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  1. Member
    Join Date: Sep 2005
    Location: asian
    Search Comp PM
    hi all,
    can you help me How to replace new DVD burner and HDD for pioneer DVR-550H?? can I also upgrade my HDD from 160GB to 1000GB? looking for your help, thanks
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  2. Member orsetto's Avatar
    Join Date: Oct 2007
    Location: NYC
    Search Comp PM
    Most 550 burner issues are caused by using inappropriate blank discs. The Pioneer dvd recorders get worn out very quickly using typical "16x" discs sold in stores. Most 16x media needs to be burned at or close to 16x, which the slow burner in the 550 cannot do correctly. The 550 will burn 16x media, but after several hundred discs the laser will lose the ability to finish the burn. In most cases, if you switch to using 8x media made by JVC/TY or Verbatim, the 550 will again work normally because the 8x media is much easier for the burner to handle. Try buying some 8x media from an online vendor like supermediastore: you might discover this solves your burning dilemma. If not, you have a difficult problem.

    The DVR-550 burner cannot be replaced by users. It is a custom-designed Sony burner welded into the 550 chassis, with the recorder logic board sandwiched inside it. Since Pioneer is long out of business and Sony never sold their similar RDR-HX780 recorder in USA, the part is not available here. Even if you could buy the burner, it would be extremely risky to install without complete disassembly diagrams (the later Pioneers with Sony burners were very different from previous Pioneer models, which had Pioneer-made burners that were easily removed).

    The 550 (and Sony 780) were officially only sold in Canada, so USA service centers will not have parts. You could contact Canadian Pioneer or Sony service centers, and ask if they would let you ship your recorder to them for burner replacement. Or, you could contact the USA Pioneer repair center nearest your city and ask if they still have spare burners for the DVR-640, which was the last model sold in USA. The 640 used a Sony burner similar to the one in your 550. Note, however, an out-of-warranty burner replacement costs $250 for the burner and probably an additional $100 for installation labor: it really isn't practical to repair these recorders. Consider buying a Magnavox MDR513 or MDR515 instead, these run $169- $250 brand new from WalMart or J&R but are on the verge of being discontinued forever, like the Pioneers. If you think you might need a Magnavox, buy one now while supplies last.

    The 550 hard drive (HDD) is a different story. You can replace it yourself, but not without some difficult-to-get tools. You need the GGV-1321 Type 2 service/I.D. Data dvd, and either a Pioneer or Sony "service remote control". For details on how to obtain these, see this post. Note the 550 is hard-wired in firmware to not recognize HDD capacities larger than the 250GB drive it came with: you can install a 500GB or 1TB HDD, but the 550 will format it as 250GB. A few (very few) adventurous owners with much technical skill have "tricked" their 550 into recognizing a full 1TB HDD, but it is very complicated and most people would not be able to make it work.
    Last edited by orsetto; 19th Mar 2012 at 21:03.
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  3. Member
    Join Date: Sep 2005
    Location: asian
    Search Comp PM
    hi orsetto,
    thanks you and so sad to hear that
    can you adv "service remote control" is the remote came with 550H when purchased?
    can you adv what is the best pioneer model for DIY purpose (i need record with pal chanel)?
    do you know any better brand that still let user replace DVD and HDD up to now (JVC,toshiba,etc..)?
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  4. Member orsetto's Avatar
    Join Date: Oct 2007
    Location: NYC
    Search Comp PM
    No, the service remote is a special remote that sends secret signals to the 550 which switch it into "service mode," allowing drives to be removed and replaced. When you replace a Pioneer HDD or burner, the recorder computer resets its identification, and you need to use the service remote and service DVD disc to re-enter a code number printed on the rear panel of the recorder (white label near the power cord). See a picture of the Sony/Pioneer service remote at this link.

    It isn't clear to me where you live: your VideoHelp ID says "america" but you say you need a PAL recorder? Please advise what country you are in: availability of recorders is different in each region. Pioneer DVR-550 was not sold in USA at all but was sold around the world in different versions: in Canada the 550 was NTSC-only, in Europe and South America it was dual-format NTSC+PAL. In USA, repair parts and service for Pioneer is impossible. But in other countries, service and parts are easier to get- if no Pioneer center, you can go to Sony instead, because Pioneer 550 and many Sonys from 2006-2009 were nearly the same machine. Repair might be much less expensive in other countries than it was in USA. My advice in previous post was based on your living in USA, if you live elsewhere I would need to make other advice.

    Sadly there are no recorders made anymore with "DIY" capability to replace burner and HDD. Most recorders will let you change the HDD but very few allow burner replacement except by authorized factory repair center. The only exceptions were the Toshiba DVD/HDD/VHS, Philips 3575 or 3576, and similar Magnavox H2160, MDR513 and MDR515. Their mfr Funai sells inexpensive replacement burners and the machines can use most any SATA HDD you would buy for a PC.

    If you need a new recorder for PAL/NTSC, I would suggest you look at various Panasonics. Around the world, sales of DVD/HDD recorders are falling rapidly and most brands have now been discontinued. Only Panasonic continues to offer them in models customized for each specific country. Panasonics have VERY durable burners: if you clean them once a year (partial disassembly required), the burners will easily last for several thousand discs: 8000 burns have been documented for some models. Like the Pioneer 550, the Panasonics format large HDDs to whatever capacity is programmed in firmware (you can't use the full capacity of a 1TB replacement HDD). The least expensive Panasonic is DMR-EH59 or similar DMR-EH69: these have only a simple PAL analog broadcast tuner (they cannot tune DVB-T or "FreeView"). However, you can use the line inputs to record from any external tuner or a VCR. The EH59 and EH69 can record and play both PAL and NTSC. The price is approx $360 US, and this model is sold all over the world. If you do need direct internal tuning of DVB-T digital broadcasts, you will need a more expensive Panasonic made for your particular country or region. Panasonic currently sells several PAL-format DVD/HDD and BluRay/HDD models with DVB-T tuners. Check Panasonic website in your country, or Amazon (if Amazon sells in your country).

    Other than Panasonic, no other brands are still selling new DVD/HDD recorders. Consumers have moved on to using their PCs or special subscription recorders that do not burn discs (only HDD recording). Burning discs is just not popular anymore. Depending on your country, there may still be one or two Sony or LG DVD/HDD recorders in stores, but these should be avoided. The LGs have reliability problems and the current Sonys are terrible units made for Sony by Samsung.

    Pay to have your Pioneer 550 repaired, or buy a new Panasonic. I'm sorry to say, there are no other options unless you are prepared to use your PC for video recording.
    Last edited by orsetto; 19th Mar 2012 at 23:17.
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  5. Member
    Join Date: Sep 2005
    Location: asian
    Search Comp PM
    hi orsetto,
    thanks for your long reply,highly appriciate it.
    I moved to asia already and they use pal for cable TV
    my purpose is recording tv programs ,and i prefer to buy a recorder that i can replace HDD if corrupted
    so,currently, if not have DVD-HDD recorder anymore,how can we record TV program? I don't trust some TV PCI card capture for PC since it's quality is bad
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  6. Member orsetto's Avatar
    Join Date: Oct 2007
    Location: NYC
    Search Comp PM
    Asia still does have more DVD/HDD recorders available than any other region, esp Hong Kong vicinity and Japan. If you are anywhere near Hong Kong, try looking at websites of dealers there. When the Pioneer 550 was still being made, many HK dealers removed the 250GB HDD and installed a larger 1TB HDD instead (the HK dealers somehow know secret to forcing the 550 to "see" full capacity of 1TB HDD). HK remains the best source for leftover "new" Pioneers, you might still be able to buy a new one thru a dealer there. Many Sony recorder were re-labeled Pioneer 550 and look very much the same: you could also search for leftover PAL Sony RDR-HX780, 790, 980, 990, 1080, 1090, etc.

    The problem with Sony/Pioneer is replacing the HDD requires the Sony/Pioneer service remote and service DVD. These items can be harder to find in Asia or Europe but are easier/much less expensive in North America. As I said, Pioneer was very very popular in Hong Kong and many deakers customized them with larger HDDs. You might be able to buy the service remote and service dvd from an Asian parts supplier or service center. The remote is Sony part #J-6090-203-A, the dvd is Pioneer part #GGV-1321 Type 2. Total cost is maybe $50 US for both tools.

    No other recorder brands need such special tools. You can easily replace the HDD in a Panasonic or Philips or LG, and the recorder will simply format the new HDD. You might need to use front panel button combinations to put the machine in "service mode" to format the HDD, but most recorders don't even need that much trouble: just put in the new HDD and the recorder will format when you power on. The burner in most recent recorders is not replaceable by the user, because the part is too expensive (usually $250 US). As I mentioned previous, recorders made by Funai since 2006 use a very good durable burner which Funai does sell directly to "DIY" owners for approx $60 US, very reasonable. Most popular Funai in Europe was Philips DVR-3575 and DVR-3576, in Asia there was a Funai-Toshiba "triple" recorder DVD/HDD/VHS that used the same burner. Unfortunately Funai discontinued most of their recorders in 2010-2011: you might find some leftover at dealers.

    If you do not really need to burn many discs, consider one of the new HDD-based recorders from Hong Kong. These are very reasonably priced and can record in full HDTV quality from cable boxes via HDMI input. The HDDs can be easily replaced and swapped. See this link to mfr web page, and this link for youTube demonstrations of the unit. Note these recorders are designed for Asian market only: tuners are for Asian broadcast frequencies and HDMI input only works with Asian decoder boxes.
    Last edited by orsetto; 20th Mar 2012 at 09:44.
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