Noobie list of questions for owners of Panasonic, Pioneer and Sony DVD HDD Recorders

Discussion in 'Blu-ray & DVD Players & Recorders' started by Jikan, Jun 8, 2009.

  1. Jikan

    Jikan
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    :hiya:

    I apologise beforehand if you feel these questions have been covered numerous times in different threads. I have however searched through enough threads to realise that the Panasonic, Pioneer and Sony DVD HDD Recorders seem to be the most popular on this forum. I plan to buy one of these models over the next week or so, and hope that any forum members who regularly operate one (or perhaps more than one) of these machines can spare the time to answer my list of questions.

    To help best answer the questions, perhaps I should give details of my set-up and explain what I will primarily be using the DVD HDD Recorder for. I still have an old fashioned JVC AV-28RT5EKS CRT Television and have qualms about strengthening Rupert Murdoch’s media empire through monthly payments, so Sky and HD viewing can wait for the time being. My current Panasonic NV-FJ710 VCR and Pioneer DV-656A DVD Player are connected to the TV with SCART leads and are also attached to a Sony STR-DB1080 AV Receiver with stereo interconnects and a coaxial cable respectively.

    I will mainly be using the DVD HDD Recorder for everyday recording and have little use for features such as a Digital Music Jukebox, Photo Album, etc. I also have a backlog of videos that I would like to shift to DVD, so I would favour a Recorder that can perform the most unproblematic transfers. While it would be useful to have both an analogue and digital tuner on the Recorder, it would also be kind of pointless as the digital changeover is happening in my region before the end of the year. DivX playback is not essential and I don’t own a Camcorder so features relative to this equipment are also superfluous. Knowing my TV habits, I can imagine the Hard Drive will become occupied sooner than I think so models with a larger storage capacity are important. My budget is around the £300 mark, so the cost of replacing one of the Sony models with a larger Hard Drive would need to be taken into consideration.


    Anyway, now you are equipped with that information here are my questions:
    1. Considering I own a CRT TV, can you recommend a cable to connect the DVD to the TV? Can you also recommend an S Video cable (if that is the best connection) for recordings from the VCR?
    2. I want to retain my current DVD Player as part of my set-up for playing SACD and DVD-A titles. Am I correct in thinking I will need to connect the DVD HDD Recorder to the AV Receiver via the optical input (for multi-channel surround sound) and via the audio inputs for general sound?
    3. I don’t currently own a PVR but is it relatively straightforward to record from the PVR to the DVD HDD Recorder?
    4. I realise that Video to DVD transfers need to be performed in real time, so would it be possible to let a tape run and record to DVD (or HDD) overnight? In other words, do you have to manually stop the DVD from recording once the tape (or DVD) has run out or can you specify the length of recording time before the Recorder will switch off automatically?
    5. Having transferred a recording overnight it would be nice to spend little fuss removing adverts and unwanted footage and adding chapters the following day. Which Recorder has the best or most intuitive editing features to allow me to perform these actions?
    6. When creating a DVD is it possible to use an imported JPEG of your choice as the background for the top menu? Which model features the best choice of menus?
    7. I’m aware that some forum members copy footage onto a DVD+RW and import this into DVD Authoring software on a PC. Am I misinformed in that finalising a DVD in this manner can cause the visual and audio tracks to appear out of sync on some DVD Players? Has anyone experienced this problem on the models I have listed?
    8. Are there any particular makes of disc that a specific machine will not record on?
    9. Having noted my requirements is it worth waiting for the release of the 2009 Panasonic, Pioneer and Sony models, or with the arrival of Blu-ray Recorders do you feel that DVD HDD Recorder technology may have already peaked? Should I maybe even try to find an earlier model in the specified range that already has all the necessary features I have detailed?
    I hope I’ve covered everything and I apologise again if you’ve found this post extensive. The alternative would be to ask a question, wait for a reply then annoyingly repeat the process with different questions throughout the thread (rather than make my queries all at once). I just thought that asking DVD HDD Recorder owners whose usage is most comparable to my own would make my decision that little bit easier.

    Thanks for your time, and I look forward to any replies.
     
  2. Gavtech

    Gavtech
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    Welcome to the forum.

    For the TV, a fully wired scart, to get the benefit of RGB.

    There is no point in getting an S Video cable, because the FJ710 is not an S-VHS recorder and will not have S connections. You will be restricted to a composite connection.
    I don't think that is absolutely necessary but presumably such an arrangement would save you having to change input and output settings to deal with various sources.
    Identical to recording any other source. A simple scart connection... preferably fully wired to take the very significant advantage of RGB quality copying.
    Any of the methods you have described is satisfactory. Most recorders will only record for a maximum of 8 hours in a single recording in any case, and will then cease.
    To an extent, this will be a matter of taste and you would no doubt comfortably adjust to whichever system you finally adopt.
    I have used both the Panasonic and Sony systems [The Pioneers and Sonys are based on the same operating system ] and my own feeling is that the Panasonic is the simpler and more intuitive of the two, but I am sure there will be many users of the Sony/ Pioneer systems who are quite comfortable with the system they are used to.
    No. - Unless it was part of the recording. You can choose any frame of a recording as a thumbnail.
    However I suspect that you will quickly come to regard such refinement as pointless.
    Many users quickly tire of these features as being of no great importance and not worthy of the investment in time.

    You will get no sync problems when editing on hardware.
    Sync problems can arise in PC Editing depending on the methodology used. The learning curve is steep and you will find no single piece of software that will deal with all the issues that you need to handle.

    I note you mention a + format disc. Note that all the recorders you have mentioned and are considering are principally ' - ' disc type recorders [ with bolt on + support ] Thus it is always better to use '-' type discs in these machines as support is deeper, and problems fewer... unless you have very special reasons or applications for using + types.

    Not of any significance. The disc market has far too much churn to be able to be definitive about this.
    In any case the brand of a disc is irrelevant. It tells you nothing. What matters is the factory that produced it and the dye type used.
    Brands in identical packaging can contain discs from different factories from opposite sides of the world and use a different dye.
    One can perform brilliantly and reliably and the other can be dire.

    There are known good factories.
    The best is considered to be the Taiyo Yuden factory in Japan.

    It is not worth waiting for anything. This is a mature technology with no where left to go. It cannot be improved as it is defined by the format and the limitation of that format. It is only operability that is tweaked.
    What separates the top quality machines from everything else is the technical refinement and the user interface.

    To take an overview...you can scarcely go wrong with any of the machine types you have mentioned.
    Just about all users of any of the makes mentioned love their machines.
    I think the simplest to operate are the Panasonic range but whichever you finally choose, you should be able to adapt to it.
     
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2009
  3. JH4

    JH4
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    Just to add a little to Gavtech's reply - some newer machines will run for 12 hours if you just set it to record.
    You say that the 'photo album' feature is not a big requirement, but I have just started using mine to store and display camera pictures. It's quite a revelation to see photos displayed on a large screen TV. You can set it to display them all as a slide show,for example.
    I can recommend it - it beats looking at tiny prints, and is much less expensive !
     
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2009
  4. Jikan

    Jikan
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    :thumbsup: Touched by the hand of Mod(erator)

    Yay! I feel truly welcomed - a response from the ever dependable GavTech. What would we mere mortal forum members do if you weren’t here to offer salvation?

    But seriously, thanks for taking the time to read and respond so fully to my protracted post. You were even able to point out my inaccuracies which I’m tempted to claim (Captain Mainwaring style) were deliberate to catch you out, but sadly they were unintentional.


    Could I further trouble you to verify the leads that require purchasing along with the Recorder, or if I've left anything out?
    1. A Universal SCART cable to connect the DVD HDD Recorder to the TV.
    2. A 3 Male RCA to 3 Male RCA Composite AV Cable for recording from the VCR to the DVD HDD Recorder. Incidentally, for what purpose would you connect the VCR to the Recorder with a SCART cord (as indicated in DVD HDD Recorder manuals)?
    3. You also mentioned that using an Optical Cable (for multi-channel surround sound) and Stereo Interconnects for general sound was not absolutely necessary. What arrangement would you suggest?
    Since you have used both the Panasonic and Sony DVD HDD Recorders, you seem ideally placed to help me make my decision. I think I’ll ring Richer Sounds to see if they have the Panasonic DMREX88 in stock. It will hopefully last me a good few years or at least until the price of Blu-ray Recorders comes down.

    Thanks also to JH4 for your response, but I’m far too consumed by self-loathing to see photos of myself on a Wide Screen TV. ;)
     
  5. Broadz

    Broadz
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    Because composite gives the worst quality possible - except for RF. Scart (preferably RGB) is of higher quality than composite - though whether that matters on a picture quality being transferred from video to DVD is I suppose debatable.
     
  6. Jikan

    Jikan
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    So can all these cables be used for VCR to DVD HDD Recorder transfers?
    1. A 3 Male RCA to 3 Male RCA Composite AV Cable.
    2. A 3 x RCA to SCART Cable.
    3. A SCART Cable.
     
  7. ramjet

    ramjet
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    yes they can , with one proviso

    only the fully wired scart lead is capable of transferring in RGB mode

    that doesnt mean the vcr is capable of rgb , just that the fully wired scart lead is , and usually a hdd/dvd recorder can accept rgb , and of course can always accept composite
     
  8. Gavtech

    Gavtech
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    Just a point to note:

    A 3 x RCA to SCART Cables are wired either to be IN cables [ with respect to the scart ] or OUT cables [ with respect to the scart ].

    Thus it matters when wiring equipment that you have the right type.

    There is an ideal type which has an integral switch in the scart so that it can be switched to work in either mode.
     
  9. Jikan

    Jikan
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    Thanks again for the clarification GavTech.

    Would you mind elaborating on the alternative set-up arrangement you would use instead of an Optical Cable and Stereo Interconnects that I posited in post #4?
     
  10. Gavtech

    Gavtech
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    1. Yes.
      A scart is a simple and convenient way to connect. It carries both the sound and video ... and in the varying qualities according to the capabilities of the source [ provided it is fully wired ].
      A Non S-VHS VCR is only capable of composite delivery ...so it will only use the composite part of the scart... but the FJ710 is a stereo recorder so the scart will also carry the stereo signal.

      Wiring by fully wired scart also permits the connection of RGB source equipment further up the chain if desired... because although the VCR cannot produce RGB , it will pass it through from another source.
      ...Your DVD player for example? - unless you are connecting that directly to the TV .. but CRT TV's traditionally have only one socket capable of accepting RGB even if they have more than one scart socket.... and you will have two RGB sources.

      So using scart may be altogether simpler than using 3 core phonos and may provide more options.



      The optical connection should be fine for everything.
      You can have the stereo interconnects optionally.

      Incidentally ... Sony units have coaxial - not optical outputs .. so if you go that route you would need a converter unless your amp can handle that type of input. [ Panasonic use optical ]
     
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2009
  11. Jikan

    Jikan
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    :smashin: Thanks yet again GavTech.

    Since my current DVD Player uses a Coaxial connection for multi-channel surround sound, I use the Phono interconnects for playing CDs. I therefore extrapolated that a stereo connection would be required for the DVD HDD Recorder as my TV and VCR are connected to the AV Receiver in this manner. I didn't realise an Optical Cable would cover all bases.

    My Sony AV Receiver does have both Coaxial and Optical inputs which was why I said in my original post that I wanted to keep my original DVD Player as part of the set-up. I figured I would use the existing Coaxial connection for the DVD Player and the Optical connection for the DVD HDD Recorder, although I may rethink that plan now.

    Incidentally Richer Sounds did not have any Panasonic DMREX88 models in stock, so I'm thinking of getting one from Currys as they offer monthly product support (for a price). There is a discount code at the moment where you can get £15 off purchases over £300. Can anyone think of an accessory I can buy to take the total cost over £300 and thereby get discount?

    Finally, does anyone know of any good offers or places I can buy the aforementioned leads (probably cheaper than Currys)?
     
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2009
  12. shenzi

    shenzi
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    My own thanks for the info above. Particularly useful was the tip that only the Panasonics have optical out as any Freeview arrangement I make needs to include radio through the hi-fi (which has optical in).

    Having already researched the Humax and Topfield, poking my nose into the world of DVD PVRs looked like an unwieldy amount of extra homework.

    My area gets Freeview in about two weeks. It will be interesting to enter the 21st century.
     
  13. Gavtech

    Gavtech
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    It would be interesting to hear of your experiences and impressions of the process.

    Good luck with it.
     
  14. Jikan

    Jikan
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    Will this SCART be okay for VCR to DVD HDD Recorder transfers? It's not made explicitly clear that it's fully wired. If not, could you please suggest an alternative?
     
  15. Gavtech

    Gavtech
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    That would be fine.

    They could not sell a scart at that price or with that description that was not fully wired.
     

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