Recorder Rot!



I have a Samsung DVD-HR734 recorder (-R/-RW and HD), 7 months old. For the first 3 months I owned it I was delighted. But over the last couple of months it has started to deteriorate rapidly. All hard disk functions are fine, as is recording to DVD -R, but it is now very difficult to play any inserted DVD disk.

In the first months of ownership it was happy to play anything I gave it - my +Rs, +RWs, -Rs, -RWs, 4X, 8X, 16X speeds, all brands. Gradually it became fussier and fussier about the type and brand and speed. Now it will play virtually nothing except one brand of -Rs (Samsung Pleomax 8X).

The disks are spotlessly clean, scratch free and - crucially - play in any other device; my PCs, other DVD players, anything. I have recently taken to using a DVD lens cleaner, but it makes no difference. No disk it rejects has ever refused to play first time on any other equipment. This is NOT a disk problem.

It can take 10, 20 tries of inserting a disk and having the machine reject it with

"The disk can neither be played nor recorded. Please check the disk"

before it will play. Even many pre-recorded DVDs are unplayable (they, too, are fine in everything else). Disks that played fine yesterday will not necessarily play today.

Even odder, it will happily record to DVD -R, let me finalise the disk and then it starts to automatically play back. But eject the disk and re-insert it and it will refuse to play it - despite the fact that it was doing so mere seconds ago. These disks, too, play OK on my PC or any one else's player.

(Some DVD +R disks it identifies as DVD-ROMs which it will not play, which is also a little odd).

It's behaviour is so peculiar - why the change in playback reliability over time? If the lasers wear out (after 7 months of normal usage - maybe recording something to disk twice a week?), why does it still record OK? And when it does play, it's fine - no loss of quality or skipping, so I don't buy that idea.

I had similar problems with my old Philips DVDR70 recorder - it became fussier and fussier about the disks and after 18 months refused to play anything.

Do all recorders suffer this rapid deterioration, this rot?

Is this hardware, or firmware? I sort of get the impression that the machine has some internal notion of what constitutes a playable DVD and wonder if I could do a factory re-set (how?) and if that would help. Leaving it unplugged overnight does not. Using a lens cleaner does not.

I am reluctant to return it to Apollo 2000 because I will be without a recorder for months whilst they send it away, only for it to come back with some trite comment about making sure my disks are free from fingerprints. And having had 2 DVD recorders do this to me I wonder if all such devices are prone to this.

Any suggestions as to causes or fixes?

Much obliged!


Standard Member
I had exactly the same problem with a Pioneer DVDR420. After 6mths use and had to take it back to Richer Sounds,, under warrantee. It came back after a month with some new innards, they couldn't tell me precisely what these were.
It still had the same problem, however, and they replaced it wirh a new JVC DMRH30, no problem, as they had no other Pioneers in stock. I've had no problems with the JVC , although I'm not happy with lack of RGB input.

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