Which DVD/HDD Recorder from these criteria

Discussion in 'Blu-ray & DVD Players & Recorders' started by W. Hobbs, Sep 14, 2005.

  1. W. Hobbs

    W. Hobbs
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    I want to purchase a DVD/HDD recorder for my wife. We are both 60+ and she claims to be "electronically challenged" Sources are terrestial TV and Sky. Which recorder gets closest to these criteria, listed in order of preference.

    1 Easy navigation (Toshiba x34 looks complicated)

    2 Watch from HDD whilst recording to HDD (cant do this on Liteon 5045)

    3 Burn to DVD

    and for me

    4 DV in

    5 Some editing facilities for my 20+ hours of home movies.e.g. Creating and naming chapters

    And not that important
    The size of the HDD
    PQ and Audio (as long as it is better than VHS)
    Price

    Help please.
     
  2. HelenS

    HelenS
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    Well, I've only got experience of the one I have - so there are probably loads of people more expert than I am with a wide experience of different brands, but I am pretty pleased with my Panasonic DMR-EH60D. And I think most (but not all) my comments would apply to its more affordable sister model, the DMR-EH50.

    1. Navigation seems easy to me. There is a choice - either six thumbnails per screen, listed in the order they were recorded, and the one you highlight actually starts playing in the thumbnail when you rest on it, or alternatively a text listing of 9 recordings per screen (including date, time, channel, programme title etc.). The one you have highlighted plays in a small thumbnail with additional info such as recording length and speed under it. In either case just hit enter or play to play the recording. In the list mode, you can sort the list by date, title, day of the week and more (this is temporary - the next time you call it up, it's back to order of recording). The choice between six thumbnail display or 9-list display is remembered permanently though. Within recordings, there are the usual skip and variable-speed fast forward/reverse keys, a scrolling click wheel which is an acquired taste, variable slow mo, and chapter creation at the touch of a single button on the remote).

    2. Yes, you can watch from HDD while recording to HDD (I think most major makes will allow this), and of course also watch a DVD whilst recording to the HDD, or watch and record to a particular DVD at the same time. The new Panasonics will record to DVD-RAM (which acts just like an HDD, only smaller), DVD-R, DVD-RW and DVD+R.

    3. Burning to DVD is easy too. In the case of DVD-RAM, you can burn to it at high speed whilst continuing to watch or record (at the same time) something else on the HDD, which is handy. You can also copy the opposite way, from DVD to HDD. If you burn to DVD-R, DVD-RW or +R, it typically happens in normal time (i.e. a 1 hour programme takes 1 hour) and it ties up the machine as it is effectively playing the recording source to the TV too. However, if you plan ahead when recording on the HDD and have a feature enabled that allows "high speed recording to DVD-R" you can do those at high speed - in return for losing 16:9 format and a few other frills. DVD-RAM is the best way - it is very robust (can be bought in caddies too, which the Panasonics take with ease) and not hugely expensive (take a look at Panny's online shop), but of course the other formats are better for use on various other brands of player.

    4. DV in - I don't use this personally but I believe it has it (there's an i-link socket under a flap on the front). This is one thing the cheaper EH50 lacks.

    5. Yes, there are various chapter editing facilities - I presume these can be applied to home movies but of course I haven't investigated that.

    The differences between the EH50 and EH60D are that the latter includes a Freeview tuner (as well as the analogue one) and a 200GB HDD rather than an 80GB one (oh, and aesthetically, the EH60D has a semi-mirror finish on the display strip!). The EH50 is around £350, the EH60D around £500. As you have Sky the Freeview may well not be an issue, though it's an awfully convenient way to get properly-titled widescreen recordings and the EPG makes adding stuff to the timer really easy (helpfully, you are then placed in the timer event to fiddle the start and end times to your taste). Anyway, it's free to use (though of course you pay for it when buying the machine!). I live in an area that the Freeview website states can't receive Freeview; I seem to receive all the channels however - though with the occasional hiccup on the weaker ones. Nonetheless, picture quality is sublime most of the time, though analogue's as good as that gets too.

    The recorder is very quiet, and also very fast to start up (though loading a new DVD may take up to 20 seconds to read - but after the DVD has been used once it seems to be recognised more quickly when loaded again - and if it is already loaded it is accessed nearly as quickly as the HDD from standby, within a second or two), and the picture quality and sound is very good indeed (though I should say it is viewed via a 28 inch Sony widescreen, nothing more fancy than that). It has 4 recording speeds (XP, SP, LP and EP, which on a DVD are equivalent to 1 hour, 2 hours, 4 hours and your choice of 6 hours or 8 hours with slightly more compressed sound). Unusually, LP is at full resolution, gained by a cunning new compression (so you do see the latter if a scene is very busy and moving a lot, but the rest of the time it looks abnormally good).

    I hope that helps. I am sure that Sony, Pioneer and JVC (and others) do equally impressive recorders too, but I can only go into detail on the one I have!
     

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