Panasonic E95 - Impressions & Problems - Help!

Discussion in 'Blu-ray & DVD Players & Recorders' started by Struan, Feb 13, 2005.

  1. Struan

    Struan
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    I got a Panasonic E95 a couple of days ago, and thought it would be useful to post some initial impressions/problems I have of/with the machine. Partly, this is because I am still getting used to it's operation and features, so I may have missed something that forum members may be able to clarify/help with, and also to get impressions of how the E95 compares with competing machines in respect of these impressions/problems.

    I have a Humax IRCI5400 digital satellite receiver connected to AV1 (RGB Scart), and due to temporary connection deficiencies, AV2 is set to video and connected with the supplied 3 phono lead. – I tried DVD playback in case this was the problem, but AV quality seemed fine.

    1. AV Recording quality is disappointing. I imagine that most people will think I'm mad, but I actually prefer LP VHS to SP on the E95! I think this is because I seem to find VHS deficiencies more tolerable than those of mpeg II recording (it may be a coincidence, but I also don't like 100Hz CRTs, much preferring 50Hz, as well as (perfect reception) ‘analogue' broadcasts to digital broadcasts etc. – I seem to have a problem with digital processing!). I have only once tried, very briefly, XP recording, and my impression was that it came close to, maybe achieved, a recording that was identical to the original source. If bitrates are the problem, then it means I would have to wait until, at the very least, double layer recorders, and preferably, HD DVD, so that I could get even acceptable DVD capacity, to be happy. These trials refer to recordings from the Humax – trials with analogue terrestrial were much less ‘successful' – my reception is good, but not perfect, and any imperfections, such as slight grain in the pictures, really show up the shortcomings of digital recording processing, so I have decided to stick with my VCRs for analogue (that are, BTW, old Mitsubishi models (the youngest is 11 years old), which seem vastly superior to any of the crap that masquerades as VCRs these days!).
    2. There are slight delays when displaying or changing menus – although very slight, the overall effect is of slightly clunky operation.
    3. Although the FR record mode is useful, given my problems with AV recording quality, it would be handy to have a manually selectable in-between bit rate e.g. rather than use FR to record 3hr at an in-between rate to fit onto a single disc, I might decide to split the recording on to two DVDs, and therefore select a manual bit rate to fit each half of the divided title (1h30m) on a disc.
    4. DVD playback seems lacking in features/controllability/ease of use – My only, ever, DVD player is the relatively modest Wharfedale M3, which seems to have added features, or better ease of use than the E95 e.g.
    The E95 does not seem to have an angle button, which means you have to access different angles through a menu.
    The M3 can display an angle mark that indicates the presence of other angle options – can the E95 do this?
    The M3 allows you to specify a time on a disc, then Fast Forwards to that point – depending on the disc, this can be near instantaneous – Can the E95 do this?
    The M3 has an intro scan that can be used to avoid FBI warnings and such like – does the E95?
    The M3 has a button to cycle between PAL/NTSC/Multi (auto) – as far as I can see, to get true NTSC output with the E95, you have to go through menus and select this, then the same again, to return back to PAL – yes?
    The M3 can temporarily bookmark points on a disc (they are lost when the disc is removed) – can the E95 do this?

    With my receiver, should I set AV1 to normal or decoder – what is the difference (it is currently set to ‘normal' as recommended, but ‘decoder' doesn't seem to make any difference, so I wondered what the difference was)?
    With my receiver, should I select Ext Link1 or 2 – what difference does it make?
    What should I set Comb Filter to for best AV quality?
    What effect would changing the Hybrid VBR Resolution have on AV recording quality (I have ‘DVD-R Rec for high speed mode' on, so it is currently fixed (transferring in real time is unacceptable) - Just curious)?

    How does the AV record quality of the E95 compare to competing machines – is it just insufficient bitrates and DVD capacity that I am having a problem with, which will, ultimately, affect all other (currently available) machines as well?

    The manual states that using 4x DVD-R, 1 hour at XP takes 15mins, and SP 7.5 mins, to high speed transfer – is there any advantage in using 8x DVD-R, and how do these transfer speeds compare to competing machines?

    Finally, have I missed somethings which may account for the impressions/problems, and how do competing machines compare (are better?) with regard to points above?



    TIA.

    PS - Finally, do the Distance Selling Regulations require that a returned item is unused/still in it's sealed box, or that all items are present and correct, and in pristine/as new condition (everything has been handled while wearing cotton gloves, and the remote is used sealed in it's bag)?
     
  2. Nick_UK

    Nick_UK
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    I've just upgraded to a Panasonic E95, having previously owned an E50. I'm using it with a Hitachi 5300 42" plasma, and a Benq 6200 projector. I find the SP recording to be as good as the source material.

    I only have one or two gripes (so far) - when editing on HDD, you sometimes cannot edit out the first frame of the recording. Also, in Navigation mode, the still frame that is shown in the preview boxes is often not the first frame of the recording.

    Otherwise, I think the recorder is excellent. However, for viewing DVD's I still use my elderly Toshiba 3109. Main reason - I don't want to wear out the Panasonic too quickly for simple DVD playback.
     
  3. Struan

    Struan
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    I have noticed something else – Previously, I had the TV output from my Humax connected to the input of my old Pace 500 analogue satellite receiver, to provide two satellite outputs to feed two VCRs. As I intend to use the E95 for digital, and my VCRs for analogue, I have now connected the TV output from the Humax (which carries RGB) to AV1 on the E95, and no longer use the Pace 500. When viewing satellite through the E95 (which is switched on – loop-through seems to only work with an RGB Scart connection from E95 to TV), by the AV3 (front phono) connection on my TV, I can't get teletext from satellite – Any idea why (It worked fine with the previous twin VCR set-up described above)?
     
  4. Struan

    Struan
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    @ Nick_UK

    Thanks for the reply.

    I forgot to mention that I am (temporarily) usign a 21" CRT - I wonder what I'm going to think if/when I get a 32" CRT???

    I have noticed that the thumbnail isn't from the start of the recording - I would imagine that this is because most recordings do not begin at the very start of a programme, so it chooses a frame some distance into the recording, in the hope of getting something representative???

    BTW, I couldn't interest you in a second E95, could I? ;)
     
  5. cdb

    cdb
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    I upgraded from a Panasonic A310 to my E95 and I have to admit the remote is abit of a step backwards in terms of missing buttons (angle,audio, open tray etc) and also the half an hour (well 30secs maybe) or so you have to wait for it to start up.

    Recording wise I thought it was excellent. I have an old JVC Svhs vcr and the Panny far outperforms this for recording even on the lower modes.

    I have found that the RGB picture output (direct from e95 to telly) is frankly cr*p when compared to the Y/C picture routed through my Denon receiver. All cables are pretty good quality (Ixos/Monster)
     
  6. MStarkey

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    Nick_UK, I have the E85 which is identical in most respects to the E95.
    With regards to the first frame problem you should be able to split the title at the 1st / 2nd frame point and then delete the first. Alternatively you can do the same thing through chapters.
    As far as the 'icon' is concerned you can change this to be any frame you like - as you said the default frame is picked about 10 minutes into the title. Just go to the sub menu from Direct Navigator to find these tools.

    Regards.
     
  7. MStarkey

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    Can you describe your set-up please cdb, I also am unimpressed with the quality of the RGB to TV, in my case 36" Panasonic CRT with Progressive Scan - however I have the Denon 500 (all-in-one) which makes best use of the Prog Scan feed. How do you sent the signal through the Denon in your set-up?

    Just to clarify, in my case :-
    E85 -> TV AV4 (RGB)
    Denon 500 -> TV Componant inputs
    Sky -> AV1 (RGB)

    Regards,
     
  8. Nick_UK

    Nick_UK
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    Thanks for that - I'll try it :smashin:
     
  9. tolsky

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    I'm thinking about getting one of these E95 machines as an upgrade from the Panasonic E50. Does it come with a manual in pdf that anyone can post somewhere?

    I just want to use it to make DVD copies of programmes I have made (without hassling around with a PC solution). I thought the hard drive might be a useful option for trimming the front and end of programmes. And then I would output the result out to 2 or 3 DVD-Rs. I know Struan helpfully included the speeds that the manual states. Are these true in practice and is the 4x the highest speed allowed?

    Also, can anyone describe the menu that is generated when finalising a DVD-R? Does it include thumbnails? My E50 makes a fairly naff screen with a main title centred at the top, with track titles listed below, and then Previous Play and Next buttons at the bottom. And without thumbnails. If anyone can post a jpg of the menu screen by screen capturing it in a pc that would be most helpful. And is there the option to turn the menu off, ie to just play the programme from the start.

    Finally, if any of you has a mac, and there is still a play button on the menu screen, try a DVD-R in the mac and cllick the play button. On discs made by my e50, clicking Play takes you to a blank menu screen with no working buttons(!) It would be nice to know if this bug has been fixed...

    Many thanks if any can help here.
     
  10. MStarkey

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    tolsky, You have asked for several things here, I'll answer what I can...
    There is a PDF I believe, it's on the Panasonic UK site.
    Producing DVD's is a breeze, 4x is the fastest & I can vouch for the quality of 2hrs per DVD (SP mode).
    I think the DVD menu is still the same - pretty naff as you suggest, however the good news is that you can skip the menu altogether..
    Sorry -I don't have a mac - thank godness !!
     
  11. Rob20

    Rob20
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    I have a Pan85, and imo, recordings made in SP are far superior to vhs lp. For a start vhs only records half the number of lines as the 500 or so that the SP mode records. It's significantly better than recordings made in sp on SVHS tapes via my svhs JVC player, (admitedly 6 years old now). Perhaps the problem is that the source you have been recording is of a poor quality as is sometimes the case with digital broadcasting. I have NTL digital and the PQ can vary dramatically between channels and programmes. Hopefully Sky's hi-def broadcasts will be more to your liking come 2006. That should offer a picture far superior to old analog 576i broadcasts.
     
  12. Struan

    Struan
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    I forgot about the lack of an open/close button, and the slightly annoying 'wake up' delay - it seems to take around 24-25 seconds, although it seems longer!

    I have done some more recording, and, to me, even XP, though close, does not achieve an identical copy. On the plus side, XP makes a MUCH better job of analogue, than SP etc.

    Still can't get satellite teletext though!?!
     
  13. Struan

    Struan
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    As I mentioned above, I have made some more recordings, from high quality broadcasts (not sure if this is accurate, but my receiver gave the video bitrate as 1875 kbps), and I still prefer LP VHS to SP on the E95, and in some respects, even XP - I did not say it was fundamentally better (I know that the horizontal resolution is probably less than half that of DVD - but that doesn't seem to matter), just that I find "VHS deficiencies more tolerable than those of mpeg II". To be fair to the VCR (HSM-59), I should be using SP - (Also, I haven't bothered to compare to my HSM-1000 SVHS VCR).

    BTW, what bitrates do commercial DVD video typically (if there is such a thing) use?
     
  14. Nelviticus

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    Struan, if you really do prefer long-play VHS to the Panny's SP mode then there is something seriously wrong with your set-up.

    I have a whopping great 32" CRT (Panasonic TX32PD30, which was the best CRT available about 6 months ago) and a good pair of eyes. Unless I sit unhealthily close to the screen I can barely tell the difference between an SP recording and the original broadcast. If I scrutinise the picture closely I can tell but it's certainly not something that would ever bring itself to my attention when just watching the show.

    You must bear in mind that even the best quality digital broadcast is not going to be as good as a top-quality analogue one. This is because of the way that digital compression works: the encoder takes away some of the detail, mainly in ways that the human eye won't usually notice such as the spread of blue shades in a sky scene and so forth. There's an awfu lot more to it than that but fundamentally digital compression means loss of detail.

    To make matters worse many digital channels are compressed more than is necessary, to the point where it starts to become quite noticeable. When your Freeview box converts this signal to analogue for output it tries to do a bit of jiggery-pokery to 'smooth out the rough edges' and make the picture more acceptable. When you record it on the Panny (or any other digital recorder) you add another stage of digital compression. Even in XP mode this still means compression and consequent loss of detail, although most people won't see the difference unless they're really scrutinising.

    Finally, depending on your TV and how it's set up it may be trying to do its own wizardry to the analogue picture signal that it's receiving down the Scart/component/whatever cable. This feature usually has a name like 'digital picture processing' and can actually make some pictures look worse. I'd recommend that you try turning that off if possible; it might make a difference.

    Apologies if I'm teaching granny to suck eggs but I just want to stress that a digital recording of a digital broadcast isn't going to be as good as an off-air, high-quality analogue one. That said, with a good input signal - such as a BBC prime-time flagship program - a recording in SP mode should give you very good playback that far exceeds long-play VHS. It does on my E95.

    Regarding your first post:
    - You ask whether the E95 can do lots of things that you miss from other DVD players, the answer is "no".
    - As far as I'm aware the DVD burner in the E95 is 4x, so it can't burn 8x discs any faster than 4x ones.
    - From reading many posts on this forum the general consensus is that the Pannys are at least equal to the best of the rest in recording quality. If you don't like the E95's recordings then you won't like the others' either.

    For reference, I have my Freeview box's TV output (aka AV1) going into the E95's AV2 socket. The Freeview box is set to output RGB. I then have the E95's AV1 socket connected to the AV4 socket on my TV and the component outputs connected to the component inputs on the TV.

    I hope you don't give up on the E95 as I'm sure it's just a question of setting it up properly (unless there's a faulty component somewhere along the line).
     
  15. Tellyfiend

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    I have the E85 connected to my Sky and freeview boxes and the recording in Xp and SP modes is infinitely better than it was in any mode on my VCR.

    My TV is a 32" CRT - Toshiba 32ZD26, a multiple award winner and my VCR a Toshiba V753, also highly regarded.

    Please note, though, this is my 2nd E85, my first had a fault and recorded all sources with bad blocking, it was replaced without complaint my my supplier - the new one is faultless.
     
  16. cdb

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    Sky av2 to E95 Av2 (comp vid)
    Sky AV1 to telly av1 (rgb)
    E95 av1 to tv av2 (rgb)
    E95 Y/C out to 2805 reciever (dvd) in
    2805 recieiver (monitor) out (y/c) to av3 Y/C (tv front connector)

    The rgb in from the E95 on the telly has a yellow (slight) tint and 2 noticable shadowy bands down the tv screen. The front av Y/C connection is far superior in comparison.
     
  17. mw01908

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    Hi Struan,

    I cannot be of much help as I don't own a DVD recorder yet, however I am into Sat TV and was thinking of buying a DVD recorder to record from my Fortec reciever. Having read you experiences... There is another route that I was considering and you could do this if you return your DVD recorder. That is to buy a Dreambox. The 7000 model lets you fit a Hard drive to it and it records the MPEG stream exactly as recieved: the picture quality has no loss to the original.You can network thre box to your pc and burn it to DVD. Personally I am waiting for the newer model to come out - it has twin tuners a hard drive and a DVD recorder all in one box, now that really is a dreambox!
     
  18. Tellyfiend

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    cdb,
    I think your set up is not quite right.
    You need to go Sky VCR scart to E95 AV2 (composite) and E95 AV1 to TV AV2 (RGB) assuming your Tv is RGB capable on both AV1 & AV2.
    As for your receiver use S-video in from the E95 and out if you have the right connections on the TV.
     
  19. cdb

    cdb
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    Just checked and I mixed it up typing it in :oops: I do have it set up the way you've said, well spotted :thumbsup:
     
  20. MStarkey

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    Thanks cdb - I'll check my set-up tonight.
     
  21. cdb

    cdb
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    That's all gone out of the window now I've just bought a plasma with a tuner box :rolleyes:
    On the plus side, the svideo/rgb and component picture all look the same :suicide:
     
  22. Struan

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    Thanks mw01908, although I think I may like a separate HDD/DVD recorder for the time being (not necessarily the E95, however) these are very interesting suggestions.
    As my PC and AV set-up are in different rooms, an all in one box would be much better, so I will keep an eye out for the newer model you mention – it does sound great - thanks for the suggestion.
     

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