Panasonic DMRE80HS

Discussion in 'Playback Devices' started by Matt Brighton, Mar 25, 2004.

  1. Matt Brighton

    Matt Brighton Stunt Coordinator

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    I'm considering buying this unit, but first a few questions:

    First, I was looking at a Tivo unit, but I had to get a phone line, etc. I didn't want to deal with that mess. This appears to be the same thing in that you can record TV shows, anything on cable, etc. is this the case?

    Second, I want to burn some of my VHS stuff to DVD and assume (from what I've read) that you can do this with the unit. If so, how good is the quality?

    Last, I see at the Circuit City web site that this is marked as "Clearance". I'm assuming that a new model will be out soon, anyone know when and if so, what features it will have?

    Thanks in advance for any help you can give...

    -Matt (got a bug for a new DVD player)!
     
  2. Scott Merryfield

    Scott Merryfield Executive Producer

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    The main difference between the E80 and Tivo is that the E80 does not have the advance program guide features of a Tivo. You program it in the same manner as a traditional VCR. It has a built-in cable-ready TV tuner, so you can attach either a standard antenna or cable TV signal to the device. The main difference between the E80 and a VCR is that the E80 also has a built-in hard drive to store a great deal more material than a VHS tape (and at a lot higher video quality). Using the SP recording mode, which should work well for television, VHS, 8mm and Hi8mm with little or no video quality loss, you can store about 36 hours of material on the hard drive.

    The E80 also has composite and s-video inputs for video, and standard stereo analog inputs for audio. This will allow you to record VHS, 8mm, Hi8mm, Digital8 or MiniDV material on the unit. There are different recording modes that offer varying levels of quality. XP mode is the highest, but I find that SP mode results in no perceived quality loss for most types of material. Only my MiniDV recordings seem to benefit at all from XP mode, and even that is very slight. SP mode will provide for 2 hours of material on a DVD-R, while XP will fill a disc up with one hour of material. The other longer playing modes will degrade the video quality, so I do not use them.

    The E80 is being replaced with a new E85 model, which is probably why Circuit City has them marked as clearance items.
     
  3. Matt Brighton

    Matt Brighton Stunt Coordinator

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    How would this work if I have Comcast HDTV? Would I have to sacrifice any quality, picture-wise, to hook my cable up to my DVD player (so as to record)?
     
  4. Scott Merryfield

    Scott Merryfield Executive Producer

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    I also have Comcast HD cable service. You can connect your Panny E80 either to your cable box (via composite or svideo) or directly to your RG6 coax cable, or both. In my case, I just have the E80 connected to the coax cable, since I only record a few channels that are part of the standard analog service. Video quality is better for this service directly via coax instead of going through the cable box in my system. I split the coax three ways -- one goes to the Motorola DCT5100 HD tuner supplied by Comcast, the second goes to the E80, and the third goes directly to my television.

    If you want to record any of the digital cable channels or HD channels (downconverted, of course), you will need to connect the composite or svideo output of the cable box to one of the video inputs of the E80.

    Remember, the E80 will not record actual HDTV signals -- it's strictly a NTSC analog TV device. Also, your Comcast HD cable box downconverts all the HD channels via the svideo and composite video outputs -- only the component video output transports a high definition TV signal.
     
  5. Joe S

    Joe S Second Unit

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    I bought an E80H this weekend, it was on clearance from a local dealer for $499, not sure if I could have found a better price at any of the major chains locally but I better check since this dealer usually offers a refund if you find a lower price in the area.

    I haven't had a lot of time to spend on it yet, but I have some observations. I set it to record Saturday Night Live on the HDD. When I play it back it sounds like the sound is mono (my VCR would have recorded it as stereo). I have a cable box output on Ch 4, and stereo should come through this way. I can always connect to the cable box video and stereo outputs next time.

    I see that the cable signal is passed through the unit, but the unit's output can only be viewed using the S-Video or Composite Video outputs. This makes for more work when you want to set the timer to record-you have to switch the TV to SVID , turn on the receiver and switch to the correct input. I can understand why they don't put the signal out (many folks would just watch it that way and not get the S-Video quality), but it would be convenient if the menus showed up.

    The manual is confusing. I haven't tried to burn a DVD yet, maybe later this week.

    I plan to transfer some old 8mm and Super-8 home movies to DVD, and will probably use it more as a VCR replacement as I get more familiar with it.
     
  6. Scott Merryfield

    Scott Merryfield Executive Producer

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    The E80 will record in stereo if fed a direct antenna or CATV signal into its RF input. I have successfully recorded stereo signals via a direct CATV feed into the RF input (I do not use a cable box for this). It sounds like something is not setup correctly between your cable box and the DVD recorder.
     
  7. Joe S

    Joe S Second Unit

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    I think I may have had the audio set on mono when I recorded that show. I haven't even checked it yet as I've been a little under the weather with a head cold.
     
  8. Jason Borchers

    Jason Borchers Second Unit

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    .
     
  9. Joe S

    Joe S Second Unit

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    My cable box does output stereo over the coax on the non-digital channels. If I want stereo on HBO, Cinemax, etc. I need to get it from the connectors on the box.

    I did have the audio on the E80 set on "mono", must have hit the button accidentally at some point.
     
  10. Parisis

    Parisis Agent

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    I have a Samsung 4000 but this should apply. I feed standard cable through a high quality splitter to the back of my Recorder. This gives it complete VCR functions for every day use. I also feed the Svideo output to the Samsung
    from the Comcast HDTV box (Motorola 6200). Using the timer function on the HDTV box and the programing function on the DVD recorder I can record any channel I've paid for.
    Recording the High Def feed from INHD for instance at the 2 hour setting of the DVD recorder gives a pretty nice result. Hopes this helps a little

    BTW Philles baseball in high Def is unbelievable. They broadcast the last 2 games (Losses ) with the marlins. Also InHD had the Yankees Red Sox over the weekend. It's getting me interested in baseball again.
     
  11. Joe S

    Joe S Second Unit

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    I don't have HDTV yet, but I did put a splitter in the cable line in order to be able to remove the DVD recorder and use it in another room without disrupting my cable path.
    Ran a new S-Video cable to an unused input on my receiver, same with the optical audio.
     
  12. DanHaya

    DanHaya Second Unit

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    Does anyone use this recorder with a Scientific Atlanta Explorer 8000 DVR? That's what I have right now, and I'm thinking about buying the Panny DMRE80HS as a companion to the Explorer and also to dub my numerous VHS collection to DVD.

    I have a DVD burner on my pc, but my pc is too old for capturing good quality video. I've thought about replacing it with a new one, but in researching these DVD recorder units that have a built-in hard drive, it seems like the DVD recorder is a better option.

    I would appreciate any thoughts you folks might have.

    --Dan
     
  13. Joe S

    Joe S Second Unit

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    OK, now that I've had the E80 a while, I've had a chance to burn a few DVDs. I'm not totally satisfied with the results.
    I collected a number of South Park episodes on the Hard Drive (in SP) and edited the commercials out. I used high-speed dubbing to copy these to a DVD-R and later finalized it.

    When I play the finalized DVD, the spots where the commercials were edited out have a freeze frame for a second before transition to the next scene. I believe a second or so of audio is also lost. The original recordings on the Hard Drive are fine in this respect, something happens when the DVD is finalized.

    Is there a workaround? Would real time dubbing work better?
     
  14. alan halvorson

    alan halvorson Cinematographer

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    Joe: The pause where commercials are edited out are normal and there's nothing you can do about it on the E80. If, however, you have the right equipment and application, you can copy the program to your PC and edit it there and eliminate the pause. I've never lost any sound that wasn't supposed to be missing; perhaps you are editing too close? Often there is a slight blank gap between the commercials and programs. I always leave part of this in to make the pause less noticeable.
     
  15. Joe S

    Joe S Second Unit

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    Al: This was my first attempt at making a DVD with edited-out material... I was surprised that it doesn't work as smoothly as I expected. I'll have to keep that in mind next time I do editing, but I already have quite a few programs on the HDD that probably will come out with this problem.

    Do the other manufacturer's DVD recorders behave this way?

    BTW, I don't have DVD burning capability on my computer yet. Will probably have it when I buy my next computer.
     
  16. Joe S

    Joe S Second Unit

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    I dubbed another DVD at SP mode-took about two hours but it seems to be more like I expected. I didn't see any freeze frames at the transitions where the commercials were edited out. The other disk I made with high speed dubbing doesn't have freeze frames at every break point, but seems to have it on the last program on the disk.

    I guess it would be best not to use high speed dubbing where there are a lot of edits, unless you can allow a few seconds to compensate.

    Now, what about markers? It looks like any markers I placed on the Hard Disk don't transfer over to DVD. The E80 seems to have placed markers at regular intervals on the SP dubbed disk. The high speed dubbed disk has none.
     
  17. alan halvorson

    alan halvorson Cinematographer

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    Joe: Sorry, but if you want the markers you inserted to transfer to DVD-R, you'll have to use high-speed dubbing. No way around it. Also, be certain to set DVD Compatibility to "ON" before you record your program to HDD.
     
  18. Joe S

    Joe S Second Unit

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    OK, I've burned a few DVDs and have used the high speed mode to transfer my markers to the finalized disk.

    I read in another forum that the E80 Hard Disk needs to be formatted regularly in order to prevent fragmentation. If the disk gets too fragmented (from using "shorten segment"), the system might crash and go into a mode where the only option you have is to format the hard drive, thereby losing whatever programs you have stored there.

    Has anyone experienced this yet?
     
  19. alan halvorson

    alan halvorson Cinematographer

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    Joe: I have been forced to format my hard drive, as have others, because it became too fragmented, and I've done it intentionally. My standard now is too edit anything I want to keep as soon as I can and dub it to DVD-R. I only finalize when I've dubbed all that I want to that disc.

    Some format the HDD on a regular schedule, but I do it only once in a great while. Some have more problems with the hard drive than others too, so they are forced to format more often.

    I suggest that you dub programs that you want to keep to DVD-R or DVD-RAM (enabling you to copy programs back to the HDD - the E85 allows you to copy DVD-R's back to HDD) right away. Some dub the entire contents of the HDD to DVD-RAM, format, and dub back to HDD, but that's too much bother for me.
     
  20. Joe S

    Joe S Second Unit

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    Al, I wish Panasonic had incorporated a disk defragmenter function or indication that you should dub your programs to DVD and re-format. I don't want to get stuck without warning.

    I'll have to try to keep the HDD clean, got several hours of material to dub on there now.

    Do the other brands of DVD recorders have similar problems or is this a "bug" specific to Panasonic?
     

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