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Advice needed on DVD-R/HDD combi

Discussion in 'Blu-ray & DVD Players & Recorders' started by mattDP, Mar 22, 2005.

  1. mattDP

    mattDP
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    Hi,

    I'm pretty new to all this stuff, and not much up on the finer points of the technology but I'm looking to replace my really, really old VCR (11 yrs - the machine still works but the "play" on the remote has gone :)). Buying something that's going to last another 11 yrs is important, and DVDR/HDD seems the way to go.

    The following features are important to me.
    1) It ought to display widescreen TV transmissions OK (I read in some review that not all boxes will transfer a widescreen signal from cable to the TV automatically)
    2) It's got to transmit OK through a standard SCART lead (again, some reviews I've read imply that some boxes can't do this, which I found surprising).
    3) It's got to be a dual-tuner (or whatever it's called) so I can watch something on my telewest cable and record something on another cable channel at the same time.
    4) It'd be handy if it'd take input from a DV cam. I don't own a DV cam at the moment but if I were to buy one, editing and recording using my DVD/HDD unit would be handy.
    5) I'd really like a timeslip feature too.
    6) It's got to have a really good inbuilt amp so that if I wish in the future to use it as a standalone CD player hooked up to some good home cinema speakers it'll do the business.

    On that basis (and the basis of price!) I've whittled the choices down to one of the following models:
    JVC DR MS20 (or MH30)
    Panasonic DMR E85H (or E95H)
    Pinoeer DVR 420H (or 520H)
    Toshiba RD-XS32
    Any advice as to which is likely to be the best buy - or are there any other suggestions in this limited marketplace?

    I'd also be grateful if people could inform me on a few other technical considerations of which I'm cringingly ignorant:
    1) What's "Component Video Out", is it useful and how do I know if my existing hardware can use it?
    2) Likewise, what's progressive scan/PAL, is it useful and how do I know if my existing hardware can use it?
    3) If I connect a DVD recorder with Dolby sound and some appropriate speakers up to my NICAM (but not Dolby) TV and then put the cable signal into the TV through the DVD recorder, will I get Dolby sound? Will doing this invalidate dual-tuner recording?
    4) Should I be worried about DVD format wars? The only DVD records which write to multiple formats are either too expensive (Sony) or have poor quality sound (LiteOn) but I don't want to get stuck with a format for which I can no longer buy discs a few years from now!

    I know it's a long post, but thanks in advance for your help.
    Cheers
    Matt
     
  2. Mike@#36

    Mike@#36
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    Gadzooks Mat where to start?

    Most of your desires and concerns really boil down to personal preference and to be honest any of the kit on your short list will be a good buy and have as much future proofing as anything that you can buy today (until next week when something bigger and 'better' is announced, but on that basis you would never actually get around to buying anything). My pref would be the Pan E95 with multiregion.

    As for the other questions, Component Video is simply another option for transferring the image. Most people use SCART but component is argued to be better, although the difference is only really noticeable to those with very big screens.

    Progressive scan is something that Plasma Screens like so if you don't have one don't worry about it, unless you plan to buy plasma.

    Linking your Dolby DVD through the TV should not cancel the Dolby sound, as the speakers will be simply monitoring the input, which would be Dolby. Linking the speakers would not affect the tuners so I'm not quite sure what your concern is here.

    As for format wars, well this continues although is very different to the Beta – VHS war as most manufacturers are providing most options in their machines. Most if not all seem to have DVD-R as an accepted playback format, so really it's just a matter of worrying about recording onto other types in terms of what other kit you have. With HDD though you should have fewer worries, as it is easy to edit a programme on the Hard Drive and copy direct to DVD-R which can be played on almost if not all other players.

    Not an absolute conclusive answer but I'm sure others will be kind enough to add to this.
     
  3. redsox_mark

    redsox_mark
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    If you haven’t already found it, I recommend Rasczak’s guide:

    http://www.btinternet.com/~james_lancaster/whichdvd.HTML

    1) It ought to display widescreen TV transmissions OK (I read in some review that not all boxes will transfer a widescreen signal from cable to the TV automatically)

    The issues relate to DVD-R recordings (recordings on the HDD not a problem), and this is a small issue with the Panasonics. If your TV is widescreen then simply setting the screen for the right format sorts the problem. The problem is if you want to take a widescreen recording, put it on a DVD, and watch it on another TV say which is 4:3. In this case, if the recorder doesn’t include the widescreen flag, the picture will be “squashed”. The Toshiba XS32 handles this.

    2) It's got to transmit OK through a standard SCART lead (again, some reviews I've read imply that some boxes can't do this, which I found surprising).

    I don’t think this is really an issue. Not sure what the reviews meant.

    3) It's got to be a dual-tuner (or whatever it's called) so I can watch something on my telewest cable and record something on another cable channel at the same time.

    Any of today’s recorders have an inbuilt analogue tuner. So they can record an analogue channel while you watch something else. You generally can also watch something already recorded while you are making a new recording. If you want to do this with cable, this needs to be a function of your cable box. Your cable box would need 2 tuners.

    Future models will include Freeview tuners, so this will be helpful for Freeview users, but wouldn’t help you record one cable channel while watching another cable channel.

    4) It'd be handy if it'd take input from a DV cam. I don't own a DV cam at the moment but if I were to buy one, editing and recording using my DVD/HDD unit would be handy.

    Yes, this is handy. The XS32 has this; in the Panasonics the E95 has, the E85 doesn’t. Pioneer I think the 520 does and the 420 doesn’t, but not sure. If you get a model without it you can still connect the camcorder via S-video…. but the DV should be better quality, and gives some extra features.

    5) I'd really like a timeslip feature too.

    I think all the models have this. (Not sure about JVC, but I assume it does).

    6) It's got to have a really good inbuilt amp so that if I wish in the future to use it as a standalone CD player hooked up to some good home cinema speakers it'll do the business

    Hard to answer this; any of them will play CDs… not sure how they compare in CD audio quality. In general a dedicated quality CD player is better.

    Lastly, with the “format wars” I wouldn’t worry too much; certainly not between the “+” and “-“; both work. One thing to consider is what rewritable formats they support. The Toshiba and the Pioneer support –RW discs which can be played on most players; the Panasonic’s only support RAM (though new models will support –RW). RAM discs have some advantages but they won’t play on most set top players. Note the Toshiba supports RAM as well as –RW. For me, the –RW was important as I regularly record things for my wife to watch on another player in another room.

    Mark
     
  4. musukebba

    musukebba
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    If you don't need to archive things to DVD, then Telewest are to bring out a hard-disk based recorder (aka PVR) which has 3 tuners. This should have the timeslip functions and display device connections which you desire.

    Otherwise recording two cable channels at the same time will not be possible through the single external input socket of a DVDR, even were they to have two tuners (and which none of them have at the moment).
     
  5. mattDP

    mattDP
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    Thanks for the pointers so far. A few comments on what you've said:

    Linking your Dolby DVD through the TV should not cancel the Dolby sound, as the speakers will be simply monitoring the input, which would be Dolby. Linking the speakers would not affect the tuners so I’m not quite sure what your concern is here.

    I don't think I explained this very well. What I was wondering was whether having speakers connected to a Dolby enabled DVD player and then routing the TV signal through the player into the TV would enable me to get dolby quality sound when watching the TV. I can appreciate this is unlikely, but being the ever-hopeful type I thought I'd check :)

    If you haven’t already found it, I recommend Rasczak’s guide:

    I hadn't. It's a really helpful read, thanks.

    I don’t think this is really an issue. Not sure what the reviews meant.

    It's something to do with SCART RGB. I have no idea if this is different from standard SCART. I suspect the article you pointed me at will answer the question.

    Any of today’s recorders have an inbuilt analogue tuner. So they can record an analogue channel while you watch something else.

    That'd be usually poor quality analogue signal though, I presume. I don't actually have a usable analogue arial in my home.

    If you don't need to archive things to DVD, then Telewest are to bring out a hard-disk based recorder (aka PVR) which has 3 tuners.

    I wasn't aware of this and it's good to know. I can't find anything about a potential release date or cost on the internet, so I might call Telewest for more info. If I were to get one of these, would there be any way of transferring the stored programmes to a computer for editing and burning to DVD?
     
  6. redsox_mark

    redsox_mark
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    1. You can send the TV audio via the DVD recorder, to a sound system. But the TV will be stereo (not Dolby 5.1), so you won’t get Dolby 5.1 by doing so. Also note none of the recorders can record 5.1 anyway… though they can play a 5.1 DVD.

    2. For any of the models you are looking at, the SCART should be RGB (I know the Toshiba, Panasonic, and Pioneer are for sure). You want this.

    3. Yes, analogue recording is only as good as the analogue signal. Most people record from Sky, Cable, or Freeview.

    4. The Telewest box should have RGB out, and yes you can use this to archive something you recorded. Having a PVR like this combined with a DVD/HDD is ideal.

    Mark
     
  7. Mike@#36

    Mike@#36
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    Getting widescreen depends on a) having scart leads with all 21 pins connected, B) having a recorder or player that activates the widescreen 'flag' and C) having a TV input that can see the widescreen flag.

    Some TVs have more than one SCART socket but only one is wired to identify the widescreen flag via I think pin 16.

    I'm not aware of any HDD recorders that don't activate the widescreen flag but there are many TVs that don't recognise it.
     
  8. redsox_mark

    redsox_mark
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    There are issues with recorders not setting the flag (specifically the Panasonics), see these threads:

    http://www.avforums.com/forums/showthread.php?t=184267&highlight=widescreen+flag+squashed

    http://www.avforums.com/forums/showthread.php?t=178268&highlight=widescreen+flag

    Mark
     
  9. Mike@#36

    Mike@#36
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    Thanks RedSox, checked out those previous threads and from the post by Nelviticus above it looks as if the Panny E95 does have the Flag option.
     
  10. foneman

    foneman
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  11. Rasczak

    Rasczak
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    Most of the major companies are releasing models over the next few months: Sony, Panasonic, Toshiba, JVC and Pioneer all have some very promosing models coming out. Personally I think the Pioneer range are probably going to be the weaker of these new releases - especially as they remain single format - but we shall have to wait and see.

    Certainly though the arrival of HDD/DVDR/DVB combi devices from Panasonic and Sony is going to mean alot to most people though - many have held off buying waiting for this.
     
  12. foneman

    foneman
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    well, of course - christmas will be the big 'sort-out' time for a lot of things... It depends who manages to not just get their kit reviewed, but get it to the public in time..

    'bigbadfun' in new zealand has actually bought a RDR-HX910, he is the first guy I have seen to explain that sony *has* sorted out the mess it started with :)

    as for formats, the pioneer will play all of them ... http://www.pioneer-eur.com/eur/product_overview.jsp?category_id=501&taxonomy_id=45-133 until the new big format upsets it all again!! :eek:

    you have to also remember that DVB formats differ around the world, it is not worth it to target just one system - until a cheap unified chipset is available(it also has to have the power and capacity for the new DVB developments - HiDef download, PPV, etc), it will just not be worth it..
     
  13. Rasczak

    Rasczak
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    Which doesn't really help all the 3100 and 5100 owners who have been landed with obsolete recorders because they can't use 4x DVD-RW media. With most DVD recorders multi-format now it makes sense to at least consider one that is.

    We knew this already - the HX910 is very similar to the UK's HX510 (which has a smaller HDD). If you do a search of the forum you will find numerous discussions on it.

    Indeed - currently it's not economical for Pioneer to release a model. But that has everything to do with Pioneer's UK market share, and nothing to do for what is best for you as the UK consumer.
     
  14. foneman

    foneman
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    being landed with 'obsolete' equipment is a recognised risk with todays tech - you have to do your research fully, to make sure of it.

    To say the 5100 is obsolete is exposing your HIFi snobbery... Its still a good machine for Jan 2004!! my Tosh XS32 is about the same age, specifies x4 discs, but will do the TDK X8 discs with care...

    Knowing is *very* different from telling, Rasczak, and I dont think you do...

    Its all very well making sweeping statements, to no real answer, and waiting for someone else to do it...
     

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