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looking for advice on 3 different recorders


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#1 of 6 Shaw

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Posted August 05 2004 - 09:22 AM

My wife and I are in the market for a DVD Recorder with a Hard Drive onboard. In our area, there are 3 different players to choose from:

1. Panasonic DMRE85
2. Toshiba RD-XS32
3. Pioneer 520HS

We are hoping that some of you here have had personal experience with any of these three units and can offer some background on the results you have had.

We are looking for a recorder which will allow you to designate chapters anywhere you wish on the DVD you make. I know that there can be some issues with this. I have read that if you do too much editing this can affect whether or not you will be able to burn with chapters marked out. Does the Panasonic allow for chapter stops?

We've also read that discs made with the Toshiba can sometimes exhibit "black-level" problems when played back on other equipment than the actual recorder itself.

We simply want to record a lot of VHS onto our own DVDs with a quality picture with as little hassle as possible. As far as Tivo, this is not a priority to us at all. In fact, we are planning to do away with some of our cable channels in the future.

Any advice on the qaulity, durability, ease of use and strengths of picture and so on is really appreciated.

shawn and stacey
SCTV on DVD Campaign
"I am against the attack. I thnk we that we all share an enormous amount, far more than we don't share" - Paul Simon

#2 of 6 SteveK

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Posted August 06 2004 - 01:36 AM

I've been using the Toshiba for about a month now, and am very impressed with it so far. Regarding the black level "problem", I've not noticed it on the recordings I've made and played on several Panasonic DVD players I own. Both color and b/w recordings look fine, to my eyes.

It does allow you to place a chapter break wherever you want, or it will automatically insert chapter breaks at pre-selected intervals. You can insert the breaks either when you're recording or when you're playing it back, but you can only insert breaks on the hard disk, not on the DVD. Of course, any breaks will copy over to the DVD, but you can't create them on the DVD. The manual cautions you that chapter breaks may "move" slightly when dubbing from HDD to DVD, but I haven't seen this happen yet.

It gives you a wide choice of video bitrates (38 to be exact), and three different audio compression rates, including uncompressed PCM. Depending on the video and audio rates you use, you can record anywhere from about 1 hour to about 6 hours on a DVD.

I'm very pleased with the Toshiba, and I'd be glad to answer any specific questions you may have.

Good luck!

Steve K.

#3 of 6 joe buscema

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Posted August 07 2004 - 10:21 AM

i couldn't agree more. i love this baby, with football on the way, i'm in my glory. Posted Image

#4 of 6 Peter Jessee

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Posted August 07 2004 - 03:43 PM

shawn and stacey,

I posted a similar question a couple of weeks ago, here's the link if you didn't see it before:

Recorder Comparisons

I bought the Pioneer 420 from Costco. It's the same thing as the 520, except it doesn't have a DV input for a digital camcorder. So far I'm thrilled with it, although I plan to use it more for time-shifting than for dubbing video tapes. I've only burned one DVD so far, but it was pretty easy to do. You can manually insert chapter marks wherever you want.

Elizabeth S in Hawaii has the same unit, and I'm sure either of us would be happy to answer questions. You can also download the manual for the 420/520 from the Pioneer website to check out it's operation.

I have to say that I was quite tempted by the Toshiba, but the lower price and simpler operation of the Pioneer led me to choose it. With the Costco sale over and the Toshiba available for ~$470 on the web, I would probably lean towards the Toshiba. I have to say that the Pioneer has been great, with terrific picture and sound quality and very easy to use.

Good Luck!

Peter

#5 of 6 Stacey

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Posted August 11 2004 - 02:55 PM

Thanks for your answers Steve, Joe and Peter.

Well Shawn and I finally made the decision to try the Toshiba RD-XS32 due to all the favourable reviews we've read including the excellent opinions we're read here.

So far we're both really impressed with the unit. Installation and hook up to all our other video equipment was fast and straight forweard and we were recording to the HDD in a very short time.

Need I say WOW! Having never had any experience with a DVD Recorder or any kind of TIVO type equipment, the HDD recording option itself just blew us away.

The inclusion of the free DVD RAM was a great touch by Toshiba as it gave us the ability to immediately try high speed dubbing and recording to disc without purchasing any DVD's (though we did buy a few RW's and R's as well Posted Image )

Now the actual editing of program content was more complex (it's a heck of a manual) we did finally get one DVD R burned within a day of owning the unit.

WE did not see any "black level" problems at all with the disc made and I actually found a selection in the manual to actually increase the black level if you are having any image brightness problems...seems to me some people might not be reading their manuals fully before shooting off complaints and taking their machine back. Posted Image

We still have some expermenting to do with the machine on better DVD-R media which I'll be picking up in a few days and I'll post any observations I have and answer anyone elses questions if I can.

Overall, I'm very pleased with the unit and would recommend it to anyone looking for a DVD Recorder with Hard Drive.

Stacey & Shawn
"A little nonsense now and then is relished by the wisest men."

#6 of 6 SteveK

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Posted August 11 2004 - 03:31 PM

Stacey/Shawn - Congratulations on the purchase of your Toshiba! As I indicated above, I'm very pleased with mine so far, and I've now made about 35 DVDs or so, primarily from Turner Classic Movies and Fox Movie Channel. Obviously not the most contemporary films, but I've always enjoyed classic cinema.

I haven't used the DVD-RAM yet; in fact I haven't even formatted it yet. I've had no problems with the Ritek DVD-Rs that I bought, but for some reason I could not use the Ritek 4x DVD-RW. I'll have to try some 2x next, as the manual seems to imply that you can only use 2x for -RW but can use 4x for -R.

You're right, the manual is quite extensive! I don't remember ever seeing a user's manual of more than 150 pages! Granted, some of the explanations are somewhat redundant, and Toshiba seems to assume that step by step instructions are required, but I certainly have no complaints about the clarity of the instructions.

Once again, congratulations on your purchase, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I have enjoyed mine so far.

Steve K.




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