"Mediocre Product"on by MusicPHD
Pros Great recording and editing capabilities
Cons Noisy HDD when EPG is loaded, unpredictable timer recording modes, clock needs to be adjusted weekly
Summary Once the EPG from TV Guide have been fully loaded, there is major grinding noise from the HDD. I can hear it about 10 ft away from the unit, even with the TV and air conditioning on.
Once a week I have to readjust the clock because it becomes too slow by a minute or two. Even the clock I bought from the Dollar Store doesn't deviate that much.
Using timer-recording, sometimes it records SP program in LP and vice versa.
Oh, I use Pioneer DVR-533 and DVR-633, they both have the same problem.
Pros Very high quality picture, versatile recording options, easy editing, low price
Cons TV Guide function doesn't work for me.
Summary This DVR does everything I bought it for and does it very well.
Of course, it plays DVDs, records TV and burns DVDs. Picture quality is excellent, whether from DVD, the TV receiver or the analog inputs. One surprising feature is that it can record to the hard drive while either playing a DVD or watching something else from the hard drive. Unlike a VCR that has to be in standby mode in order to record, the Pioneer just starts dumping the information to the hard drive while the kids watch whatever they are watching. One key feature I was looking for is the ability to take home video, organize it and burn it to DVD easily. Once again the Pioneer shines. Picture quality using the front AV jacks is outstanding. Editing is a snap using the remote control. You can split scenes, add chapter breaks, assign labels and choose thumbnails from your easy chair. Two minutes with the manual and another two playing around and I had it all figured out. It would be nice if I could attach a keyboard for faster label entry. You can either navigate around a list of letters looking for what you want or use the remote like a phone pad (2 for A, 22 for B, etc) to put in what you want. It's pretty clever for a remote driven system, but slow compared to typing. Burning is very straight-forward. I have had it bomb a couple of times using the high speed mode. Each time, I have been able to use the other modes successfully without losing the disk I'd started. You do have to remember to have it finalize if you want to view it on other machines. There is an option you can set on the burn screen to handle it automatically, but the default is "no".
The TV guide feature has never worked for me. It's not a problem since it has a manual timing option much like a VCR that allows you to set up a one time recording or repeat recordings. One irritation is on turning the machine on, it tries to update the programming guide resulting in a 10 second delay before it is ready.
The remote is fairly straight-forward with controls at the bottom for the TV. No mute button or controls for anything but the TV and the DVR.
I'd been watching the DVR market for six months waiting for prices to drop, but most of the quality machines are still in the >$400 range. I bought a 531H at a Super WalMart for a little over $300 and I don't think I am missing any features that the more expensive machines offer. There is no DV port on the 531H, but as mentioned above, the AV ports work fine. I highly recommend this machine. Don't have great expectations concerning the TV guide, but you don't need it anyway.Updated
After playing around with it, I realized that there were four options for cable setups. When I tested them all, the last one worked for my TV Guide setup.
Pros Great quality, easy to use. TV Guide (TVG) works properly if you select a PBS channel that sends TVG info.
Cons Can't find any. Near-sighted people might not be able to read some of the smaller on-screen lettering.
Summary Bad reviews are wrong:
1-It does have an easy-to-use Timer Record feature for future programs, just like your old VCR.
2-TVG works properly if you select a PBS channel that actually sends the TVG info. I returned my first unit to Wal-Mart 'cause my TVG filled two or three days, then started losing those days. For my second unit, which acted the same, I called Pioneer and they gave me a clue: TVG info is sent on the local PBS channel. My local channel was WAIQ, but I noticed that in the OFF channels there were several others (WBIQ, WCIQ, etc.) When I set up the second unit, when the menu appeared that it found several cable systems in my area, I selected one that was NOT mine because I found that it sent WBIQ. Doing that required me to go through all the channels and realign several non-PBS channels(6 or so) to my local channel assignments. The result is a rapidly filled and constantly updated TVG layout.
This same result MIGHT be achieved elsewhere, and maybe even by simply selecting another PBS channel from those in the OFF category that your local cable outlet delivers??? If not, try selecting an entirely different cable outlet, then realigning the non-PBS channels to match you local layout.Updated
Thanks to "cnetbuys" review Dec 6, I learned that Pioneer has finally come up with some help for TVG problems. cnetbuys called Pioneer for help and got "codes" to enter. You have to ask for "Advanced" CS person. I entered codes, but not sure if it works yet.
For those who want to try this "fix" but don't want to wait on hold, here's the procedure:
1-Go to TVG "SETUP" in top Service Bar ("go to Service Bar" in side Menu, then left in Service Bar to "SETUP").
2. Down arrow once to "Change system settings" and HIGHLIGHT. DO NOT press Enter button.
3. With "Change system settings" highlighted, Enter 1st code with number keys: 753159852.
4. When grey menu screen appears, enter 2nd code: 653274147.
5. Turn unit OFF.
6. Turn unit ON.
7. Redo TVG Setup. Go to SETUP again and, this time, select (Enter) "Change system settings."
8. Select the bottom choice, "No, repeat Setup process."
9. Enter your system/location info. again, even if it's there from before.
10. Turn unit OFF.
11. Wait 24-48 hours for results.
12. If this doesn't work, call Pioneer again and ask for "Advanced" help. They will "escalate" your problem (whatever that entails).
They say this should work for any system set up with RF In connection...direct cable, cable boxes, etc. just not for "satellite" (not sure why not, I don't have satellite). My connection is analog Adelphia cable w/o cable box.Updated
Some new clues:
1-Don't force the DVR to go Off by pushing the Power button more than once when you want it to go off. It has a delay before going off. One thing it's doing is searching for the PBS channel to get TVG info from. I witnessed this during one of my "experiments" -- it delayed, showed POWER OFF in the display window, then went off but tuned to my PBS channel (Ch. 10) as it went off!
2-I am trying a new test, with good success.
Instead of replacing my PBS channel from those in the OFF portion of the channel listing, I turned ALL PBS channels ON and even told them all to appear in the Ch. 10 slot! It's added two days to my anemic TVG info. (after my test of the Pioneer "codes" which didn't work!).
It seems that just selecting the "best" PBS channel from those the DVR found in Setup is the answer to my particular setup -- analog Adelphia cable, no cable box. Pioneer says the TVG system should work with any system having RF IN as the signal source. It will not work with "satellite" hookups (not sure why not).
So...don't force the DVR off, and find the best PBS channel (might even try first turning them all ON and seeing if that is a lasting solution). I say "lasting" because I've found that trying to fool the system with just another PBS channel might work well for a time (30 days or so), somehow the DVR seems to find out about the "trick" and will hang up in a mode of "Due to your Setup change, I'm trying to rebuild your channel list..." or some such skullduggery.Updated
My experiment with turning on ALL PBS channels my DVR found didn't work. I'm back to one PBS channel from a large city nearby (not my subscribed PBS channel). This work-around works best for my setup (analog Adelphia cable, no cable box).
Also, I never force the unit to turn off by pressing the Power button twice. That gives it the chance it needs to POWER OFF and simultaneously set the tuner to my PBS channel (Ch. 10). I witnessed it actually doing this (it happens fast, and only if the tuner is not already on that channel), so this is not a "theory."Updated
I've been reading opinions by many who have cable boxes requiring extra cabling and some recording on the DVR thru inputs other than RF IN.
Recording that way is fine, but if you want to ALSO have TVG work properly, the unit must have a regular coax input from your source to the RF IN connector on the DVR!
Otherwise, the unit will cycle all day trying, but failing, to find the TVG info it needs. (Maybe the constant EPG noise people hear is the EPG system complaining!?)
Don't forget to also select the "best" PBS channel in your area...the one that delivers the TVG info most reliably.Updated
It finally dawned on me that many people talk of the "cable box" but they might mean their "satellite receiver"???
TVG info is not transmitted via satellite, which might explain why some people are "fed up with" the TVG feature.
The keys to happy channels and happier TVG is: cable service (direct or thru cable box), RF IN to DVR via coax cable, cable box AFTER the DVR (pg 17 of manual), and the "best" PBS channel turned ON. (All PBS channels are not created equal.)
After that, you can set the unit to record thru L1, L2, L3 or RF IN, and you'll be happy too!
If you have satellite service, you'll have to be somewhat unhappy and live with a great recorder but no TVG.Updated
Here's how to find out which channel is the "Host" channel that sends YOUR EPG/TVG data:
1- Go to TVG Setup (top bar).
2- Highlight Change system settings, but DO NOT press Enter.
3- Enter with number keys the following:
753159852. DO NOT press Enter.
4- Grey menu should appear.
5- Press right-arrow key (NOT Enter).
6- 2nd grey menu should appear. Look down the list of items to find:
VBI Chan: ## (channel number you are tuned to at this time).
Host Chan: ## (this is the channel YOUR EPG/TVG data is sent on).
My Host channel is 10, which is my PBS channel.
When I change my PBS station to the most powerful one in my state (go to PBS.org and find yours), I get excellent TVG data on a continuous basis.
Others on other sites like this report their Host channel is NOT PBS, but this little test will prove what your Host channel is for sure.Updated
For those who can't get TVGOS reliably and others who don't need the Pio 53x/63x series TVGOS 'cause they have a Sat receiver or TIVO unit with its excellent guide, or you have digital cable service so you can't get the analog TVGOS signal, I developed a method called a "Hostectomy" that will turn TVGOS off without losing any of the other operating features of the TVGOS menu system.
Go to TVGOS > SETUP > Change channel display and turn OFF any and all PBS channels you find in your listing. ALSO, tune each of those channels to channel 0 (zero).
Within a few days, all your TVGOS listings will say "No data ..." and your EPG light on the unit will only be on for a few minutes after turning the unit off. It lights only for the system to do "light housekeeping" on the "No Data..." blocks in the 8-day TVGOS listings (i.e., it adds more "No Data..." blocks).
The recorder will no longer search for TVGOS data, so no more constant "thrashing," no continual changing channels on a Sat or cable box searching for a Host station, no sudden losses of data and missed recordings, etc.Updated
Forgot to add to my "Hostectomy" post above that, after a Hostectomy, the PBS channels you turn off and tune to zero will still be tunable by direct entry of channel #...your Host channel will still appear with channel up/down button.
(I can't remember for sure, but I think those PBS channels you turn off will also be recordable with a Timer Rec program if you enter the old channel #...you'll have to try this to be sure?)
"Outstanding!!"on by wildflwr43
Pros EASY to use, slim design
Cons The TV Guide is a little hard to read; the display is too "busy"...minor complaint.
Summary Bought this on a whim and haven't regretted it for a moment. As an electronically-challenged person, I was delighted by how easy this was to set up and use. Works like a charm and unlike TIVO, doesn't require a monthly charge for the TV Guide feature.
Pros No monthly fee, dual layer burning, good playback options
Cons Basically a vcr if TV Guide doesn't work
Summary I bought the 532H-S which is basically the same model. I bought this a month and a half ago as I am one of the many who use only cell phones and forego the land line required for TiVo.
The TV Guide function never worked. I emailed and spent many calls with tech support (who to their credit did stay in contact very well with me) and was never able to use it as anything but a timed recorder. I even exchanged it in case it was a faulty model. Changing zip codes to the nearest larger city never worked either. Tech support was baffled and so was I, so I returned it and got the Humax DVR800 (had to borrow the neighbors land line for a bit though).
I have Time Warner Digital Cable and live in Lincoln, NE...this really shouldn't have been a problem.
Would have rated this much higher if the guide had worked!Updated
The model I had was the 531H-S...there is no 532...sorry.