I'm new to the site and I'm hoping you guys are the charm. I have had my Panasonic DVD recorder, the DMR-EH55 since 2006 and it has for the most part been fantastic. Every now and then a burn would go wrong, but otherwise, no problems.
But yesterday an error popped up on a disc I was burning (a blank TDK DVD-R). I had just recorded 2 discs with no problem and checked them to see if they were fine which they were. And I always record in SP. I had to power down to finish the bad disc, but when it came back up the same message was on there about a disc that was not recordable. I tried another (all I did was put it in) and the same message popped up. After taking out the new disc, I noticed that the icon indicating a DVD was in the player was still on, even though there was no DVD in there. Also, when I open or close the tray there are 4 shifting noises as though it's loading something.
Then, it stops and the icon showing a DVD pops up again.
No DVDs will play including store bought DVDs. The hard drive is fine-I can still watch what's on there and record from TV onto it, but obviously right now I can't burn anything. I already unplugged it overnight and today it was the same.
Panasonic told me to buy a lens cleaner which of course did nothing. I called back and they say it's a mechanical issue. Should I really send it to them? Has anyone heard of this issue? This machine has been so good to me, and I have treated it very well-it's not on top of anything hot, I always power down when not using it, etc.
A friend is going to look at it-I hope I don't lose what's on my hard drive. Everything is working fine except the ability to play and burn DVDs.
Any help would be greatly appreciated.
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Aging Panasonics are prone to three types of problem: dust and dirt accumulating on the disc spindle and clamp, laser failure, and/or failure of the main power supply. The first you can repair yourself, using cleaning instructions available online (not a cleaning disc, as the idiot phone operator at Panasonic wrongly suggested). The second problem requires Panasonic service, as does the third (although some ambitious do-it-yourselfers have managed home repairs).
The symptoms you describe, including the four clunk noises even with no disc loaded, indicate laser failure as the probable issue. However, before doing anything else you should try the spindle cleaning procedure as described here, it can't hurt and may actually solve your problem. Its unusual for the EH55 to have laser failure, and the symptoms of simple dirt accumulation and laser failure are hard to tell apart unless you try a cleaning first: if the cleaning succeeds, your laser is still good.
If cleaning does not restore normal operation, your EH55 will need Panasonic factory service. You should send it to the special dedicated Panasonic EH-series repair center in Elgin, Illinois which will repair any problem for a flat fee of $140 including parts and return shipping (an excellent deal). For complete information, look here.
BTW, current TDK blank media is absolute garbage which causes premature wear to the lasers in older DVD/HDD recorders. For better burn quality and less wear and tear on your recorder, buy 8x premium media made by TY/JVC or 8x Datalife Plus media made by Verbatim. Both are only available from online specialty media dealers like supermediastore.com, rima.com and newegg.com. Price including delivery is roughly $25-35 for 100, depending on weekly sales promotions and stock availability.
Last edited by orsetto; 11th Aug 2010 at 01:00.
I have an ES40V, from about the same era and it's had some hiccups. It had a mechanical issue about one year in and they fixed it as it was under warranty. Since you indicate that your model it over 4 years old it'd probably better to replace it.
The Panasonic EH-55 is a DVD recorder with HDD, far more advanced than a ES-40V VHS/DVD combo model. It is irreplaceable as Panasonic no longer sells DVD/HDD recorders in North America. Since they do offer the affordable $140 flat rate service program, its much more cost effective to have them repair it. The EH-55 is also one of the few "cult model" recorders with a fanatically devoted following, mostly because of certain features which are no longer available in any other model.
Ordinarily I would agree it makes more sense to replace a four year old recorder instead of repairing it, because most mfrs charge ludicrous fees to repair out-of-warranty recorders (or worse, refuse to fix them at all). But since Panasonic is the only brand with the flat-fee, soup-to-nuts overhaul option, it makes sense to take advantage of it. The only North American replacement options are the Magnavox MDR513H and the grey-market import Panasonic EH-69. The Magnavox is a great recorder and a steal at $229, but its operation is crude (to put it mildly) for anyone used to an EH-55. The grey market Panasonic EH-69 is similar to the EH-55, but costs a staggering $499, has no warranty, and lacks the NTSC tuner, IR controller for cable/satellite boxes, and TVGOS timer system of the EH-55. Of the possible options, Panasonic factory repair of the EH-55 for $140 is the most reasonable.
Good write up Orsetto I couldn't agree more. And while cleaning the spindle couldn't hurt(unless you can't get it back together) with the OPs description it really sounds like the laser has failed. As you said this is not very common, but it does happen.
Note the ES-40v is a similar vintage(1 year older) but is of a more buggy nature, with many design flaws still present in the current Panasonic EZ line of DVDRs.
BTW I recently bought a floor model EH-59 from B&H Photo for $249 and it's like new, so there are still a few options available if you don't care about a NTSC tuner, IR blaster or the only 30 day warranty that most grey market products carry.
So, should I call the center in Illinois and will they be honest with me? The boobs I talked to in Texas yesterday never mentioned that option of course. If I could send it to Illinois, I'd do that. I don't think any local guys will be of any use to me for this model.
I totally agree this seems to be a laser issue.
I guess my questions are-will these Panasonic people in IL give me the runaround or will they actually let me know about the $140 flat offer?
Also, where exactly is the spindle and do I have to take anything apart? If so, I'll pass on that part because I'm as mechanically inclined as a blind hippo.
Are the TDK blanks that bad? And is Verbatim the standard for safest blanks?
And, will I lose what is on the hard drive as there's stuff I didn't get to burn yet? The Panasonic guy I spoke to yesterday told me if I include a note telling them not to mess with that they won't. Is that for real?
Also, will they know I spoke to Texas yesterday since they gave me a case number and does that even matter?
One other thing-I don't use the stupid TV Guide option but when I reset things at the moron's request yesterday I had to go through that process and it's still searching. It usually takes 3 days-I have found no way to make it stop even with the manual!
OK-sorry for all the questions, I just want to do the right thing. Thanks again so much!
The Panasonic DVD/HDD flat-rate repair center in Elgin is a guerilla operation that Panasonic corporate seems completely oblivious to, thats why when you called they did not refer you. And the drones they hire to man the phones get no training and have no awareness of any product more than a year old. Since Panasonic stopped selling DVD recorders with HDD in the US four years ago, nobody in their US customer service network has ever seen or heard of one and are dumbfounded or utterly obtuse when you call in. To sum up, if you own a Panasonic DVD/HDD recorder (any model) and you live in USA/Canada, the LAST thing you should do is call Panasonic's primary customer service or warranty repair numbers. They are clueless at best and provide dangerous misinformation at worst.
I know it is hard to accept or understand this, but the dedicated Panasonic DVD/HDD repair center in Elgin is a virtually unknown yet completely legit and reliable option, in fact its the only option worth exploring if you have a broken Panasonic. It is not necessary to call them, you simply write a detailed note explaining what the problems are and your contact info, pack your recorder up carefully, and ship it to them with a check for $140. You'll get your machine back in a couple weeks good as new. Thats pretty much all there is to it. Only problem is they may not be able to preserve your HDD contents: you can ask them to try, but some titles may get lost during repair if there isn't enough room on the HDD to install diagnostic or upgrade software. Before shipping your EH-55, try to delete as many non-crucial recordings as you can off the HDD to create a workspace for the technicians. And if you have not already done so, check this link for complete history and procedures of the Elgin facility. Forget Texas completely: pretend you never spoke to them, if you send your EH-55 there they will keep it, destroy it, and send you a discounted bill for a lousy new EZ-48V vhs/dvd combo. The Texas facility has no connection to or awareness of the Elgin center, so don't worry about them exchanging information or case numbers.
jjeff (who is quite the expert on Panasonic matters) seems to agree with me that you most likely have a laser problem, so you can skip the cleaning attempt if you are skittish about opening the unit yourself. Just get the Elgin address from the link above and ship your EH-55 off for an overhaul. And yes, the TDK blank discs really are "that bad": they're atrocious. Retail DVD media is now all made by one or two sleazy conglomerates who just slap different brand labels on the same crappy blanks. TDK, Maxell and so on no longer exist as actual companies, just brand names. Media sold in stores is optimized for computer drives which can burn at much higher speeds and adapt to dye changes much better than standalone DVD recorders. When you put todays store-bought 16x media into a four year old recorder, the laser struggles to make sense of the cheap, high-speed-only dye specs and has a hard time burning it. You don't see this until the laser just gives up and dies, like yours just did. Standalone recorders are all designed and built around the slower blank media specs of the Japanese TY company, which sells 8x DVD-R under its own name as well as the JVC brand. Using this media is much less stressful to the recorder. An equally good alternative is the Verbatim Datalife Plus 8x media, but it is harder to get and Verbatim seems to be handing over all its production to the same crummy supply line that makes the TDK discs. Shop carefully, make sure the media is rated 8x, not 16x, and you'll go a long way toward extending the life of your recorder.
Last edited by orsetto; 11th Aug 2010 at 13:13.
As far as Elgin goes, I just send it off with a check? I'll read about the facility and if it all sounds good, I'll go for it. I'm so glad I came here and found out about Texas. The 2 guys I talked to down there were fools.
My DVD recorder gave me an error when I tried to burn something. What do I do?
And they would honestly expect us to completely solve their problem from that. Remember, the more info you give, the more help you get. Nobody cares that you ask questions because you provide enough information to get help. Keep doing what you're doing.
Along those lines, I'm definitely going to send it to Illinois. I just feel a tad uncomfortable sending it there with a check not having talked with anyone. It seems from the link I clicked on that it is still happening, so that sounds like my best, cheapest and safest option.
But before I send it out-how the hell do I stop the TV Guide search? It takes a full 3 days each time and I can't program things on my own because of it.
And, I assume I can't record High Def with my setup? I have Comcast but I can only record audio in High Def-not video. Would I have to go through them (which I won't-they're not getting another dime) or would I have to set it up a certain way?
Of course, this is all assuming my player comes back good. I cleared off about 6 hours of stuff so I only have about 15 hours in SP on my hard drive. I hope they can fix my machine and save the stuff on there.
Again Orsetto has given you some good advice, I'll Just follow up on a few questions.
Unfortunately you cannot stop the TVGOS searching after a reset(unless if finds a TVGOS signal). It will do as you said, search for 3 days after which you will be given the option to either Quit the searching or select keep searching. If in another 2 days it doesn't find a TVGOS signal it will automatically stop searching.
In the mean time you should be able to do program manual events. Go into TVGOS, push the S (sub menu) button and select program a manual event. I really dislike resetting my TVGOS Pannys because of this exact problem, unfortunately it's one of the first things tech support has you try(holding both CH up and CH down buttons for at least 5 seconds).
The EH-55 like all DVDRs only records 480i SD not HD. 480i can look pretty good(like a commercial dvd) if you supply your EH-55 a wide screen S-video source. If your STB only outputs letter box wide screen from it's SD outputs(S-video or composite) you won't get that great of a looking picture. Motorola STBs(including DVRs) are notorious for this and only output WS over HD(component/HDMI/DVI) outputs.
It is possible to purchase a converter that converts the WS component to WS S-video but they are $100 and up. If your STB can output 480i over component then you just need a format converter, if it only outputs 480p and above from component then you'll need one that can downconvert as well as change to S-video.
I archive off my Tivo HD all the time and since it outputs WS over S-video I get quite good looking DVDs. Not as good as the HD original but pretty good. Try and stick with SP or no more than 2hrs40min-3hrs/SL DVD for the least macroblocking. Our Panasonics record full resolution all the way through LP but again macroblocking becomes a issue for those longer speeds.
Lastly AZO Verbitium 16x media seems to work quite well in our Panasonics but the new Life series is supposed to be more of the same crap from CMC that Orsetto spoke of. Oh and if not mechanically inclined then you probably don't want to take the cover off your DVD drive. It's a little tricky getting it back on and yes you have not only take the cover off your unit but the DVD drive as well.
Oh and one final tip, I always use SILENT burning(you get this option when selecting HS copy and also in the setup). It only takes a few minutes longer and I believe it's easier on the drive and related parts.
Thanks for the help jjeff. I will not mess with this on my own. One last query-is it really OK to just send my machine to them blindly without calling in advance? I trust everyone here who tried to help, I just feel uneasy about that part.
I think if you check Orsetto's link you'll find a recent post where a member was finally able to contact a live person at Elgin Il, and they were basically told to box up their DMR with a enclosed check for $130 and a brief explanation of what was wrong and a note to save HDD contents if at all concerned.
I've read of many satisfied customers most ecstatic they got their prized machines back in working order and not really anyone dissatisfied. While I personally would like to talk to someone before turning over my prized machine this place sounds more than legitimate.
Luckily I've never had a failure with any of my Panasonics but if I did I wouldn't hesitate in the least. It seems to be one of the last good deals going.
If you want you can use the Panasonic tech topic at this site, I use it. It's for all sorts of things, if anyone knows what it is, it would be guys reading this one: http://forums.afterdawn.com/thread_view.cfm/143317
One other thing-I assume when I send it using delivery confirmation would be smart right? I'll post what happens after I get it back (I hope).
What number did you call at Panasonic?
having the same issue as chudbeagle69
Panasonic hard drive recorder HDD and DVD DMR-EH55 is having same issues but I am in Canada and not sure if can sent to the US to fix it. Anyone know where I can fix it in Canada.