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Opinions on home DVD recorders or VHS/DVD-R combos

PostPosted: Thu Jan 13, 2005 10:59 am
by LoneWolf
Hi all,

I'm wondering how many folks here have a standalone DVD recorder. We have need of one or two in my workplace (multimedia lab of a school in this case). As such, it needs to be reliable, built reasonably strong, and have good media compatibility, with a simple method of upgrading firmware if possible. Our primary need is to copy non-commercial VHS tapes over to DVD, though I'm sure it would be even better if there were less restrictions, as educational VHS tapes tend to wear out and if those kinds of things could be converted to DVD as well, they'd last longer and we'd have an original fair-use backup.
My understanding of electronics is not a problem...but since I don't own one of these, I'd like to talk to people here who do, what they own, and if they're happy with it. Cost is definitely a factor, so please state it too, but I've seen what looked like reasonable stuff on the market between the (very rough) $300-600 range, and I do believe firmly that I get what I pay for.

Any information you can provide would be appreciated.

PostPosted: Thu Jan 13, 2005 11:28 am
by Jim
The Apex has a reputation of having a very good chipset for encoding. I don't know if you have a Meijer near by but I see it for $99.99 after $50 MIR every so often there. That is for the 9200 model which supposedly has had a design change to attain a stable power supply.

PostPosted: Thu Jan 13, 2005 12:41 pm
by Justin42
A ton of new models were just announced at CES last week so there are likely to be fire sales on older models soon as they make room for the new ones.

I personally have a Toshiba RD-SX32 ($399 now, full retail) and a Panasonic E80H (discountinued). The XS32 blows the Panasonic away in picture quality, editing functionality, etc. However, it suffers from a black-level issue that it doesn't record proper US IRE levels (basically, it represents pure black incorrectly which, DEPENDING ON A LOT OF ISSUES, can make the playback look a bit washed out. It's really overblown, in my opinion, since NO player is perfect, it's just the XS32's achilles heel.)

The XS32 is also a bit iffy on media compatibility although newer units are better at it...

The Panasonic E80 is a very solid unit; the Panasonics tend to be the most complete "all around" units. Kind of jack of all trades, master of none-- picture quality is ok, not great by any stretch. OK editing but not great. They are built like tanks, though, which might be good for your uses.

Philips and Sony units tend to be considered unreliable over time. Pioneer are considered good units but have poor (nonexistant) time base correction, which means on a VHS tape with iffy quality, you may get a "black screen" instead of an image as the Pioneer can't sync with the video properly.

At this point, the only brand that gets everything basically right is Panasonic... but they tend to be expensive.

Check out the forums at There is a TON of information, but read and try to digest as much as you can. There's a lot of noise, especially among the louder screamers ("BLACK LEVEL!!!!" "BLACK SCREEN!!!").

PostPosted: Fri Jan 14, 2005 8:08 am
by Gabe

If you have a good VHS-recorder, you not need a Combo, just buy a DVD-recorder. I can recommend a Panasonic or JVC, great recorders.

If you want combo-drives, I can recommend again the VHS/DVD-Combo´s from JVC and Panasonic, because the VHS and the DVD have the best quality, better than the Combo´s from Toshiba, Samsung or Pioneer.