1. Join Now

    AVForums.com uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Panasonic DMR-EH50 - my first impressions

Discussion in 'Blu-ray & DVD Players & Recorders' started by gavan, May 14, 2005.

  1. gavan

    gavan
    Well-known Member

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2001
    Messages:
    3,984
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    106
    Location:
    Rapture
    Ratings:
    +286
    Well, finally picked up my unit yesterday evening. There were some problems with the multiregioning process so this one is unmodified and I can take it back to get it done when they have a reliable modification.

    It's a European unit so it doesn't have PAL-I capability (needed for UK analogue terrestrial), it's B,G and H only (plus Secam-L). Not a problem for me as I want to use it exclusively with a satellite box anyway but would be a concern maybe for someone who wanted to import one for everyday UK use.

    The 'Guide Plus' is pretty cool - but apparently won't be on the UK model so not much point going into it. From the looks of things it could be included at some stage in the future as the manual gives a list of countries where it is available but excludes the UK. According the Gemstar website the UK is now serviced by ITV and British Eurosport so maybe a future firmware upgrade will enable it?

    Picture quality is excellent on SP (2 hours per DVDR) mode. Subjectively it looks 'perfect' to me. I haven't tried any proper comparison between the various modes yet to see how well the picture holds up as you squeeze more recording time per megabyte but I will probably just use SP for everything that I archive to DVD.

    Some nitpicks - when you monitor the signal from the Digibox through the recorder you lose the RGB and get only a composite signal. Also, the widescreen switching is lost. Record what you're watching to the HDD and play it back however, and you get RGB with proper widescreen.... It must be some sort of oversight. A nice bonus of monitoring is that it will output the incoming RGB signal through the s-video ouput. Nice for people who have a Sky digibox that doesn't support s-video.

    With the unit powered off, the RGB signal passes through no problems and also the widescreen switch signal.

    The remote is a bit unwieldy but does the job. I guess with so much functionality in the unit, a bulky remote is inevitable. Also even with the black model which I have, it's a silver remote. Not a big deal. Another niggle - no remote eject button for the DVD, could be annoying if you routinely use the machine as a player.

    As noted by others here, the widescreen flag isn't preserved when dubbing to recordable DVD (it's fine with recordings on the HDD and apparently also DVD-RAM). This is pretty stupid as surely it can't be so difficult to set it as needed? Maybe a job for a future firmware upgrade too....?

    There's a 'power-saving' mode which is pretty useless IMO. When you enable it, switching off the machine almost completely disables it, save for the power-on function. The clock display goes off and even the SCART passthrough is gone! I read somewhere that in any other case, it uses almost as much power off as when on (35W) which is a bit disappointing. I wish it had a decent standby mode with low power consumption instead of having to go to these lengths to get it down to 3W.


    More observations after I've used it for more than a few hours.


    Gav
     
  2. ArtS

    ArtS
    Guest

    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Ratings:
    +0
    As you note - dubbing process to DVD-R loses widescreen flag. I would like to know is final picture (on DVD-R) have full information of original widescreen picture or is it pan-scan version (cropped horizontally).
     
  3. Rasczak

    Rasczak
    Distinguished Member

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2002
    Messages:
    21,146
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    166
    Location:
    Argyll
    Ratings:
    +2,208
    It's an anamorphic recording just without the WSS. If you have a PC DVD burner you can re-add the signal using IFO Edit.
     
  4. TobyW

    TobyW
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2005
    Messages:
    157
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Location:
    Australia
    Ratings:
    +3
    Perhaps it's a matter of personal taste. For me, this behaviour is exactly what I want, and I wish all my other gadgets would do likewise.
     
  5. gavan

    gavan
    Well-known Member

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2001
    Messages:
    3,984
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    106
    Location:
    Rapture
    Ratings:
    +286

    Unfortunately for me, my Sky Digibox is my main source of TV pictures and it's chained through the EH50 so as to give maximum quality for recordings (using RGB).


    Ok, now I've had the machine for a couple of days I think I can give a better rundown on it's good/bad points.

    Good:

    Picture quality when recording from either Digibox or built in tuner is absolutely excellent in SP mode, and pretty decent in the longer modes. The 'best fit' mode for filling a disc is a great idea.

    It's really, really quiet. After hearing some bad stories about fan noise on HDD recorders, I'm extremely pleased. There's a slight whine noticeable when powering up but in operation it is near silent.

    It transcodes RGB input to s-video when in monitoring mode. Useful for my projector as my Sky boxe has no s-video and I previously had to use composite when watching the box on the big screen. It should also transcode to component but I haven't been able to test that.

    You can be making a recording on the HDD and watching a previously recorded programme at the same time. Also, the chasing play function works well too, so you can start watching the recording at the beginning whilst the recording is still in progress.

    Built in tuner (European model) is fantastically good. I can say that playing back material recorded from it in SP via RGB link to the TV gives a better picture than watching it off air on the tuner of my telly.

    The Guide Plus (European only) is excellent. Hopefully it'll be made available in the UK too. It's easy to use, a good way to navigate the TV listings and recordings are automatically labelled.

    Some nice bonus features - Stereo DVD-A playback, jpeg on CD viewing, mp3 on CD listening and picture viewing from SD card.

    Bad:

    These are all related to the DVD recording part of the machine....

    * It doesn't record the widescreen flag on DVDs (ok, it does on RAM discs but not -RW, -R and +R). That's really annoying as I have to search out the TV remote to get proper aspect ratio on widescreen material.

    * Record once (+R and -R) discs don't play on my Sony NS700 player. They have worked OK on some other machines I've tried it on - XBox, PC and friends cheapie far east player though.

    This is **really** annoying for me as I use the Sony for my DVD playback and want compatible discs from my recorder. -RW recordings DO play and what's stranger is that if I take the -RW to the PC and disc-to-disc copy it to a +R or -R using Nero, the copy plays just fine on my NS700.

    Basically, if I want a disc that plays properly on my main DVD deck I have to record to RW, take it to the PC and copy it. At the same time I can use IFOedit to add widescreen flags. OK, this works but it's a real pain in the ass solution. I bought a consumer deck so that I could easily make DVDs *without* faffing around on my PC. I might as well have bought a HDD-less Recorder if I'm just going to use it as a way of getting mpegs to my PC for further editing and mastering.

    Summary:

    I love the HDD recording functions but I am very disappointed with the DVD burning side of things (given the incompatibility with my specific DVD player). On balance I might have been better off getting some sort of PVR with a network interface, or a PVR plus a DVD-only recorder.

    If they sorted the widescreen issues and added a digital tuner this model would be a real cracker though.


    Gav
     
  6. Rasczak

    Rasczak
    Distinguished Member

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2002
    Messages:
    21,146
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    166
    Location:
    Argyll
    Ratings:
    +2,208
    Have a search for your Sony on this database. You'll find recommendations for media. Others seem to have had problems with DVD-R but none with DVD-RW or DVD+R.
     
  7. skyscaper

    skyscaper
    Standard Member

    Joined:
    May 7, 2005
    Messages:
    28
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    1
    Ratings:
    +0
    Thanks for this helpful review.

    I'm currently sitting on the fence between this recorder and the Sony RDRHX510S. Given that you have a Sony player, did you not consider buying the RDRHX510S instead of the Panny?

    I think I'll wait for more feedback before I decide ;).
     
  8. withjet

    withjet
    Guest

    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Ratings:
    +0
    Hi all,
    Does anyone know which of Panasonic dmr-eh50 or Sony rdr-hx510s is the easier to install? After my earlier post about connection problems with the eh50, (Gavan, I know you are feeling me on this) I'm wondering should I have got the Sony unit instead? Has anyone got an opinion on which is likely to be the more hassle free installation???
    Can anyone tell me in the simplest of lay terms how the hell to get my eh50 connected to my tv and digi-box correctly?
     
  9. Rasczak

    Rasczak
    Distinguished Member

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2002
    Messages:
    21,146
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    166
    Location:
    Argyll
    Ratings:
    +2,208
    The media that each records to is to the same specification, i.e. a DVD-RW record on the Sony or Panasonic models should play on the DVD player if it can read that media type. The brand of disc used has more of an impact.

    Both are wired up in exactly the same way. Both will have identical problems if you get it wrong! Do a search of the forum and you'll find tons of advice on how to 'install' a DVD recorder although it really is simplicty itself.
     
  10. gavan

    gavan
    Well-known Member

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2001
    Messages:
    3,984
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    106
    Location:
    Rapture
    Ratings:
    +286
    It's definitely not the media that is the problem here.

    I have successfully used those same types of media (TDK and Sunstar -R, Eternity +R) for DVD-Video discs authored on a PC and also if I do a disc to disc copy on my PC from the -RW to the problem brands of - or +R media, it then works on my NS700.

    There's something different about the way the EH50 authors R and RW discs ... I'll have to do a comparison between the same material dubbed to both types to see what is going on. Until then, the DVD writing feature of the recorder is for me nothing more than a fancy floppy disc for getting files across to my PC. NOT what I bought a consumer recorder for.


    Gav
     
  11. Rasczak

    Rasczak
    Distinguished Member

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2002
    Messages:
    21,146
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    166
    Location:
    Argyll
    Ratings:
    +2,208
    Are you finalising the discs?
     
  12. gavan

    gavan
    Well-known Member

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2001
    Messages:
    3,984
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    106
    Location:
    Rapture
    Ratings:
    +286
    Yep. And like I said, they play on the XBox, PC and a cheapie DVD player.

    It could just be something strange about the way that the NS700 handles discs and not Panasonic's fault at all ... but that's not a lot of use to me :(

    Also, the NS700 has never choked on discs before and since RW works there must be something different going on in the 'logical' structure of the disc recording between RW and R. My guess is that the menu created by the EH50 could be at fault - but even discs authored to play the title directly were rejected by the NS700.

    When I get the time I'll write some material to both R and RW. Then make a disc to disc on the computer from the RW to another R. Then do a comparison of all three discs to see how they are laid out at a logical (file structure and contents) level.


    Gav


    Gav
     
  13. liteswap

    liteswap
    Standard Member

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2004
    Messages:
    327
    Products Owned:
    1
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Location:
    East Sussex, UK
    Ratings:
    +1
    Gavan

    I'm toying with switching my Toshiba RD-XS32 for the EH50 as it's allegedly quieter and can get more onto a disc. Have you got to the root of your DVD-R problems yet?
     
  14. gavan

    gavan
    Well-known Member

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2001
    Messages:
    3,984
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    106
    Location:
    Rapture
    Ratings:
    +286
    Nope - in the end I sold the player on and have just ordered a Sky+ system to replace it for timeshifting.

    I don't think it was a major fault with the recorder though, as the discs only ever had problems playing on my Sony NS700 player. It's either an obscure fault on the Sony or else some sort of weird interoperability issue between those two specific bits of kit. As noted, RWs weren't a problem - just the Rs. And a straight disc copy on the PC from the RW to R produced workable discs.

    The Panasonic itself was a great machine and beat any VHS recorder hands down. It's just that since I use it exclusively with Sky and 95% for timeshifting, it wasn't the best solution for me.

    With respect to noise levels: It was very, very quiet indeed. You'd hardly know it was on, apart from a slight 'thunk' when powered on.

    cheers,

    Gav
     

Share This Page

Loading...