Question about DVD Recorder/VHS combos

Discussion in 'Playback Devices' started by Todd K, Jul 9, 2005.

  1. Todd K

    Todd K Second Unit

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    Hello, I'm in the market for a DVD recorder, mainly for dubbing old VHSes, but not entirely.

    The model I like the best doesn't have a built in VHS deck, and I see that many do. Do components that have the VHS deck built into the DVD recorder generally yield better results that those that don't?

    Basically, I'm worried about losing fidelity over composite cables vs. the fidelity lost when the VHS deck is already built into the machine.
     
  2. Richard Beckman

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    My standalone DVD recorder works with my computer. I also have a Replay 5040. Also, I do not have any capability for high definition recording, playing, or displaying. So my use and experiments have all concerned SD and progressive DVD.

    I do have a combined DVD/VCR unit that I have experimented with. My Replay 5040 records to a hard disk. I have captured both DVD's and VCR tapes to my Replay via Composite, S-Video, and Component Video. I have also captured to VCR content recorded on the Replay.

    All recordings delivered what was advertised and I hoped. Differences were slight but detectable. Generally good quality - no horror stories.

    Bottom line. My equipment works as advertised, is a balanced set-up, and I'm happy. Reality is my display or test capability may need to be enhanced to more critically judge.
     
  3. Jesse Skeen

    Jesse Skeen Producer

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    I bought a DVD recorder primarily for transferring ancient tapes, and I think a built-in VHS would have been a bad idea. I already have to use 2 different VHS machines depending on the tape I want to transfer. Most Hi-Fi VHS decks will not play the linear audio track in stereo, so if you have a tape from 1984 or earlier that is in stereo, you can only play it in mono! This is one thing about VHS that has always driven me nuts, and why I was glad to dump it in favor of laserdisc. I managed to find one of the few decks that has both Hi-Fi and linear stereo, but the picture on it isn't as good as my Hi-Fi only model, so if the tape has a Hi-Fi audio track it gets played on one machine, if it doesn't then it gets played on the other.
     
  4. Doug Brewster

    Doug Brewster Second Unit

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    "I already have to use 2 different VHS machines depending on the tape I want to transfer. Most Hi-Fi VHS decks will not play the linear audio track in stereo...the picture on it isn't as good as my Hi-Fi only model, so if the tape has a Hi-Fi audio track it gets played on one machine, if it doesn't then it gets played on the other."

    Even your description of this is giving me a headache...
    and it points out the nicest feature of a VCR/DVDR combo player:

    Convenience.

    My Panasonic allows me to dub the amount of tape time I want, then shuts off. If I am recording a 3 hour event, it will shut off when the disc is full and pick up exactly where it left off when I insert a blank disc. It can also dub in "flexible mode" so that a 3 hour tape would record onto the disc at a resolution below SP, but above LP, or it will measure the length of the tape, then split it into equal segments to put on 2 discs. There are several other features that are useful. Anyone who has a large number of tapes to convert would be better off with this type of recorder. It is a major improvement over separate decks regarding time and energy spent...though I'll readily admit it doesn't solve your linear stereo problem.

    What I found with a linear stereo VCR is that the tape speed is so slow the audio quality is extremely poor. That's why they didn't produce them for very long. I don't blame you for wanting to preserve the stereo portion, but I think I'd run it into my PC and see if I could clean it up a bit, then record on my PC's DVD burner. Actually, if the video was more important than the audio (and it usually is), I'd record it from the HiFi VCR in mono and use a synthesized stereo mode on my TV or Surround system. My suspicion is that the sound would be at least as good...Maybe better.
     
  5. Todd K

    Todd K Second Unit

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    Well, thank you for the replies.

    I think I'm still inclined to go with this little device:

    http://www.sonystyle.com/is-bin/INTE...uctSKU=VRDVC20


    Basically I was waiting to see if anyone said that a built in VHS deck provided surperior quality without question, which no one has. I have a Sony VCR from about 8 years ago when their standard models were really sturdy, and I've always been happy with its performance and output.

    Plus I'm really leery of buying any DVD recorder that can't interface with my computer. The ability to edit on the fly (eg with a built in hard drive) would be nice, but I can always edit after the fact on the PC.
     
  6. Doug Brewster

    Doug Brewster Second Unit

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    While it could never be said that a combination VCR/DVDR yields superior quality, archiving is time-consuming and any device that saves time and effort is worth the investment. If time is not a problem, then separate devices (as they will likely yield superior quality) are the way to go.
     
  7. Kevin C Brown

    Kevin C Brown Producer

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    I'm also in this boat. I have a 20 year old Quasar VCR which is pretty good for quality. I have a Dish DVR now, and I want to get some stuff off of that. I thought about a DVD recorder (no VHS), but then I have to keep the Quasar. So I'm leaning in the direction of a Pioneer or Panasonic DVD recorder/VHS combo simply because I want to replace a box and not add another one. Shoot, VHS is bad enough quality that any differences between an all-in-one deck vs separates is going to be lost in the overall poorness of the format, I think. [​IMG] So I guess that I'm heading towards the convenience route...
     
  8. Kenny WH

    Kenny WH Stunt Coordinator

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    I was pretty much in the same boat as Todd also. After much debating I ended up with the new LG lry-517 combo recorder.

    I have tons of old vhs tapes,hi-8 and even some newer stuff from my digital camcorder. Heck some of my old vhs tapes are 20+years old.

    I needed the ability to burn both + or - dvdr/rw's and it needed to have a firewire port. Also simple operation was important so others could quickly get the hang of using it. It was basically between LG and Sony. I choose the LG for the extra feature's it has that the sony didn't. Plus I never had much luck with Sony vhs machines in the past.

    Anyway the LG works great!!! VHS video quality is excellent considering the age of the tapes. The LG plays old tapes better than any of the stand alone VHS machines i have. Transfers show no loss of quality, in fact to me burnt dvd's seem to look a little better than the tape it was burnt from. Maybe the LG does some internal processing to clean up the transfers a little?.?.
     
  9. Chris:P

    Chris:P Auditioning

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    While combo units are very convenient, I'm wary of them. My concerns are:

    1. If half the unit breaks down, you're without the other half until you can get it fixed, or you have to replace more equipment than you would if they were separate, or you end up keeping a half-broken unit so you can use the half that works.

    2. Sometimes the individual components inside the unit are of lower quality than the separate units made by the same manufacturer. Buying separate units often gives you better quality in each set.

    3. You can't depend on getting a good DVD recorder and a good VCR from the same company. While acknowledging that reviews vary wildly on any given unit, I've seen many on combos that say the DVD recorder works fine but the VCR produces a lousy picture.

    I can see buying a combo for convenience, which is a big plus when you have a lot of tapes to dub, but I have two good VCRs already, so it didn't seem worthwhile for me. I might have considered a combo if I didn't have a working VCR, but I'd still have been wary of it.
     
  10. Kevin C Brown

    Kevin C Brown Producer

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    I picked a combo simply for convenience, not because I have a lot of VHS tapes. I had a VHS player, and I wanted a DVD recorder, but I didn't want an extra box, I wanted a replacement box.

    I ended up with the Panasonic. Like it so far. The manual could use rewriting, but ...

    My wife has a Panasonic VCR we got a few years ago. Our good experience with that unit, and the good reviews of Panasonic's standalone burners told me that you *can* get a good VCR combo with DVD recording.
     
  11. Doug Brewster

    Doug Brewster Second Unit

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    1. If half the unit breaks down, you're without the other half until you can get it fixed, or you have to replace more equipment than you would if they were separate, or you end up keeping a half-broken unit so you can use the half that works.

    That's why I buy from Costco and Sam's Club -if it breaks, you take it back and get a new one.

    2. Sometimes the individual components inside the unit are of lower quality than the separate units made by the same manufacturer. Buying separate units often gives you better quality in each set.

    No argument here.

    3. You can't depend on getting a good DVD recorder and a good VCR from the same company. While acknowledging that reviews vary wildly on any given unit, I've seen many on combos that say the DVD recorder works fine but the VCR produces a lousy picture.

    I've never seen any complaints about the video quality of the VCR and have none myself, but the quality of low cost VCR's has been awful for several years.
     
  12. Mark Walker

    Mark Walker Producer
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    My question regarding this:
    Since you are transferring from VHS to DVD, what options do you have about the DVD menu? Does it just give you a generic, or does it even have one? Does just play without any menu whatsover, from beginning to end?

    At this point, I cannot afford to upgrade my computer, so I was looking at the combo units at Costco (just the first step of information gathering), and saw nothing about how the DVD is authored.

    I want a DVD to stop when the film is over. I hate motion menus, and I don't want the film to just autostart all over again once it reaches the end of the movie.

    Let me know what VHS-->DVD-R units might be a good fit for me!

    Thanks!
    [​IMG]
     
  13. Doug Brewster

    Doug Brewster Second Unit

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    "what options do you have about the DVD menu?"
    You always have a menu with the Panasonic, but it is a menu of titles. If you break your "movie" into segments, it would work like chapters...but there are chapters generated every 6 minutes. These do not appear on the menu. In other words, if you choose to break your movie up into scenes, just set up the recording for the length of segment you want, or, as you're recording, start/stop the recording where you would like a scene to begin and end. It would be time-consuming to do it this way, but you could do it. These would show on the menu and work like scenes -once you start playing from that scene, the DVD continues to play to the end or until you stop it.
    Additionally, the Panasonic auto-generates chapters that are 6 minutes in length.

    "Does it just give you a generic, or does it even have one?"
    The menu is thumbnails and you can't modify it.

    "Does just play without any menu whatsover, from beginning to end?"
    When you finalize the disc you can either have it start with the menu or auto-play. It is a one-time decision. After it is finalized, it always starts that way.
     
  14. Mark Walker

    Mark Walker Producer
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    Doug,

    That was a PERFECT answer.

    Thank you!

    Sounds like I want an Panasonic.

    Lastly, can I input from my SVHS player so it can record from that, too, or must it record to DVD-R be from the resident VCR?


    Regards,

    Mark
     
  15. Kevin C Brown

    Kevin C Brown Producer

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    You can use the DVD recorder part of the combo to record anything from the unit's inputs. Composite, RF, or S-video (along with audio).

    The Panasonic I have generates those chapters every 5 min. [​IMG]

    Plus, I think, but I'm not sure, that the pictures the thumbnails uses *can* be changed.

    I DVR'ed some TV shows off satellite over the past two weeks. A buddy of mine was out of town. So I burned them to DVD-R for him. I kid you not, but what I gave him, dish->DVR->DVD-R he said was better than his basic cable feed. And I even used 4 hr mode on the Panny! (But unlike most recorders, and this is one reason why I went for the Panasonic, the Panny uses minimal compression in 4 hr mode. Most competitive units use a lot higher compression for the video feed from 2 hr to 4 hr mode.)
     
  16. Mark Walker

    Mark Walker Producer
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    Kevin,

    What Panasonic do you have?

    Thanks!

    Mark
     
  17. Kevin C Brown

    Kevin C Brown Producer

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    DMR-ES30VS. You can change the pictures used for the thumbnails too. Verified that last night. [​IMG]
     
  18. Doug Brewster

    Doug Brewster Second Unit

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    Mark Walker,

    Been away for awhile...sorry.

    You CAN change the pictures for each segment as displayed in the thumbnail. You can't modify the appearance of the menu itself.

    Re: SVHS, this recorder will readily accept inputs from another VCR. What it won't do is play SVHS tapes in their resident resolution. The "built-in" VCR will record them onto DVD as regular VHS. I'm certain that the way you're talking about doing it, the DVD's will be recorded in a higher resolution and with better picture quality.
     
  19. michael_mo

    michael_mo Stunt Coordinator

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    Have the Insignia IS-DVD1001 combo unit (LG).
    No problems thus far with the unit.
    Having a problem with my STB.. only giving a mono signal to the Insignia (but i get stereo if i plug the coax cable directly into the Insignia....?)

    Dubbing from VHS to DVD-r or DVD+r works fine, no quality issues. And in all reality, doesnt the limitations of the quality by the VHS media make all the other factors moot?
     

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