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Firmware fault on Panasonic DMR-E85?

Discussion in 'Blu-ray & DVD Players & Recorders' started by Robin Davies, Mar 12, 2005.

  1. Robin Davies

    Robin Davies
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    I was just about to buy a Panasonic DMR-E85 when one of the shop assistants said there was a problem with the firmware in that model. I can't remember the details but I think you had to re-format the hard drive after deleting things from it (or something). Has anyone heard anything about this? I'm rather annoyed because, after months of dithering, I thought I'd finally decided on a model of DVD recorder to buy. :(
     
  2. rich_jtg

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    I've had mine almost a year now and it's had a lot of hammer from recordings and editing, and so far I haven't formatted the drive once. :rolleyes:
     
  3. Rasczak

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    Robin Davies,

    You really shouldn't get too concerned about what 'shop assistants' tell you - come here or on other technical forums for the technical/buying advice!

    This is true - but it is NOT a fault, a firmware issue or anything else - it's a fact of life for all HDD machines. If you use the 'Partial Erase' (Destructive editing) on the Panasonic extensively then it will be in your interests to format your HDD to ensure smooth operation - this is something you would look to do maybe once every 6 months (although it does, if course, depend upon your useage). Most Panasonic users aren't even aware of the issue - which goes to show how small a problem it is.

    And formatting is easy - select the option, wait a couple of minutes (if that) and then you ready to start again. Any programmes on your HDD can be digitally dubbed to DVD-RAM whilst your doing this and then dubbed back to the HDD on completion!

    If you don't like the sound of this then you can always avoid using 'Partial Erase' and use 'Playlist' (non-destructive editing) instead. Unlike Partial Erase this doesn't 'delete' the programme sections you cut out - it just skips them when you dub the playlist to DVD-R or when you play it back on the HDD. This avoids the problem of having lots of small deleted segments scattered across the HDD which is what causes you to format. Many people prefer playlist editing as they can easily correct mistakes should they make one.
     
  4. Robin Davies

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    Many thanks for the info! Just one extra question: Is it possible to record from DVD-R to the HDD all within the Panasonic DMR-E85? I read one review which said you couldn't. I asked this question elsewhere but I'm not sure I worded it carefully enough and I think people may have thought I was asking about copying from a DVD-R in another machine onto the HDD in the Panasonic. That option's not open to me because my LG4750 player won't play DVD-Rs.
     
  5. maldonian

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    There is an E85 firmware upgrade available on Panasonic's Japanese web site. There is a Customer Support article (in Japanese) dated June 8th 2004, about a bug in the E85 control software. It refers to a "U99" error message which can occur when dividing a title, and if it occurs the machine stops working. It warns against using the title divide function before applying the upgrade because if the error occurs the machine will have to be repaired. It shows which serial numbers need the upgrade and provides three ways of obtaining it, including a download. You have to provide your serial number and it only lets you download if your machine needs it. It does not recognise either of my serial numbers, so perhaps it only works with Japanese machines.

    There is also an E85 firmware upgrade available in the US. One customer, Roger Amidon, obtained it from a Panasonic repair centre in Illinois and he has made it available for download. There have been several threads about the dreaded U99 error on the AVS Forum's DVD Recorders forum in the US, and a recent thread "Info on Panasonic E85 Firmware Upgrade File!" is all about the firmware upgrade that Roger has made available. The first post in the thread gives a link to a long article by Roger. He gives a link to the download and he also tells you how to get into the service mode to determine which firmware versions you have (there are three - main, timer and dvd drive) and the date of manufacture. He comments that if your machine was manufactured after August 2004 then it probably does not need upgrading. (The bit about Panasonic engineers replacing controller boards to 'repair' E85 units with U99 errors is quite amusing.)

    I have no idea whether Roger Amidon's upgrade is universal or just for US machines. I haven't tried using the service mode, so I don't know if his instructions work on UK machines. I would heed his warning about experimenting with other commands if you have a go.

    So where does all this leave us in the UK?

    It seems unlikely that UK machines manufactured before August 2004 were immune to this problem. So does Panasonic UK have a firmware upgrade for UK E85s? Does anyone on this forum have a contact in Panasonic who might know? Has anyone in the UK experienced a U99 error?

    Meanwhile, I don't think Robin or anyone else considering buying an E85 should worry about this particular bug. You would be unlucky if a machine you bought now was manufactured before August 2004. Even if it was, U99 errors seem to be quite rare, and, as Rasczak says, you can always use playlist editing to minimise fragmentation and it would avoid the U99 problem as well (or you could do your editing on dvd-ram). Anyway, if I was buying now I would probably go for an E95 because they seem to be available for about the price I paid for my second E85 less than 3 months ago.
     
  6. maldonian

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    Yes, but only at normal speed. (You can high speed dub from DVD-RAM to the HDD.)
     
  7. Rasczak

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    This is not a problem on UK E85 machines - hence there will be no firmware update to fix it. Divide with confidence!
     
  8. TobyW

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    Last night, my E85's HDD became full. But when I erased a couple of movies, the resulting space seemed to be significantly less than what I had erased. (Sorry, no metrics until I repeat the experiment.) Could that be a reason for eventually having to re-format?
     
  9. Rasczak

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    Did/do you have a different recording mode selected from the one you recorded the programmes in? For example if you delete a 1hr programme recorded in LP but you have SP selected the time recovered will be 30mins until you change the recording mode.
     
  10. TobyW

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    I did account for that. What surprised me was that I had to erase 2 SP films, to make enough space for a single LP film (of the order of 2 hours each). Now that the HDD is no longer full, I can't reproduce that. I wish I had taken notes, maybe I imagined it. Maybe I will fill the HDD and repeat the experiment.
     
  11. jhmaeng

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    To Robin Davies:

    Did you hear that from a Richer Sounds shop by any chance? My partner wanted to buy the E85 yesterday and I effectively wasted a whole afternoon doing the following:

    2pm - Told there is a "firmware fault" by the Holborn Richer Sounds shop assistant on the E85 (and recommends the LG one for the same price - I wonder why :rolleyes: - or the E95 for £100 more)...
    3pm - Back home to research on the Internet about this "fault" and also to phone 2 other Richer Sounds branches to ask if they have heard of this "fault" as well. None of them has any knowledge of this fault.
    4pm - Head to the City branch of Richer Sounds. Shop assistant has never heard of that problem.
    6pm - Back home with player

    I really want those 4 hours of my afternoon back... :( Btw, he's delighted with the new recorder.
     
  12. RBJTech

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    Rasczak,

    How can you be sure that no UK machines are affected ?

    I bought an E85 when they first appeared in the UK, had a U99 fault, corrected it myself by formatting the hard drive externally out of the unit and it hasn't happended again since I have stayed away from this function.

    To confirm this, the Japanese Panasonic website lists serial numbers Kx4b, Kx4c and Kx4d and Kx4e000001 -> Kx4e007218 as needing the update.

    My UK serial number is KW4C... - ie I need the update !

    I'm about to try and download the update but I'll talk to Panasonic first before I attempt the firstware upgrade...

    TeeeRex
     
  13. RBJTech

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    Also - see

    http://www.dxcc.com/dmr-e85h.htm

    Has the link to the firmware file ....

    **** CAUTION REQUIRED HERE - Do not upgrade if you do not know what you are doing !! ****
     
  14. Robin Davies

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    Yes, I had the same spiel from the same shop! Anyway, I think I'll wait for the new Panasonics to hit the streets.
     
  15. ptek

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    Mega Warning !, the firmware link is for North America/Canada/Latin America only (DMR-E85HP/HPC), Europe/Asia/Pacific models (DMR-E85HEG/HEB/HEP/HEE/HGCS/HGN) use different firmware and may cause unexpected results, ie. :suicide:
     
  16. RBJTech

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    thanks ptek - didn't flash the firmware for that very reason - Panasonic UK have said that no firmware is available (email response) but I have a serial number that needs the upgrade ....

    Hmmm ... do I send off to Panasonic (hassle..) or search the net for a UK firmware ...


    :confused:
     
  17. bigsby

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    Never had any problems (touch wood) with my E85, other than the LG/RAM issue mentioned extensively elsewhere.

    Personally I create chapters then delete them rather than use the partial erase, don't know if this treats the HD better or not.
     
  18. norfred

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    Had the e85 since October and my son and I are continually filling the drive up and deleting various progs after editing by both dividing and partial erasing. Our hard drive must be getting well fragmented by now but we have not had to reformat yet. I no doubt will have to at some point but that is hardly something to worry about.
    Norfred
     
  19. peck2000

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    I've read this thread with interest as it seems to relate to a problem I'm having ...

    I've recorded "Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse" (2hrs 27m) from my Sky DigiBox to the HD of my Panasonic DMR-E85H in SP mode. When I try to dub it to DVD-R, the machine asks me (quite rightly) if I want to dub in FR mode. When I click "Yes", the machine runs for about thirty seconds then crashes with a message of "BYE" and goes into self-check mode. Incredibly, the DVD-R isn't ruined and I can use it to record any other 2 hour or shorter movie.

    Even though the machine is supposed to be able to detect when to switch to FR automatically, I've tried setting the Dubbing Mode to FR manually, but I get the same result.

    I've already returned the machine to a service Centre (Armstrong's in Walthamstow, who had the machine for three weeks). Armstrong's checked the machine out and were unable to locate the problem. When they spoke to Panasonic, they were told that the machine did not dub in FR mode, which is not the case, either in my experience or in the manual, pg 36, Point 3.

    I visited the workshop to demonstrate the problem, but on that occasion the FR dubbing mode functioned perfectly. Thinking the problem solved, I brought the machine home only to have the problem begin again.

    In addition, if I try to change the thumbnail of an item on an unfinalised DVD-R disk, the machine also crashed with the same "BYE" message and goes into self-check mode.

    Before I return the machine to the service centre for another three weeks, I'd like to have your opinion on whether this might be caused by a fragmented hard drive. Goodness knows I've used destructive editing since I bought the machine almost a year ago, so the drive could certainly be fragmented. But would that cause this odd "crash" behaviour when I try to dub movies longer than two hours? And would it cause craching when I try to change the thumbnail on an already dubbed DVD-R?

    Peck2000
     
  20. RBJTech

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    Hi Peck2000,

    Sorry to hear about your problems but I'm not sure this is related to the U99 error on the 'split title' bug.

    I take it you have tried different media to do the dubbing ?
    Have you tried this function before and it worked or is this the first time ?

    Defragging the HDD will increase performance on dual Writing and Reading from the same device, but it SHOULD make little difference to what you are doing as you're reading from a fast HDD (capable of high transfer rates) and dubbing to a slow DVD-R (4x) so the HDD transfer is not the limiting factor here.

    The thing that puzzles me is that you tried to recreate the fault at the dealer and couldn't, yet tried it at home and it failed (every time?).

    Have you tried this with exactly the same setup as in the dealer - ie assume you just had one scart connected, no aeriel etc. I would also try a different power socket, ideally another location. A long shot, could be something to do with the power unit ?

    As I said, try different media first (always used Ritek based G04/G05 DVD-R with 100% results myself)

    Good luck ...

    Teeerex.
     
  21. peck2000

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    >>The thing that puzzles me is that you tried to recreate the fault at the dealer and couldn't, yet tried it at home and it failed (every time?).

    >>Have you tried this with exactly the same setup as in the dealer - ie assume you just had one scart connected, no aeriel etc. I would also try a different power socket, ideally another location. A long shot, could be something to do with the power unit ?

    Sorry - I should have mentioned that the problem is not 100% "reliable". More like 98%. When I got the unit home, I tried about three times to dub the "Four Horsemen" movie. Each time it crashed the machine. Then on the fourth try (persistent, aren't I?), it worked.

    I currently have "Malcolm X" on the Hard Drive. I've tried to dub that a few times - it's crashed the machine every time so far. Granted it's quite a bit longer than "Horsemen" at about 200 minutes, but I figure if I try enough times, then by the law of averages, I'll probably have a success at some point.

    However, I don't think I should settle for a function on a warranted machine that works 2% of the time.

    I will try to duplicate the dealer's set up (by disconnecting the Sky DigiBox) but again, since the machine worked just fine on all functions with my curent set-up until the beginning of March, it seems odd that I would have to start disconnecting stuff to dub in FR mode.

    I've emailed Panasonic's Customer Services people with the details of the problem but no reply yet ...
     
  22. RBJTech

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    What about the media - have you tried anything different ? What media are you using ? If the media works on a normal dub then ignore this but you mentioned that on a failed dub, the media is reusable - meaning that it has not been written to at all - telling me that the E85 is stalling recognising the media ... Give it enough tries and it might pick it up (hence the limited success).

    On FR mode the dub is 1x as it plays the movie and re-encodes it, but with high speed it obviously dubs it directly at 4x. Try turning off high speed dubbing and just try and dub something normal speed in XP,SP etc but not FR. If that fails, then I'm sure your media does not like being written to at 1x (?)

    Keep us updated on what panasonic say - interesting one this ...

    :)

    Teerex.
     
  23. peck2000

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    OK - I took your advice. While my normal media (Ritek Yellow 4x and lately 8x) records fine in HS mode, it was clearly failing in FR mode. So despite your bit of advice above, I tried dubbing 'Malcolm X" onto a Sony 1x that I had handy. And it worked first time.

    In addition, I was able to change the thumbnail before finalising the disk (doesn't matter what you set as the thumbnail on the HD, soon as it dubs onto DVD-R, the thumbnail almost always changes. Anyone else noticed this?)

    Now of course, it's too early to tell, but I'm going to take a swipe at recorded another 2hr + movie to see if it's successful again. If it is, then I'll be more confident we've found our culprit.

    If I get another failure with the different brand of disk, then I'll try turning off HS mode.

    I've heard not a word from Panasonic. This may be standard procedure with them. If so, then pretty poor customer service.

    Thanks for all your advice over this.

    peck2000
     
  24. ben223

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    I contacted Panasonic concerning the firmware update and received the following reply today:

    'In response, there are no upgrades currently available in the UK for the
    DMRE85. We do not recommend that you perform the upgrade on your DMRE85 as
    you may invalidate your warranty. If you feel that there is a fault with
    your unit, we would suggest that you refer the unit to an authorised local
    service agent for inspection. A list of your local service agents can be
    found on our website www.panasonic.co.uk under Customer Support, Find a
    Service Centre.'
     
  25. peck2000

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    OK - I've managed to find and 2hrs + movie to record. "The Last Samurai" is about two and half hours. I dubbed it to one of the Sony DVD disks and again it dubbed across without incident.

    Looks like you've found the problem. Thanks, Teeerex ... much obliged to you.

    I guess I should email the guys at Armstrong's, the recommended service agents, and tell them as well ...

    Kind regards,

    peck2000
     
  26. Deadsquirrel

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    This is my first post anywhere on these forums, however, as i have recently had problems with my Panasonic DMRE85 a friend directed me here.

    Thankfully my unit is covered by Domestic & General Insurance and a courier came and picked my unit up the other day, however, here are details of the problems i was having:

    Dubbing from HDD to DVD-R

    The unit has been going into SELF CHECK mode in the middle of transfering a dubbing list from HDD to DVD-R/DVD RAM
    I.e. if there are 6 titles in the dubbing list (6 episodes of the Justice League animated series 20mins long each) the unit will copy the first 2 then just go off into SELF CHECK mode and the dubbing will not be continued (I thought it may just be the Disc I was using, however It has happened with all DVD-R’s I have tried Panasonics own brand and Sony etc).

    SELF CHECK mode

    Just recently when the unit has entered HDD Sleep and i've then pressed either the Nav button or the HDD button on the remote the unit’s front display has been going off and after about 2 minutes the front display shows SELF CHECK the unit then remains in this state for approximately 10 minutes, after which a message appears on the TV screen “An error has occurred please press Enter” upon pressing enter the cycle starts again. The only way I have been able to stop the cycle is to press the Standby button and leave the unit off for a while.

    Even whilst getting ready to pack the unit up for the courier I pressed the eject button for the Disc drawer (in order to remove a DVD) and it entered the whole SELF CHECK cycle as described above.


    The service center have been intouch to advise that Parts have had to be ordered, so i certainly doesn't sound good
     
  27. arcamalpha

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    Not very helpful!
    There seems to be a standard fault with these machines that panasonic are ignoring unless you pay the money to have it looked at.
    My e85h goes into self check mode for an age when it is first switched on, when dubbing from the HD to dvd media it will not play ball, again going into self check.
    This problem appears not an isolated problem with panasonic products, my only suggestion can be to take your custom elsewhere with a company that cares.
     

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