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  #1  
05-06-2009, 06:52 AM
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Hi --

I need a simple way to move video from dv tape to a DVD; while this can be done with camera ==> computer ==> read manual ==> intermediate steps ==> burn DVD there is too much manual time involved. For most of the material I don't need a polished video, just a convenient way to watch and review it. I do not have VHS tapes to deal with.

Goals:
i) Create DVD from the 1394 output of a videocamera with very little manual intervention
ii) Be able to capture video from other inputs if needed (such as a television) though this is less important.
iii) Results are free of major defects and annoyances, but need not be perfect. Most of the results will be viewed for content more than entertainment (stuff like music practice).
iv) It should be reliable, but needn't be pro equipment. It will probably be used to record less than 100 DVDs.
v) Standard definition DVD recorders seem to be already obsolete, so I want to keep costs low.
vi) From the FAQ I see that the lastest models are not so great, so it looks like I need to get something used off ebay. While you can't take internet reviews too seriously, I did see the JVC models had rotten ratings on Amazon. It seems like some of these products weren't fully baked.
vii) Not a large, bulky unit. Loud is not good either.
viii) Is a Phillips 3576H = 3576 (no suffix)? How about Phillips 3475 (plenty of those on eBay). How can I tell if another model is similar to one mentioned in the FAQ?

I am new on this forum, so it's possible I'm asking several obvious questions. Thanks for playing!
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  #2  
05-06-2009, 07:44 AM
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I have several options in mind already, but need to clarify two small details before listing them out...

For recordings television, do you plan on using
  • an external DTV antenna (the "converter box" that the government gave out coupons for) -- this assumes you're in the USA
  • analog cable, where the cable wire traditionally goes directly into your VCR or televisions
  • digital cable, where the cable wire goes into a "cable box" that then has a wire going into the composite (yellow wire) or s-video connection of the VCR or television
  • digital satellite, such as DirecTV, DISH Network (and others, in Canada or Europe), where the cable wire goes from the dish to the "satellite receiver", which then usually feeds into a VCR or television
Let me know which of these need to be planned for.

And finally, are you in the USA, Canada, Europe or somewhere else entirely? The available units and models caries from country to country, as would be my suggestions on where to buy them easily and affordably.

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05-06-2009, 09:02 AM
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That was fast!

TV -- I don't watch much TV and don't have a TV set at the moment. Should I get one I would try a converter box and antenna to see if there is anything worth watching over the air. Digital cable and Dish network are available here. I don't see any use for analog cable.

Oh ... one more thing - the DVD-recorder has to be able to use currently produced media (but not the free-after-rebate junk). I don't want to have to stockpile old media for compatibility.

Where: I'm in the US.

btw... how long before all programs are available over the internet? Once you have a good enough digital wire is there a need for cable TV at all?
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05-06-2009, 09:52 AM
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"DTV" (digital television) is largely built on lies and misinformation. Contrary to Best Buy salesmen, you do not need a new HDTV to receive DTV signals. "HD" (HDTV) is high definition, but "SD" (SDTV) is standard definition, the same signal quality our grandparents watched. Your old television can receive DTV just fine with a DTV.

However, the caveat here is that your old antenna is probably useless. In fact, DTV reaches few homes than the old analog signals did, thanks to the power of the transmission, and the "100% or 0%" nature of the signal. You either see the DTV signal perfectly clear, or not at all -- there is not "fuzzy but acceptable" anymore, as many of us recall growing up. I live close to a major metro area, not more than 30 minutes drive to the heart of downtown, and I could receive fuzzy-but-acceptable analog transmissions.

With DTV, I get nothing -- nada -- zip. I either have cable, or I watch DVDs. Given the high costs of cable, I'm cancelling at the end of May, I could buy 2-3 DVD box sets each month for the same price. Keep this all in mind for the DTV you may think about trying in the future. If you're living inner-city or in a connecting suburb, you'll pretty much need big expensive antennas mounted in the attic, or maybe even outside on a pole.

The benefit of analog cable was I can pay a low price, and televisions in the guest room and kitchen could get cable, without having to rent or own a cable receiver. The digital cable, you must have a box at that tv. As prices go up, the benefits are less appealing -- I can buy a cheap $25 DVD player for each tv, plus a nice box set, and it's still less than that dumb cable bill.

This leads in to topic ...

With that setup, I watch what I want, when I want, and for a price I consider okay. While cable was almost $75 set price, I could choose to buy only one box set for $20 one month, or spend $100 the next -- or even $0 and buy nothing -- I have choice. Choice is where the future is, from affordable on-demand similar to how iTunes is $1 per song on-demand music.

Hulu and Youtube are now offering high quality H.264-compressed video that can be streamed from a media computer. I have a small HP computer that is connected to the tv, and it's actually smaller than the Motorola digital cable box! Just last night I pulled up an episode of a tv show at an odd time (9:13 p.m.) and watched it without commercials for free. More of this will ensue in the future.

The sad part is North America is wired like a third-world country, when it comes to the Internet. We're almost backwards. Europe and Asia -- even Iraq!!! -- is better wired for high-speed Internet connections. This is out biggest boondoggle right now, slow connection speeds. The best I can get is 10Mbps for a very high price, while 5Mpbs is a tolerable price. Compare this to speeds in the 20-90Mbps range in Japan or Belgium!

It's a slow process -- ask me again in 2012.

And on to the DVD recorder again...

Definitely use that good media. You should honestly only use Verbatim DVD-R/DVD+R or Taiyo Yuden DVD-R/DVD+R. The best prices and best places to buy blank DVDs are listed on this site, for your convenience (click that link).

What you're really after is a DVD recorder that can accept input from a Firewire (aka IEEE1394 aka "DV input") connection on the front of a DVD recorder. These are common features, found on the better recorders -- including some still sold in stores or online brand new.

You only need a "digital tuner" (aka ATSC tuner) if you plan to record ATSC over-the-air digital antenna signals, or if you want to record the QAM "in the clear" HD/digital local cable channels to DVD. Whether you get this feature is up to you. Personally, I think you'll be fine with a tuner-less DVD recorder, if that option is available.

Some of the recorders I suggest may come with an ATSC tuner, so no need to avoid them -- this feature is not as important as the quality of the video recording, the Firewire intput, or the build quality of the unit.

Not had VHS tapes, you really do not require the respected JVC or Toshiba machines only found on eBay and made some years ago.

At this point in time, look at your local stores for units made by
  1. Philips (1st choice),
  2. Panasonic (2nd choice),
  3. or Toshiba (3rd choice).
See which ones have the Firefire input on the front of the unit. If you want a tuner, you can look for that too.

I suggest looking at (but not necessarily buying at) the following stores (and by all means, ignore the salesmen, they will usually steer you wrong):
  • discount retailers: Walmart, Target, K-Mart
  • "big-box" electronics stores: Best Buy
  • regional electronics/computer stores: Fry's, Microcenter, TigerDirect, Electronic Express, J&R, etc
  • mall retailers with electronics: Sears
You can browse the selections that way. Most of these places have awful return policies on electronics, especially those regional stores, so buying in-store isn't always a good route. Best Buy and Walmart are the most consumer-friendly, Walmart especially.

Then consider buying it online. My favorite store is Amazon.com. If you would like to really help digitalFAQ.com, then consider using our affiliate links. Instead of the store getting all the profit, they share about 2-4% with us, the few dollars helps. Our affiliates include BestBuy.com and Walmart.com, should you decide to shop there, and an online order can be "shipped to store" and picked up at the store (often same-day, if the item is stocked at that store).

The models available at the store is in a state of flux right now. I have three Walmarts in driving vicinity from me, and none of them seem to carry the same recorders. I can pick up the Philips 3505 and/or 3506 locally, but it's not sold at Walmart.com anymore -- meaning it's discontinued.

Finally...

For the best deal, I would strongly suggest you consider the Philips 3506 being sold on Amazon.com as a refurbished unit (follow the link). Note that most often "refurbished" means it was not allowed to be sold as "new" for any number of reasons -- many times these units were never returned or even purchased by customers. It was simply not up to the "new" standards set by the manufacturer, so the retailer was forced to return it, and such returned products are never allowed to be sold as "new" again. If I needed what you need, I would buy that without hesitation. It has a digital tuner, too. Three of my computers, several of my pro VCRs, and several of my best DVD recorders were purchased as refurbs -- and everything looked brand new to me!

This too, has negative Amazon reviews. Just remember that in many cases, an online review is simply where a person demonstrates their ignorance or lack of knowledge in writing. One person needs a stronger antenna, while the other is probably trying to record pay-per-view or on-demand channels -- neither of which are faults of the recorder itself.

If you have any other questions or thoughts, ask -- but the novel I just wrote you probably took care of most everything.

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  #5  
05-07-2009, 10:06 AM
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Some of the recorders I suggest may come with an ATSC tuner, so no need to avoid them -- this feature is not as important as the quality of the video recording, the Firewire intput, or the build quality of the unit.

Amen. This new (to me) box's job is to produce decently watchable video without aggravation. If it receives shortwave, makes omlettes and finds missing socks that's great but it needs be good for the job it was hired for.

The FAQ implies that the build quality was better on recorders from 06-07, is it worth seaching for one? OTOH, those are all used and in unkown condition.

What about this thing? - it seems like some sort of format converter (Pinnacle DVD Recorder without burner)
http://www.bestbuy.com/site/olspage....=1209166068373

Online stock of dvd-recorders in very small. Costo - none Target - Apple and TiVo JR - Sony RDR-GX355 DVD Recorder. BestBuy shows several Toshiba, Sony, Panasonic and one each of LG (RC897T) and Samsung DVD-VR375. The Toshiba D-R410 and one Panasonic are the only ones without a VCR, which makes units so equipped much bulkier.

Quick question: One internet rumor has it that new (16x) media does not play well with old (4x and below) record speeds, and supposedly DVD-recorders record at 1-4x. Real problem or myth? I will use T-Y, Verbatim or if need be Sony media (T-Y and V are unavailable at retail). Staples has HP blank DVDs, but I can't tell what that really is.

Last question ... The Amazon link in your post looks like the least headache, tied with this Sony available new at JR (I can get to their retail store) or open box for $80: Sony RDR-GX355 DVD Recorder
http://www.jr.com/sony-rdrgx355-dvd-.../SON_RDRGX355/ The Sony reads and writes DL, though DL seems to be fewer GB/$. It's also new so it would have a longer warranty, but then again it's Sony so it may have some proprietary quirks. OTOH, at JR I can pick-up in person. Any thoughts on one vs the other?
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  #6  
05-07-2009, 10:46 AM
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Sony DVD recorders are some of the worst machines made, with notoriously finicky DVD drives, and with historically subpar encoding quality. Your video will often look worse after the Sony gets hold of it. Sony can make excellent products, or total crap -- rarely anything of an in-between grade. The DVD recorder is not one of their better items.

You don't want to bother with DVD+R DL media on DVD recorders. The layer breaks are handled poorly. DL burning is best left to computers only, and even then using special software known for it's ability to author and/or burn layer breaks correctly.

The rumor of 16x media is a myth created mostly by the use of substandard quality discs. People leaving those reviews are probably using Maxell or Memorex branded discs from some local store -- or worse, the "house brand" discs. Verbatim media is rated to work well at "packet written" realtime DVD-VR/DVD+VR speeds (slower than "1x"), and it does. HP would be an example of what not to buy, likely being mediocre/poor quality CMC Magnetics media. The best price on Verbatim discs are going to be from Amazon.com or Newegg.com (see links on this page) or the uncommon sale at Office Max or Best Buy. For a DVD recorder, I usually suggest Verbatim over TY discs.

The combo DVD recorder + VHS units are notorious for poor build quality, and especially lousy VHS playback quality, so I would avoid those.

Given the information, I would say the Philips from Amazon would be the best machine, in terms of machine manufacture quality AND video/image quality. The runner-up would be the Toshiba DR410, but it's not a close 2nd place, the Philips is a good pace ahead.

True, the recorders from 2006-2007 were generally much better, with quality nosediving in 2008-2009, but the Philips was (to use an analogy) the one prime steak in a freezer full of hamburger. The Panasonic and Toshiba units were decent second choices, with the Philips often being hard to find. The recorders from 2004-2007 are best respected for their abilities to restore video from degraded VHS sources -- something not important for you needs. Your needs will be nicely met by that of the Philips, or the Toshiba or Panasonic as secondary choices.

Honestly, I would not worry about a warranty. DVD recorders either work right away -- and stay that way for a few years, until the lasers give out -- or they are broken the day you open the box (and you can return it for being DOA). There is rarely an in-between. Hard drive DVD recorders, especially ones using cheap junk Maxtor drives, would fail in time. As would early-generation DVD recorders with those infamous Chinese capacitors that would bulge and leak -- but you won't be dealing with either of those scenarios. Extended warranties are a scam, that's how companies like Best Buy pad the profit margin.

The only items I still insist on buying in a store are televisions and LCD computer monitors, because a box of broken glass from UPS/Fedex is a real hassle. Also clothes, shoes and groceries. I quit supporting the "shop local" philosophy about 2-3 years ago, when stores slowly quit carrying what I needed and wanted, and prices crept higher than I thought were reasonable.

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  #7  
05-26-2009, 03:14 PM
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Well, I got the Phillips item you mention. It arrived in one piece (though minimally packed) and with a printed original manual. It had been used little, if at all. It was looking good so far. Time to RTM.

The instructions to actually use it work via the "on-screen display" - even to record from a camcorder. No problem, everyone owns several televisions, right? Um, no... I don't own a TV and am not really in a hurry to get one.
.....
So without a TV, can I do dv tape camcorder ==> DVD with this thing? Physically that should work, since the process doesn't involve a TV. BUT, the menuing -- giving the box the right commands to do the job -- all runs via a TV screen, and there's nothing in the manual about bypassing that. It doesn't mention anything about a secondary display on the box itself.

--- temporarily at a roadblock
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  #8  
05-28-2009, 03:24 AM
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With an extremely cheap video-in card (even a $15 USB2 one), you can use the computer as a TV monitor. Those devices generally have awful recording quality, but they suffice as a simple viewing device.

One such device is the EasyCAP, which runs $13 on sale right now from Meritline. I have a similar cheapo USB2 device that I bought for $20 from the local Aldi grocery store.

That would be a good easy and cheap solution to the no-TV problem.

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06-21-2009, 12:28 PM
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Some expert help might be handy at this juncture.

How do I handle a return/replacement with this Amazon purchase? I have only the online acknowledgements, no invoice in the box. The shipper shows as "Cybershops", and there's a package insert from "DSL International" stating that warranty is done through them, and requiring a "Bill Of Sale"... which was not enclosed with the unit.
I'd rather not have a remanufactured product "repaired"... consumer electronics aren't really repairable. I'm sure you've been through this sort of thing yourself.

Physical details, if it matters:
After some RTM I got the 3506 set up. What I figured would be the most fragile part, the 1394 interface, worked fine, then when fed it's first Verbatim -R (16x) it coughed back some startling mechanical noises and refused the disk. Further disks appeared to record OK until the last step. After a few hours of aggravation there's a repeatable issue:

It destroys the disk at the "finalize" step - seems to be OK until then, but at finalize it emits some unusual noises and renders the disk unreadable by anything; itself, a dvd player or a pc. It also marked the top of at 1 DVD with a circular abrasion. Since it's already eaten over 3 hours I don't intend to troubleshoot it further.

I'm right about at 30 days which may affect what I can do. The "warranty" is for 90, but I'm quite skeptical of 3rd or 4th party warranty service... been there.
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06-21-2009, 12:43 PM
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Although the Verbatim media should have worked, did you try any other media?

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06-21-2009, 01:55 PM
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That's all I have handy, and after the weird mechanical sounds and I'm not keen on sinking more time into it. I can pick up some Sony media if I can find it without a excess shopping --- but IDK if the Sony discs at a BestBuy, CVS etc are the 'good' ones. I doubt I can find 8x locally.

It refused to accept the first Verbatim disk on insert (after much clattering). It threw a couple error codes at the finalize step on the other 2. One code was 5c040301, I didn't copy the second as it had failed 3 of 3 by then.

thanks for getting back to me so quick -- I'm trying to quickly burn dvds to keep up with music lessons and this thing is being an obstacle
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06-21-2009, 01:56 PM
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Is there some way I can check the Verbatim stuff for compatibility? Do you need a code from the label or the disks themselves?
But... if it won't use the best, most compatible media... something is wrong.
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06-21-2009, 05:48 PM
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The Philips machines also prefer DVD+R discs over DVD-R -- are those what you're using?

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06-21-2009, 11:34 PM
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I have DVD-R, VB 16x bought for data.

Does it matter if the media is rated 16x, or do I have to hunt for 8x? I could not find any decent +R this evening, it'll have to wait until I can get to a video/computer outlet.
Still, the mechanical graunching and clanking plus the abrasion on one DVD indicate that this thing should go back, but while slogging through the return process maybe I'll burn other media for research. I have no patience for stuff that doesn't work reliably. It eats time, disrupts trust, makes one look like a fool etc.

FWIW, Nero says this about the blank unformatted VB DVD:

Nero DiscSpeed: Disc Info
Basic Information
Disc type: : DVD-R
Book Type : DVD-R
Manufacturer: : Verbatim
MID : MCC 03RG20
Write speeds: : 1 X - 2 X - 4 X - 6 X - 8 X
Blank Capacity : 4.38 GB
: 4488 MB
: 4706076672 bytes
Extended Information
Layers : 1
Usage : General
Copyright protection : n/a
Recorder information
Disc Status : Empty
Raw Data
Pre-recorded Information in Lead-in (0Eh)
0000 - 01 40 C1 FD 9E D8 52 00 02 85 0D 0E 88 9A 80 00 - .@....R.........
0010 - 03 4D 43 43 20 30 33 00 04 52 47 32 30 20 20 00 - .MCC.03..RG20...
0020 - 05 88 80 00 00 00 02 00 00 00 00 00 01 00 00 00 - ................
0030 - 00 00 00 00 44 04 11 00 39 00 00 00 08 00 00 00 - ....D...9.......
0040 - FF FF FF FF 8A 02 4E 00 02 00 00 00 CC 01 11 00 - ......N.........
0050 - 00 00 01 00 6C 03 11 00 00 00 00 01 00 00 00 00 - ....l...........
0060 - 00 00 00 FF FF FF FF FF FF FF FF 00 02 00 00 00 - ................
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06-22-2009, 10:03 AM
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The 16x is fine -- it's the DVD-R vs DVD+R that might be more of an issue.

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06-25-2009, 09:30 AM
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Much to my surprise, it has recorded 2 Sony +R without incident. Not only were the disks written, by the clanking and grunching has ceased.

I'll hazard a guess that popping in media a drive doesn't understand can physically damage some drives. That seems pretty bizzare.. the disks have the right size, thickness, balance ect but judgeing by the results with the Verbatim disks (which work perfectly with my computer) I'll have to hunt down compatible blanks for this gadget.

fwiw, the media code for the Sony spindle from WorstBuy was SONY D21 000 (00h).
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06-25-2009, 09:35 AM
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What is sacrificed when using 2 hr mode? DVD is already compressed compared to the DV video standard, so I'm curious what to expect with a further 2:1 compression.
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06-25-2009, 05:06 PM
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The only time I've seen a disc damage a drive is when the drive itself was already in a poor state. For example, a disc that won't stop spinning, due to a weak or dead laser pickup. Or when a DVD-RAM is inserted into a non-RAM device. Or a DVD in a CD burner. Or a 4x DVD-R in a 1x-2x ONLY DVD burner (the earlier days of burning, circa 2002-2003).

Noise as you describe is often the drive retrying and retrying to read/write to media. For whatever reason, your drive doesn't like Verbatim media. It's great media, but this sort of thing can happen, albeit a tad rare. Changing to other good media is the simple solution. I have a couple of drives that react poorly to Taiyo Yuden DVD-R, for example.

Sony D21-coded DVD+R made in Taiwan (not Malaysia) should be reliable discs.

With a single-layer disc, your bitrate allocation on 2-hour (SP) mode is marginal. On non-studio sources (or lower-end/older studio sources), the 5000-5500k bitrate is simply a bit too low. What you end up with is a borderline quality disc with macroblocks and mosquito MPEG noises, to varying degrees, depending on content. It's better to use 1-hour (XP) or drop to 3-hour mode (name varies, often LP). The 3-hour mode on better equipment, including the Philips you have, drops to a Half D1 352x480 resolution.

If your source is VHS, then the 352x480 Half D1 res is still better than the tape was, at its approximate 220-250x480 digital equivalent. Even broadcasts from cable/satellite/antenna are comparable in size, so the 352 if quite adequate. Most people who whine about 352x480 being "soft" are actually seeing the flaws of their own encoder, not the resolution itself. A number of hardware and software encoding solutions out there are just pitiful at Half D1 size, for whatever reason (or engineering flaw).

Starting in 2005-2006, a number of DVD recorders played upon stupid people, advertising "better resolution at longer modes" and creating discs that looked pathetic, with a measly 3000-4000k bitrate on Full D1 720x480 or 704x480, which was far from adequate. Those discs are almost unwatchable quality, looking more like VCDs or old non-HD Youtube videos, and less like a DVD should.

DV is native to 720x480, so it's best left at that size. If this is "shot" footage from a DV camera, then you'd be wise to keep everything at 1-hour mode only. Discs are tiny, it's honestly not a big deal if quality is the bigger concern. Store on a spindle, in multi-disc cases or (if rarely accessed) a wallet.

Best Buy, Fry's, Microcenter and Staples are good local sources for Sony discs. B&H has them too, I'd bet, if that's close to you. And then look at the affiliates we have for Sony DVDs, such as meritline.com and supermediastore.com, for what they may currently have available and/or on sale for Sony.

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06-25-2009, 08:04 PM
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Well -- so if you mistakenly pop a DVD-R into a CD burner you can kill the drive? Will a DVD-RAM physically load on an self-destructing drive? Those would be easy mistakes to make with various iteration of different hardware around.

Everything in this project is DV footage created with the camera; so I'll use 1 hr mode from here on exc for classroom handouts.

Hm... can I get the Phillips box to do 2 hours at 352x480 for those cases where 2hrs needs to be squeezed onto 1 DVD (few occasions). That would be less compression than 3 hr mode but might avoid the cruddiness of macroblocks and mosquito MPEG noises -- those are deal breakers.

Something tells me they do not use standard, computer grade DVD drives but *maybe* the mechanical quality is better than its other specs. The part I was most concerned about, the 1394 input, worked fine straight off.
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06-25-2009, 11:32 PM
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To a CD drive, a DVD is no different than a piece of cardboard or a slice of bread. It may try to spin and spin and spin, and the incorrect thickness of the disc could cause damage, absolutely. DVD-RAM is the right thickness, but the inability to read would often cause a drive to go into a loop, eventually killing the laser pickup and the spin motor. Smart drives just kick out a bad one, but not all drives are smart!

DV at 1-hour (XP) is wise.

You can set the machine to any mode you want, and there is no requirement that you fill up the disc. I use 3-hour myself on some things, yet only record 2 hours, because the bitrate is better allocated.

DVD recorders are nothing more than dedicated motherboards, a CPU (video encoder chipset), a power supply, and a standard DVD burner. Some DVD burners have non-standard connectors to fit odd form-factor DVD recorder cases, but they're essentially the same drives. Many of them do use off-the-shelf computer DVD burners, while others are more stripped down, lacking the typical casing.

The 1394 input would not have been my biggest concern mechanically. But some of them do act crappy, stopping or refusing to record for whatever silly reason. It's good that your experience has been flawless in this regard. I would have expected nothing less from the Philips.

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