Pros LP recording is astounding, Sound Quality is well above average, ease of use, upscales better than expected
Cons Remote doesn't have eject button, sometimes hard to tell if you've switched modes correctly
Summary I normally don't bother writing opinions, since most people just write something like, "Wow, this is awesome" or "Man, this stunk", but this player has performed WELL above my expectations for an all-in-one unit. I have DVD/VHS Recorder deck already from Panasonic, so I know about the LP recording being MILES ahead of any other recorder. However, this player does so much more that is really is a significant upgrade from the features of last year's models.
I disagree with the CNet review regarding the upscaling of this unit - perhaps it is because my HP MD6580 displays everything well, but I actually sold my Oppo DVD player after viewing the picture on this at 1080i. I was very hard pressed to tell the difference, and the sound on this was far superior than from the Oppo. I was really surprised, since most technogeeks love the Oppo (as most would characterize me), but especially with DTS output it wasn't even close. Even my wife could tell, and she is NOT someone who notices anything to do with my theater setup. The only really issue is with the "handshake" between the player and the TV using the HDMI. It works, but when I first set it up it was a little quirky and wouldn't recognize the signal. I had to turn the TV on first, THEN the player. The TV couldn't be already on, and the player couldn't either. But once that was done, it worked fine.
I have Tivo through Directv, and have owned a regular Tivo DVD recorder, and this really does a pretty nice job of replacing the features on it without giving up TOO much. Granted, it is not as easy, but thanks to Tivo's new pricing structure, I would take this over a standalone Tivo, especially since at LP you can record over 70 hours on the hard drive, and LP on the new Tivo's is TERRIBLE if you have it hooked into an HD set. LP is really that good on here, and you can fit 4 hours of a show like "24" on a DVD and not give up picture quality - a BIG plus. Also, transferring tapes to DVD's is a snap. I have been moving home movies onto the hard drive and DVD's directly and boy is it a breeze. Again, the manual is a tough read, but worth the trouble as it does cover every question you probably have.
While a little pricey, it really does replace a lot of components on your audio rack, especially with HD DVD and Blu-Ray (PS3) right around the corner, this will still keep a prominent place on my shelf. By doing everything so well in one unit, Panasonic has set the bar VERY high for their players, and consider me a big fan. Highly recommended.
"Almost Perfect"on by Chumley
Pros Picture quality and ease of use
Cons VCR is a little noisy when loading a tape
Summary This is my second DVR and far better than the first one I owned. The picture quality in SP mode is fantastic. It makes the 80 gig Hard Drive about 3 times that size.
It is easy to use and edit with also.
I had NO trouble with the TV guide, it loaded right up on Comcast cable. There os no fan noise. It is a very quiet unit except when loading a VHS tape I hear a little clunking sound. I assume it is from the way the tape is loaded so when you are in fast forward or rewind the thing can do a whole tape in about 90 seconds. Very fast.
I really enjoy using this machine and can't think of any changes I would make.Updated
One thing I forgot to mention is that I have tried 3 different brands of DVD discs and had no trouble with any of them. All recorded perfectly at high speed.
The VCR section actualy makes my old tapes look better when recorded to disc than the original???
I dont know how they do it but there must be some internal signal boosting and noise reduction going on. I love it!
A great product at a very nice price point.
Pros HDD allows excellent editing, Excellent conversion from VHS to HDD to DVD, Reliable TV Program Guide and Excellent picture quality.
Cons Time-consuming editing, poor remote and poor manual and disapointed that it doesn't automatically create thumbnail chapters as other units do.
Summary I am new to DVD recording, but I did a LOT of homework. I went to the Panasonic units because of their superior recording quality. I originally bought an ES40V and was generally happy with it, but I read it had a lot of problems and a new generation was coming out. So, I returned it and waited and waited for the EH75V.
My reason for buying a DVD recorder was to convert VHS and Mini DV home movies. This unit does this well with a little extra work.
The Good- I am very happy with this unit. It does everything it says it will do. Some people have had problems with disk compatability, TV Program Guide, Finalizing, however I have not had one problem with this unit!! It works and it works great. I would like to mention that I bought it right when it came out since April.
All formats work great, but the key to this unit is the hard drive. Once you record to HDD you can do so much. Even though I am happy with my results I will mention here that the editing is very time-consuming. A lot of it is trial and error as the manual is complicated. But with persistance and time you can pick up how to do a lot. For example, I converted a sports tape recorded from TV from VHS to HDD. I know I had to record it in SP for the quality and time factor. I then create chapters to delete commercials and also divide titles when there is a transition. I can then choose my thumbnail if I don't like the one given and I name the thumbnails for all titles. Once I have all the titles named all I have to do is tell the unit to "Advance Copy", select from HDD to DVD, and NOT finalize it. Once the high speed copying is done I switch drives to DVD (with a blank DVD in the drive) and I name the DVD, choose the color and type of menu, then I finalize it. It's easy, but again very time-consuming.
I don't find the function display or menus hard to navigate at all, it takes a little practice, though.
Reording from the DV input is a little tricky. If there is a break on your tape the unit will stop recording. I was very frustrated by this until I realized I can continue from that spot and it creates another title. You can't just walk away after you press record. Because of it stopping frequently (depending on your DV tape)you have to keep recording from each stopped part.
The Bad- Time-consuming editing as stated above. The remote could be more functional as in opening and closing the DVD tray, ejecting the VHS tape etc....Poor location of the remote sensor, too. The manual is pretty bad, but playing around with the remote and menus as well as reading the manual eventually gets the job done. I will say I did make a few coasters while I learned. Last but not least...a lot of units automatically create chpters with thumbnails at certain intervals. Not this unit. The only thing it does is create marks every 5 mins for manuevering around the DVD and only after it is finalized. No thumbnails, just moving the scene along 5 mins at a time.*** I will note that HDD and DVD-Ram you can create chapters with thumbnails only as you watch it.
I would give it a 10, except for the little annoyances, which are big for me. I hope this has been helpful before you purchase.
Pros great to have it all in one unit: VHS, DVD, HD. Nice for converting VHS to DVD.
Cons Poor user interface design, and a user manual that is IMPOSSIBLY difficult.
Summary I purchased this unit after reading the comments from my fellow reviewers, and I must echo the positive comments from most, on the technical merits of the machine. My only criticism is the poor user interface and the horrible user manual. Reading that manual, one wonders if indeed, this IS really "rocket science." I actually pondered returning the unit because it is SO difficult to decipher the manual, however, I've decided to stick with it, and see if I can just figure it out. I'm finding that I have to take notes myself when I actually DO master a technique...I guess that means I'm writing my own user manual. Sadly, with a unit that is this advanced, and costs this much, I would hope that Panasonic could figure out how to educate the average home user like myself so that we can actually use their product without feeling the need for and advanced degree in technology.
Pros Versatility and video quality
Cons Quirky user interface and missing functionality
Summary I bought mine at Circuit City during the July 4th "$50 rebate + $25 off" period, so it wasn't a bad deal at $425 plus tax.
Overall, I've been VERY happy with the device. I got it primarily to transfer VHS tapes to DVD and it's going to be VERY good for that. I also am impressed by the LP quality - 4 hours on a single layer DVD and VERY watchable. I haven't yet experienced any of the DVD compatibility issues others have reported and have used DVD-R, DVD+R, DVD-RAM (comes with one disc), and DVD+RW with good results in all cases so far.
The TV Guide took a little effort to get setup and working properly, but works well. I agree that it's not nearly as good as the Tivo guide, but it works. One amazing omission to me is that you can't list all the upcoming shows on a specific channel vertically and have to scroll to the right MANY keystokes to go very far into the future. You can get around this to some extent using the keyword search functionality.
I've captured from VHS and from my DV camcorder and it did just fine there. DVD authoring and title editing is very basic in functionality and I don't think it's very intuitive, but produces reasonably good results once you figure it out.
I can copy 4 hours of LP video to a DVD in about 25 minutes. One hour of highest quality "XP" video in about 15 minutes (when high-speed recording is turned on).
Keeping in mind that I LIKE this device and I do recommend it, here are a few things I find "quirky" or missing. (Some of these could be that I just haven't figured them out yet.)
1. I can't get it to copy an mpeg2 file from the SD card as advertised. I created the mpeg2 file on the computer and copied it to the SD card. I think it's looking for a specific Panasonic-only directory structure and/or file extension. Panasonic tech support has been zero help up to now - several days after asking for help with this (on-line). Also, you can't copy a video title from the HDD to the SD card as an mpeg2 file.
2. You can't make multiple identical copies without re-entering things like disc names and re-selecting all the titles for the disc again. There are "playlists", but they just group all titles into a single title. You can save "phrases" in the title editor and that helps, but even though it lets you enter a long phrase, it cuts it off at a set number of characters. Also, when the titles you enter appear on the DVD menu, there is no word-wrap, so it cuts a word at the end of the first line in the middle of the word and puts the rest at the beginning of the second line.
3. As far as I can see, you can't just use the VCR like a normal VCR where you program a show to record on a certain channel to record at a certain time. You HAVE to record to the hard drive first, then copy that to the tape. (One thing BETTER than the version of Tivo I have, is that you can at least select all the shows to put on tape at once, versus one at a time on my Tivo.)
4. The device has to be "off" to get updates from the TV Guide channel. It will still record scheduled shows while "off", but you have to remember to turn it off when you're not using it for the updates to occur.
5. I haven't found a way to arrange the titles on a DVD being recorded in the order I want. You can sort the list you are choosing them from in several ways (date, etc.), but you can't move them around on the menu to the order you might prefer. You don't actually SEE then menu until the disc is finalized, and it just builds the menu in the order in which the titles were listed on the source list (all titles).
6. While you can copy still photos from one type of media to another, as far as I can tell, you can't actually record something like a "slideshow" (with x number of seconds per slide and transitions, etc.) of photos from, say, the hard drive to the DVD or VHS. Still photos on a CD-R or CD-RW can't be copied to the hard drive. It seems to me that the practical benefit of the whole still photo functionality here is basically being able to view still photos.
7. You have to remember to create "top level menus" for DVD+RW discs before ejecting them. (They are automatically created during finalization for write-once media). Once created, you can't view the actual menu for a DVD+RW disc on this device (although you can see and select the titles via the "Navigator" screen).
8. You toggle thru the 4 "modes" (HDD, DVD, SD, and VHS) in the same order every time you need to change and there is a slight delay every time you stop at SD (even if you don't have an SD card in the slot). Mode switch seems a little faster with the switch on the unit itself than with the remote.
9. While the unit has VCR+, that functionality doesn't appear to be available if you are using the TV Guide functionality.
10. The volume (audio) seems very low on programs from TV (cable) compared to titles captured from VHS or DV input, so I find I have to raise and lower the volume on the TV frequently to maintain a "normal" listening level.Updated
Regarding my items 3 and 5 previously listed, another user pointed out that if you use the "Advanced Copy" funtion, you can indeed select titles in the order in which you want them to appear on the menu. Also, this list is remembered in case you want to make more than one copy. On the word-wrap issue, I've learned that when building the title, the "preview" box does accurately reflect what appears on the menu, so I can add spaces between words to control where the line breaks occur.