Pros LP mode image quality, No monthly fee, Number of features, Ease of use once interface is figured out
Cons Cannot archive most commercial VHS tapes, Commercial skip function, Learning curve on interface
Summary I purchased the DMR-EH75V about a month ago and have been very happy with it so far. A few comments below...
DVD - I would disagree with the CNet review with regard to the unit's performance on DVD upconverting. You can definitely notice the difference between the output of this unit and the non-upconverting DVD player I previously had on my Sony 34XBR970 HD TV. This is a great DVD recorder, especially taking into account the number of different types of recording media that can be used, the fast copy and flexible recording modes, and the choice of recording quality/time - especially the LP mode, which is barely distinguishable from the SP mode for most content. I have also used DVDs created using this unit on other DVD players without a problem, including a midrange Sony DVD player and a budget Apex unit.
DVR - The DVR feature is easy to use and allows you to watch one title stored on your hard drive while recording another. It does not really have a "pause live TV" function like Tivo (because the hard drive is not always active), but you can approximate this functionality by watching a title at the same time you are recording it. Basic editing functions are a breeze once you get used to the interface, but for serious editing you will want to copy the file to DVD and move it to your PC. My only real complaints about the DVR are that the interface can get quite busy if you record a lot of titles, and that during playback, the commercial skip function always overshoots the end of the block of commercials, often by as much as 20 seconds, requiring you to skip back in the program. A better way to organize recorded titles should be a priority for Panasonic when coming up with the next model.
SD DRIVE - If you use a digital camera with an SD card, the unit is great for displaying pictures from the card. My only complaint is that you can only use the slideshow feature from the top menu. The unit also allows you to copy the pictures to other drives.
VCR - Part of my reason for getting this unit was to archive my collection of VHS movies on DVD. On the plus side, the movies I have been able to copy from VHS to DVD came out great. Unfortunately, the unit will not copy most commercially produced DVDs due to protection issues. While this is not totally Panasonic's fault, it was disappointing. While I have not tried it yet, I am hoping that I will be able to back up my VHS cassettes by hooking my standalone VCR up to the unit. The picture quality of commercial VHS cassettes on this unit is as good as I have seen from a VCR.
TVGUIDE INTERFACE - Although it took a few days after setting the unit up to retrieve a full week's worth of listings, the TVGuide worked great for me for scheduling recordings. The interface takes some getting used to, but with a bit of familiarity it is easy to navigate. I think it may be harder if you have been used to the Tivo interface in the past than if this is your first DVR. Yes, the Tivo guide is more prettier, cleaner and more modern looking, but there is not enough increase in functionality over the TV Guide interface to justify the monthly fee for Tivo.
INSTRUCTION MANUAL - The instruction manual can be a little overwhelming, particularly for people that are not tech oriented. While the manual could be better organized, part of the reason it is so overwhelming is the breadth of features of the unit and the detailed level of information contained within. My suggestion for people that are confused by the manual is not to try to read it cover to cover. Use the table of contents to find the section covering what you want to do and go directly to that section. Once you get comfortable with the basic features, go back to the manual and skim through it - it will be much easier to understand once you know the basic operation of the unit. And play around with the menus - record a program to the HDD that you really don't care about and use it to try the different functions of the unit.
Pros High quality picture
Cons Quick copy glitch, Editing non-tv, manual
Summary Well, I thought Panasonic remedied their problems. We got this one because of the harddrive. Time to have some nice editing we hoped and quick copy transfers.
1st: The manual is still way over most people's heads. I wanted this for my Dad but there is no way he could follow the manual. How about some easy tutorials for the main functions?
2nd: This machine is geared for television, not video editing.
3rd: The same glitch! For Panasonic's sake I'll say it this way: THE SAME GLITCH !!! I put in a VHS tape. I push the copy VHS to DVD button for 3 seconds. The machine starts. 2 hours later I stop it. I search awhile and finally find the Finalize command (no help from the manual). All done. I take the DVD to my laptop computer ready for a nice time.
THE GLITCH: between each automatic 2 minute clip it REPEATS part of the PREVIOUS CLIP.
For instance clip one would say "ABCDEFG", the machine pauses, back tracks and begins recording again "HIJKLMNOP". When you go back to watch it, it goes "ABCDEFG-FGHIJKLPNOP-OPQRS...."
So, I try the one touch record from VHS to the Harddrive. I figure I can then edit the harddrive copy into pieces and then burn to DVD. WHAT! It automatically does the 2 minute cuts to the Harddrive. SAME GLITCH! repeat repeat repeat.
4th: OK, so I put the VHS in play and manually put the Harddrive into record. What do I get, static. I scan the manual but finally exhaust from it, not being able to find how to do a simple recording.
5th: I did not try to record TV shows because I do not have cable or watch television anymore. It may work fine, HOWEVER, BE WARNED, the RF connecter will not work on a regular television. The manual says that the sound and picture of this machine does not go through the RF OUT. ????????! page 16. dmreh75v.
Note: The RF is normal on the model 35 and 45.
6th: The manual, and its lack of clear easy no brain tutorials.
I had a previous model 4 months ago that had the same repeat GLITCH. Panasonic admitted the flaw and said they were fixing it in the new machines.
I cannot understand. Panasonic has the market by the leash if they just would do it.
Suggestion: VHS, DVD, Harddrive machine with a normal RF out. Also able to record straight without scenes being forced. The ability to easily edit the clip on the harddrive into parts and lengths desired. Burn DVD. Also the ability to choose the length of the automatic clips. NO REPEATING GLITCH.
OK, frustrations aside, what is good. Excellent remote. Nice looking machine. Excellent array of inputs and outputs. The SD card slot might be useful. The layout of the controls is very good. The VHS rewind is great. The picture quality excellent.
My DVD had a few wiggle lines at the bottom of the screen. Might be the laptop since I did not try it in any other machine.
So overall if you want a big television recorder, it might work. I cannot recommend the machine unfortunately. I really wanted to.
Maybe I'll give the model 35 a try just in case. The 45 adds the SD card slot and the HDMI interface.
When I was in grade school they gave us chocolate pudding. When you put your spoon in, the bottom was concave from the bottom up. What a disappointment when there was visually a great treat ahead, but in reality, not much pudding.
Pros Works with Directv, Records about 80 hours in LP mode, Edit out commercials, TV Guide is free!
Cons Nothing! ...yet.
Summary This piece of equipment works great. I hooked it up to Directv, which only works with certain recievers by the way (the newer, the better). The manual suggests you leave it off for about 24 hours after you hook it up so the IR blaster can get the TV Guide listings. It shows about 8 days worth of programming. The dvd recorder portion of it works great. VHS can be transfered to the hard drive or a dvd. The quality is great! All and all, it works beautifully. The only thing it needs that Tivo has is the ability to record 2 shows that come on at the same time. But that gets lost in the fact that you don't have to pay for this service or hook it up to a phone line; you can edit out commmercials; and you can burn anything to dvd.
Pros Love the editing capabilities; convenience of all-in-one unit
Cons Didn't work well with my current set up
Summary When I went searching for my first DVR, I was thrilled when I came across this unit. I loved that, in addition to having the hard drive, it also was a VHS/DVD recording unit. I could archive stuff from the hard drive *and* transfer all my old VHS tapes on to DVD. Perfect. Really, no other unit I could find seemed to offer as much and the reviews here were encouraging enough for me to try one.
I got mine on Tax Free Day a couple of weeks ago. The nice folks at Circuit City even gave me the internet special sale price, saving me $70, in addition to tax.
Set up was my indication that it might not be the unit for me. The instructions were for a hook up completely contrary to my cable hook up and I knew that at best I'd just be left without On Demand, at worst I'd have a jumpy picture (this unit requires the cable to go through it first, then the cable box; my cable company set up is the reverse).
Fortunately, the picture was ok, with some minor (though increasingly distracting) loss of video clarity and yes, On Demand was gone (not a big loss, but still). I'd also lost the inability to utilize my tv's PIP function.
I found the IR blaster was a bit hit or miss at times changing the channel. In the three weeks that I had the unit, it missed the channel probably a half dozen times, although at least not while it was recording. That could, of course, just be random incompatability with my cable box. My one concern was having to leave the box on all the time and how a power loss would effect anything to be recorded. With my current vcr, at least if the power goes out and comes back on, it'll still tape...
One other function that didn't work was the ability to tape something and watch something else. The instructions insisted this was possible, but any attempt to change the channel on the tv resulted in taping that instead.
I found the instruction manual as confusing as everybody says, but just took the advice to skim through it once and then use it more thoroughly as needs warranted and that worked ok.
Really liked the editing features, although the few finished discs aren't as smooth a transition from scene to scene as I expected (I'm new to all this, so I'm not sure if my expectations were realistic) and the dvds don't play on both my dvd players.
The remote was ok. I found myself frequently hitting the wrong buttons (there are a *lot* of buttons), but it could have just been something I'd have figured out better in time.
In the end, although I liked the convenience of having an all in one unit and really liked the editing features, the combination of loss of video quality on my tv and the other features lost due to set up had me returning it.
Pros Great All Around Device, DVD, DVR, VHS, Great TV Guide Listing and Functionality
Cons Does not acept a memory stick(ONLY SD Card),No Mute on Remote, Remote Sensor in Bad Location, User manual and device features are hard to understand.
Summary Nice to have a product without the another monthly bill and the features that are comparible to what consumers are looking for in a DVD, VHS, DVR Combo.