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  1. Member Knightmessenger's Avatar
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    I've had some very strange things happen with it. For one, if you ever play a video in windows media player, notice how you can move the progress bar (shows at the bottom of the screen when you hover over it) to parts of the video. Well, with my panasonic, the status bar stays at the beginning no matter what. Other panasonic dvd recorders I've used at Michigan's North Campus conversion lab have not done this. (video compression quality about the same fyi)

    More recently, I've found myself unable to finalize a disc that I recorded onto all the way through. I check the preview for the thumbnail and it won't let me advance past 45 minutes. It just froze up after that and won't even finalize the part it did record. The thing froze up and I had to unplug it.
    Would it matter if I hit record on the remote or on the actual machine? Because it worked with less than 30 minute videos when I used the remote.

    Another time I tried to record a few vhs segments. I usually recording before I play the tape so I don't miss even a frame. If this means I record some blue space or black space, big deal. But then I got a message saying it couldn't record because of copyright detection issue.
    These are vhs either direct from a vhs camcorder or edited onto another vhs from vhs camcorder source. So there shouldn't be any Macrovision on these tapes.
    I did find if I started the recording while footage was playing, it would record like normal. I thought I had finally gotten a few highlight videos onto dvd and then when I went to finalize, I tried deleting the empty recordings (that wouldn't record because of copyright detection) but they still recorded blank data.
    And then it froze again and I was left with another coaster instead of a dvd.

    So I'm pretty sure I need a new machine. Where do I go from here? Do they even make dvd recorders anymore? Do blu ray recorder decks exist as something affordable today?

    https://forum.videohelp.com/threads/307577-basic-questions-about-Panasonic-DMR-ES20?p=1...90#post1893290

    This is from a topic years ago, I also had a Pioneer dvd recorder with menu buttons (so I didn't need to use the remote to finalize) but I found it made much worse video compression at SP speed than when my Panasonic worked properly.

    I know with hard drive space so cheap these days it's probably better to get a direct digital capture I can use non linear editing on. That's an eventual goal but for right now, I need something that gives quality that looks decently like the original source. No over compressed images (I only use SP & XP modes), no drastically faded colors or clipped whites.
    And it needs to be reliable and work without any weird quirks or things to work around.

    I'll mostly be using Hi8 and vhs tapes so this shouldn't be a lot to ask, I now have 2 S-vhs decks so the playback quality is taken care of. I'm told Hi8 decks aren't much better playback quality than the camcorder, but if the decks are less likely to die, maybe I'll look into one of those.

    One other thing, an external Time Base Corrector is often recommended for troublesome playback. Is that the same thing that can also bypass copy protection on commercial vhs tapes? Would it also work for Betamax if Betamax had copy protection too?
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    Originally Posted by Knightmessenger View Post
    So I'm pretty sure I need a new machine. Where do I go from here? Do they even make dvd recorders anymore? Do blu ray recorder decks exist as something affordable today?
    Funai is the only company still making DVD recorders for the USA, sold under their own name of re-branded as Magnavox, Sanyo, or Toshiba. Their internal TBC/frame synchronizers are reportedly not as good as your Panasonic DVD recorder's for converting from VHS to DVD. A few places sell gray-market imported DVD recorders without functional tuner for the USA: http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/659768-REG/Panasonic_DMR_EH69GA_K_DMR_EH69GA_K_M...B_HDD_DVD.html

    JVC and Tascam make some Blu-Ray recorder decks for N. America. They are more of a specialized tool for videography than anything else and not what most people call affordable.
    http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/buy/CD-DVD-Players-Recorders/ci/7049/N/4028759535
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    The Funai made(Magnavox) HDD DVDRs are meant for the US and include the very handy HDD. Record things to the HDD, edit there if wanted and then HS burn to DVD(takes maybe 20 min for a 2hr SP video). IMO the Panasonic has better picture quality(resolution and contrast) but being a international model it's black level is set for 0 IRE, we use +7.5 IRE in North America. This results in slightly washed out(lighter) blacks(and no way to really correct it on the DVD other than turn down your TVs brightness). Like the Magnavox the Panasonics have the very handy HDD, but neither are cheap at +$300. Note both are probably discontinued although many sellers seem to still have them.
    I'd really steer clear of the JVC, not only is it incredibly expensive it's HD recording is only available from specific JVC cameras, it has no standard HD line inputs.

    Truthfully if I were you and you didn't want to spend $300+ I'd just look for an older Panasonic model in good shape. Since you only use SP or XP then most any model should give you good picture quality(avoid the very old early 00s that had black level issues like the current international models). The Panasonic models I'd stay away from are: ES-20(the model you have) and sister combo ES-40v, also EZ models are known for being quirky and are just aren't good models(with the exception of maybe the EZ-28). My favorite basic Panasonics are the '06 ES-15 or upconverting ES-25 and '05 ES-10. I regularly see used(on places like Craigslist.org or pawn shops) ES-10s going for <$50 and ES-15s or ES-25s going for ~$75, or less. I also frequently see E55s('04 model) going for <$30 and while it's older than the rest I mentioned it also makes good SP or XP recordings and has a good build quality.

    If you liked your ES-20(a model than many Panasonic fans considered one of the worst) your bound to like the others I mentioned even better. Note ES-15/25 models are somewhat prone to U99 errors and laser failures. Test any machine your looking at, if it works good hopefully it will continue to work for a long time after, but one never really knows when the laser might burn out(like a light bulb) so keep that in mind before spending too much on something. Know that they do have a lifespan and it all depends on hours used and condition it was used in(cooler and more air allowed to circulate around unit the better). The issue with the ES-15/25s is it has no internal fan like many other Panasonic models.

    Your ES-20 may just need a good cleaning, particularly the spindle that holds the disc but truthfully it wasn't that good of a model to begin with, instead of spending more time on it I'd instead look for a decent replacement.
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  4. Member Knightmessenger's Avatar
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    I should have mentioned, I don't have use for an included hard drive or tv tuner. If the best one comes with that, fine but it doesn't need to be included.

    Based on what you said, a model from 2006 or newer would be best. Is that right? Is Panasonic overall a good brand if I avoid the models you mentioned not to buy?
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    Originally Posted by Knightmessenger View Post
    I should have mentioned, I don't have use for an included hard drive or tv tuner. If the best one comes with that, fine but it doesn't need to be included.

    Based on what you said, a model from 2006 or newer would be best. Is that right? Is Panasonic overall a good brand if I avoid the models you mentioned not to buy?
    There are no current model DVD recorders that just have a DVD drive. All the current Funai-made DVD recorder models have either a hard drive or VHS deck as well. All the gray-market imported Panasonic models I have seen for sale recently (Panasonic DMR-EH59 & Panasonic DMR-EH69) have a hard drive.

    You will have to buy a used DVD recorder to obtain one that lacks the features that you don't want. Note that all the models that jjeff recommended are between 6 years old and 11 years old. The Panasonic models he recommended are good choices, but it is always possible that a used machine could have some problems related to its age and past use.
    Last edited by usually_quiet; 21st Dec 2015 at 16:51. Reason: clarity
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  6. jjeff recommended you try cleaning the drive mechanism: this is excellent advice since Panasonics are known to act completely wonky after they suck in sufficient dust. Its surprising you have not had such issues before now: models of ES20 vintage tend to require near-annual cleaning. You can find detailed discussion of Panasonic recorder cleaning at this thread. Many a moribund Panasonic has sprung back to full operational condition after a cleaning: you could get lucky. One long shot issue you may want to investigate: did you recently acquire a new package of blanks? Did this problem coincide with getting those new blanks? If so, are they a different brand than you had before? That could be it. Also, Panasonics are somewhat "allergic" to +R media and burn better with -R. The issues you describe playing your latest discs with Windows Media Player are exactly what happens when some Panasonic models burn to +R media instead of -R.

    As mentioned in other replies, the DVD recorder market has its head, both arms, one foot, and the tip of its other shoe in the grave. There is nothing you can buy new that is remotely comparable to the build quality of an ES20. And you seem very hooked on the specific encoding look of your ES20, which complicates things further (you have atypical preferences: if you didn't care for Pioneer, which was about the best DVD recorder ever made, you are very unlikely to be any happier with Magnavox). You should probably just look on Craigs List and/or eBay for a couple more used ES20s. The import Panasonic EH59 is excellent, but pricey new and has the IRE problem cited by jjeff. The Magnavox is adequate, no more, no less. The JVC BluRay recorders are obscenely expensive overkill, offering no tangible benefit over a dvd recorder unless you specifically need to make high definition BluRays from a connected high definition camera (the line inputs are strictly standard def).
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    Originally Posted by Knightmessenger View Post
    I should have mentioned, I don't have use for an included hard drive or tv tuner. If the best one comes with that, fine but it doesn't need to be included.

    Based on what you said, a model from 2006 or newer would be best. Is that right? Is Panasonic overall a good brand if I avoid the models you mentioned not to buy?
    Until you've used a HDD you may have no idea how handy they are. I was that way, my first several Panasonic DVDRs were all HDDless but after I got my EH-55 w/hdd I could hardly look back. I still use some of my HDDless models for simple copies or burns but otherwise just use my HDD models. That said in your case almost any Panasonic would do, I like '05 and newer because I like to fit more than 2hrs/DVD and the older ones switched to 1/2 D1 resolution on any speed longer than SP but in your case if your only using SP I'd say a older one should be just fine. Just don't get one of the original models('01 and '02 I believe) they had the black level bug similar to all the international Panasonics, they make slightly washed out recordings. Again it's pretty minor but once you know what to look for it may bug you, like it does me.
    Again I'd avoid the EZ models('07 and newer) because of bugs and quirks, with the possible exception of the EZ-28 which isn't quite so bad(I own one).
    I see quite a few used E55 models('04) and from your description it sounds like that may be a good model for you. No HDD, good build quality and make very good SP recordings. Note a Usually Quiet said, were talking about DVDRs that are 10+ years old, many are still going strong but others, especially if heavily used or not maintained may be on their last legs. Purchasing used is always kind of a crap shoot, I've generally been lucky but you do take your chances.

    IMO this is way overpriced(I paid $20 for mine) but it does say practically new, but it's an example of a E55:
    http://minneapolis.craigslist.org/hnp/ele/5348176472.html
    Last edited by jjeff; 18th Dec 2015 at 08:43. Reason: added link
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  8. Member Knightmessenger's Avatar
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    Right, I'm okay with buying a used one if that's cheaper and still has what I need. And I didn't want to imply I was attached to my ES20, just that I want something that appears to have comparable quality. I have no issue against a model that has fewer flaws so long as the recorded quality looks as good as what I got with that one.

    I use - r discs because our oldest dvd player doesn't play + r and from what I understand, there is no advantage/disadvantage otherwise these days with the -/+ difference.
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    Personally I'd stay away from something like Tru Tech, could be OK but it's an extremely generic recorder and probably very little support.
    Magnavox makes some pretty good HDD DVDRs but their non HDD models aren't really that good, IOW they aren't just their HDD models less a HDD, they are a totally different animal, I'd stay clear.
    Older Sony's were supposed to be pretty good but newer ones(like I think you've linked) are prone to issues, most notably false CP signals, even when recording something that doesn't have CP, I'd stay clear.
    That E20 is one of Panasonics first models(second model ever made) and such has the Black Level Bug I spoke of earlier, I'd stay way clear.

    For information on older Panasonics check out this thread I made many years ago.
    http://www.avsforum.com/forum/106-dvd-recorders-standard-def/1134909-panasonic-dvd-rec...-features.html
    If it were me I'd keep looking, CL listings change daily, or at least weekly, nothing on your list I'd personally give a second though to.

    On second thought that first Sony looks like it might be a older decent Sony, not so sure about the second one. Maybe someone who knows Sonys(I don't) will give you advise on those. If it were me I'd keep looking for Panasonics because I know them so well, if your also used to Panasonics you may also want to look for another. Almost every brand DVDR acts differently and have options. Pioneers are known for being good but are very hard to find and some are prone to issues with TVGOS. Your CL prices seem to be quite a bit higher than my market, or I guess it could just be timing.
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  10. Member Knightmessenger's Avatar
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    The first Sony linked is from about 2003. None of them seem to have a flexible recording mode although the Sony does mention having a 90min recording speed.
    Do any of the good Panasonic's you mentioned have a flexible recording mode?

    Are any of the recorders with a vcr included still good if you use a better vcr?
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    Originally Posted by Knightmessenger View Post
    The first Sony linked is from about 2003. None of them seem to have a flexible recording mode although the Sony does mention having a 90min recording speed.
    Do any of the good Panasonic's you mentioned have a flexible recording mode?

    Are any of the recorders with a vcr included still good if you use a better vcr?
    Yes '03 is probably one of the good Sony's but it won't have FR or equivalent. Basically all Panasonics have FR as do Pioneers(although implementing it is different) but again Pioneers are quite rare.
    The only combos I really care for are the '04 E75v, '05 ES-30v or '06 ES-35/45/46v Panasonics. All expect the '06 models have the incredibly handy dual display where you can monitor progress of either VHS or DVD side at the same time. All other combos share the display so you can only see either the VHS or DVD side at a time. Most other combos aren't really worth it, at least IMO. Another handy feature of any of the combos I mentioned is they would allow you to install a filter(or TBC) between the VHS and DVD sides. Other combos don't allow this and depending on your tapes this may be something you really want to do.
    Oh another combo I forgot to mention and is probably the best combo ever made, the '06 EH-75v a VHS/DVD combo with a HDD. You'll never find one of these cheap though, at one time they were selling for >$500 but now I occasionally see them ~$300, they are highly sought after.
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  12. Member Knightmessenger's Avatar
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    ok so looking at the product info for the Panasonic ES 10, 15 and 25, I have a few things I want to clear up.

    Do all of them offer a firewire DV input for recording off a mini dv camcorder?

    It says the 10 uses a 12bit analog to digital converter instead of the common 10 bit. What about the other 2? The 10 also mentions having "Real-Time Variable Bit Rate Control, integrated noise reduction (NR), and Visibility Modulation technology."

    Do the others have that and more importantly, do they have an option to turn the noise reduction off? I've seen enough examples of DVNR (such as the original theatrical star wars trilogy dvd's, sourced from the 1993 THX master) to know it should only be used sparingly and carefully.

    One of the reviews mentioned that some recorders don't work well with 16x blank discs (which is what I have) and need to use 8x. Is that an issue with any of those 3?

    Other than that, I'm not sure what you mean by installing a filter between vhs and dvd sides in a combo unit. Does that mean opening up the machine itself? Isn't it possible to just buy a separate time base corrector and use that in the connection between a separate vhs deck and dvd recorder? Isn't that also the best way to get around vhs copy protection?
    Like I said, I have a really high quality S-vhs deck so there's no point in using a combo vcr for playback simply because they don't yield as much quality as a standalone unit.
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    The DMR ES-10 doesn't have a Firewire input for DV cameras. I do not know about the others.
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  14. If you're gonna fool around with used DVD recorders, stick to what you know: Panasonic. While recording quality varied somewhat year to year and model to model, on the whole they were mostly decent between late 2004-2006. Here and there you had an outlier with different encoder, which jjeff notes in his lists: probably best to avoid those. Older than 2005 can be problematic, depends on model. The ATSC-tuner-equipped units made after 2006 (the notorious "EZ" series) were all dogs, tho if a miracle occurs and you track down a "tunerless" EZ-18 or EZ-38 variant at reasonable cost, those two were nice. The key advantage of 2005-2006 era Panasonics is they are nearly unkillable, and they were the pinnacle of Panasonic recorder quality: the burner in these things lasts more than twice as long as any other recorder brand (5000 burns is not uncommon). Most of them that seem dead just need a cleaning.

    All other brands of second-hand DVD recorder should be avoided: they will either be way overpriced due to cult status as DVD/HDD premium units, or they'll be cheaply made crap on its last legs. High-quality non-HDD non-VHS models disappeared from North America by the end of 2006, leaving just the pricey HDD versions on one hand and dodgy DVD/VHS and cheapo generic DVD-only versions on the other. After 2007, nine out of ten non-HDD recorders came from the same cookie-cutter Funai OEM factory (Magnavox, Sylvania, Philips, SVO, Toshiba, Sanyo, Polaroid, RCA, etc, etc). The remaining few were sourced from LG, they could be great or mediocre depending on model.

    AVOID early Sony models like the plague: almost none of the GX-7 era units are fully functional today (most were in the coffin by 2006). These Sonys vie with early Toshibas for the dubious honor of having the absolute worst rubbish disc burners any mfr ever had the gall to foist on consumers. Ditto the later DVD-only or DVD/VHS Sonys like GX330: garbage burners, trigger-happy anti-record detectors. The only worthwhile Sonys were the later DVD/HDD models from RDR-HX525 thru RDR-HX780 (and their twins, Pioneer DVR-550 or 560).

    You don't need to worry about "undefeatable noise reduction" in any DVD recorder. The only units that had this were early JVCs like DR-M10, DR-M100, and DR-MV5, none of which are likely to be found in functional condition today. The Panasonic ES-10 has some exclusive, heavy-duty VHS stabilizer circuits, which were watered down a bit for the ES-15 and ES-20. If you liked the VHS dubs made by your ES-20, any other Panasonic should do just as well. For Panasonics with variable in-between recording speeds, see the model history link jjeff thoughtfully provided. The infinitely-variable speed feature was only available from Panasonic, Pioneer (and allied Sonys), and pre-2007 Toshibas or JVCs.

    The -R vs +R thing is a known quirk with some Panasonic models: they just don't burn + quite as well as they do - (esp +RW and +DL). Nothing to do with the relative merits of the two disc types: as you say there's no practical difference today. But Panasonic resisted +R in their recorders at first, preferring to push DVD-RAM. When they did add +R compatibility later, it was half-hearted.
    Last edited by orsetto; 7th Jan 2016 at 18:41.
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    I forgot to mention that the DMR-ES10 will write to 16X DVD-R media (I used Verbatim 16X AZO DVD-R after 2006, when 8X media became more difficult to find in local stores.) It doesn't recognize blank DVD+R or DVD+RW media, but will play DVD+RW recorded in DVD+VR mode and properly finalized DVD video mode DVD+R media. There is no way to turn off sharpening or DNR applied during recording.
    Last edited by usually_quiet; 8th Jan 2016 at 07:31. Reason: typos
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  16. Member Knightmessenger's Avatar
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    One other thing. University of Michigan has a media conversion lab on its north campus called Groundworks. I made some dvd's there using their panasonic dvd recorders and they didn't have any of the issues mine did. Plus, on comparing a dvd from the same tape using their machine and mine, I thought their machine was slightly better at preserving detail and encoding.

    I just got confirmation that their Panasonic machines are the DMR EZ-28. (from 2004) The one EZ model jjeff mentioned as being an exception to the EZ models I should avoid.
    Would you still say the ES 10, 15 and 25 are better, especially if used ones are going for less than the EZ-28?
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  17. Member Knightmessenger's Avatar
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    One other thing. University of Michigan has a media conversion lab on its north campus called Groundworks. I made some dvd's there using their panasonic dvd recorders and they didn't have any of the issues mine did. Plus, on comparing a dvd from the same tape using their machine and mine, I thought their machine was slightly better at preserving detail and encoding.

    I just got confirmation that their Panasonic machines are the DMR EZ-28. (from 2004) The one EZ model jjeff mentioned as being an exception to the EZ models I should avoid.
    Would you still say the ES 10, 15 and 25 are better, especially if used ones are going for less than the EZ-28?
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    The DMR-EZ28 was released in 2008. The Amazon listing which says 2004 is incorrect. If jjeff likes it, it is probably fine. The DMR-EZ18 (no tuner) is supposed to be OK too.

    People here seem to prefer the ES15 to the ES10 for VHS to DVD conversion, and if you liked the VHS conversions from a DMR-ES25, then there is no reason why you could not get another one.

    I own a DMR-ES10. There is no Firewire port for use with DV cameras. DNR can be turned off for playback, but there is no way to turn off DNR and sharpening applied during recording, which I am told is fairly aggressive. It won't allow the use of DVD+R or DVD+RW for recording. It only allows DVD-RAM, DVD-R, and DVD-RW. I would say any of the other models would be a better choice given what you have asked about.
    Last edited by usually_quiet; 13th Jan 2016 at 16:25. Reason: misspelled jjeff
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    Double posted somehow.
    Last edited by usually_quiet; 13th Jan 2016 at 16:20.
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    You need to use good media.
    That's the problem 99% of the time.
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    As U.Q. said the EZ-28 is a '08 model, sold up through '10 I believe, it was basically the last of the line. It's tunerless twin the EA-18 is also very good but quite hard to find as not many were sold. Both models use LSI silicon which is supposed to be better for macroblocking than the Panasonic silicon used in older models(with the exception of the ES-20 and ES-40v which both had LSI and are supposed to be on par with the EZ/EA models but have issues of their own).
    Panasonic models with the exception of the EA/EZ models have more aggressive filtering, good for iffy VHS or other unstable sources maybe too much for others. AFAIK all Panasonics allow you to turn off the NR filter, once you've selected your line input and have a recordable disc inserted(not needed for HDD models) push the DISPLAY button. I believe the older models('05 and older) may have a few options the newer ones don't but again I believe you should be able to turn it off if you want. Personally I leave mine on all the time, others may feel different.
    Actually for filtering I believe the ES-10 is supposed to be very good, better than the ES-15 but like all older Panasonics(pre '06 with the exception of the ES-20/40v) they have slightly reduced full D1 resolution(704/480 vs 720x480) so I kind of prefer the newer ones for very clean sources.
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    My mistake. The ES10's noise reduction can be turned off, but not sharpening.
    From the manual's Video menu section:
    Code:
    Line-in NR (Only when IN1, IN2 or IN3 is selected.)
      Reduces video tape noise while dubbing.
      Depending on the software, jittering may occur.
      •Automatic:
    	Noise reduction only works on picture input from a
    	video tape.
      •On: 	Noise reduction works for any video input.
      •Off: Noise reduction is off. Select when you want to record
    	input as is.
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  23. Member Knightmessenger's Avatar
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    Is there any difference between the ea 18 and the ea 18k? Same with the es 15 and the es 15 s?

    Because I just purchased an ea 18k on amazon. So if there are any concerns, speak now or forever hold your peace, I guess.
    Last edited by Knightmessenger; 27th Jan 2016 at 18:41.
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    In Panasonic speak the S simply means silver and K means black
    Last edited by jjeff; 5th Feb 2016 at 07:23.
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  25. Member Knightmessenger's Avatar
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    Well, the machine arrived and yesterday I sucessfully made a dvd with no issues. It plays find on my computer too. Well, other than windows media player doesn't seem to enable me to open it, which is a shame because I wanted to take a few screencaps using the "actual size" option of the video and cyberlink power dvd doesn't seem to have that setting.

    It appears that windows media player doesn't allow that on windows 10 anymore which seems silly.
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    Originally Posted by Knightmessenger View Post
    Well, the machine arrived and yesterday I sucessfully made a dvd with no issues. It plays find on my computer too. Well, other than windows media player doesn't seem to enable me to open it, which is a shame because I wanted to take a few screencaps using the "actual size" option of the video and cyberlink power dvd doesn't seem to have that setting.

    It appears that windows media player doesn't allow that on windows 10 anymore which seems silly.
    Microsoft removed DVD playback from Windows Media Player starting with Windows 8. You can obtain a DVD player app for Windows 10 in the Windows Store, but I don't know if it makes screencaps. VLC and MPC-HC can play DVDs and make screencaps.
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