Summary: How did I live without this!!
Review: For taping shows it is incredible. I have never had TIVO, and am only comparing this to a VCR, an archaic piece of equipment whose time has gone, but I don't have a montly fee to pay. I was a little leery after reading reviews about the problems of the TV guide feature, but I did not run in to the problems that others have had, although it did leave out some channels. I was however able to manually put them in by using a station unavailable to me and inputting the channel number. If these were not unimportant channels (for me anyway) such as a Spanish channel, I would probably have needed tech support to fully fix it. I have not run into the problems other reviewers have reported, such as the first or last 15 seconds being cut off, and I have found the TV guide feature a breeze to use. Regarding the former, losing the last 15 seconds doesn't affect the program which does not go off on the hour anyway, and losing the first 15 only happens if you are recording successive shows to DVD-R (according to the manual - and for me, using the hard drive, this has never happened). Regarding the latter, find the channel, press ONE button, and it is set to record. Press another and it will record daily or weekly. With the Direct Navigator you get a thumbnail of all your recorded programs and the date they were recorded. Hit enter and your chosen show starts from the beginning. No fast forwarding, no rewinding, no searching for the right tape, no guesswork, no accidently copying over something you wanted to see. Setting up the channel order was, as another reviewer noted, tedious and time consuming, but it is a one time deal.
I have not recorded on to discs yet (having so much fun with my new toy, I forgot that saving home video was the reason for the purchase), but I am hoping that it goes equally well.
I do not have a cable box, so I can't speak to the problems others may have encountered here. But for my uses, this is a joy.
Summary: Am I the only person around who uses a zoom function?
Review: The unit is great at everything it does but like (almost) every other DVD player/recorder made it does not have a zoom function.
I apologize for appearing sexist and insensitive but I do zoom in on stock car crashes, cheerleaders, ladie's tennis, basketball games, ladie's figure skating, hockey games, etc.
Toshiba makes a recorder with a zoom but it does not have a hard drive. They also make a recorder with a Hard drive but it doesn't have a zoom function!
I've checked and haven't found any HDD dvd recorder that offers zoom capabillity. Oh well. If I want to zoom I'll finallize a DVD-R and view it on my old Toshiba player (10x zoom).
Summary: what I think
Review: 1. It hates spindled dvd's ,you know the cheap ones, it will not record on them , I have tried several different brands If it comes on a spindle forget it.
2. Its unbelieveably complex, I don't mind it but if you have any problem using a VCR this is not the product for you.
3. Its not designed to work with a satelite box , like dish,or direct tv, it is set up to work with a cable box.
4. The Lowest quality for recording , the 8 hour mode is almost unusable , I am willing to compromise on video quality more than most will be but the 8 hour mode is truly terrible almost useless even on a small screen where you notice it less.
Over all I like it , the price was fair and it seems to work like it should
Summary: Do Not Buy this product!
Review: After finally deciphering the product manual, I found this unit fun to operate, probably 'cause of the excitement over a new toy. I bought this unit mainly to record old VHS tapes to DVD. I had recorded about 12 hours of vhs tapes onto the hard drive and had started to edit by creating titles, erasing commercials, etc. when the unit froze up and wouldn't respond to the commands in the manual. I exchanged the machine for another of the same model. Again, with about 18 hours of material on the hard drive, I began the editting process once again. And once again, the unit froze and wouldn't respond to commands to rectify the situation as stated in the manual. Called Panasonic, they knew from nothing. Returned this product for a full refund. Both units had only been in use for 2 days before shutting down.
Summary: Superb even for us amateurs
Review: After our 8 year old DVD player finally began to have problems, I decided to get this DVD recorder despite my fears of quirky behavior in fairly new technology. All my fears were unfounded, and I love this new piece of electronics. For us cheap guys with just basic cable, the TV Guide feature worked immediately to provide us with both great show info and great ease of recording shows. It's just as easy to watch the recordings, and the DVD player quality is wonderful with our home theater setup. I highly recommend this Panasonic to anyone who can afford the price (nicely improved upon by Amazon, of course).
Summary: Bloody marvellous
Review: Best thing since sliced bread. No idea why other reviewers whinge and whine. Granted the TV guide feature does not include ALL channels, but that is not the fault of the hardware; more likely a channel or cable supplier specific shortcoming. Of course, then you have to spend 5 seconds more on the recorder set up!
Although I am not an avid TV viewer (life is too bloody short) this device has ensured recording of sporting events and quality movies/dramas (etc. - add as appropriate) a breeze.
Summary: Quick Q!
Review: can i play my music cds and actually save it on the hard drive? or can i play my video DVDs and save it as well? some one help! 'cause i really wanna purchase this item! thanks
Summary: An Excellent DVD Recorder.
Review: First things first...I had a similar problem with this unit.
I came home from work picked up the remote and attempted to turn on the unit and nothing happened. I then tried to turn it on via the power button and still nothing. I unplugged it, waited 5 minutes, and tried again and still nothing. The time was being displayed properly but it would not power up. I called Panasonic, described the above, and they directed me to return the unit. I brought home another unit and a day later had the same problem - but this time I read the manual a little closer and on page 50 across from "The unit is on but cannot be operated" it instructs you to reset the unit by holding down the power switch for 10 seconds. When I let go it began running a self test and was then fully functional again. I had the same problem again but this time was home to see the cause. It turns out that whenever there is a sudden loss of power (from the electric company) the unit will not power up without running the self test. I was upset that Panasonic did not tell me about the "10 second power button reset".
This machine is a dream come true for me. I have been able to transfer all my non-dvd media (laser disc, vhs, and camcorder footage) to dvd-r. Never a problem with any recordings. It was so easy to transfer these recordings to the hard drive, edit them, and then burn to dvd-r with virtually no loss in picture quality. Take the time to read the manual and then just experiment, you will find it's not difficult to use. You can record to the hard drive and watch a dvd at the same time. The TV Guide Listings make timer recordings a breeze.
Summary: This is my favorite piece of electronics.
Review: I have used the previous model E80H for almost a year with no problems and bought this new model E85HS as soon as it became available. I should add, I bought both DVRs right here at Amazon.com and have not had any problems at all. I did read the manual before I unpacked the unit as I do with anything complex. This model is more intuitive than most but knowing idiosyncrasies like the reset button mentioned in an earlier review are important to know. You can also do some things the manual doesn't cover like record from a DVD to the hard-drive. Like all consumer DVRs it will not copy a copy protected DVD which is just about all US releases. However, copying a personal VHS tape is a breeze. It is easy to do edits and make a very useable menu for your DVD version.
The programming function is also simple to use. I programmed 16 different TV shows to be recorded while I was on a five week trip and it recorded them all perfectly. I highly suggest you use the SP speed so instead of 284 hours of theoretical recording time you really have about 55 to 95 hours max which is still great! I only use the fastest XP speed when it is important to see fine details (i.e. swimsuit edition of Sports Illustrated video;-) or I am going to make a permanent copy of a less than 2 hour program to a DVD-R. Then by using the variable speed recording choice I end up with the best possible DVD-R copy. With Panasonics filters the finished copy can indeed look better than the original source but do not expect miracles. I often use DVD-RAM for temporary storage of programs I do not want the rest of the family to see and the high speed transfer is a great convenience. Playback is excellent even with an older TV but your TV works with progressive scan this model will display a very high quality image indeed. This new model plays a wider variety of VCDs (the E80H did reasonable well) and it you like to play music through your TV entertainment center it play CDs and CD-Rs fine.
I have found the DVD-Rs to be viewable in a wide variety on DVD players as I am the one that converts the family movies to DVD-R and distribute them all over the country. I also sell some travel movies I made on my website and have not had any returned. No coasters and between my two units I have made well over 100 DVD-Rs. I have only used name brand blank DVD-R and DVD-RAM disks, so that probably has been a factor.
Features like time-slip and one button switch to TV only makes viewing a pleasure. Yes, you can really watch a program while still recording it or watch a different program from the hard drive or DVD tray. The remote control takes a while to get used to but has it all at your fingertips.
Summary: Great for everyday recording
Review: I ordered the Toshiba RD-XS32 on Sunday, Jan. 30, and it was estimated to ship in one to two weeks. As excited as I get about having new electronics as soon as possible, I kept checking every day to see if it would ship early. I'm glad I checked back.
On Wednesday, Amazon unveiled their Prime service, so I once again looked at the other DVD recorders to see if any were cheaper, knowing that I could inexpensively get it quick with a Prime membership. Lucky for me, this one went down to $400 that day. I cancelled the Toshiba and ordered this one because I trust Panasonic with video equipment more than Toshiba, it has more space, and I could get it faster.
First of all, Prime is a wonderful service. After paying the $79 annual fee, I only had to pay $3.99 to get this one here by Friday (I ordered after the one-day deadline on Wednesday). It came very promptly and there were no problems with the shipment.
Now on to the recorder. My main intent for this product was to use the hard drive for everyday recording; I wasn't too concerned about the DVD capabilities. I basically wanted a VCR replacement, meaning I didn't need a guide to depend on - I know how to set a VCR.
120 GB is plenty of space. Even in the default recording mode (SP), it holds 55 hours. When watching broadcasts, the recording time left for the media selected is clearly shown on the display. That's much better compared to the 6 hour tapes I had to juggle before.
TV Guide - I gave it about 18 hours to download and it worked. Again, I bought it to manually program times, so it won't affect me too much if it quits working.
The guide has a few quirks: The default listing didn't sort in channel order. If this happens to you, you have to follow the directions under "Customizing the channel line up" on page 23 of the manual to fix the order. Also, the guide downloads all the channels your provider has to offer, meaning if you don't subscribe to the package with everything, you may have to deal with moving channels past a bunch of channels you don't have.
Helpful Hint: To move each of the channels you don't have to the bottom, select each unwanted channel and type position 999 and hit enter instead of using the green/blue buttons. After you have done that, then sort the channels you have using the green and blue buttons.
Also, while looking at the guide, the window that shows the current broadcast is by default set to change to the channel you are pointed to in the guide (meaning if you're originally on ESPN and want to see what's coming up on ABC, it will by default show ABC in the window while you're scrolling through the ABC listings.) You have to select "Last Channel" (the name itself) and press the blue button to "lock" the display window on the current channel.
If TV Guide doesn't provide listings for a channel, it won't be included in your channel lineup. The local sports channel on my cable network doesn't have listings in the TV Guide, so I couldn't get to it by using the channel up/down buttons - I had to type the number. I just took a random network I didn't have and assigned it to that channel number, even though the listings would be wrong.
Remote - compared to what the Toshiba's looked like, this one is well-designed. However, the most-used channel-changing buttons (the number pad and channel up/down) are smaller than on an average remote. Also, I don't think there is a previous channel/flashback button.
Noise - Overall, it is quiet, but I don't know exactly how the fan runs. It usually runs for two or three minutes after the machine is turned off, but after that, the fan seems to turn on and off randomly. It may be synchronizing the clock or updating the listings at those times.
Editing - Plain and simple: Read the instruction manual before trying anything. I accidentally deleted the actual show and left the commercials that were recorded just before and after because I wrongly assumed how the shorten feature worked.
DVD-R writing - I tested it using a Philips 1-8x DVD-R. Since I didn't turn on high-speed dubbing mode in the setup menu before recording the programs I dubbed, it wouldn't dub at high speed. I dubbed in SP mode, and it played fine on the Panasonic, our Sony downstairs, and the DVD+RW burner in our Dell computer.
I don't intend to use DVD-RAM unless I get another DVD-RAM recorder, since there is more than enough space on the hard drive.
Overall, I have experienced no problems that could have been avoided by reading the manual beforehand. It can get a little tedious to get all the channels in the order you want them, but when the guide works, it is very convenient.
I highly recommend this product.