Pioneer DVR-520H vs. JVC DR-MH30S (Head to head comparison) (long)

Discussion in 'Blu-ray & DVD Players & Recorders' started by grumpy42, Oct 19, 2004.

  1. grumpy42

    grumpy42
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    In an attempt to find the perfect recorder I purchased the DVR-520H so that I could do a head-to-head comparison with the JVC DR-MH30S.

    A couple notes about my testing:
    I receive television via a satellite decoder. The decoder is connected to both recorders via s-video. For picture quality comparison, I used the satellite’s IPG (Interactive Programming Guide) for a static image. Using actual television programming for picture quality testing is difficult since there are compression artefacts introduced by the satellite decoder, so I have only used the IPG for my PQ tests. Also, all PQ comparisons were done on a computer (HS dub) with a 22” monitor. I concentrated on SP mode for PQ comparisons (although I tried higher compression modes) since this is probably the most popular mode and the one that I will probably use most.


    JVC DR-MH30S
    Picture Quality:
    Excellent. Compression artefacts are very subtle and barely noticeable. The colour is brighter than the pioneer. The 6h recorder mode was rather good (for 6h mode). 6h mode produced a more pleasing soft image rather than a blocky image.

    Recording:
    During recording, you are actually watching the playback from the HDD instead of the “live” feed. So if you are watching a program while recording it, you are stuck with watching it at the quality you selected for recording. Not really a problem in my opinion, but I thought I would mention it since most recorders play the “live” feed while recording.

    Dubbing:
    No HS (high speed) dubbing of any edited content or playlists. Also, you cannot watch ANYTHING during the dubbing (HS or realtime) process (not recorded shows, or live TV), just the dubbing progress bar. However, performing an SP->SP realtime dub still seemed to exhibit fewer compression artefacts than an original recording on the Pioneer (must confirm with more testing). Chapter marks seem to be preserved during HS and realtime dubbing. However, I cannot seem to get auto-chaptering to work (good if you are feeling lazy).

    Editing:
    Playlists… ‘Nuff said. Seriously, it has playlist editing which pretty much supersedes any other editing capabilities. It also has a “Title Divide” function which is really superfluous given that it supports playlists (I supposed if you wanted to delete half of a recording to free up disk space). Curiously an “a-b erase” (for originals) is missing. Also, you can place chapter marks during playback with a simple button press. Unfortunately, edits are not frame accurate. They are frame accurate on the HDD, but once dubbed, they are approximate.

    User Interface:
    The UI is easy to use but it is intrusive. Virtually everything is accessed by opaque menus which cover the entire screen. During the dubbing process you cannot watch anything else (same with finalizing). Some menus (disc navigation) provide a small inset of the current broadcast in the corner. Also, there is less customization. There are just 4 picture quality presets (normal, cinema, sharp, and soft). Also, you cannot adjust the auto-chaptering interval (I could not get auto chaptering to work at all).


    Pioneer DVR-520H

    I have not had the Pioneer as long so I have not had time to fully explore it.

    Picture Quality:
    Not as good as the JVC. There are noticeable compression artefacts surrounding the IPG text. The colour seems a little richer than the JVC. Lower quality modes are not as good as their JVC counterparts.

    Dubbing:
    HS dubbing of almost anything (including edited content). You can continue to watch TV during HS dubbing, but during realtime dubbing, the content being dubbed is displayed (so you can at least watch what your dubbing).

    Editing:
    HDD editing includes “a-b erase”, “title divide” and chapter editing. Also, there is more editing that can be done in the copy list (such as “combine title”). I have not yet tested chapter editing and under what circumstances chapter marks are preserved during dubbing.

    User Interface:
    The user interface is very nice. Many of the menus are translucent so that you can continue to view a program while navigating. There is also greater customization available. There are 3 customizable picture quality setting that allow you to change the properties such as white level, black level, and hue.

    The available title menu “themes” used for finalizing video discs are much nicer than the JVC title menus.



    Conclusion
    JVC has better picture quality (when scrutinized on a PC monitor) and it has a large hard drive. The Pioneer has a superior UI and better editing (considering you can HS dub edited content)

    Considering that you can get the same recording time on the JVC in XP mode as the Pioneer in SP mode and that real time SP dubs of JVC XP recordings will most certainly be superior to HS dubs of SP content on the Pioneer, the JVC is probably in the lead.
     
  2. Rasczak

    Rasczak
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    Good comparison grumpy42 - although you don't mention when assessing PQ how your connecting your equipment up (i.e. what leads and what connection type)? There is no disputing the JVC has a better MPEG encoder (which uses intrim resolutions between the 2h 30min and 4hr time spans whereas the Pioneer drops to low res at 2hrs 20mins) but then the Pioneer can take an RGB input - which I presume you are probably referring to when you say the PQ is a "little richer"?

    If you want to edit on the PC then the JVC is actually quite a bad choice as it's intrim resolutions aren't widely supported as they are not 'official'. That said if DVD playback is of more concern than DVD recording then the JVC is the better option. For Sky/Freeview recording though I would opt for the Pioneer (out of these two machines).
     
  3. Dan M

    Dan M
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    Its also worth remembering that the JVC has a terrible reliability record. Mine botched up as well as many others on here. Rumour has it that JVC has stopped shipping.
     
  4. grumpy42

    grumpy42
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    What do you mean by "intrim resolutions"?

    I am just using an s-video cable for the video in (on both). By "richer", I meant that the colours seem a little deeper (for lack of a better word). The JVC looked slightly washed out.

    Well, it looks like this side of the pond gets screwed again. The North American version does not have RGB input. We don't even get the 720h here - its available in Australia - but not here - AUSTRALIA for crying out loud!

    I would be perfectly content with the JVC if it allowed HS dubbing of edited/playlist content. I could probably talk myself into the Pioneer if it had a larger hard drive.
     
  5. grumpy42

    grumpy42
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    I had that in mind when I bought it; however, I figured that since it has been out in Europe for a while that they hopefully had ironed out the bugs by time it was released here. The only "bug" I have encountered is that I could not seem to get auto-chaptering to work. I have sent an email to JVC regarding this - may be operator error.
     
  6. akrb

    akrb
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    Hi guys

    Do you know how to make the JVC multi Region playback on brought DVD?

    thanks

    ANDREW :thumbsup:
     
  7. Rasczak

    Rasczak
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    In PAL format DVD-Video including Video Recording (VR) mode uses either full resolution (720 x 576) or half resolution (352 x 576/288). All VR compatible products support those resolutions. The JVC uses full resolution upto 2hrs 30mins and the drops to an intrim resolution which is somewhere between the upper and lower resolutions. Off hand I can't remember the precise resolution - when I get home Saturday (I am on a short break in the West Country at present) I will tell you.

    The Pioneer (and other DVD recorders) just drop to the lower resolution when they hit their barrier - which for the Pioneer is 2hrs 20mins, Panasonic 3hrs, LG 4hrs etc etc
     
  8. Robert040

    Robert040
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    When testing picture quality, you ought to test with moving/changing pictures. Only then the MPEG compression weaknesses will come to light.

    Just my 2 euro cents...
     
  9. Rasczak

    Rasczak
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    I thought you said you were a Canadian living in Canada Grumpy ;)

    Yes indeed - and the tests should focus on scenes that are difficult for MPEG compression such as high intensity action, rain/snow/fog/mist or moving water. Scenes such as these are what distinguishes the good from the bad for MPEG2 encoders.
     
  10. grumpy42

    grumpy42
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    Canada is part of the North American...;)

    Well, if an encoder does not do a good job on a static image it is unlike to perform well on dynamic images. I did, however, test with dynamic images
    (refered to as "real world" tests), but I find it more difficult to get objective results. The program guide does not fill the entire screen so there is movement present; however, I find that inadequacies in mpeg encoders are quite aparent when encoding images containing text. Part of my "real world" test were to record the same programs with both records. The results confirmed my intial testing. The pioneer, in many situations, generated substantially grainier images. Compression artifacts were always aparent. Out of curiosity, I tried the Pioneer using fine mode - this mode was not even as good as the JVC SP mode. When watching the JVC, Toshiba, and Pioneer a couple meters from the TV, the Pioneer's poor compression was immediately apparent. I could only tell the JVC and Toshiba apart after close scrutinity. This was not a double blind study, but I trust my objectivity :D

    Sorry for the confusion, I had thought that I mentioned the "real world" testing that I did. I think I mentioned them in my second review post.
     

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