Pros Easy set-up, nice remote, excellent recording quality
Cons Inability to record on DVD+RW (minor flaw)
Summary This is a teriffic deck! Purchased after I returned a defective Toshiba model. The quality difference in this deck was immediatly evident when I opened the box: nice, easy to use remote (a remote that does not look like a cheezy "all for one" ten dollar replacement), included RAM disk, excellent instructions (including a color quick-use guide). The Panasonic boots fast, reads all of my DVD's (even the DVD-R's the defective Toshiba destroyed), and makes excellent DVD recorded material. High quality and great features for a reasonable price. I'm certainly happy!Updated
Although initially pleased with the performance of the Panasonic DMR ES20, I have to retract my original statement. I reccommended this unit to two friends. All three of us have had the machine just up and quit. It seems to be a firmware issue, but the update downloads available on the Panasonic site do not work. Now I have to wait for the new firmware to be sent directly from Panasonic. Pretty dissapointing to have a three month old machine become unusable. I do not reccommend purchasing the DMR ES20Updated
I bought this unit in December of 2005. Loved it. Three weeks later I reccommended it to a friend. His unit quit after a week. The retailer updated the software, and it still does not work properly. Mine died a month ago, and the update software is no help. No clock, no remote funtions. Sent in for repairs (which are no longer covered). AVOID this unit!!!!
Pros Rock solid. Works like a hard drive when accessing info. Allows you to record one program and watch what is already on the disc. Also allows you to view material as you record it .
Cons No coax audio out. No DVD + RW recording.
Summary This is a great buy. I tried 2 other makes before settling on this machine. I'm delighted with the results. This thing actually improves the copies of video tapes. Excellence worthy of the Panasonic name.
"This DVD recorder lives up to the quality and reliability of Panasonic's products."on by Simmon Li
Pros Excellent product quality, which should give me excellent reliability.
Cons It cannot use +RW discs.
Summary I have tried two different makes of DVD recorders before settling on the Panasonic DMR-ES20S. The first model failed after several days of use. The second model is very sensitive to the make of the discs. Finally, it won't let me open the tray to retrieve my disc. A replacement unit also had some inconsistencies in responding to discs recorded by itself.
This Panasonic never gave me any temper tandrums. It accepts different makes and types of discs, as long as they are not +RW. This is the only letdown that I encountered, because I have bought a few of the +RW discs for use on the previously purchased units. But its ability to use DVD-RAM more than made up for this shortcoming. Besides, -RW discs are readily available at the same price as +RW discs. Some other manufactures would only allow -R and -RW (or +R and +RW) discs. Also, this unit cannot record on CD's.
The fact that this entry level model was made in Singapore gives me more confidence on its quality over other similarly priced units that were made in China.
Pros excellent image quality, easy to use, flexible recording
Cons no +RW, doesn't do satellite, poor on scene creation, no basic editing
Summary Test drove a few other brands. While DVD recording isn't ready for mainstream, this is the best I found.
Excellent on XP and SP modes.
Haven't tried on lesser quality modes and probably will never use them anyway.
Recording satellite the recorded quality rivals the original satellite signal. Very impressive.
Recording HI8 through inputs works great.
Haven't noticed any artefacts with fast motion scenes.
Flexible recording -- you can tell it you want to record a source for 1h22m or 2h09m or whatever your source length and it will fit the dvd to fill it with the best possible quality. This is great.
Nice remote. Controls tv well as well.
Easy to navigate menu structures.
Sufficient inputs including DV.
Bright display, user changeable brightness.
DVD-RAM is good. Ability to pause 'live tv' (chasing playback) is good in theory. 'In theory' because I haven't tested that yet.
Whisper quiet even with cooling fan running.
Problems I found:
1) Found that sometimes it thinks that HI8 personal camcorder footage is somehow "copyright protected
material" and complains with an on-screen message, says it's finalizing the disc but then records onwards
anyway. Result is two scenes and the first 10-15 or so seconds of the source material is always missed.
This is an occasional problem. Turning off machine and back on between recording sessions stops this.
2) If I don't hit "return" after finalizing a disc before pushing eject, the unit will freeze such that I
can't do anything but push-hold the power button till it turns off, then turn back on again.
Doesn't record to DVD+RW
Doesn't do satellite.
Only does VCR+ programming.
Can't do customized chapters/scenes. Upon finalizing, they're made automatically every 5 minutes.
Can't do any real editing.
Using the on-screen keyboard via the remote to title discs is slow and cumbersome.
Display could be more informational than fitting all messages into four characters, some uppercase, some
Oddly a digital optical out but no digital coaxial.
Tends to take about 10 seconds longer than one would expect to mount the dvds and be ready to play or
To finalize, you have to say 'ok' three times --> it keeps warning you and telling you what that means.
A few more of the common buttons on the front panel might be nice -- i.e. next chapter, fast forward, fast rewind.
Pros Recording setup is straightforward
Cons Lacks intelligence to eject a DVD it cannot write to
Summary I received the Panasonic DMRES20 DVD Recorder as a Christmas gift because I am trying to transition from VHS to DVD. Initially, it was a little difficult to set up when using a digital cable box, but I was able to complete the setup after about an hour and a trip to the electronics store to purchase an RF Modulator and associated cables. According to the instructions, this was required as my "older" television set did not have the necessary ports for the audio/video cable hookups.
Once I completed the setup, the unit worked well for about 3 days. I set the unit to record a program from cable and went to bed. The next morning, I noticed the display on the front of the unit said "U99" and I was unable to get the unit to respond, it would not even open the door to eject the DVD. I scoured the manual for help with this issue, but it only stated that the "U99" meant the unit was not functioning properly. I powered it off and back on and followed all the instructions, but the unit still would not respond, and would only say "U99".
At this point, I decided I had a defective unit, so I returned it to the retailer and exchanged it for another (same) unit. At least this time, the setup was fast since I had already gone through this headache with the first unit. Again, this unit worked well for 2 or 3 days, and the same thing happened...U99 on the display! Again, this unit also would not respond, nor open the door to eject the DVD.
This time I called Panasonic, and after a LONG wait, they walked me through several steps to revive this unit. After nothing worked, the Panasonic representative told me that there was nothing wrong with the unit, the problem was with the DVD. Never mind that the DVD was the one that was included with the recorder. I explained to them that just because there was a DVD inserted that the recorder did not "like", that it should have the intelligence to, at least, eject the DVD....not completely "lock up". They advised me to take the unit to a certified Panasonic repair shop (about 40 miles away) to have them remove the DVD for me.
I'm sorry, but this is unacceptable, and it absolutely constitutes a "defective" unit. Especially since I had two different ones experience the exact same problem.
I returned it to the retailer (again), and this time the retailer gave me a very hard time, but that is a story for another time. I eventually got my money refunded, and I am now searching for another DVD recorder, and I can promise it will not be a Panasonic!