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  1. Member
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    I did lots of research on the internet, reading reviews of DVD recorders but I cant find a single one that wouldn't have a large number of negative reviews.

    I went to Costco last Sunday, and picked up a Panasonic DMR-EZ485V. I couldn't resist, since it was well below $300.
    When I got home I discovered many problems with this unit which made me decide to return it. You can read my "review" here https://www.videohelp.com/dvdrecorders?DVDname=DMR-EZ48&Submit=Search&hdsize=Any&dvdpor...&Search=Search.

    What I need in a DVD writer:

    1)Relatively easy setup.
    2)USB/SD card input (strongly preferred, but not required)
    3)Region free, must play DiVx.
    4)Can record and play most DVD formats.
    5)Copies VHS to DVD and records TV programming to DVD.
    6)Must not display "HDMI output is blocked" message when using HDMI.

    I don't need a tuner, and I don't want a hard drive. Unit must cost $300 or less.


    Anything you can recommend? Thank you.


    Maybe a DVD recorder is not the best nor the easiest way to backup my homemade VHS collection to DVD? If so let me know, and I'll be happy to try alternatives.
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    Originally Posted by ibex333
    Anything you can recommend? Thank you.
    I hesitate to suggest something you said you didn't want, but WTF!

    At least check out the 1st subject in this link for how a HDD will make your life so much easier.
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  3. Not with the exact list of features you want, and any thing that comes close will be an unreliable flaky mess like the Panasonic you just returned. For one thing, few to no recorders available at retail in the USA are region free, and hacking a recorder to be region free is a much dicier trick than making a player region free. Note also that unlike many region-free players, most region-free recorders do NOT convert PAL to NTSC on the fly during playback- you will instead see a scrambled mess on screen unless you have a multisystem TV. (The only DVD/VHS combo recorder I've seen that will automatically play PAL as NTSC was the older JVC DRM-V5, great unit availabe for peanuts second hand). The few reliable recorders still available new-in-box that are intentionally region free would be certain older-model Pioneer and Panasonic worldwide units that are only sold thru "grey market" online or mail order dealers at a cost of $400 and up. Of course these do usually come with an HDD recorder included in the price.

    Anything with a memory card reader will be way over your budget, include a HDD, be imported from Canada or again be a flaky new Panasonic or other overpriced brand name. DiVX playback compatibility is all over the map with these recorders- none of them is 100%. Ditto the HDMI which for some strange reason works much better on players than recorders: it is being included on recorders now as a marketing feature but often just doesn't work that well. In any case if you read the threads here mosts folks advise against using a recorder as your primary playback deck: it avoids wear on the burner, and a dedicated player will work much better for playback, esp with HDMI and DiVX and region-free. If you want a combo recorder with built in VHS it will make some features more available and others less so. Finally, the tunerless option may not last much longer: the mfrs need to start selling units with ATSC tuners to make up for the huge investment they put into them to satisfy US import laws.

    Good luck, your list will be difficult to get in one machine. Nearly all your desired features can be had by adding a good mid-range supplementary player to whatever recorder you do buy. The most reliable and usable DVD recorder still available new in US stores is the Phillips 3575 aka 3576. Its runs about $300, includes HDD and excellent ATSC tuner, there are threads galore here concerning it. And as waxjbo said, everyone who thinks they "don't need an HDD" needs to rethink: yes, you do: its the most important feature you can have overall and makes optical disc recording 10 times easier.
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  4. You don't necessarily need a HDD recorder. I've been using DVD recorders without a HDD since 2001. Even though I have a HDD recorder, I use a recorder that doesn't have one and only use the HDD recorder once in a great while.
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  5. Originally Posted by samijubal
    You don't necessarily need a HDD recorder. I've been using DVD recorders without a HDD since 2001. Even though I have a HDD recorder, I use a recorder that doesn't have one and only use the HDD recorder once in a great while.
    Always the contrarian.

    Resistance to an HDD recorder was understandable in the beginning when they were double or triple the price of a non-HDD recorder. But in today's constipated USA market, when your choices at the $300 price point are essentially between the outrageously flakey Panasonic combo units or the rather amazingly competent (for Phillips) 3575/3576 with HDD, there is no way I would not buy the Phillips HDD unit and just add a cheap external VCR to the setup (assuming you don't already have one, a great-quality second-hand Panasonic or Sharp VCR can be had almost for free these days and would certain equal if not better the built-in VCR of the Panny combo).

    Yes, if you have extremely limited interest in DVD recording, don't mind copying the same tapes over and over again in realtime when mishaps occur, are not interested in setting your own chapter marks or thumbnails or editing and especially if you plan to never EVER record cable or broadcast, fine, perhaps you can make do without an HDD. If you're glued to your PC 24/7 and want to re-author all your DVDs there, perhaps you can live without an HDD. I did for my first year, I had both a JVC and a Pioneer with no HDD because I was a cheapskate and "didn't see the need to spend double for an HDD". One day a Pioneer 531 with HDD became available to me for under $200, about what I'd paid for my older units, so I thought I'd try an HDD unit for the hell of it. Well.

    It was a revelation of sorts: all the things I *hated* about DVD recording were solved completely by the HDD. It allowed me to quickly prepare a DVD exactly as I wished *without* using my PC, editing out bits I didn't want or to reconstruct a complete program from several source tapes. It allows me to record hours and hours unattended when travelling. And it allows me to extend burner life by an order of magnitude, because each two hour DVD takes ten minutes to burn from the HDD file as opposed to burning two hours in real time. And I never have to worry about occasional media failure, if a disc fails to record I toss it and reburn from the always-there HDD.

    Most of these activities are possible without an HDD if you are willing to use non-standard formats and re-writable media like DVD-RAM or DVD+RW. Problem there is long-term viability of those formats for archiving and compatibility with other people's players. If your primary interest is "here today, to hell with tomorrow" rough throwaway recordings, you might not need an HDD. But honestly, very VERY few people who try an HDD would consider going back to a unit without it (except samijubal). The reason HDD recorders have disappeared from the US market has nothing to do with their usefulness or desirability: they are gone because *DVD recorders*, period, are a dead issue in the States. We are the only country in the world whose population has access to recording cable box rentals at under $10 a month: this has destroyed sales of advanced DVD recorders here. Panasonic et al still sell their $300 VHS/DVD combo recorders because there is a small market for those, but thats it. And of course there'll always be a market for cheap $50 chinese DVD recorders at Wal*Mart for promotional novelty value.

    For most recordists, unless you have an absolute budget under $100, you will be happier with an HDD equipped machine. Especially with todays limited USA model spread and at comparable price points, the HDD unit wins hands down in utility over a comparably-priced VCR/DVD combo unit..
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  6. Just because you want a HDD recorder doesn't mean everyone needs one. Like I said, I have a HDD recorder and use one without.

    To the original poster, if you don't need a HDD recorder then you don't need one. I've been using DVD recorders probably longer than anyone here, I still prefer a non HDD recorder.
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    Wow... Thank you guys. Very thorough answers....

    The only reason I said I didn't want an HDD is because I thought it would always bring the price above $300. I'm glad I was wrong.

    The two most important features for me really are :

    1)Ability to record from TV to DVD - same way I did with my VCR.
    2)Backup my old VHS tapes to DVD.

    I guess I should have mentioned that right from the start, but I didn't know that the features I listed are hard to get in one unit. I suspected it, yes, but I wasn't sure.

    I can get a separate DVD player with a USB port - they are not too expencive these days.


    Is this the one you were talking about? http://www.circuitcity.com/ssm/Philips-DVDR3576-DVD-Recorder-with-160GB-Hard-Disk-DVDR...oductDetail.do


    I'm ready to go out and get it, but the specifications don't say anything about the S-Video input/output. Can anyone confirm that I'll be able to hook up a VCR to this, and back up my tapes?
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  8. Wheather recording to a HDD or DVD all recording has to be done in real time. For me, all the HDD recording does is add extra steps and time I don't need. If you've got stuff you need to edit and don't want to use a PC, I prefer to use a PC, 7 years of DVD recorders have taught me PC equipment is far cheaper and far more reliable than standalone recorders, then get a HDD recorder. What I record needs no editing and it's easier and faster just to record straight to DVD.
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    Originally Posted by ibex333
    Wow... Thank you guys. Very thorough answers....

    The only reason I said I didn't want an HDD is because I thought it would always bring the price above $300. I'm glad I was wrong.

    The two most important features for me really are :

    1)Ability to record from TV to DVD - same way I did with my VCR.
    2)Backup my old VHS tapes to DVD.

    I guess I should have mentioned that right from the start, but I didn't know that the features I listed are hard to get in one unit. I suspected it, yes, but I wasn't sure.

    I can get a separate DVD player with a USB port - they are not too expencive these days.


    Is this the one you were talking about? http://www.circuitcity.com/ssm/Philips-DVDR3576-DVD-Recorder-with-160GB-Hard-Disk-DVDR...oductDetail.do


    I'm ready to go out and get it, but the specifications don't say anything about the S-Video input/output. Can anyone confirm that I'll be able to hook up a VCR to this, and back up my tapes?
    The one you linked to at CC is the 3576, the 2nd gen of the 3575... no one knows what internal changes have been made, if any, cuz it's not released for sale yet. You could pre-order with the link, but not sure when they'll be available. The 3575 became available around this time last year (maybe May) cuz the earliest units had an April 2007 "Pack Date."

    The 3575 has S-Video in/out, as shown in the sketches in this post.

    If you want to order the 3575 directly from Philips now, there's a link on this page to their site... $299 New w/free shipping.

    You can also order the 3575 as a "Partner" if you register here, then search for the 3575... $269 New w/free shipping.
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  10. Member KeepItSimple's Avatar
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    I used DVD Recorders (no HDD) for years (perhaps longer than anyone here ) and was up to my arse in discs but happy. Then I bought a Philips 3575 with HDD for general use and a Toshiba RD-XS35 with HDD for VHS transfer/editing and I'm never going back to a non HDD recorder. I don't have to involve the computer anymore with Toshiba's Title/Chapter dividing/combining mix 'n match and other editing capabilities. Ok no fancy dissolves or titling but that's ok -- it takes so long for all that stuff to encode it's not worth it.
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  11. Originally Posted by KeepItSimple
    I used DVD Recorders (no HDD) for years (perhaps longer than anyone here )
    Not unless you've got the first recorder released in the U.S., which cost me $1000 back then. I've been through too many recorders since then, that one still works fine.
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  12. Member KeepItSimple's Avatar
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    Yeah I do have that model.
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  13. The Panasonic E10 that only records RAM discs? If you've got it, you're the only other person I've seen on here that has it.
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  14. Member KeepItSimple's Avatar
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    Yep that's the one!
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  15. Built like a tank. The thing may outlive me. I don't use it much anymore. It plays RAM discs better than any other recorder I've used.
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    It seems the first generation of products are often better than anything that comes along after.
    Most people wait for later generations so the price comes way down, they do but they have to cut costs somehow. More often than not it's on build quality. The original products will have cast aluminum chassis and metal parts. The later generation will be stamped steel and plastic.
    Sure you save money but the originals will many times outlive the later cheaper models. They add more glitz and glam to the latest models, but for outright recording sometimes the originals can't be beat.

    My original 1982 RCA(Panasonic) VCR weighed probably 40#+ and was probably rather clunky by latter standards, but it outlasted many of the 90's junk that was produced. At $1199 back in '82 I suppose you could say it better when newer ones were selling sub $100 but IMO they were mostly crap. You could lift them up with one finger and would often start damaging tapes 6 months after new. My tank served me well into the early 00's until switching to DVDR's.
    IMO they don't even make a DVDR that approaches the build quality of the originals, but I suppose at $100-$300 that most of them sell for now it's no wonder. I guess we got what we(most of us) wanted. Cheap throwaway products that last the average attention span of a teenager.

    Hold on to your tanks(I've still got mine). Maybe someday you could show your grand kids how things used to be made. :wink:
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    The ONLY thing that bugs me about HDD recorders is that they (at least Pioneer or Panasonic) won't insert the 5 or 10 minute chapter breaks when high speed dubbing from HDD to DVD. I like to be able to step forward intervals if I'm just checking a disc to see how it turned out.
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  18. Originally Posted by jamiemark
    The ONLY thing that bugs me about HDD recorders is that they (at least Pioneer or Panasonic) won't insert the 5 or 10 minute chapter breaks when high speed dubbing from HDD to DVD. I like to be able to step forward intervals if I'm just checking a disc to see how it turned out.
    Until recently just about all HDD recorders functioned this way, I burned a dozen discs before I realized they had no chapter marks. But as Microsoft is alleged to say, "It's not a bug, it's a feature.". The reasoning is that if the recorder did automatically put in index marks they might be in the wrong place or be "off DVD spec" if it inserted them after you did some editing (this is what jams up the Phillips 3575 sometimes, because it does have the auto-insert chapter marks on the HDD). When you insert the chapter marks manually on the HDD recording wherever you want them, they do copy over to the DVD. And its pretty quick/easy to add 10 minute breaks on the HDD by using multiple presses of the "commercial skip" button on most recorder remotes.

    The newest Pioneers (450-550-650), the Phillips 3575, and several other current HDD machines DO now have the option to automatically insert chapter breaks on the HDD as it records. Again, its a mixed blessing: depending on the machine the auto chapter breaks can conflict with editing out commercials. Its probably best to only use the "auto HDD chapter" function when recording programs or movies that do not have any commercials or other material that needs to be edited out. Otherwise its generally best to perform editing on the HDD first (each edit creates a chapter point), then add any additional chapters you want manually before burning the DVD. The HDD adds much versatility but does require slightly more effort.

    When you're feeling more like samijubal above, and you just want auto-created discs without the bother of customizing anything, you can just set the machine to bypass the HDD and record direct to DVD. If you don't require your discs to be compatible with other random people's players, you could stick strictly to current DVD-RAM recorders without HDD: DVD-RAM operates much like a small HDD. But standard DVD-R is much less flexible and almost requires the HDD for any advanced editing or customizing.

    Originally Posted by jjeff
    My original 1982 RCA(Panasonic) VCR weighed probably 40#+ and was probably rather clunky by latter standards, but it outlasted many of the 90's junk that was produced. At $1199 back in '82...
    I remember that RCA well... I was 22 and couldn't afford to buy it so I rented it for $49.95 a month from Granada TV Rental (anybody remember them?) Cool unit, weighed a ton, all cast metal, one of the very first with full wireless remote. Unfortunately early VHS hardware did not have a great picture, it wasn't until the mid '80s when JVC upped the specs to "VHS HQ" that most recorders got noticeably better. Sometimes we sacrifice a little build quality for higher performance as time goes on (although after 1995 most VHS decks got worse: MUCH worse.) Of course later there was SVHS, but it never really caught on for more than occasional consumer use.

    The early DVD recorders were not all that good or reliable, despite being beautifully built. The early Sonys fell victim to system errors in a matter of weeks, early Pioneers and Toshibas were subject to premature burner failure, and early Panasonics while optimized for DVD-RAM were not too good with DVD-R. The peak model year for all these companies was 2006, with many improvements across the board. That's why they're in such demand on the used market now. (Tho Phillips didn't get around to making a usable machine until last year, go figure.)
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    Originally Posted by jamiemark
    The ONLY thing that bugs me about HDD recorders is that they (at least Pioneer or Panasonic) won't insert the 5 or 10 minute chapter breaks when high speed dubbing from HDD to DVD. I like to be able to step forward intervals if I'm just checking a disc to see how it turned out.
    You'll be happy to hear, then, that the Philips 3575 auto-chapters on the HDD and on DVDs dubbed at high-speed. 6 settings from Off to 60 min.

    I had a title with 6 ea. 10-min. auto chapter marks, to which I added two manual chapter marks by deleting a couple of scenes (Scene Delete adds chapter marks too, plus you can set them manually).

    I high-speed dubbed this 8-chapter title to DVD and the DVD retained all 8 chapters.
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    Ehh.. sorry I did not notice that the 3576 was only "coming soon". Since I don't like to wait for things unless I have to, how about this one?
    http://www.circuitcity.com/ssm/Philips-Hard-Disk-DVD-Recorder-DVDR3575H/sem/rpsm/oid/1...oductDetail.do

    It's cheaper here, and I have a 10% off CC card. $261(final price for me) Although depending on taxes the link you gave me just might be a better deal... thanx wabjxo.

    Does anyone know what the "H" stands for at the end?
    What's this stuff the reviewers are saying about dark video through HDMI? Any of this true in your experience?
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    Originally Posted by ibex333
    Ehh.. sorry I did not notice that the 3576 was only "coming soon". Since I don't like to wait for things unless I have to, how about this one?
    http://www.circuitcity.com/ssm/Philips-Hard-Disk-DVD-Recorder-DVDR3575H/sem/rpsm/oid/1...oductDetail.do

    It's cheaper here, and I have a 10% off CC card.

    Does anyone know what the "H" stands for at the end?
    What's this stuff the reviewers are saying about dark video through HDMI? Any of this true in your experience?
    The Philips "Partners" Store sells the 3575 for $269 w/free shipping, after a simple registration as a "Partner."... but CC might be OK too? Personal pref I guess.

    Some people using HDMI with the 3575 have posted about a "dark" pic and we've been trying to figure out WTH is going on. Turns out, virtually all of those people are using the smaller LCDs that are 1366x768... even tho some are "advertised" as the more-familiar 720p.

    Many people, incl. me, using 1080p LCD see only brilliant pics.

    I believe the "H" on a DVDR model stands for Hard Disk Drive, the "V" for DVDR with VCR, no letter for a single-disc DVD player/recorder.
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  22. Member KeepItSimple's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by jamiemark
    The ONLY thing that bugs me about HDD recorders is that they (at least Pioneer or Panasonic) won't insert the 5 or 10 minute chapter breaks when high speed dubbing from HDD to DVD.
    They don't? My Toshiba RD-XS35 and Phillips 3575 both do. I don't think they pass on the chapter breaks with "low speed" real time dubbing but with High Speed they do. The chapter marks need to be there before the high speed dubbing though. During dubbing it won't add any.
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    [quote="orsetto"]
    Originally Posted by jamiemark
    Originally Posted by jjeff
    My original 1982 RCA(Panasonic) VCR weighed probably 40#+ and was probably rather clunky by latter standards, but it outlasted many of the 90's junk that was produced. At $1199 back in '82...
    I remember that RCA well... I was 22 and couldn't afford to buy it so I rented it for $49.95 a month from Granada TV Rental (anybody remember them?) Cool unit, weighed a ton, all cast metal, one of the very first with full wireless remote.
    That's the one! RCA VFT650. The first model with "infrared" wireless remote. I still have that one, along with a Magnavox and Panasonic PV-1770 clone. I remember how cool I thought it was to be able to change the channel from my arm chair. I bought it at a "radio & TV shop". No BB's or CC's back then.
    I'd guess I recorded 10,000 hours total on those machines. They would just never die. I picked up the others years after for ~$100 each. You're right the PQ was the best for the time, but later advancements got better, but for outright reliability it couldn't be beat.
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    Thanx everyone.... I appreciate your help.
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  25. I like that 3575 but I don't want to buy it because it doesn't have a tv guide feature. My Panasonic r500 with 400gig HD does & I use it a lot. Mine also records to MPG format in several quality settings. Has SD slot. Connects to computer for a few minor things.

    You can also build your own with your computer, byopvr.com
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  26. Originally Posted by handyguy
    I like that 3575 but I don't want to buy it because it doesn't have a tv guide feature. My Panasonic r500 with 400gig HD does & I use it a lot. Mine also records to MPG format in several quality settings. Has SD slot. Connects to computer for a few minor things.

    You can also build your own with your computer, byopvr.com
    I'm not *especially* fond of the 3575, its decent enough but I prefer my old Pioneers. The primary reason we all suggest the Phillips 3575 automatically is its the *only* DVD/HDD recorder available new in stores to the American consumer- period. There are no others and there probably will never be any others: its the only game left in town. It is a current model with a current burner which can record on today's mostly-crap media. It has the only workable ATSC tuner put in a recorder so far. And most important it has an HDD!!!! Carping that "it doesn't have a tv guide" or whatever other non-essential feature we might want is futile at this point: if people don't buy it, Phillips won't sell it, and when our prima-donna older Panasonics and Toshibas eventually tank there won't be any new alternatives left in stores to replace them with. Don't for a second think the "$130 flat fee repair special" offered by Panasonic and Toshiba will be available forever- if we don't support sales of the last remaining DVD/HDD recorder, it will be pulled off the market like all the others were two years ago.

    If that day comes, I for one will go back to VHS before I torture myself with a home theater PC for TV/cable recording: talk about a home video buzz kill. Blecch. I know some of you gearheads out there love the PC option, I'm happy for you, but for the rest of us... blecch.
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    The successor to the Philips 3575, the 3576, is in Sam's Stores now, $249.

    Same manual, same basic operational features, maybe 2nd gen. digital tuner?
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    Thank you
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    Originally Posted by handyguy
    You can also build your own with your computer, byopvr.com
    Originally Posted by orsetto
    I'm not *especially* fond of the 3575, its decent enough but I prefer my old Pioneers. The primary reason we all suggest the Phillips 3575 automatically is its the *only* DVD/HDD recorder available new in stores to the American consumer- period. There are no others and there probably will never be any others: its the only game left in town. It is a current model with a current burner which can record on today's mostly-crap media. It has the only workable ATSC tuner put in a recorder so far. And most important it has an HDD!!!! - if we don't support sales of the last remaining DVD/HDD recorder, it will be pulled off the market like all the others were two years ago.
    Good point, and you are probably right about that. Still, faced with that buying decision -- today -- I think I might opt for one of those Canadian model Pioneer DVDRs, if they are still available. (Some Canadian dealers are still selling them -- new -- on Ebay, if that tells us anything. I get the impression that some of these dealers are regular stores up there, rather than lone sellers. Not too many of the latter tend to say "15 available" in their auction listings for such items ?) Even though we're talking more money in that situation, and there could be service or other issues, the Pioneers have been a known quantity, with even these later models better regarded than the Philips -- in many features, general QC, and prospective longevity -- so it seems to me that this option might be better value for dollar spent.

    Originally Posted by orsetto
    If that day comes, I for one will go back to VHS before I torture myself with a home theater PC for TV/cable recording: talk about a home video buzz kill. Blecch. I know some of you gearheads out there love the PC option, I'm happy for you, but for the rest of us... blecch.
    You know, I've considered building one of those a few times. (If I ever did, it would likely be built around one of those Small Form Factor boxes.) But I kept reaching a similar conclusion to yours. One would likely wind up with something a lot more powerful and versatile, but, between the various installed software apps etc., in daily use for just about every task you might use it for, I think you'd be taking a much longer and more arduous route. There might be some exceptions that turned out to be worth it -- I dunno, some special HD capture situations (?), or controlling an elaborate Home Theater -- but so far, I just can't see it. And you'd have to leave it on most of the time, something I prefer not to do with any appliance, if I can help it.
    When in Las Vegas, don't miss the Pinball Hall of Fame Museum http://www.pinballmuseum.org/ -- with over 150 tables from 6+ decades of this quintessentially American art form.
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    I am actually fairly tech savvy when it comes to computers, having built several systems in the past, including my current one.
    I looked into the option of building an HTPC, but I had to give it up.

    Reasons:

    1)According to quite a few people on various forums, an HTPC WILL NOT record cable programming. Only OTA channels like CBS, FOX, CW, ABC, etc. That alone makes it a pointless ordeal to build such a PC unless you are very interested in keeping your movies on the HD, and playing them off one too.

    2)An HTPC is a lot more expencive than a DVD recorder. You cannot build a good HTPC for under $450-500 - it just cannot be done. Some might argue with me, but either you are willing to make significant sacrifices, or you dont know a great deal about PCs, and therefore willing to settle for mediocrity. Before recently, an HTPC was even more expencive, but with the arrival of new ATI boards with a chipset that takes most of the strain from the CPU when it comes to video processing, such PCs became a lot more affordable since you can afford to get a crappy, outdated CPU, and still get great performance out of you HTPC. Still, the costs of a spacious HDD, a good tuner card, a quality mobo, case ram, software, and peripherals will more than compensate for what money you will save on the CPU.
    IMO, an HTPC is not a good choice for someone who is merely interested in backing up his VHS collection onto DVDs, and record cable programming from time to time.
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