Should I be able to play hidef stuff from a DVD-R ok? I'm having lots of problems playing .ts files using videolan when playing a file on a DVD (plays fine from the HD). Am I expecting too much or should this work ok?
It wouldn't surprise me you're having problems due to the insufficient transfer rate from the DVD drive.
To help prevent piracy (sic) it's common for DVD firmware to be slugged to a maximum of 2x read speed, which is something like 2.5Mb/sec IIRC which I think is far lower than is needed for hidef which isn't compressed with something like WM9, AAC or similar codecs.
You can often find firmware hacks which remove the speed cap, as well as multi-regioning and other annoyance removal.
It's a pioneer DVD116 drive and I've used the speed utility on it and set it to performance mode (i.e. fast as possible). It seems to rip CDs plenty fast enough (10x). It's a shame, it'll play for 20 or 30 seconds then freeze up, just a pain cos I have to copy the file back onto my PC and it's short of space as it is!