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Newbie question regarding DVD recorders...


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#1 of 6 Rich Tysinger

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Posted August 13 2004 - 09:30 AM

Hi. I am currently recording movies off of TV using a JVC HR-S9911U VCR. I usually record in S-VHS ET mode. Although it's an excellent VCR, I'm considering purchasing a set-top DVD recorder to replace it, mainly for the convenience of the media.

However, one of my concerns about DVD recorders is recording movies longer than two hours. If I am recording a 2 1/2 to 3 hour movie with a DVD recorder, will the picture quality possibly be less detailed than what I'm used to with my VCR?

#2 of 6 Rob Mac

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Posted August 13 2004 - 03:28 PM

90 to 100 minutes is about the maximum before it will begin to lose quality. After 2 hrs. 10 min it looks considerably worse than a good vcr tape copy.
Rob Mac

#3 of 6 Peter Jessee

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Posted August 13 2004 - 05:56 PM

Quote:
However, one of my concerns about DVD recorders is recording movies longer than two hours. If I am recording a 2 1/2 to 3 hour movie with a DVD recorder, will the picture quality possibly be less detailed than what I'm used to with my VCR?


Quote:
90 to 100 minutes is about the maximum before it will begin to lose quality. After 2 hrs. 10 min it looks considerably worse than a good vcr tape copy.


My experience with a Pioneer 420H HDD/DVD recorder is that the two hour mode is at least as good as my Panasonic SVHS-ET deck was before it died. I have defined a custom speed (MN17) that allows 2 hours 40 minutes for recording Formula One broadcasts that are 2-1/2 hours long. This mode is about halfway between SVHS-ET and VHS at SP quality.

Here are two suggestions around this problem that are possible with a HDD/DVD recorder:

1. Record at high speed onto the hard drive, then watch and erase the movie.

2. If you need to save to disc, record to the hard drive at high speed, then split it in half and record on two discs.

Because of these kinds of issues, I wouldn't even consider getting a DVD recorder without a hard drive. What if your favorite movie in the world was being shown for the first time in years, and you grab a blank disc with a greasy fingerprint on it? Or it runs three minutes longer than the program guide says? Or you find that there's 15 minutes of commercials and trailers you don't care about and they cause you to use a worse mode than you really needed to? This is the digital age - use all it has to offer! Hard drive units like the Pioneer 420/520 and Toshiba XS32 aren't much more expensive than disc-only recorders from comparable brands.

Peter

#4 of 6 Rich Tysinger

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Posted August 15 2004 - 05:23 AM

I guess if I'm looking for single-disc recordings of movies 2 hours and over at the best possible quality, then perhaps I should wait for dual layer set-top recorders to hit the markets?

#5 of 6 Michael Reuben

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Posted August 15 2004 - 05:37 AM

Quote:
then perhaps I should wait for dual layer set-top recorders to hit the markets?

You certainly could do that, but I wouldn't buy the first generaton of dual-layer recorders. Single-layer media and recorders are sufficiently finicky that I have my doubts about how reliable dual-layer will be, at least at first.

My experience is different from Rob Mac's, and I suspect it depends on the features of the recorder you're using. Like Peter Jessee, I use a machine with a hard drive: the Panasonic E80. Particularly for someone with your concerns, I think a machine with a hard drive is essential.

I get excellent quality up to about 2:09, which is about the maximum capacity of a DVD-R at standard speed. I have also had decent results with longer recordings using Panasonic's "Flexible Recording" setting, which optimizes the bitrate to fit a recording longer than 2 hours onto a single DVD-R. Of course, a lot depends on the source material and the quality of the broadcast.

M.
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#6 of 6 andrew markworthy

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Posted August 16 2004 - 11:37 PM

Quote:
Of course, a lot depends on the source material and the quality of the broadcast.

I'd like to endorse that. With a good quality broadcast you can begin to tell that something's amiss once you get past circa 2:10/2:20. But with a lowish quality broadcast (e.g. a video recording made in the 70s), you'll notice a drop in quality, but unless you are being *very* particular, it's unlikely that it'll spoil your viewing pleasure.

Quote:
perhaps I should wait for dual layer set-top recorders to hit the markets?

Dual layer will obviously be better, but aside from heeding Michael's excellent comments above, ask yourself - how many movies over 2 hours 10 minutes will I record? There aren't all that many.

FWIW, I use a hard disc recorder (the Sky Plus system, which I think is unique to the UK) then copy across. Aside from home movies, I record two types of thing:
(1) movies where the commercial DVD has no extras and if it's in anything other than stereo/mono I'm not bothered about the sound quality
(2) programmes that are never going to get a DVD release

I have no complaints at all about the quality.


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