Whilst the Pioneeer 3100 is a reasonable, budget, machine you'd be down-grading quite dramatically if you replaced your E100 with this. The 3100 does not do RGB in which means you'd no longer be able to record in best quality format from Sky (you'd have to use S-Video instead). You'd also loose the ease of editting offered by a HDD.
A better option IMHO is to buy a multi-format video from the likes of: http://www.lektropacks.com/
(I'm on GPRS at the moment so haven't checked they still have one listed - if you can't find one on their site post a request on the VCR forum for advice on a good multi-format VCR).
Such a VCR will give you considerably better picture quality on your NTSC tapes than the 'NTSC plaback' (in PAL60) offered by most VCRs.
Your joking right? More expensive models do a reasonable job at it, i.e. Panasonic, JVC S-Video variants, but for the most part they are dire with faded, washed out colours. Certainly, whatever the machine, a PAL60 conversion from NTSC will always be the poorer than the original.
Just get a cheap one from Comet and it will save you a fortune
But then he would have to sacrifice his £700 E100 in favour of buying a VCR that is maybe £100 more expensive than a similarly specified alternative! If he has a large collection of NTSC tapes to transfer to DVDR then a multi-format VCR is by far the best option quality wise.
1) Replace His VCR With A Multi-Format
This would negate the need for him to buy a new DVD recorder, it would give better picture quality on his archived NTSC VHS recordings and would . The device would also holds it's value reasonably well if he went to re-sell it after archiving his videos.
2) Replace His DVDR With One That Can Record PAL60
The E100 is, without the doubt, the best HDD/DVDR combo going at the moment. However it cannot record PAL60. Therefore his next best option would be the Pioneer 5100. This would offer the same functionality as he has now with his E100 but would mean a reduction in picture quality due to the lack of RGB in (as well as lose MPEG4 recording, HighMAT capabilities etc). However any VCR with NTSC playback would fulfill the role as NTSC playback machine. Obviously a quality VCR will give better results than a cheap, naff one.
Purchasing a combination of products like Sky+ and a standalone DVDR will not give the same functionality. Sky+ could, of course, do all your timeshifting - better than any DVDR as it has an EPG and records the digital stream directly. However any recordings you want to edit and archive would need to be recorded in VR mode (either on a RAM disk or DVD-RW disk) which is incompatible with most existing DVD players. You'd require a PC DVD burner to complete the process (or one of the other methods discussed in the 'DVD-RAM (inc DVD-RW VR Mode) To DVD-R' thread at the top of this forum). NONE of the methods are as easy, straightforward and quick as a HDD/DVDR combo.
I would certainly suggest down-grading from a HDD model to a standalone will bring disappointment.
Thanks for the help Rasczak,
I would like to keep my DMR E100, but a multi-format vcr would cost at least £300. I've already spent £800 on the DMR E100.
All I need from DVD-RW is the ability to edit out adverts and reclaim the lost time. Most of my recordings would be sci-fi so my friends would not be interested in borrowing my discs. So compatibility is not an isuse, as long as DVD-RW works with the latest version of the playstation 2. Its a real shame Panasonic overlooked Pal 60, I'm going to miss my DMR E100.
It's not a question of whether DVD-RW works with the PlayStation - it's a question of whether DVD-RW VR mode works with it. Most Sony DVD players support it but I'm not sure if the PS2 does? Something you should check anyway.