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Choosing between Panasonic DMR-EH50 and Toshiba XS34

Discussion in 'Blu-ray & DVD Players & Recorders' started by dgg1, May 31, 2005.

  1. dgg1

    dgg1
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    I have finally hit the point where I am ready to buy a DVD HDD recorder, and it seems pretty clear that the Panasonic DMR-EH50 and Toshiba XS34 are the two top choices. It looks like I can get them for about the same price (here in Canada).

    I like the larger hard drive on the Toshiba, and it sounds like it's more likely to be good at controlling a cable box. On the other hand, the Toshiba doesn't seem to be compatible with all media, and maybe isn't quite as easy to use (although I found the owner's manual online and it doesn't look too bad) or have as good a picture quality on playback. And it sounds like if I am burning disks then I can fit more on a disk with the Panasonic for the same resolution (is that only with DVD-RAM?).

    I intend to use it mainly for time-shifting, so I will use the hard drive a lot. And I will probably also burn some dvd's for use on other players (mostly from content recorded already on the hard drive).

    It looks to me like a pretty close call between these two machines. Does anyone have any advice to help me break the tie? Thanks.
     
  2. will-wac

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    Personally I would go for the Panasonic. As I understand, the Canadian :ca: EH50 has a 100GB HDD (as supposed to the 80GB HDD in UK :uk: models) and it should be enough even recording on the best quality. The EH50 can record onto the +R format as well as the -R, -RW and RAM formats of DVDs that the Toshiba can record onto which may be an advantage - but I don't want to go too far down the ups and downs of the +R format as some people on these forums take it personally! I will say if you want to burn DVDs for use on a Philips DVD player then the +R format recording capability may be very useful.

    I do know that Panasonics are easy to use, but I've heard they may not be able to control some cable/satellite boxes very well- I think you'll have to investigate that. I'm not sure about the disk capacity when recording on Panasonic compared to the Toshiba at the same resolution.

    I've also read the Toshiba has a loud fan which can be a bit annoying!

    You can get a good gut feeling about which is the better model by searching XS34 and EH50 on the forums and spending a few minutes reading the posts.

    I hope this is useful :) .
     
  3. Rasczak

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    Virtually all Philips DVD players can read DVD-R. The benefits of having DVD+R recording on the Panasonic are limited to be honest - you get more choice of blank media but as DVD-R is the more compatible I would suspect most people will continue to use that. The big advantage of + recording for Panny is that, on more expensive models, they will be able to add DVD+R DL recording. All in all though this is not a reason for choosing the Panasonic EH50.

    Both are excellent machines and you won't be disappointed with either. The Panasonic range are very popular on these boards: they are very easy to use and offer the best recorded picture quality over any DVD recorder. This is particularly noticeable at longer recording lengths where the EH50 will record in full resolution upto 4hrs (the Toshiba switches to half resolution at 2hrs 20mins). To be fair though for recording lengths upto 2hrs 20mins the real world difference between the two is minimal.

    The benefit of the Toshiba is that it has iLink, digibox control, a larger HDD and more authoring options (set menu backgrounds). The Toshiba is also a better DVD player - although still no match for a decent standalone model. As will-wac says though some members have complained about loud fan noise - others think it 'near silent'. I would suggest you try and demo it to see if this is a problem for you or not. All in all though in almost every respect other than PQ the Toshiba is superior.
     
  4. murraypaul

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    It sounds like you want much the same out of the machine that I did, having made the same choice a week or so ago. I went for the Toshiba, as I tend spend a lot of time watching a recorded program while timer recording other ones, and the timer recording mode on the Panasonic (where you have to put the machine in standby for timer recordering to fire) would have driven me mad.

    If you are mainly time-shifting then the resolution advantage of the Panasonic doesn't matter that much, as the (almost) twice as large hard drive of the Toshiba means you can stick to the higher quality modes without space issues.

    The fan is pretty noisy, about the same as a quietish PC. Doesn't bother me, but I can see it might affect some people.

    Once you get the hang of how the Toshiba menus work it is actually pretty easy to use, certainly for normal functions like setting a timer recording and playing back stuff you have recorded.
     
  5. redsox_mark

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    Flip a coin? Seriously, if you have a DV camcorder, then the DV in on the XS34 is a plus. The bigger HDD is also a plus. If you are going to want to put more than 2 hours 20 min on a single DVD then the Panasonic has the advantage. Toshiba records the widescreen flag on DVD-R so your tv/display can automatically switch to the right format, Panasonic does not (will have to manually set it).

    Mark
     
  6. lfgj

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    My shortlist was down to these two (+ the Sony 510) – I am leaning towards the Toshiba more now – in particular for the dv in, larger HD & editing capabilities.

    The only (possible) issue is the fan noise – as it will be in an open cabinet, is it actually noticeable above a normal tv volume setting?

    Is there anything the Sony offers over the Tosh that is worth considering?
     
  7. redsox_mark

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    Sony offers +R support, including Dual Layer, the others don't.
    Note the 510 doesn't have DV-in. (710 and 910 do, but currently only European models available, UK models to come).
    It's also been reported that the Sony is the best of the bunch as a player.

    I have the Toshiba, I don't find the noise an issue. At normal TV volume I don't hear it.

    Mark
     
  8. dgg1

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    Thanks very much for your thoughts. I should say by the way that I spent a lot of time on the net and looking in magazines trying to find information to help me make this decision, and this group (combined with the Digital-Recorder website) is phenomenal. I felt pretty lost until I came across the website and this group. I'm blown away by your knowledge and helpfulness.

    If I could impose a little more, there's one thing I'd like to understand a little better. The advantage that the EH50 has over the XS34 in being able to record up to 4 hours at full resolution (which Panasonic's own materials don't seem to tout), is that for recording on a DVD only, or does it also apply to saving on the hard drive? And if it's on a DVD only, does it apply to both formats of rewriteable disks?

    Thanks again.
     
  9. dgg1

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    Oh, and one more question. What level of standalone DVD player do I need to have before it will be better than this recorder? Right now I am using a JVC XV-N44 DVD player. It's a year or two old. Is it likely to deliver better picture to a big screen HD television (which I will be acquiring this summer) than one of these recorders?
     
  10. redsox_mark

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    The 4 hours at full resolution is really only significant when recording (or dubbing) to DVD disc only. It would apply to any type of disc. Yes it is true that the same mode which allows 4 hours on a DVD can be used on the HDD and would take less space, but generally space on the HDD isn't an issue. (And the Toshiba has twice the HDD space, so you can actually store more hours of full resolution video on the Toshiba than the Panasonic).

    Mark
     
  11. howardmg

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    Just to add that I went through the same decision - Toshiba 34, Panasonic EH50, Sony 510, after many months of using this forum (great advice and so much better than all the magazines).

    Apart from maybe looks and build quality the Sony didn't seem to have any advantages of the others so that was the first to go.

    Then it came down to digibox control, larger HDD and DV in of the Tosh compared to the Pany's higher resolution, possibly quieter fan and better ability to play various discs.

    In the end I decided that digibox control and size of HDD was key for me so I went for the Toshiba. And I absolutely love it. The fan can be heard when the TV is off but not at normal volume. Controls my PACE box perfectly. No problems yet with discs and it even plays +R discs burned from my PC. It also seems better made and easier to use than I was expecting.

    Basically its the best thing I've bought for years. Just wish I'd dumped VHS earlier now.
     
  12. lfgj

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  13. sinclair

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  14. howardmg

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    Well it controls my Telewest PACE set ok, no need for the redeye device. Timer settings on DVD change the channels on the digibox although I havent tried it on a whole series, not sure if that option's available.

    Mine's a mult-region from PRC but doesn't cover RCE coded region 1 discs. I've seen posts here that suggest that the RGB mod may cover RCE. I don't think it can be done afterwards as you need special software.
     
  15. redsox_mark

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    Yes, you can set up the Tosh to record something at the same date/time weekly. You can also do it daily, or weekdays. So for example I have it record "The Simpsons" every weekday at 6:00, and every Friday at 9:00.

    I believe the multi region modification needs to be done with a special disc, probably best to buy one which is already modified.

    Mark
     
  16. murraypaul

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    I've only noticed it at night when everything else is turned off; watching the TV or general background noise masks it. However, this is the sort of thing that people react to very differently, what is unnoticable for me might be very loud for someone else.
     
  17. pickyone

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    Has anyone seen the black level issue in the XS34 (like in XS32)?
     
  18. knotpc

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    Do you live in the USA 'cause the black level is not an issue in the UK on any machine as far as I am aware! :beer:
     
  19. Rasczak

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    Quite correct - this is not an issue at all in UK machines. pickyone - if you're from the US/North America you might find www.avsforums.com more useful. This is a UK based forum and, as our machines can differ with regard to specs/performance/problems, you might find it beneficial to ask there.
     
  20. britskin

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    I just got a xs34 and the fan is quite loud, the first night it was up and running the wife and I were watching a DVD and I had the volume up higher than for regular TV and about 2 mins into the film my wife asked if it was 'always going to make that noise?' :( She now refuses to watch/record anything on it!

    I rang the Toshiba tech helpline and they are not aware of any noise problems with the xs34 and that there must be a fault with the machine, they are picking it up on Wednesday and checking it out. I'll let everyone know how I get on.

    On another note, anyone know why my TV has stopped auto switching widescreen since installing the xs34?

    Cheers.
     
  21. knotpc

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    If you have your digi box or dvd player going through the TOSH AV2 socket and output from AV1 socket to your TV, the widescreen flag/signal will pass through to your TV.
    Any other set up will not auto switch your TV!
    If for example you are watching a widescreen program on sky and you set your TV to 4:3, turn your TV off then turn TV back on and it should auto switch to widescreen.
    If you are watching a recorded DVD I believe you must have the TOSH set for widescreen or everything will come out as 4:3 :beer:
     
  22. britskin

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    Knotpc, yep thats how I have set it up, and I tried turning the TV on and off aswell(well, onto stand by, would it need to be fully off?). I have both the inputs and outputs set to RGB, could this be the problem? I have told the tosh that I have a widescreen TV.

    It's probably in the huge manual somewhere!

    Cheers!
     
  23. knotpc

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    RGB wouldn't affect this, If you have your TV on a terrestial channel using the TV tuner, then turn the TV off into standby, put your sky/freeview/DVD player on to the what you want to watch. Turn the TV on... do you now have the terrestial channel you left on the TV or do you have the program from your AV socket? :beer:
     
  24. pickyone

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    I don't understand this. I learned about black level issue on Toshiba recorder in this forum. There were a lot discussions about it in this forum. I hold off on buying Toshiba recorder several months ago because of it. Now, it does not seem that anyone is aware of it. I checked avsforums.com many times. It seems to be a forum for sales, not a true forum to discuss and to exchange info. This forum is the most useful one I've found. Thanks. :confused:
     
  25. knotpc

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    Pickyone,
    As far as I am aware the black level issue is part of the brightness signal found on S-Video. I may be completely wrong here but I remember reading somewhere about this and in North America for example they have up to recently always used S-Video as their best signal transfer, RGB not available on most of their machines or TV's,although now they have Component type connections like we do. In UK most people always preferred RGB to S-Video. :beer:
     
  26. sinclair

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    It was only definitely only a US issue due to the luminance settings on their DVD players. If you look at the AVS forum as Raczak suggests you will find your answer http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/forumdisplay.php?f=106
    A quick read reveals that this isue has been resolved in the XS34.
     
  27. sinclair

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    Re. auto switching generally auto-switches without a problem though now and again it does retreat to 4:3 and stay there. I can discern no pattern or reason for this but when it does I hit the TV/DVR button on the bottom left of the remote then press SATMON and the picture returns to 16:9. That must reset something as thereafter, whether or not in SATMON, it auto-switches perfectly.

    If you can hear the fan over the sound of your TV then there must be a problem with the machine.
     
  28. lfgj

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    Out of interest how fast is the Tosh at recording from start up? – I know the Panny has this new 1 second start up feature…
     
  29. sinclair

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    If the unit has been completely powered off, about 20-30 seconds. If the unit is already powered up recording starts immediately.
     
  30. knotpc

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    I'm not sure where their 1 second would start from.
    All take a while to turn on.
    All take a while to eject.
    All take forever to read a blank disk.
    All will record virtually instantly when hard disk or blank disk is ready. :beer:
     

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