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.
This is about the repair of the EH-69. Everybody talks about the repair facility in Elgin, but there is no address or phone #. The sites you can klick on are blocked. I have a EH-69 and would love to get it repaired, but I have no info on where to send it or the Price. Anybody have the address?
Found this using Google search. Perhaps give them a call, find out if they're still servicing them:
Panasonic National Service Center
1615 Dundee Avenue Dock G
Elgin, IL 60120
1 (847) 888-7000
This is an ancient thread, but since the question was asked here, its probably what comes up when the topic is searched:
Panasonic USA will not service the international grey-market models EH-57, 58, 59 or EH 67, 68, 69. When you buy these, you are buying their inherent lifespan of 2-4 years and when they break they are essentially disposable items. A few dealers who sell them may offer their own third-party warranties, but these are often dubious since only Panasonic has the parts and Panasonic does not want to fix these models in North America anymore. If you send any DVD/HDD model to Elgin, even a USA version like EH-55, they will most likely refuse the repair: AFAIK they ran out of parts long ago (and they never did repair the grey-market units). You could call and ask, maybe they'll agree to fix it, but I would insist on getting confirmation of a job order # via email before sending it in.
There are four things that can go wrong with a Panasonic DVD/HDD:
1. The disc clamp in the dvd drive attracts grime and dust like a magnet, once sufficiently dirty it causes problems. This can be DIY repaired by following instructions found in Panasonic user forums (requires some comfort with disassembly).
2. One of the capacitors in the power supply fails, causing any number of weird symptoms from no power to glitchy operation. This is a fairly simple repair for any decent electronics repair or computer repair shop, if you can get them to confirm the power supply is at fault and they're willing to take it on. Those handy with a soldering iron and familiar with similar repairs to other gear can tackle it as DIY.
3. The hard drive gets corrupted and/or fails. The HDD is user-replaceable but finding PATA drives in good condition is not easy these days, and you lose any recordings you had on the failed HDD unless you opt to go full geek and fool with PC salvage software.
4. The control board for the dvd drive and/or the dvd drive laser have burned out. This cannot be DIY repaired as it requires exotic parts only Panasonic can supply. They no longer stock these parts or repair any DVD/HDD units in North America. The recorder in this case is toast.
Several Panasonic owners I know from forum chats have had their dead Panasonic DVD/HDD successfully repaired by a lone wolf independent tech who stockpiled several models of Panasonic dvd drive and control boards. He can be contacted over at AVSforum under the member name mickinct. The cost is comparable to what Panasonic used to charge for out of warranty repairs: not cheap (figure on roughly half what you paid for the recorder, + shipping back and forth).
Last edited by orsetto; 5th Oct 2016 at 21:09.
^^^ couldn't have said it better myself Citibear
Again long story short, if you want someone to repair your EH-69, mickinct over at AVS is your only real choice.
There is no secret special mystery Panasonic repair facility. As of 2016, no DVD/HDD unit will be accepted for repair at any Panasonic authorized repair depot in North America. Period.
Local independent repair shops can tackle generic electronic failures like the power supply, but if that is not the problem then you are on your own- discard the machine, or contact mickinct at avsforum. He will ask you questions to determine whether he has the proprietary Panasonic parts necessary to repair your model. He may or may not be able to repair the grey market "international" models: these were never officially authorized for sale in North America, so Panasonic never stocked the custom circuit boards here. mickinct is known as the "miracle repair dude" for Panasonic owners: he can sometimes make one model work with parts meant for another. But only he can tell you after you speak with him.
The legend of the "secret Panasonic repair address" was fomented over at AVSforum nearly ten years ago. At that time, the final North American DVD/HDD recorders had just been discontinued and Panasonic was already trying to wash their hands of them within days of the last warranty expiration in 2007. They perversely sent all remaining repair parts to one facility, locked the door, and proceeded to act as if they had never even mfr'd such a thing. Eventually, a few people got word out that this one facility could still repair the DVD/HDD models at a flat rate of $130, quite a bit less than Panasonic's usual fee of $200+. This deal lasted a couple of years, then parts ran out, and that was the end of that. By 2009, all Panasonic DVD/HDD units were essentially orphaned products.
The international PAL/NTSC models from EH-67 thru EH-69 were a stopgap, imported by a handful of web dealers to satisfy the tiny number of Panasonic fanatics who still wanted a DVD/HDD model even if it couldn't tune North American broadcasts or cable. They are fine units, designed for the Middle East region, but just like a grey market Canon DSLR or grey market audio component, they are not officially sanctioned by the mfr, meaning they are unsupported for repair or warranty. Like most Panasonic recorders, they are very durable and unlikely to fail completely: 9 out of 10 times the dvd drive clamp just needs to be cleaned. As jjeff and I have said, many owners DIY this cleaning task, because it re-occurs every year or two.
Re cost of repairs: be aware ALL dvd recorders have always been outrageously expensive to repair out of warranty, to the point few people bothered because it isn't cost effective. Panasonic, Pioneer, Toshiba and Sony all typically charged between $200 and $300 to replace a dead dvd burner or hard drive (usually closer to $300). While the machines were still available, people just bought a new one for $400 rather than pay $300 to fix a broken one. Today, most people give up and migrate to using a PC or TiVO, or one of the dubious Magnavox DVD/HDD models that WalMart inexplicably continues to market in the face of consumer apathy. The repair price doesn't go down when a product is long-discontinued: it stays high, or jumps even higher. Fewer and fewer independent techs remain in business, many retire and do repairs in their basement via web referral. No new younger techs are coming in to replace them: we live in a disposable society. While current, a product under warranty isn't even repaired anymore: they just give you a whole new unit. After the warranty, you're expected to discard it and buy the latest version.
If you think recorder repairs are costly, try pricing a tuneup for a Leica or Hasselblad film camera, or Yamaha FM Stereo: your heart will stop when you see what some 73 year old guy is charging to tinker with it in his garage. In five or six years, when those skills start disappearing, its the end for anything not still selling new on Amazon. We're gonna be launching landfill barges to Mars to get rid off all the unrepairable items that pile up.
Last edited by orsetto; 7th Oct 2016 at 22:57.
I guess when we mention MickinCT over at AVS it's possible dougdan doesn't know what we are talking about. Heres a thread talking about Mick and what he can do.
Mick is a member at AVS forum and also does component level repair on Panasonic DVDRs. He's not necessarily cheap(I believe his repairs are generally north of $200 depending on what needs to be done) but he is very competent, much more than say sending it into Panasonic where they probably wouldn't touch a international Panasonic anyway. Now the main caveat with Mick working on a international Panasonic is if he can get parts but luckily most anything that normally goes wrong(less the main board) will probably use the same parts as a N. American Panasonic(like a EH-55) for which Mick has or can get parts. When Mick gets your Panasonic he doesn't just fix whats wrong, he goes through it and repairs things he sees and knows(from lots of experience) will fail in the immediate future and also gives it a thorough cleaning. Myself and many others over on AVS highly praise Mick, just read the thread I linked to read lots of accolades.
I know you might have reservations about sending your praised Panasonic to someone in CT who you don't know but myself and all the other people in the various threads talking about Mick can't all be wrong
DougDan, I believe to contact Mick you might need to sign up at AVSforum to be able to send him a PM(private message) but if you wanted you could PM me your information here on VideoHelp and I could pass it on to Mick, then he could contact you. If you lived near CT you might even be able to arrange bringing your Panasonic to him but for most it means mailing your DVDR to him(about $25 for shipping ) then he repairs it and sends it back to you in the matter of a few days, it is really that fast(again assuming he can get the parts that might be required).
I also agree $200+ isn't particularly cheap, especially for non HDD DVDRs that may have only cost $200 new but considering HDD Panasonics originally sold for $500+ and they aren't really available anymore, I guess it is what it is. I did purchase several international EH-59s for <$250 and they are more the vintage of the EZ-28 and also make excellent quality recordings, they are getting harder and harder to find and I believe the new purchase price is pushing $400, almost double what it might cost to get a classic EH-55 fixed and the EH-55 does have some advantages over the EH-59, analog tuner might be one and IR blaster(not available on the international Panasonics) might be another.
Very little choice for DVDRs now days, they are a dead product not dying, dead
Yes I own a Toshiba SX-32, which has an analog tuner and Component & Composite/SVideo outputs. I agree with your sentiments in that anything less than SP is not quite up to the standard Panasonic LP or even Flex Recording Mode. However, I remember being severely ostracized here on Videohelp forum for making statements about the EZ series machines. While they may be cumbersome and annoying to use, I never really had any problems with them. Back in the early days of home video recorders, a good friend of mine bought an EH-80. He used to send me DVDs made on said machine, and the PQ was always great. Since the digital transition, one cannot really compare analog-tuner machines to newer models with digital tuners, as recording an HD source in 480i and then upconvert it to 1080p on an HDTV looks way better, imho. The aforementioned friend also bought an EH59, he was very satisfied with it. I ditched my cable subscription in 2015, so I no longer use most of my numerous DVD recorders. The RD SX-32 has been in a closet for about two years. My last HDD/DVD recorder purchase was an LG LRH 790 in early 2015, on Ebay, for less than $100. Attached to one of those El Cheapo ATSC tuner boxes, the SP & LP pic with common Video Out is quite acceptable. My other LG recorder, RC897T, now 8 years old, is the one machine where the LP PQ is comparable to Panasonic. Yes, the DVD recorder market is dead, except for overseas.... but here in the USA, only (Funai) Magnavox and Philips are still going, selling HD DVRs with included DVDRW drives. I haven't considered buying one as the Funai PQ is decidedly inferior to everything else.... but supposedly a new Magnavox model is coming out with 6 OTA tuners, that may be an interesting proposition....
As for the Toshiba XS, I bought mine more than 10 years ago used, with a defective DVD drive, simply replaced the DVD drive with an LG GSA computer burner, and it's worked ever since.