If not for the good picture quality on this unit and the unacceptable "bug" in the other recorder's (Toshiba DR410, Philips DVDR3506) timer recordings (where a manual stop of the recording will not cancel it meaning if you turn it off it will start again immediately), I may have returned this unit for it's lengthy list of negatives.
+>> Good picture quality in recordings (even in 8 hour mode, it is possible to tolerate some recordings)
+>> Big play/pause/stop/FF/Rew buttons on remote which gives good control
+>> Full D1 (720x480) resolution in LP mode (this can both be good as well as bad - good for videos that don't have fast movements giving a crisp image, but not good for videos with fast movements, becuase bits/pixel is halved)
+>> Can use the remote to control your TV (however read below)
+>> "Wait, Writing to disc..." process is pretty quick after you stop a recording, deleting recordings is pretty quick too (however no "select all" to delete)
+>> Can record to DVD-RAM (if that is important to you)
+>> Sound quality in 8 hour mode is reduced to 128 kbps from the regular 256 kbps which means video bitrate can be better
+>> Convenient signal pass-through even when unit is off (means no need to change in1/2/3 on TV), however it requires the quick start ON setting which is supposed to increase the standby power by about 10W, not good.
--> Everything else about it!
--> Poorly documented manual - many things that you see (indicators, display symbols etc are not even mentioned), and some settings are not explained well
--> Remote not at all user friendly (except a few big buttons and some TV control buttons that I like)
--> Slow startup - I can understand slow loading/startup time of a disc, but it takes forever even to eject the disc from a off state which is very unacceptable. Beware the advertised "quick start" mode applies only if you use DVD-RAM which is a toally different format and a pain if you want to transfer the recordings to your PC for editing etc.
--> Time not shown on the display while FF/Rew (just shows that it is a +1 +2 speed...)
--> Cannot jump to a specific title number (almost every dvd player that I have owned can) -- a very big annoyance if you have multiple titles on a DVD (if there are no menus)
--> No way to see how many chapters/titles/remaining time/total time,lots of other info... only display is time elapsed Even a $25 dvd player provides most of these!
--> To swith remote to satellite box OR TV mode there is a lousy complicated press this button & that button for 5 seconds step, what a nonsense!
--> Poor disc tray design - cant put your finger through the center of the disc to pick it up nicely!
--> While browsing each recording, you have to enter a menu button and then select properties to see when it was recorded, how long etc..., the other unit would just show most good info at the top of the screen...
--> Very unfriendly on-screen menu, entering info through the remote etc. The first time, it took 10-15 mins for me to see how to change the AM to PM in the time directly (without increasing it continously for 12 hours)
--> You cannot have 6 or 8 hours modes on the fly, it is a setting where EP means either 6 or 8
--> Not compatible with 8x DVD+RW (only upto 4x)
--> A DVD+R DL disc(s) that I bought on sale (so I guess not the best) & burned played on every DVD player (sony, philips) in my home except this one
--> As I said this can be considered a plus or minus, full resolution (720x480) instead of the conventional half D1 (352x480) in LP (4 hour) mode - which means the bit rate would be a lot below "acceptable" for that resolution. However a workaround that be used if you need half D1 (for longer recordings) is to set a flex recording for say 4 hours [s:3262c5c3eb]1 min[/s:3262c5c3eb], 40 min (The transition is after a 4 hour setting, need to find out where, may be even 4 hours 1 min, dont know), but keep in mind it will consume the entire disc if unattended and not leave room for any following scheduled recordings. No half D1 (352x480) in any of the preset modes (neither LP nor EP), Both 6 or 8 hours EP modes do 352x240.
--> Very few editing options (compared to other units), but I transfer to PC for editing.
--> Nitpicking - on screen messages like "deleting", "formatting", "writing" etc block/hide all or a big portion of your running TV program, whereas the other Toshiba was really neat with a message/progress bar at the bottom of the screen
--> Nitpicking - No eject button on remote
--> Somewhat nitpicking, but indicates the lack of attention to usability by the designers -- Should have had a delete all selection, if you have 10 recordings, you have to select one by one
--> More nitpicking - the commonly used menu button on the remote is curved, narrow & depressed near a elevated & bigger neighbour, which would annoy unless you have tiny fingers.
--> Sound quality in 8 hour mode is reduced to 128 kbps (a con if you dont like it)
--> No TV tuner (but you should know it)
One feature mentioned for this product by Panasonic in their website is "very user friendly menus", keys etc "based on a panasonic survey" and least used buttons like play/stop etc hidden away in the front of the unit. That is a real irony!! In summary, this recorder does a good job in what it is supposed to do - record good quality images. But disappoints in every other aspect. I bought it based on cnet review saying "excellent", "4 hours of close to XP mode" etc, but this unit leaves a lot to be desired. The sad part is, if you dont need a VCR in your dvd recorder, there seems very few choices in this price range and that is the reason this unit may stay with me.
ps: The other units in this line EZ17K, EZ27K, EZ28K etc look very similar (manuals, remote etc) and I am pretty sure almost all of this would apply to them too.
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The DMR-EA18's entry in the DVD Recorder List may be a better place for for this review. If you agree, perhaps a moderator can move it for you.
Good review thanks, and I agree with most all, I'll comment on a few of your points.
Totally agree on this one, they need to supercharge the hamsters Pannys weren't always this way. It started with the EZ series. The older ES series(without digital tuners) were much faster.
Time not shown on the display while FF/Rew (just shows that it is a +1 +2 speed...):
I can't stress how much I loath this feature. Unforgivable IMO, ES series were not this way.
No way to see how many chapters/titles/remaining time/total time,lots of other info... only display is time elapsed Even a $25 dvd player provides most of these! :
I totally agree, although I believe all DVDRs are the same. This is why I basically use a standalone player almost 100% of the time. I just use my DVDRs to record, although on my DVDR with a HDD I'm forced to use the recorder for playback.
While browsing each recording, you have to enter a menu button and then select properties to see when it was recorded, how long etc..., the other unit would just show most good info at the top of the screen... :
I agree but all Pannys are this way, guess I'm just used to it but I feel your frustration.
You cannot have 6 or 8 hours modes on the fly, it is a setting where EP means either 6 or 8 :
Agree, it's a stupid setup but again all Pannys are this way.
As I said this can be considered a plus or minus, full resolution (720x480) instead of the conventional half D1 (352x480) in LP (4 hour) mode - which means the bit rate would be a lot below "acceptable" for that resolution. However a workaround that be used if you need half D1 (for longer recordings) is to set a flex recording for say 4 hours 1 min, but keep in mind it will consume the entire disc if unattended and not leave room for any following scheduled recordings. No half D1 (352x480) in any of the preset modes (neither LP nor EP), Both 6 or 8 hours EP modes do 352x240.:
Are you sure that a FR for 4hrs 1min would be half D1? I think I've done FRs for a little more than 4hrs and it's still full D1, but I could be wrong. I thought it switched somewhere closer to 5hrs but wish the manual was more specific about the whole thing. I wish the unit allowed the user to decide when they wanted to change resolution. Ya I'm sure it would confuse some, but for the more tech geeks it would give us more control. I personally usually use FR set for 3hrs which gives me much less macroblocking than 4hr mode which is really better for programs with not much fast movement.
Again you have some very good points but having a Panny for many years I've just gotten used to some quirks they have
Originally Posted by jjeff
Does this have a tuner?
Yes, NTSC/ATSC/QAM (if you mean the Philips/Mag units). EA-18 doesn't.
This is a very good and thorough review. While I admit, I'm not in the market right now for this product. I still found it a very educational read.
Thanks for the great review and insight by everyone who posted.Yeah, I'm probably nuts... But what the hell. Nobody's perfect.
Originally Posted by wabjxo
jjeff, yes I am not sure where in FR mode the transition to half D1 is, it was half D1 when I tried 4H 40Min, was quarter D1 (if that term is right) for 5H, 5 min, so I assumed 4H to be transition point.
I was disappointed with the Philips 3506. Had the same problem like the Toshiba where stopping a scheduled recording would keep it alive just to resume it after turning the unit of... Also the toshiba dr410, philips 3506, 3576 all have very similar on screen menus, messages etc -- I think someone said all made by the same Funai Corp...
The philips does not have the pass-through like the toshiba where you dont have to turn the unit on to watch TV. Moreover the "writing to disc..." was quite slow too. Btw, I tried the Sony RDR GX360 too (on sale at walmart for $130) hoping to escape from the Panny's quirks... but that was a immediate dispappointment... 384 kbps audio in all (even 8hour) modes making video suffer...
Finally, I am buying a used EZ17 for much cheaper.... and will be returning the EA18, $180 is too much to feel good owning it.
What I meant is, it does not pass through the RCA S-video (from my dish network), which the Toshiba DR410 and Panasonic (in quick start mode) do. May be it has the pass-thru for the antenna connection?
It is surprising that a Toshiba DVD recorder can pass through a signal from a line input when powered off. I thought that all DVD recorders could only pass through the signal from the coax-in (via coax-out) when powered off, and would send the signal from a line input only when powered on.
Yes though the Toshiba is the cheapest, I really liked that pass through feature and it was a let down when other higher end units did not have it. This means you have to fork off two outputs from your dish box, one to TV and another to the recorder -- just curious in that case, is there a chance for slight drop of signal quality becuase it of more load...?
In my setup if I split my VHS player 2 ways it does indeed suffer in PQ. The signal looks darker overall. While I cannot split it's composite video without signal degradation I am able to split it's audio with no perceivable problems.
Interesting that the EA-18 would pass video when off but in Quick Start mode. I didn't realize this and I suppose that's one explanation of why the power consumption with QS ON and in standby is basically the same as leaving the unit on. I always disabled QS because I didn't care for the increased power consumption. I also didn't need the passthru like you did.
I personally had very bad luck with the EZ-x7 series machines. They have even more quirks than the x8 series Pannys. I had 6 die on me all within the warranty period. I finally ended up with a EZ-28 which was better but still not up to the reliability of my ES series Pannys.
If you don't mind the used route I'd suggest a Panny ES series machine, less bugs/quirks and overall more reliable, IMO. I'd suggest a ES-15 or 25 if your wanted upconversion, I haven't seen them NIB for about a year and they were the last of the US ES series machines. They also have QS but turn on much quicker even with it off. Note the editing bit and recording quality are basically identical to the EZ-series though but they do show elapsed time during searching otherwise most of your EZ complaints are also in the ES series.
A little too late I bought a used EZ17 (yet to receive it). I think I can live with its higher share of quirks since I paid only about $70 for it I did not go for the 27 or 28 models since I did not need the upconversion, SD card slot etc.
You had 6 die on you, and you still continued to buy Panny? Why such a loyalty, do you work for Panny?
No not hardly. I just got used to the quality of their ES series machines and wanted one with a digital tuner since I'm OTA only. Sadly I couldn't find the reliability in the EZ series and currently have many ES series machines with CM-7000 converter boxes. I get recordings that are 95 if not 100% of the EZ series machines and are 1000% more reliable. I do wish you luck with your EZ-17 though. Maybe I just wasn't meant to have one BTW can't remember with the EZ units, but on the ES machines it is possible to use the pause button to select multiple titles in Direct Navigator and then delete those all in button push and I think if using RAM discs you can select a option to delete all titles on the disc. Panasonic has many RAM exclusive features that I wish extended to RW discs.
yes it is possible to multi select (and delete) using the pause button.
[s:be435a72e7]Just wondering if you may know, the panasonic support website has links for firware updates and instructions on how to do burn it to a CD and appy them... Do you know how to check what version my unit (and the EZ17 that is on its way to me) has, whether it is has the latest firmware or not...? I dont remember reading anything that actually indicates whether you need to do it or not... May be you just blindly apply what is available at the support site assuming it is the latest & greatest and hope it fixes any frequent hangs/glitches etc (the "what was changed" info for the firmware does mention fixes for a lot of issues...)[/s:be435a72e7]
Never mind, it says it wont do anything unless the one you are trying to apply is a newer version.
However, there are 3 links here in the "drivers and download" section:
It is not clear which one I need, all?? Would the one at the top be a super set of others...? Damn, why cant Panny be a little more friendly??
I think the quirks and comparative unreliability of DVD recorders in general, has played some small part in their decreasing popularity. I also have an ES series Pannasonic, an ES-10, and have enjoyed it, for the most part. The only time I wasn't happy with it was when, 3 months past the warranty, a capacitor on the power supply went bad. I had it repaired for $80 and fortunately, it has given good service since then. However, after having spent over $200 for an electronc device that breaks after 15 months, a lot of people would have just given up on owning a DVD recorder at that point.
I was thinking about getting a Channel Master CM-7000 to use with my ES-10 for recording off the air. Good to hear jjef thinks so highly of them. I just wish there was a box with the timers and program guide from my DISH Network boxes, combined with the S-Video out, and excellent PQ of the Channel Master box. Of course my ideal box would also have great tuner. Sadly such a box will probably never be built at a CECB prices.
Unfortunately the product category of "standalone DVD recorder" has been declining for the last two years and has now reached the point of one foot in the grave and the other on a banana peel. Following on the heels of blank DVD media brands being meaningless (they all stink now), the brand name on recorders tells you nothing anymore about what you can expect. The only decently versatile machines left are the Pioneers (Canada) and Phillips units with HDD, and they may not survive much longer. Everything else is a Funai sloppy special re-brand or made by a tenth-rate back door factory of bigger names. (BTW the lack of any useful display on new Panasonics is nothing new: Panasonic started the trend of 1990s VCRs having a fixed clock-only or idiot light display.) With DVD recorders now the ugly stepchild at most mfrs, engineering money is being poured into megabuck BluRay/HDD machines. These are back up to the higher level DVD recorders were in 2005, but are outrageously expensive ($1800+) and considered unmarketable in North America- who knows if we'll ever see them here.
Really, the market segment of approx $200 dvd recorders seems very bad. Almost all the ones available are quite disappointing. I dont think there is a big enough demand for them for the companies to put their time into these units.
Actually Half-D1 can be an advantage. It is ridiculous to use Full D1 on 4 hours or more - you will get artifacting - not only on high motion scenes, but depending on the source, they will be visible at all times, especially low lit scenes or noisy scenes. DVD Recorders should give you the choice of Full D1 or Half D1 and bitrates, I don't understand why dvd recorder manufacturers don't give us that - There are cases where FUll D1 is wasting your bit rate ! If you are doing transfers from VHS, you really don't need Full D1 and you can get by with Half-D1 at 4 hours or more recordings, since using this resolution will maximize your bitrate efficiency and you will get less artifacting.
a VHS encoded @ 2.5 Mbps in Half D1 (352x480) will be using the bit rate more efficiently since you have half less information - so it will be equivalent to a full D1 @ 5.0 mbps - and the actual resolution of VHS is much lower than FUll D1, and right around the Half D1, so it's more than enough. I would even go as far as saying TV cable recordings especially digital, since (at least here) they don't even use Full-D1.
a Full D1 720x480 @ 2.5mbps will give visible artifacts, especially on the type of encoders used in today's consumer recorders - which are mostly optimized for high bitrates. Recording at 720x480 for a VHS or 8mm source is wasting resolution.
This is one reason I will really miss my JVC S-VHS recorder - I can record 6 hours of good quality VHS that is far better (like day and night) than a DVD recorded in 6 hours.
Hi everybody. I need help with my Panasonic DMR-EA18. Anybody know how to change region code to watch movies from region 2 ???
AFAIK it cannot be hacked. Most if not all current DVDRs cannot be hacked for multi-region play. For that most people get a separate player.
I read this old thread from 2008. I recently picked up a brand new never used one from a guy who had 3. The manual is HORRIBLE stated. I am lost when it comes to creating chapters. The "create chapter" button on the remote seems to do nothing. Is the only way to create chapters is to stop the recording and then begin again? I don't get the "create chapter" option on the menus as in the manual. I agree that the picture is great but all else sucks! I created a title for the video but it does not show on the DVD when played. I am so confused, if not for it being brand new and recommended as one of the best recorders on LiveWire, I would not have purchased it. ANY help you can give me would be great, or a site I can go to ANYTHING BUT THE MANUAL! I hope someone will read this and might help me.
I am just using it to record old family VHS tapes and nothing else.
You probably should have started a new thread, a lot of VH members don't like seeing very old threads being dug up and added on to. With that said, you're already here, so:
The DMR-EA18 is capable of good recordings, but isn't the most intuitive device to operate (and the manual is indeed a horror show). Among the crucial details Panasonic fails to make clear in the manual are the drastic feature limitations when using normal blank dvds. There is huge difference in convenience and logic between regular blank dvds and DVD-RAM blanks. The DVD-RAM format is much easier and more intuitive to use, but never caught on as a mass market standard because it isn't compatible with the vast majority of dvd players.
If you want compatibility with standard players, you need to use DVD-R or DVD-RW blanks instead of DVD-RAM. Unfortunately, maintaining compatibility with regular dvd players means you can't do a damned thing with DVD-R or DVD-RW aside from straight-up linear recording. The EA18 will not let you add custom chapter marks, do fine edits, or let you choose a thumbnail and title for each individual chapter. That is why no menu options come up to offer these things, and most of the one-touch buttons on the remote, like "create chapter", don't seem to work: they apply ONLY to DVD-RAM discs (which nobody uses anymore).
IOW, what you feared is true: you're stuck making straight one-shot copies of an entire tape, with no ability to customize anything after the dvd is recorded. You WILL get some automatic chapter marks after you finalize the dvd, at approx 8 minute intervals, but they won't go to any specific point you prefer. The only way to guarantee direct access to specific moments is to stop and restart recording at those points in the tape: this will result in individual segments that the EA18 can title and add custom thumbnails to, which will then appear as the menu for the finalized dvd. Klugey, but workable.
These limitations apply to all units that record directly onto a dvd, not just the EA18. The standard non-RAM compatible dvd format isn't flexible enough to allow alterations. This is why these recorders kinda bombed out after a few years: they don't work anything like VCRs (more like stubborn boneheaded computers, which is in fact what they are). Making fluid, custom dvds requires a more advanced unit called a DVD/HDD recorder: these were like the EA18, but included a hard drive. All recordings are made initially to the hard drive, which does allow custom editing, then the edited videos are copied to a blank dvd at high speed. Since all the edits are being copied to the DVD from HDD, the compatibility issues of real-time direct-to-dvd recording are mostly bypassed. Sadly, DVD/HDD recorders were too expensive, so went off the market years ago (aside from the current Magnavox models, which are not good at all compared to earlier versions).
To make truly custom dvds, you'd need to to copy your tape as one uninterrupted recording to your EA18, then finalize the dvd, then put it in a PC and rip it to the PC hard drive. Once inside the PC, a number of programs are available that will let you edit the video (divide into segments, add chapter markers exactly where you want, trim unwanted bits, make custom menus). Then you burn a new, perfect dvd from those hdd files.
Orsetto is correct, all the custom things like creating chapters are only for RAM discs, not regular R or RW discs. Note if you had a HDD DVDR you could create custom chapters and then HS burn to a standard R DVD but not recording directly to DVD.
Also note the "DVD name" is also a bit kluge, some players see it, others not, it's a hit and miss and don't expect to see it every time. You should see the title name everytime though and thumbnails for your titles can also be changed and will display on any standard DVD player.
Thanks a bunch you two!I have a better understanding now. I first purchased the Elgato Video Converter for transferring the VHS directly to my computer. Then I purchased a cheap Cyberlink Powerdirctor 14 software for editing. I just got fed up with the hassle of trying to edit on the computer, I didn't need that since I already have the high end Panasonic VHS Recorder that I can go frame by frame with I wanted to try the DVD recorder because I don't need complex editing. Do I understand that if I stop (not pause) the DVD recorder and restart recording that will create a chapter? I have not had time to mess with it for about a week. Basically I just want to be able to pause so I don't record certain sections, but would be great to create chapters. So basically that is my last question, If I stop the recording and restart recording on another section, will that create a chapter?
Ignore list: hello_hello, tried, TechLord
Lets say you have five segments from the tape that you want to copy to dvd. If you press stop and then record between each segment, when the disc is finalized you will get a menu showing those five segments, each of which can be directly accessed. So if you want to jump straight to segment four, you can do that from the menu. If you begin playing the dvd from the first segment, pressing the chapter skip button on the remote three times will ALSO jump ahead to the fourth segment, pretty much the same as if it were a "chapter". There will be a second or so delay before the next segment plays, which doesn't occur with "true" chapters, but this isn't a big problem with a compilation tape (it could get annoying with single, longer video like a movie).
Put another way, stopping and starting the recorder would be a good method to make a dvd of several TV episodes or music videos. Each stop/start would result in a "title" for each episode, which you can name in the dvd menu for easy selection. But start/stop during the course of a movie or personal event video would break the movie up into individual parts: these would appear as separate items in the dvd menu, and you could skip back and forth among them with the chapter buttons, but straight-thru viewing of the movie would be interrupted by a slight pause as the dvd moves to each sequential part. This may or may not bother you.
Genuine chapters within a movie etc do not appear in the dvd menu, and let you jump backwards and forwards within a single title, with no delay at the chapter points. The DMR-EA18 does not allow you to create such custom chapters after the recording is done, but might let you do it "on the fly" during recording by quickly pressing and releasing the pause button where you want a chapter mark to be. You would need to make a test dvd to check if that trick works: while finalizing the dvd for compatibility, the EA18 probably over-rides these custom chapter markers with its own system of chapters every 5-10 mins (many if not most recorders do that). Perhaps if jjeff returns, he can verify whether "pause chapters" survive finalization or get overwritten by Panasonics.
Note I see the older Panasonics cheap in pawn shops and other second hand shops, Ebay and Amazon still seem to way overcharge for such models, which BTW are built like tanks and tend to go and go, well with the occasional spindle cleaning
A Magnavox HDD DVDR would also work although like the Panasonics they may be getting harder and harder to find.