Help Choosing a HD/DVD Recorder

Discussion in 'Blu-ray & DVD Players & Recorders' started by kwebbotaurus, Jun 1, 2005.

  1. kwebbotaurus

    kwebbotaurus
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    Getting close to buying an HD/DVD Recorder and have narrowed the choice down to the following:

    Panasonic DMR E85 (or EH50)

    Toshiba RD XS34

    I intend to record to the hard drive and then archive films (editing the ads out) to DVD-R.

    I will be recording from a PACE 2600 Sky Digibox and find the digibox control and the ability to record the widescreen flag on the Toshiba very tempting.

    However, I have been edging towards the Panasonic E85 after reading about its superior PQ and the problems with the fan and media on the Toshiba.

    Does the E85 have full res at 4 hours or is that just the EH50?

    Will full-res only stretching to 2hrs 20 on the Toshiba be a problem considering it will mostly be films I will be archiving to DVD-R with adverts edited out?

    What media is best to buy for each to record on?

    Which is the more reliable machine?
     
  2. redsox_mark

    redsox_mark
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    The 4 hours at full resolution is only on the EH50, the E85 is 3 hours. Also EH50 will write DVD-RW which the E85 won't.

    As long as the edited film is less than 2:20 you can use full resolution on the Toshiba. So Ok for most films, but not all (e.g. Lord of the Rings). For longer films you would either need to drop the resolution, or use 2 discs.

    Lots of threads on media...

    Mark
     
  3. Rasczak

    Rasczak
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    Only the EH50 - this new model has replaced the E85.

    Depends if the film is over 2hrs 20mins ;) You will record to HDD using the relevant quality setting, edit and then dub to DVD-R. If the edited content is less than 2hrs 20mins there is no problem.

    Whichever you get you will DVD-R for the most part. DVD-RW offers a compatible re-writeable media that may or may not be of interest and DVD-RAM acts as a HDD extension.
     
  4. Rasczak

    Rasczak
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    Spent too long typing - redsox got there first! :)
     
  5. kwebbotaurus

    kwebbotaurus
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    Thanks for all the replies, I still haven't quite decided which would be the better machine for me.

    How does the build quality compare between them?

    Does the Toshiba have flexible record?

    When I asked which would be the best media to use, I meant which make rather than format, any suggestions?

    Would the Sony 510 be a viable option?
     
  6. redsox_mark

    redsox_mark
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    Build quality - hard to comment... to me the Toshiba and Panasonic appear similar in build quality.
    The Toshiba doesn't have Flexible Record the same way as the Panasonic, but it does allow you to set the bit rate - basically you can do more or less the same as Flexible Record but you will need to look at a table in the manual to determine the bitrate to use.
    Sony 510 is a viable option, but it isn't as powerful on the editing side, and only has 8 different quality settings.
    What this means: Let's say you want to dub something which is 2 hours 5 minutes to DVD. With the Panasonic, you use FR and it figures out the ideal setting. With Toshiba, you look at the manual and see that a rate of 4.4 fits 2 hours 6 minutes, so you use that. With the Sony, there is a setting for 2 hours and one for 2 hours 30 min, so you use 2 hours 30 min.

    Mark
     
  7. sinclair

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    I didn't sense much difference in the build quality between the Tosh and Panasonic recorders and from these boards you can see that all models and makes seem to have a fairly equal capacity to niggle or go belly up. Touch wood I've had no issues with fan noise but other people certainly have, so this clearly varies from machine to machine, might be sensitive to location and to individual sensitivities.


    I've settled on Datawrite Titanium x8 and Verbatim x4 RW for my xs34 but apart from what turned out to be a glitch with a batch of datawrite classics, I've had no problems with any media.

    I don't know anything about the 510 and I'm not sure what you mean by flexible record.

    Someone else here was having problems with a Pace digibox and the Tosh IR channel switcher. Basically the Pace box times out faster than other digiboxes and is ineffective with IR blasters. You might want to scan the posts and find out what Pace box they have.

    When I was comparing the PQ of the Panasonic and the Tosh I have to confess that I found them to be at least on a par. As others have said on LP the Panasonic clearly bettered the Toshiba, which was v. poor, but as I'd no intention of recording at anything less than SP this was of no concern. I have to confess that better though the Panny was in full res LP, IMO the quality wasn't something that I'd want to use for anything other than timeshifting some average TV show, certainly not archiving favourite films. Your take might be more favourable and you should dem both machines as they are both superb. Good luck
     
  8. redsox_mark

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    And on media, there have been many threads about brands of media. More important than the brand is the actual manufacturer, the code on the disc.

    I have found TDK scratchproof (-RW) and for -R {DV 3182} Pack of 5 Verbatim (8x) Pastel Coloured DVD-R (With excellent Taiyo Yuden dye) ADVDINFO: .TYG..02 to both be very good - no failures.

    Available from http://www.blankdiscshop.co.uk/

    Mark
     
  9. ArtS

    ArtS
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    Can you explain what you meant about this more precisely?
     
  10. Rasczak

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    It doesn't have all the bells and the whistles of the Toshiba, i.e. ability to set the precise bitrate, no custom menu backgrounds, no GOP control etc etc.
     
  11. kwebbotaurus

    kwebbotaurus
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    Thanks again!

    I have a few more questions:

    1) How long can the Sony 510 record at Full Resolution?

    2) Which Panasonic would be the better buy E85 or EH50?

    3) Does the Toshiba have the drive problems of the earlier S32?
     
  12. Rasczak

    Rasczak
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    2hrs 30mins

    I would buy the EH50.

    The RDXS32 didn't have a drive problem - it was just very fussy over media. Many people on these forums buy bargain basement discs and expected them to work on the RDXS32. Frequently they didn't. The RDXS34 is much improved but is still quite fussy. If you use decent, branded media though you won't have problems. Indeed you could be better off in the long run...
     
  13. CLH

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    My XS32 has a "picture quality" fit to disc option which is exactly like the Panasonic option. Chooses the correct bit rate for you with no need to set it manually.
     
  14. redsox_mark

    redsox_mark
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    So it does... :blush: You can set "Auto" as the rate, and the Toshiba will set the rate to fill the disc. Learn something new every day!

    Mark
     
  15. kwebbotaurus

    kwebbotaurus
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    Thanks again!

    some more questions:

    Does the Toshiba have a high quality mode similar to XP on the Panasonic?

    How does the Picture Quality fit compare to Panasonics Flexible record?

    On the Panasonic when recording from a Digibox, can you record in RGB if you set the timer on the recorder to record from the AV socket (with the Digibox attached) and set up the switching of the channels on the digibox via personal planner with auto view on?

    Does the Sony 510 doesn't have a proper flexible record mode?
     
  16. redsox_mark

    redsox_mark
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    Yes, the Toshiba can be set to 9.2, which when you add the audio is about the max rate the DVD standard supports, and is like XP on the Panasonic (about 1 hour per disc).

    I believe the Panasonic flex record is more precise in selecting a bit rate to exactly fit; with the Toshiba the rates are in increments of 0.2 mbps, which is 4 or 5 mins granularity. This isn't really significant.

    Correct, the Sony doesn't have flexible record; you pick one of 8 settings.

    I can't answer the Digibox question...

    Mark
     
  17. Rasczak

    Rasczak
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    A couple of minutes here and there makes no difference whatsoever.
     
  18. kwebbotaurus

    kwebbotaurus
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    I'm still a bit confused about the recording resolution, looking at the recording modes:

    Panasonic - SP = 2hrs per disc
    LP = 4hrs per disc

    Toshiba - SP = 2hrs per disc
    LP = 4hrs per disc

    I notice on Rasczak's site that Panasonic Full resolution is listed at 4hrs, whereas the Toshiba's is at 2hrs 20.

    Are the Panasonic SP & LP modes of higher resolution than Toshibas?
     
  19. redsox_mark

    redsox_mark
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    At SP they are the same resolution - "full resolution". As you try and fit more and more on a disc, the recorder has to use a lower bitrate (basically send less information), which reduces the quality. When you get to a certain point it is becomes better to halve the resolution (which needs half the bits) - basically it becomes better to do a good job on a lower resolution image than a bad one on a higher resolution image.

    At longer than 2 hours 20, the Toshiba drops the resolution in half. The older Panasonic models (e.g. E85) did this at 3 hours, the new ones (EH50) do it at 4 hours.

    The manufactuer chooses the threshold for when they drop the resolution. One assumes they do this wisely, so the fact that the Panasonic can record 4 hours at full resolution implies their encoder is better at holding on to the quality at low bitrates than the Toshiba. But if they made that decision wrongly it is possible that a 4 hour recording on the Toshiba (half resolution) could look better than 4 hours on the Panasonic (full resolution). (Note I don't think it actually does; I'm just saying it is theoretically possible).

    Putting it another way, if full resolution was always better, they would never need to drop to half resolution. They drop because at some stage the bitrate becomes too small to maintain a quality picture at full resolution. The Panasonics can go longer before they need to make the drop, presumably as their encoder is better.

    Mark
     
  20. sinclair

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    I think that perhaps you're getting a bit too hung up on tech specs. I got quite excited by the promised benefits of 500 lines of horizontal resolution and 12 bit conversion but the reality fell well short of the hype. It is better than the Toshiba LP but IMO it is so inferior to SP or XP on either machine to make it something I would only use as a stop gap if I was seriously running out of space. From the little I've read and heard, resolution is only one of a number of factors that determine PQ.

    Every store has these things in stock and I really would advise that you check out the PQ yourself as we all have our own views on what is or isn't satisfactory and maybe there are some EH50 owners who are think that the LP quality is perfectly adequate for archiving.
     
  21. kwebbotaurus

    kwebbotaurus
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    Thanks for the replies, it's mostly films I'm going to be burning to DVD-R, so I'm just trying to get an idea as to which would be the better option.

    Which has better PQ at XP or SP?

    Which online suppliers would you recommend for these machines (bearing in mind I would want Multiregion & RCE compatability)?
     
  22. JethroUK

    JethroUK
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    You are equating 'Full resolution encode' = Better Picture reproduction

    and it's only 'superficially' true - it certainly doesn't equate absolute (so don't treat it as gospel) because it starts to get very grey area

    encoding is improving all the time (reproducing more and more accurately) - but all an encoding does is fit the best part of a pint into a half pint pot - it takes the original information and tries to replicate it as best possible by using an algorythm (a calculation) and save the reults of the calculation (rather than the original information) & consequently needs less space

    but the nature of algorythms is at best a guess (it has to guess what information was originally there based on the calculation) the more of the original infomation used for the calculation (full res) = the more likely the guess is going to be correct - but it's not absolute - i.e a bad algorythm can 'guess' totally wrong irrespective of how much of the original information was used

    i.e. an encode at full res could be worse than non-encode at half-res (that's half of the information being put back absolutely accurately)
     
  23. JethroUK

    JethroUK
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    yeah - what Redsox says - i didn't see this post
     
  24. redsox_mark

    redsox_mark
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    They are both good, I doubt you could see any difference between them at these settings.

    For price, delivery, and multi-region RGB direct is good - but others have reported less than great customer service should problems develop.
    I bought from RGB (and no problems yet, touch wood).

    Mark
     
  25. Rasczak

    Rasczak
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    The LP (4hr) full resolution mode on the Panasonic EH50 looks significantly better than the 4hr modes seen on most other DVD recorders: Toshiba, Pioneer, Philips, Sony etc. No doubt about it. Obviously there are some artifacts but anyone who actually sits down and compares the two will be left in no doubt which is better.

    If you doubt this go down to your local store and ask for a demo. Jethro hasn't seen the Panasonic in action and, if you refer to his posts, they are virtually all centered around Philips DVD recorders at the expense of everything else. I urge you to go out and see the truth as opposed to be 'put off' by someone who really doesn't have a clue...
     
  26. JethroUK

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    Haven't seen the panasonic - don't dispute it's good - just clarifying that the mere words "4 hours at full resolution" is not an absolute indicator of picture quality - like you suggest - the only way is to see it

    of course 'spec spouting' is soon abused (when it's found to be given unnessasary creadance) and that will lead to "40 hours at full resolution" and the witless will be 10 times more impressed
     
  27. sinclair

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    I don't think that anybody is arguing that the LP of the EH50 isn't noticeably better than the LP of the XS34, but having comprehensively auditioned the EH50, and sensing that Kweb may not in fact get around to demoing the machines, I just think it's important to pass on my reservations about the claims made for the PQ on the "full res" LP; especially since this seems now to be the nub of his purchasing decision. In all other respects, and in fact even in this, the EH50 is a great recorder but if ordered blind and the LP PQ is an important factor, then you need to be cautious about subjective marketing hyperbole.
     
  28. kwebbotaurus

    kwebbotaurus
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    Your right I probably won't get round to demoing the machines!

    The main thing that puts me off the Toshiba is the reported fan noise (my greatest worry) and that it may not be so great for archiving over the 2hr 20 mark (I have some 3hr video tapes to archive).

    Plus points are the Widescreen flag (though is this really that much of an issue anyway?) and also the Digibox control, but that isn't so essential as I don't really have a problem with setting the time on the Recorder and the programme switching on the digibox. Also the 160gb HD, but would I fill 80gb anyway?

    Plus points with the Panasonic are the PQ over longer material and it's not fussy with media
     
  29. Rasczak

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    It is a major issue for some. I only ever use my DVD recorder for recording - playback is dealt with by a dedicated DVD player - and thus what matters most is recording quality. I suspect many people are the same. The fact is the Panasonic does have a MPEG encoder that is, at present, somewhat ahead of the competition - this is not something I have read in the specs but the conclusion from an extensive trial (I receive and test most UK release DVD recorders). In side by side comparison you are left in no doubt that the 4 hour resolution is a major buying point.

    I am not saying buy 'blind' - infact I strongly urge everyone to thoroughly demo the equipment before they buy - but discussions that 4hrs full resolution may look inferior to 4hrs hours half resolution in reference to the Panasonic EH50 are quite absurb.
     
  30. redsox_mark

    redsox_mark
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    I don't think I (or sinclair and Jethro) said that 4 hours of half resolution on another machine would look better than the EH50. The points I was trying to make were:

    1. Simply by a manufacturer deciding to push full resolution to 4 hours doesn't automatically make it better.

    2. Regardless of the recorder, 4 hour mode won't be as good as 2 hour mode on the same recorder.

    I haven't viewed the EH50, but I respect Rasczak's opinion, and I'm sure in the case of the EH50 it is indeed better at 3 or 4 hour mode.

    Mark
     

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