dvd recorder quality


Standard Member
I am new to this so please be gentle!

I am thinking of getting a dvd recorder to replace an old video recorder. After reading a lot of stuff about recording modes and quality I'm still confused about DVD.
How do the LP and EP modes on the e30/880 compare with vhs?The 1 or 2 hour modes seem to be advertised as dvd standard, but what if you're recording a whole night's worth?
For mainly recording and replaying (rather than saving to write once) the e30's functionality seems better? (Or fork out extra for the HDD HS2?)

First of many questions i'm sure.
cheers, Owen.

mark pearce

Hi Owen, (it’s a game this choosing a DVD recorder, ain’t it? !!)

I seem to be in a similar boat to you! Currently favouring a Panny E30 over the Philips 880/890 pairing (mainly due to the better (mini disc-type) editing capabilities of DVD-RAM), but can’t help wondering (like you!) whether I might do better to hold off for hard disk-equipped recorders to come down in price a bit!

I must confess I haven’t even had an opportunity to have a decent “play” with a DVD recorder yet (even though my father ‘liberated’ a late Panny E20 for a song, a few months back), but I have read quite a few reviews. So wonder whether these few selective quotes might be of any interest to you??

My father, incidentally, reports that he can’t ‘tell Stork from butter’ on XP and SP recordings (on a NON-RGB input!!) on his E20; that LP “looks pretty close to VHS to his eyes on his old, but large-screen telly”; and that EP “isn’t much cop, unless having 6hrs of unattended recording is a fairly major need.”

General consensus is that in XP (1hr) and SP (2hr) modes, picture quality is very good and all but indistinguishable from the original source. (But then you already know that, didn’t you?)

selective quote from Martin Pipe (Panny E30) in October 2002 ‘What Video & TV’ (pp16/17):

“Picture quality is superb in XP … In SP, the quality drop is imperceptible. Look closely and you’ll see a slight increase in MPEG artefacting, but the changes are very subtle. In terms of resolution, colour, and dynamic range you won’t spot the difference.

LP (4hr) is a sensible choice for archivists, demonstrating a picture quality somewhere between VHS and S-VHS. Edge noise artefacts are visible, but these are preferable to their analogue equivalents. In any case, no analogue format can approach the E30’s picture stability.

Switch to EP (6hr) and you’ll find a picture quality that’s close to VHS LP. There’s more judder and vertical resolution suffers. This mode is recommended only for non-critical jobs, or where 6hr of continuous recording is deemed important.”

and, … quote from Danny Phillips (no relation!) on the Philips DVDR 890 in same issue (pp14/15):

“In LP mode, the improvements in MPEG encoding over earlier recorders become clear. Artefacts are less noticeable than on previous Philips recorders, and even match the Panasonic DMR-E20’s high standards.

Dipping down into EP (4hr) and EP+ (6hr), the results are still pleasing. Colours remain strong and detail on slow moving shots is held together reasonably well. Even when the action gets faster it remains watchable, despite the obvious blocking (pixellation) and shimmer.

Pre-recorded DVD playback is also exemplary, allaying any fears that the quality of DEcoding doesn’t match that of the ENcoding. …. ”

So there you have it !!! ‘Fraid you need some replies from people who can speak from actual ownership experience of the recorders you’re interested in, or failing that, I guess a trip down to your friendly local AV emporium (who’s hopefully prepared to demonstrate the relative merits of playback in the long-play modes) is on the cards. ‘Fraid I can’t really help much on the relative long-duration record merits of the Panny versus the Philips machines, though, and the reviews I’ve read don’t appear very willing to nail their colours to the mast on this score, either.

Still, hope the enclosed quotes are of some small help and guidance, and wish you all the best in your quest. I’m sure we’ll both get there … eventually!

Mark Pearce (Fleet, N.E. Hampshire, U.K.)


i have bought a panasonicE30 a few days ago.tried it and i agree with What video and TV.By the way,the machine is fantastic in dealing with the disc as you would imagine.Vhs tapes seem like a joke now.


Active Member
I have an 890. The HQ (1hr), SP (2hrs) and SP+ (2.5hrs) modes are excellent, as good as pre-recorded DVD. LP (3hrs) and EP (4hrs) are still excellent allthough not quite as good - about S-VHS quality and then finally EP+ (6hrs) is the worst but IMHO still a lot better than standard VHS.



Standard Member
I've got an 880 and usually use SP mode (which is like watching telly live) and SP+ mode (which you hardly notice the drop in quality).

LP mode is still fantastic compared with any tape but not quite as clear and defined.

EP mode (4hrs) starts to look more vcr like but still not as bad as a very, very good vcr with brand new tape.

The picture is also rock steady with no need for tracking etc. It also has none of the fuzzy lines or occasional interference which you get when you use a tape too many times (ie about 10 times).

Sound is also much better than tape with no hiss in EP mode.

I've always found video tape tiring to watch due to the low resolution, poor contrast and colour, high noise levels and the crap sound with loads of hiss, whereas EP mode is fine in comparison.

As I used to always have 3hr video tapes, LP is good enough for me for 99% of occasions and so I only use EP in an emergency for programs I don't want to miss but also don't want to keep and which don't really require such good reproduction eg sitcoms.

As most programmes are less than 2hrs SP is my usual mode of recording. I use the other modes to fit programmes onto the remaining spaces on the discs.



Be aware that the 880 has not got a 6 hour record mode
only the 890 has ep+. There are a lot of disgruntled philips owners looking for a firmware upgrade that will give them ep+
mode on their 880's but so far no sign of one from philips.
So 880's only offer up to 4hrs recording.

I went for a panny because of the timeslip feature and have bought a few DVD-RAMs at £6 each for just that - anything
I want to keep goes directly to dvd-r which is still a lot cheaper
than dvd+r media and IMHO just as compatible.




Distinguished Member
Do any of these recorders allow satellite control ?


Active Member
Originally posted by JohnG
Do any of these recorders allow satellite control ?

The Panasonic HS2 has details of how to set it up so that it starts recording when the autoview of the sattelite kicks in. Not tried it myself, autoview is so unreliable I prefer to set it up myself.

Presumably the E30 does something similar.


Philips 890 also will record from Digibox automatically when using Autoview function.


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