which of course does not exist. A huge majority of us are dependent on digital cable service, which is so compressed and glitchy NOTHING makes it look good. Full D1 at LP on my Panasonic gives me a "sharp" recording, all right: a sharp clear recording of an adulterated mess of a broadcast, plus it adds a few extra macroblocks for my viewing pleasure. My old JVC, which drops to half D1 at LP, looks a bit "softer" but the "softness" glosses over some of the broadcast issues. Hobson's choice: one is not definitively better than the other.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by CitiBear /forum/post/15586495


Full D1 at LP on my Panasonic gives me a "sharp" recording, all right: a sharp clear recording of an adulterated mess of a broadcast, plus it adds a few extra macroblocks for my viewing pleasure. My old JVC, which drops to half D1 at LP, looks a bit "softer" but the "softness" glosses over some of the broadcast issues. Hobson's choice: one is not definitively better than the other.

Yes full resolution at LP is even iffy, at SLP


I didn't realize you had a Panny, if my memory is correct you've got "many" Pios, a older (probably better made classic) JVC, and a Philips 3575


you've got em all covered
Oh and you used to have one of the classic XS Toshibas


I agree source has everything to do with ability to make a great looking full d1 recording. I'm talking about recording from a good quality commercial DVD or from a HD digital broadcast, that's where the full resolution will shine.

I use to make LP recordings off color programs on analog cable
I'm glad they were on RWs since I've long recorded over those macroblocking messes.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Things are starting to make a little more sense guys so thank you. Citibear who gave an excellent explanation of the differences between the Philips and Pioneer recorder stated if I used a cable cox, 16:9 broadcasts may be in the 4:3 format. This is a little confusing to me as who doesn't have a box these days unless one doesn't mind using rabbit ears and receiving the non-pay channels only. Doesn't Dish and the other satellite service use a box too? So if I use cable, I may not be able to record in the 16:9 format from any source such as FOX, NBC, CBS, ABC, ESPN, ESPN 2, FOX Southwest because of using the cable box. If I want to record in the 16:9 format, I will have to ditch the cable box but will be able to record in the 16:9 format from the OTA channels. Do I have this right?
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by jjeff /forum/post/15586857


I didn't realize you had a Panny, if my memory is correct you've got "many" Pios, a older (probably better made classic) JVC, and a Philips 3575
you've got em all covered
Oh and you used to have one of the classic XS Toshibas

Oooh, ya got me!
It would have been more accurate for me to say "I had" on some of these: I had a Panny EH55 for a few months, sold it when I got an insanely high offer for it and bought two additonal Pios with the proceeds! I had a Toshiba XS for few weeks, bought second hand off eBay, self-destructed in less than a month so that got sold at a loss. I had the Phillips 3575 for a couple months till my Dad stole it off me.


Which leaves me with two JVC DR-MV5 recorders (the last good ones, made in 2005) and more Pioneers than I'd care to admit to owning
. The JVCs are great for extended-length movies because they do a fantastic encode at the 200 minute speed. Many of my Pios are in various states of disassembly, I finance my DVR habit by buying up broken ones and fixing em up for resale. The handy thing about settling on one brand like Pioneer is you can swap unfinalized or VR mode discs between them easily- this is incredibly useful when one of them starts dying and you're scrambling to rescue raw video from their hard drives. You can transfer the contents of one Pioneer to another (any vintage from 2003 thru 2009) this way, enabling you to continue editing on the hard drive of the new recorder. Nice. My latest acquisitions were a couple of Canadian "open-box" Pio 460 refurbs: this is a really sweet model and my favorite Pioneer ever. I think soon I'm gonna sell off some of my older backups and stockpile some more 460s.
 

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Sn8keBit, yes you are understanding us correctly. The part that's confusing you (it confuses us, too) is the different types of cable service. Depending on where you live, your cable vendor may offer a "boxless" option, where you connect the cable wire directly to your TV (or recorder), using your TV (or recorder) tuner to pick up the channels from the cable. Some areas offer a nice selection of channels this way, but generally they have an extremely limited selection and consider their "boxless" customers to be cheapskate pains in the ass they'd rather not even service. If you can get service without a decoder box from your system, the Phillips/Magnavox will use its internal QAM (digital cable) tuner to pull in those cable stations and record them as 16:9.


If you look for the sticky post at the top of AVS dvd recorders forum, you'll see member wajo has an enormous amount of info filed on how to use the Phillips. One option he explains is to split your cable line so it feeds the Phillips before it feeds your cable box. In this way you can get a good many stations in 16:9 thru the Phillips tuner, and connect the box to its line inputs as a fallback for scrambled channels. Again, depending on the decoder box, its output options, your cable vendor, and your recorder, you may or may not get 16:9 from the box: it might be 4:3.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Cox Communications uses a converter box made by General Instrument in Tulsa so that appears to put the Philips and the Pioneer on the same playing level. Now if I buy the Pioneer DVD recorder, I will have to use the converter box as my tuner correct? If I purchased the Philips DVD recorder, I could use it as my tuner if I am thinking correctly. Am I on the right track?
 

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The Pioneer will still have a analog cable ready tuner so it could still tune and record those it's just the Philips will also be able to tune any QAM in the clear digital channels. Note depending on your cable system the QAM in the clear HD channels may only be the locals. You should also try and find out if your STB will output wide screen over S-video. If it does then then the only real advantage to the digital tuner in the Philips would be you could record one digital channel on the Philips while watching a different channel on your STB.

If your STB doesn't output WS over S-video and the channels you want to record are from a in the clear QAM channel, the Philips is the obvious choice IMO.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sn8kBit /forum/post/15590275


Now if I buy the Pioneer DVD recorder, I will have to use the converter box as my tuner correct? If I purchased the Philips DVD recorder, I could use it as my tuner if I am thinking correctly. Am I on the right track?

Your cable system will have some channels sent out unscrambled, and many more scrambled. The Philips will tune only the unscrambled channels, not the scrambled ones. That is why the suggestion to run the raw cable to the Philips, then to the converter box. Then, you would run the S-Vid and R/L audio outs from the cable box to the Philips. You would have to use the S-Vid line inputs to record scrambled channels, and they probably won't be in anamorphic 16x9, but in 4x3 LB 16x9.


If your cable system hasn't gone all digital yet, you could do something similar with the Pioneer, but it would only record analog channels using its own tuner, not any unscrambled QAM digital channels.


If I understand CitiBear correctly, he is saying that the Philips will provide an anamorphic 16x9 picture for recording, if it is available on an unscrambled QAM/digital channel. This would indeed be an advantage over the Pio, but I would point out that most of the things you would like to record in anamorphic 16x9 would be on movie channels, and would be scrambled.
 

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I was getting ready to post a question in another thread until I found this thread! I want to buy a Pioneer DVR-660/H-K from Canada. I have always been a Panasonic person because of the 500 lines of resolution @ LP (4 Hrs.) mode. So I downloaded the owners manual from the Pioneer site for the DVR-460H-K,560 & 660, I don't recall any info on the WS 16:9 but that pretty much depends on your STB (Set-Top Box) and my SA8300HD from TWC will not output WS through S-video. Without a Polaroid 2001G or something similar with Component-In or a QAM/Digital tuner WS is not possible. TWC in my area quit sending the free pass-through channels/signals a few months back so I now receive nothing without the STB, GREED...!! Back to the resolution, in the back of the manual (pg. 127) in "Manual Recording" mode Pioneer claims 720x480 resolution (Full D1) up to 4 hrs recording using "Video Mode On" after that it drops down to 352x240 half D1 by my understanding. I don't know how that relates to the Panny's with 500 lines up to 4 hrs (that's from back in the old S-video days where Std VHS was 240 lines and S-Video was 480-500 lines of resolution), but I would assume its close? If any of you with more knowledge than me can explain please help!
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Something caught my attention so I would like you experts here to follow up on this statement by kjbawc. He stated most of the 16x9 content will be from movie channels. With my purpose being to record sporting events and not movies, is it going to matter if the recorder won't automatically sense whether to record in 4:3 or 16:9?
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sn8kBit /forum/post/15594744


Something caught my attention so I would like you experts here to follow up on this statement by kjbawc. He stated most of the 16x9 content will be from movie channels. With my purpose being to record sporting events and not movies, is it going to matter if the recorder won't automatically sense whether to record in 4:3 or 16:9?

With my Philips 3575's, I record everything with the DVDR set for 16:9 Wide (basic cable, no STB).


The analog 4:3 channels record as normal 4:3 and the digital channels record in natural 16:9 or packaged with bars, depending on if the program was produced in 4:3 or 16:9.


The only thing that can prevent 16:9 WS recording is a STB that won't send a WS signal over its Composite or S-Video output. Also, the Philips 3575/3576 or Magnavox 2160 don't set the "WS flag" so WS recordings can't be reconfigured for a 4:3 TV (by specifying 4:3 LB playback), but all my 4:3 recordings show full-screen on my 4:3 TVs with barely noticeable narrowing caused by my constant DVDR setting for 16:9 WS recording.

If interested, here's a help file describing this in more (too much?) detail.
 

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Most of us here on AVS are "persnickety" and have tried practically every brand before settling on one. There isn't as much choice now as there once was, but there's still a difference machine to machine, and you should not assume any particular recorder will make you happy until you try it. Here's why: any consumer who puts faith in these dramatic mfr claims is in for a possible disappointment (Panasonic, Pioneer, Phillips- any mfr).


The thing about Panasonic is they have managed to cultivate a "mystique" that they make the sharpest recordings of all DVD machines. Panasonic "captures 500 lines" the way I capture winning lottery numbers- please
. Like most mfr claims, this is half-true and half-bullsh*t. Unfortunately people have a visceral gut reaction to the idea of "sharpest recorder", and their emotions get the better of them. Early Panasonics actually made crappy dysfunctional non-standard DVD-Rs that give people fits to this day when they try to play them on ordinary hardware or rip them to their PC for reauthoring: the DVDs were "sharp" all right, but encumbered with so many issues and color/sound problems it was hardly worth it. Later and current Panasonics, like the popular EH-55, 75 and 85, and the EZ series, are vastly improved and are certainly equal to other top-tier brands. But again, like other mfrs they have strengths and weaknesses compared to the competition, and you should choose which balance works best for you. Panasonics are fine machines, but they aren't perfect- no DVD recorder is. A Panasonic may well be perfect for you, but your friend might prefer a Phillips or a Pioneer: its subjective.


Panasonic introduced the "full D1 resolution at crap slow speeds that can't support it" feature because many unsophisticated consumers think DVD works like VHS: they got six hours on a tape so they damn well insist on getting six hours on a DVD. The fact this looks like garbage doesn't seem to bother them, so Panasonic figured boosting apparent resolution by sacrificing bitrate would get the loyalty of those customers. And it did: in spades. Regardless of genuine performance, Panasonics are now enshrined as the "sharpest recorders" in the mass-market mindset. Depending on your display and your signal source, Panasonic recordings (particularly at LP/4hr) have a distinct "look" that some perceive as sharpness and others perceive as a mess of artifacts. You could love it, or you could hate it.


Panasonic is to be commended for continually evolving their recorders, and for maintaining an overall high standard of construction and performance even in these dark days when DVD recorders are not selling at all well and their competitors have farmed out production to third-rate subcontractors. Panasonic, along with Pioneer and the Phillips/Magnavox HDD units, are the only decent options left in North America. My point is not to pick on Panasonic, but to "demystify" the false notion any one brand is head-and-shoulders above the rest. Digital recording to DVD is not at all like analog VCR recording: different issues are involved, and different perceptions, which perversely makes digital much more difficult to evaluate objectively. Any given mfr can claim "x lines of resolution" and "this or that special feature": its gibberish unless and until you see that recorder in action and decide you like the results. You decide, not the brochure and not the reviews here on AVS: they can only give basic information.


Pioneer, like every other mfr, copied Panasonic's "highres-low speed" feature years ago. The Pio instruction manuals are notoriously imprecise: despite what it reads, Pioneers hold to full D1 down to around 5 hours in MN mode or SLP in fixed speed mode. You can be sure it will run at full D1 in LP/4hr. Whether you will think the Pioneer looks as good, better or worse than Panasonic can only judged by a test drive. Pioneer does not make any change to its encoder other than the resolution: its response is flat. Panasonic incorporates a few tweaks under the hood to bias its LP encode a certain way, which might look "sharper" to some people or weird to others. Phillips/Magnavox with HDD is optimized for the 2.5 hour speed, is good at 3 hrs, and average at LP/4hrs. Which one will "look best" depends mostly on your display- it takes all kinds to make a matched digital world. If at all possible, buy your recorder at a retail store that carries at least two of the three brands, so you can make an exchange if your first choice doesn't work out.
 
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