Newbie needs DVD recorder recommendation

Discussion in 'Blu-ray & DVD Players & Recorders' started by Weinberg, Apr 24, 2005.

  1. Weinberg

    Weinberg
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    Hi,

    At the moment, I own a very average DVD player (it's a Panasonic SL-GC10, which is a Gamecube/DVD hyrbid) and the picture quality isn't that amazing. Also it only does component or s-video for DVD.

    I've been looking to get Sky+, but as we have already one Sky+ and 2 normal boxes, we can't upgrade one of the 'normal' boxes as all the feeds from the satellite dish are now taken up. So, I've heard that DVD recorders, and ones with harddisks, can actually do a very good job similar to a Sky plus box-with the boxes using the Sky programme guide, and features such as recording whilst viewing something else, and pausing live TV.

    First of all, how does this work, as in is it possible for the DVD recorder to have access to the sky listings, without me having to manually put in a time and channel number etc when I want it to record? Are there any pictures online of the menus you would see?

    The following are the features I'd like, some may not be possible and if so, tell me.

    -Built in hard drive
    -Full RGB in and out
    -Wide disc compatability (I know there are all sorts of recordable discs so I'd like this to play a wide range, if not most of them)
    -Progressive scan
    -Easy recording-hopefully access to the full Sky programme guide.
    -If possible, (and maybe they all do this anyway) a model which will switch on at the time of recording and switch off afterwards.
    -Ability to pause/rewind etc live TV
    -Impressive picture
    -A multiregion, or easily moddable model as multi-region is a necessity.

    I'd really appreciate some answers to my questions and recommendations. Thanks!
     
  2. Rasczak

    Rasczak
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    Have a look at the 'Which DVD Recorder?' link in my signature for basic answers to some of your questions.
     
  3. Weinberg

    Weinberg
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    Thanks, that was very useful. However one section I didn't understand was this:
    "ARE THERE ANY DVD RECORDERS THAT CONTROL MY SKY/FREEVIEW/NTL DIGIBOX?
    The Toshiba RDXS32, Pioneer DVDR920* and the JVC HDD/DVDR combis (the MH20, MH30 and DR-MX1) all have this ability. They use a 'magic wand' that will switch your digibox to the relevant channel for a Timer recording. Other machines, such as the Panasonic range, can be set to record from a Sky digibox using the Personnel Planner feature of Sky. However experience has shown that such a link can be unreliable and the RGB connection cannot be used which prevents best quality recording".

    So do only the panasonic ones suffer from the RGB problem? And if the others don't use Sky's personal planner, what do they use? And which system is better? I just want the one with the easiest recording function on, preferably with Sky guides on. And what does the 'magic wand' thing mean, do I need to buy anything else as well as the DVD recorder to enable the Sky link to work?
     
  4. Rasczak

    Rasczak
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    The Toshiba RDXS32 (and the new RDXS34) and the JVC models both use traditional programmable timers much like your VCR. They then use a magic wand - a infra red transmitter that will change the channel on your digibox as if you were entering the codes on the handset. The Pioneer 920 (along with several Philips models that are well worth avoiding) use Guideplus - a custom EPG. For ease of recording Guideplus wins - but most companies have opted not to use this in the UK due to the service being hampered by a lack of bandwidth.

    It is worth noting if you are after a 'Sky+' HDD/DVD recorder you will be disappointed. No HDD/DVDR quite matches the flexibility, lossless recording, reliability and ease of use of that service.
     
  5. redsox_mark

    redsox_mark
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    The comment about non-RGB recordings is a function of the Sky Box, not the recorder. For some of these at least, if you use the planner to setup a recording, this uses the video SCART, and this isn't RGB.

    The "magic wand" thing is just a little thing that comes with the Tosh XS32/XS34, which sends out IR signals to change the channel. With this, no you wouldn't need anything else.

    Mark
     
  6. Weinberg

    Weinberg
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    Thanks a lot for your reply. Though are you implying that recording to HDD, there will be a noticeable loss of audio/video quality? As if so, that would certainly hamper my decision. Otherwise, I know I won't get anything equivalent to Sky+, but these are the next best thing, and seem to do a good job, right?

    To get a better idea of the way these machines work, do you mind explaining 'they then use a magic wand - a infra red transmitter that will change the channel on your digibox as if you were entering the codes on the handset' in a little more detail? I don't understand the codes/handset bit.
     
  7. Weinberg

    Weinberg
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    "The comment about non-RGB recordings is a function of the Sky Box, not the recorder. For some of these at least, if you use the planner to setup a recording, this uses the video SCART, and this isn't RGB."

    I see what you mean, obviously I've never used (and noticed) the other scart on my digibox, though I just checked it now. So I own a Thomson Sky box, if I connect a DVD/HDD recorder to it, it won't record in RGB? Also you mention if I 'use the planner' (the sky guide on the sky box menu?!), how else can I record? Thanks!
     
  8. redsox_mark

    redsox_mark
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    I don't know for sure with your box - you'd have to check the manual to be sure, but often it is the case that the second SCART is not RGB.

    The "other way" e.g. with the Toshiba would be to use the IR "magic wand". In this scenario, just leave your Sky box on. Tell the Toshiba which Sky channel to record from, and the times.

    Mark
     
  9. Weinberg

    Weinberg
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    My box is a Thomson DSI4210, and looking at the back of the manual it says several things which may be relevant:
    "TV Scart 1 x 21 Pin, SCART"
    "VCR Scart 1 x 21 Pin, SCART"
    Video:
    Output: RGB, PAL (not clear whether this means to the TV, or to a VCR)
     
  10. Rasczak

    Rasczak
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    The machines have a little infra red transmitter attached to a lead that comes from the back of your DVD recorder. You put this in a position where it can send commands to your Sky Digibox. When you set a Timer recording the Toshiba will then send the relevant code for that channel and thus will record the correct Sky channel.

    Only the TV Scart outputs an RGB signal (assuming you have set it to do so in the menu). The VCR output will only ever output a Composite (Video) signal as that is all non S-Video VCRs can record.
     
  11. Weinberg

    Weinberg
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    "Only the TV Scart outputs an RGB signal (assuming you have set it to do so in the menu). The VCR output will only ever output a Composite (Video) signal as that is all non S-Video VCRs can record."

    I don't get that. Then why should people/do people put up with a poor composite image, is there seriously no way of recording an RGB picture from a Sky box?
     
  12. reddevil63

    reddevil63
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    I have the Panasonic DMR-ES10 Recorder and have connected via Sky Digibox's TV Scart socket as that is RGB enabled.

    I can do RGB recordings that way but can't use the Personal Planner as the VCR socket is the one that triggers the Recorder to record.

    Why I went this route is so I can output Sky thru component on my plasma and not concerned by recording.....using it more as a de-interlacer.
     
  13. Rasczak

    Rasczak
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    People don't put up with it - they connect the TV Output of Sky to the input of their DVD recorder and then output to TV. The disadvantage is you cannot use the Sky Planner to force your DVD recorder to record - but then using the Sky Planner is not particularly reliable anyway (it doesn't allow the buffer timings you can add to Sky+).
     
  14. Weinberg

    Weinberg
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    OK fair enough. So if I don't use the Sky Planner, to record, do I just tell it which time and what channel to record from? And will the channels match the Sky channels, i.e. if I tell it to record 106 it will record Sky One, or not?

    Thanks for all the replies, it's been very helpful.
     
  15. sinclair

    sinclair
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    This will work with the models that have the IR wand/transmitter that Raczak mentioned above as the machine will mimic your remote control to change your digibox to Sky1 (106) at say 8:00 and record for an hour and then to Paramount (127) at 17:00 to record for 30 minutes or however long. You set the channel, time and repeat pattern (if required) just as you would on a VCR.

    The models without the IR transmitter will have the qlink but if you decide not to use this because of the RGB issue then you will set the time and date on the recorder as above, just like a VCR. You won't however set the channel, just tell the recorder to record whatever Sky is outputting. Then you go to the Sky EPG and set autochanges to tell the digibox to change to those channels.

    There's not much between the two methods as both involve setting your recorder like a VCR. The use of the wand/transmitter does free you from the Sky EPG so you can put in time buffers, you don't get the Sky banner at the top of each recording and you don't have to set two devices, though truthfully to do this isn't exactly onerous. As Raczak rightly points out they all fall short of Sky+ in this regard and one needs to decide if £10 monthy is a price worth paying.
     
  16. Weinberg

    Weinberg
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    Thanks for that, it seems relatively simple.

    I'm now looking at the Toshiba RDXS34, Leading edge concepts have it for £309.99. It seems to do everything I want it to do. Stupid question though, should I expect to have to leave it on, or will it switch itself on at the recording time, and off afterwards? I'm quite sure I'll need to leave the Sky box on, but I always do anyway.

    And finally, if I put the TV out scart into the DVD recorder, I assume I just put the scart of the DVD recorder into the socket as normal, and the Sky box will function like usual? Though how would I change between Sky output, and the DVD player output? And would I use the Sky remote, or the DVD one? As my Sky remote obviously doesn't have a pause button for example, should I want to use timeslip.
     
  17. Weinberg

    Weinberg
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    I just realised an important question-if running the Sky box through this DVD recorder, does it have to be switched on whenever I want to watch Sky?
     
  18. JethroUK

    JethroUK
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    Philips HD will do all that except prog-scan (USA model only)

    + built-in Guideplus 7 day EPG for easy programming, titling & editing
    + remote i/r wand (automatically changes channels on any box you have)
    + 6 hour time-slip buffer (some of the models mentioned, dont do the 'pause/rewind live TV' bit at all)

    check out the guide:

    http://www.europe.guideplus.com/
     
  19. JethroUK

    JethroUK
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    So why didn't they subscribe to some other EPG? Simply because it's not true

    Pioneer are hardly going to include it in their brand new flagship model if it's not 'good enough' for their cheap end stuff

    Answer is simple: most companies have opted not to use this in the UK because they simply can not afford it (except in the case of £1000 Pioneer 920)

    P.S. Gemstar (Guideplus) have just signed a contract with Radio Times

    Guideplus couch potato programming + Radio Times superb 28 day search/listings = The best EPG in the business, bar none

    Anyone 'still' programming manually is living in the video age
     
  20. Rasczak

    Rasczak
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    Unfortunately it's a poor DVD recorder which rather negates the point of having it - I notice you miss out quoting "impressive picture" from the requirements stated which, of course, the Philips models can't really do - especially at the lower quality modes. The best example of how poor it is can be found in What Video Magazine (November Issue) where in a group test of DVD recorders then Philips not only came last but was only award 3/5 whilst JVC, Pioneer, Panasonic all scored 5/5. The fact that Philips DVD recorders haven't won any awards for years is very telling as well. Good to see you still have your blind love affair with Philips Jethro! But the fact is single format, budget DVD recorders with only average PQ aren't really the best choice for anyone.

    Such as? There is no decent alternative that is broadcast without resort to internet/telephone connections. Plus all the major companies see the Freeview EPG as the way forward for built in EPGs - you'll see some interesting applications of this by the years end. Plus Panasonic and others are now looking towards the internet for EPGs as well - again you'll see an internet EPG powering the E500 replacement in November. Panasonic holds a licence to use the UK Guideplus - the fact that they haven't yet is quite telling.

    So more data over the same bandwidth means the problem is going to get worse not better. An EPG that doesn't adapt to programme changes is worse than useless. Sorry Jethro.
     
  21. reddevil63

    reddevil63
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    Nope as it will run RGB passthrough.

    But if you want to output Sky as component then the recorder has to be left on.
     
  22. redsox_mark

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    To answer Wienberg's other questions:

    1. You can have the XS34 shut off after it finishes recording. After a timer recording it will always return to the state it is in when the timer started. So if you have the recorder off, it will wake up at the right time, record, then shut off. If the recorder was already left on when a recording starts, it will stay on.

    2. The way you choose between Sky output and DVD Recorder output is by use of a button called "Sat Moni" on the XS34. With Sat Moni on, the Sky just passes through the XS34. In this case, you control Sky just with the Sky remote. If "Sat Moni" is off, then you will get output from the XS34. You could still watch Sky in this mode by selecting the XS34 to the "AV2" channel. Then you could use timeslip if you wanted to pause the show. To change channel, you could still use the Sky remote (probably easiest)... though you can also change the Sky channel from the XS34 using the "Sat Cont" button.

    Mark
     

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