I would be interested in people's views of the pros and cons of these two machines.

I'm interested in the 720 because I use my PC for home movie editing. The PC has a +R drive so I would only need to buy one type of media for all uses.

I have seen a fair bit posted re E85 but nothing on the 720

Is that because the 720 is not readily available yet ?


Standard Member
I am also very interested in these machines. I currently have an E100 and there are a number of things that work poorly. It would be interesting to know if they have been fixed in the E85 or whether they also affect the HDRW720

1. FR mode never uses more than 4.0 Gb of a disc
2. Takes a long time to switch on. You just get a black screen for ages
3. No control of the RGB passthrough. e.g. I am unable to watch Sky while performing a dubbing operation
4. Won't record from scart without "View" signal. i.e. can't record from Sky by using Autoview with box in standby. You just record a black screen even though picture data is being output by Sky
5. High speed dubbing is approx 2x (i.e. 30 mins for full disc)


Active Member
2 above, startup will be much faster if you don't have a disc in the drive, as it takes a long time to see it
3 above, use a second connection from the digibox vcr out to the tv to watch in video whilst dubbing.
4 above. That is not the recorders fault, the digibox is emitting video and not an rgb signal. Leave the digibox on all the time, and never touch the tv button on the sky remote as that also will give you a black screen recording, again not the recorders fault.


Standard Member
In reply to kenfowler

I know there are workarounds for the issues I mentioned. Its just they really bug me as being stupid.

2. I don't have a disc in the drive and it still take approx 5-10 secs to start the machine up. It seems pointless to me that the machine gives me a black screen while running the self test. It should not output any video signal until its ready.

3. Sky only outputs RGB from TV scart, video scart is composite only. This looks crap on my 42" screen. The recorder should have a toggle button DVD-out/RGB-in. Then I am in control.

4. I thought the Autoview feature did output RGB data from the Sky digibox. I thought the box just didn't output the scart control signal. I might test this later by changing the recorder settings to not expect RGB from the scart and see what happens.


Standard Member
1 Above. It’s unlikely that you could design a good system which will use all the space available. I’ll explain why by describing Panasonic’s “Flexible Recording” mode in a hugely simplified way:

The user inputs the run time of the video to be recorded. The system knows how many bits are available on the DVD and it then calculates the average bit rate. Now, if it recorded at a constant bit rate, it would use this average value throughout the duration of the recording. However, the recorder always uses variable bit rate recording (VBR) in all its modes which means the bit rate is not fixed. It does this so it can assign more bits to ‘busy’ scenes, thus improving picture quality. The problem is that more bits in one section inevitably mean less bits in another.

Consumer DVD recorder decks record in real-time and use 1-pass MPEG2 encoders*. This means that as the recording takes place there’s no way of knowing if scenes coming up later will be busy or quiet. Therefore the system can’t afford to be very generous in allocating extra bits at any one point because it could run out of disc space if the recording had an unusually high level of high action scenes.

For a DVD with an average number of busy scenes recorded using FR there will be some unused space on the disc. Panasonic have played it sensibly and been slightly conservative with the headroom allowed for FR. Personally I prefer this to a system which sailed too close to the wind and would be ok for 98% of recordings but then produced unacceptable picture blockiness towards the end in 2% of them.

Arguably, Panasonic’s FR system could have been designed so that as the recording approached the end, it would ease up and allow all remaining spare bits to be used. However this would mean that the last little part would be recorded in better quality than the first, the majority, and Panasonic probably didn’t see much benefit in doing it anyway.

* BTW, with DVD recorders that have a hard drive, when you copy video from the HDD it doesn’t have to be recorded on to the DVD in real-time. Some forthcoming HDD/DVD recorder decks in Japan will take advantage of this to use 2-pass encoding. First you record to the HDD in a higher quality than DVD. Then during the transfer, the 1st-pass phase analyses the video to determine the nature of the recording, noting busy scenes, etc. Therefore the recorder automatically knows in advance how generous it can be in allocating bits during the 2nd-pass/recording phase. The result should be better quality and full use of disc space.

2 Above. Do you mean DVD RAM or –R ? On the E100 high speed transfer will always be 2X for RAM (the E85 is 3X). If you mean –R then I’m surmising that the recorder drops the speed to 2X because it’s not recognising them as 4X discs (or their quality is a bit suspect). Personally, I’ve had great success with TDK DVD-Rs at 4X speed on the E100.


Active Member
On the E60 you cant record two timer programs both in FR mode. I haven't checked on the E85. Just a firmware problem probably. The RGB record problem is also annoying - it certainly won't record from my philips settop box after standby (and the STB is certainly outputing RGB) - so the external link record doesn't work either. It says in the manual it needs a continuous output of RGB for some reason so even on timer programmes with the STB coming on well before the recording is due to start you dont get a picture. Surely it can't be that difficult to record the RGB signal sitting on AV2.

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