I have two DVD-R / DVD-RAM recorders, a Samsung R3000 and a Panasonic E30 and are very happy with both of them. As far as compatability goes DVD-R is most compatable with DVD players. Whatever manufacturer you decide on make sure the recorder records to DVD-R. DVD-R's are also the least expensive blank media with costs ranging from as low as $0.69 to $4.00. On average I spend $1.00 per blank.
The recorders are reliable it is the DVD-R blanks that are unreliable. I have done alot or recording from converting my VHS, SVHS and laserdisc library to DVD-R and from DirecTV. I recently tried a new brand of R's and the Panasonic hated them. Luckliy they record fine on the Samsung.
I recently recorded Children of Dune, Napoleon and Helen of Try with excellent results. RAM offers some excellent editing features. After recording the three movies on RAM I used their "shorten segment" progam to flag all the commercials and record onto a DVD-R. The results were excellent.
The Samsung and Panasonic recorders both use variable bit recording. The incoming signal is recorded to a hard drive so the software can determine the proper bit rate. This makes for an excellent recording scene by scene. The recorders also employ "Flexible Recording" which provides the highest bit rate for the recording time. You would not want to record a movie 2:10 minutes long using a 3 hour fixed recording time.
Worldwide Panasonic is #1 controlling over 50% of the DVD recorder market. They are very agressive and make an excellent product. They just introduced their fourth generation recorder, the E50, that is selling for under $400.00. I can say from experience both Panasonic and Samsung make an excellent recorders. Good luck.
I've got the Panasonic E50, and it's excellent. I've now recorded about 30 discs on 'standard play' (gives 2 hours of recording per disc) and unless you sit about 2 inches from the screen, you cannot tell the difference between the recording and the original. Recordings on 'flexible recording' as Ernest has described in his excellent post are even better.
In the UK at least, the E50 is current one of the the cheapest on the market, and I'd say get as cheap as possible, then you won't worry so much about upgrading it as newer (and inevitably cheaper and better) recorders come along.
A word on formats - nearly all recorders offer two recording formats. My Panasonic has DVD-RAM (fantastic quality, reusable - and incompatible with nearly all other makes) and DVD-R (once formatted the discs can be used with a large range of other machines - my Sony and my parents' ageing Panasonic DVD players both play them without problems). I'd personally make sure that at least one of the recording media is widely compatible, otherwise your library of recorded DVDs is going to be useless when you change machines (think Betamax).
It's also worth noting that one or two (more expensive) machines have a hard disc recorder as well (basically like having a Tivo recorder *and* DVD recorder in one box). I've no need for this because I have a Sky+ box (only available in the UK, but basically like Tivo). However, I've got to say that the hard disc recorder is a superb idea. Not least, you can record a fair amount of stuff onto the hard disc (about 20 hours on my machine) in perfect quality (the disc records direct from the digital feed on the Sky+) and then recording on to the DVD-R is a rather more controlled affair than trying to record 'live'.
Incidentally, Ernest, I've tried my machine on about 5 different types of DVD-R and found no difference in quality or reliability. The cheapest (in the UK about a pound each, for which you guys in the States can probably buy a warehouse-full of discs, no doubt) unknown/unlabelled brands seem to work just as well as the most expensive big name brands. Maybe I've just been lucky.
I have been wanting a dvd recorder for some time but have waited for them to work out all the bugs. I don't want to waste my time transfering my vhs and home movies to dvd for something that is not compatible or obsolete in a year. I was also waiting for prices to be more resonable. I think that time is almost here. I really want to see how the Pioneer recorders will perform. It is time though. I am getting tired of watching Law and Order and CSI recorded on VHS.
I was hoping you'd go with the 7000 so I could have a fellow HTF member to correspond with since i just got my 7000 last week.
I have 30 days to return it. I have hooked it up and played DVD's on it only to this point. The DVD quality is great.
I have a Tosh 57HDX82 I'm using with it.
I will be testing the recording capabilites this week. One thing neat I noticed right off was that the Channel guide comes up when your using the Pioneer like a VCR in a translucent guide which looks something like my parents DishNetwork with a menu guide showing the Channel name and specifics.
So, I haven't worked further, but one thing I know this has over the HS2 is the DV connection in and out. The reason I bought this thing was to get my old vhs home movies off that onto DVD. My computer, is a laptop gateway with 30 gig harddrive and 512 Mem and a Pentium 3 processor. I've loaded some digital video from my Sony camera - and the hard drive doesn't last long. But, the editing software I have seems pretty nice.
So, I think I can put my old VHS tapes on to a -rw disc. Then dump that to the computer for editing and then permanent storage back to a -r disc. This might involve another step in the process than the HS2 but may work very well as the editing on my computer may be better than the Pioneer or the HS2 - athough that remains to be seen and I really shouldn't say that's true till I get down the road a little further.
But, really I'll mostly be transfering tapes WITHOUT editing as this takes a lot of time and effort for any of us. I have mutil hours full of video. I'll really just be looking for snipets from the final DVD's for inclusion for family members and say my graduating seniors party next year.
This method should work for my purposes. If you know that it won't - please let me know.
Another thing I liked was Pioneer's 2 year warranty.
It's really, really a tough call. Generally, I prefer newer to older and the Pioneer is hot off the presses. What it came down to was: I'll be using this to watch DVD's (of course), to record movies from cable/sat. and to copy old VHS tapes to DVD.
In the end, the hard drive seems to make using this as a VCR and as "VHS copier" a little easier. (I won't be editing much.)
But, who knows, maybe I'll hear something to change my mind in the next couple of hours?
Mike, Now when you say that the Pioneer has the 5.1 feature, does that mean it will record 5.1 dd sound from directTv? Do the other dvd recorders not have optical or coax digitial inputs? Also do dvd recorders record widescreen material?