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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on October 7, 2011
Am using this DVR (ordered thru Amazon.com) to record specific shows received via DirecTV, using the DVR's "L1" input (requires pre-programming the DirecTV receiver to turn on for the desired shows and using DVR's "timed recording" feature programmed for recording the same time-periods ... a bit tedious but it works. The purpose for recording is to later burn DVD-Rs of the recorded medical shows for my sister. This HDD->DVD recording (done entirely within the DVR) illustrates the one flaw in this particular DVR ... the video output to the TV is constantly locked at "stretching" 4x3 to 16x9, regardless of the 3 aspect-ratios setable in the DVR. The burned DVD-Rs do have the proper aspect-ratios, so problem is only in video-out, not a show stopper for my purpose. This thing is doing my job OK.
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on November 11, 2011
We got this item and the DVD tray was warped. It would not close unless it was pushed shut. So we decided to return it. There was also nothing showing on the display on the front of the unit. Not sure if that was a defect or a setting that allows a person to turn the display off. I doubt that this item was inspected before it was boxed up, or the warped DVD tray would have been spotted and repaired. It was not returned to factory settings after having been used, because there was a recording on the hard drive when we got it. So, check for recordings before letting your kids use it...

The tuner worked better than another tuner we had. The channels came in clearer. We didn't test the other features.

Worldwide distributors allowed us to return the item but of course I had to pay for shipping (both ways, although they initially shipped it for free, they deducted $9 from my refund for shipping it to me). From now on I will always order from Amazon, never again from a third party. It's just not worth it when something goes wrong.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on January 5, 2012
I've had this DVR for a month or two, now. This is not a full review, but here are the reasons why I like it:

1) No monthly service contract. Once you buy the DVR you can use it without paying a monthly fee. I (generally) record sporting events off the air (NFL) for watching later. I don't have, and thus don't pay for, cable or satellite so it would have stuck in my craw to have to pay (a monthly fee) to record something.

2) Fast forwarding a show you are currently recording. Start recording your show, do something else for 30-60 minutes and come back to watch it and be able to fast forward through commercials and boring parts of show.

3) HDMI connection to TV. This allows better than 640x480 resolution to TV. Thus the built-in DVD player can play DVDs at the wide aspect ratio.

4) DVD player is pretty good. I've had other Magnavox DVD players and they had issues decrypting some DVDs. No issues with playing DVDs with this DVR yet.

I did not give this device 5 stars because it cannot record two shows at the same time. With the internal disk, it should be able to do that. Even so, this device has been great so far.

-mz
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19 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on September 1, 2012
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
MDR533H/F7, MDR535H/F7, MDR537H/F7 (53x Series)
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Three new Mag std def HDD/DVD recorders arrived 9//5/12: 533/535/537 (53x Series).

These are new versions of the MDR515 which ended production in 1st Qtr 2012, with no plans for continued development or production of new models, i.e., it was "the end of the line, la fin, el fin, die ende, hasta la vista baby, gone bye-bye."

However, we made an "emergency" appeal on avsforum.com to AT LEAST continue producing units similar to the MDR515 so we have SOMETHING to use as an HDD recorder/pseudo-DVR.

Each has a different-sized HDD: 320GB, 500GB, 1TB (1000GB). They also have a "different" tuner... ANT IN/OUT connectors are closer together. Previous tuner reached end-of-life (EOL) so Funai had to get a different one. It's still a hybrid (switched) design. Also, HDD title capacity has been increased in the FW from 600 to 999.

More info at avsforum.com > Forums > Video Components > DVD Recorders > Magnavox 537, 535, 533, 515, 513, 2160A, 2160, 2080 & Philips 3576, 3575.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on October 31, 2011
I'm love my new recorder. It saves me having to buy blank DVDs to record the shows I want to watch at a later time. Now I can record as much as I want and delete them after watching them. I only burn the shows I want to keep.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on January 29, 2012
I'm so glad they finally made a DVR like this. In the pre digital days, I had one pretty much like this, and used it constantly, but after everything was converted to ATSC (digital) it was no longer very useful. I looked and looked for a digital version, but all I found were DVRs that were tied to cable or satellite companies, or subscription services like TIVO. All I wanted was a simple DVR, with an ATSC tuner, so that I could tell it when to record, and from what channel (OTA, cable, or what ever). This is it ... thank you Magnavox. The only thing that could possibly make this thing a little better, would be to upgrade the DVD burner to Blu-Ray.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on February 29, 2012
I have purchased (and still use) several of this recorder's predecessors plus another MDR515H. It is now (to my knowledge) the only product like it still standing (except the MDR513H). I do prefer the MDR515H's added capacity, operating updates and improved remote. I do all my recording (either off air/cable) to the hard drive. Then, if I intend to archive something, I do all the editing (trimming the unwanted pre or post show material, cutting out ads - if appropriate - titling, etc.) on the hard drive and then dub it down to DVD. I was hesitant about purchasing a refurbished unit, but I liked the price and have checked the unit out thouroughly. I'm very pleased.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on March 29, 2013
I love this recorder! We dropped our cable tv and now I can still record the shows we like and I can rewind shows while we are watching. 500Gb is plenty of room for our needs. I have not had a bit of trouble with this unit.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on April 16, 2014
Nice machine. Bought mine reburbished, and used it to off-load from my DirecTV DVR. Picture quality was a not exactly hi-def, but very good at fastest recording speed (HQ).I loved the editing features to remove commercials before burning to DVD. It lasted two years, then died suddenly after a power outtage.

Digital video recorders (DVRs) are convenient, but the drawback is that you will lose lots of recorded programs, unless you back them up onto DVDs or other storage devices, and I'm just too busy to spend excessive time on that goal. I miss the Stone Age -- when a recorder could die, but you still had all your VHS/Beta content safely unaffected on your library shelves.

If anyone knows of a user-friendly way to back up high-quality recordings, please post it.

** UPDATE. Two days later, I was going to take it to a repair shop, but got curious and plugged it into an outlet on a whim... Apparently, leaving it unplugged for a day caused a "soft reset" -- and it powered on again, like Lazarus.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on December 19, 2012
Bought this unit after being disappointed with the 'combo VHS and DVD recorder in one' units....either one side, e.g. the VHS tape player or the DVD recorder, just didn't function on the two attempts with a combo units. Finally took the advice of some of the tech heads on AVS forum....namely the combo units are 'junk' for conversion of old VHS tapes, and should get an HDD/DVD unit, such as the MDR515H unit to utilize with a good VHS tape player (which I still had).
THE GOOD:
- Was relatively easy to wire up with my TV monitor and VHS player...was transferring tapes in no time
Success achieved transferring our home movie collection, aged 6 to 28 years old!! to the MDR515 hard drive
- Quality of transfer was very, very good.....to the eye and ear test, I could not tell the difference between the old tape and the digital recording.
- Quality of transfer from the hard drive to DVD was very, very good....playing on other units, I personally can't tell the difference between the old tape, and now the 3rd generation recording....very different from a 3rd gen. analog tape. Now if the old tape is degraded, that's what you'll get all the way through...no miracles will restore those tapes in poor condition. At least not that I know of.
- Easy to go off and do whatever while the transfer is taking place. Extra recording time can be deleted off when you do come back to check 1, 2, 3 or more hours later.
THE BAD
-The unit is dated technology, so inputting the titles is slow and time consuming as you have to utilize the number keys to cycle through the alpha character you want.
- The instructions don't cover every scenerio you might encounter while performing transfers, so you (or at least I did) have to fall back on a bit of experimentation to get it to do what I wanted. For example, when you go to transfer HDD to DVD, I couldn't get into the DVD control menu if I had previously been viewing the title library via the HDD menu, with out turning the unit off, then turning it back on and hitting the DVD button initially. This step is implied in the instructions, but not explicit. An annoyance, but one to get through.
- I'm worried about the life expectancy of the HDD...some reviews say their units died or 'locked up' very early in the life of the unit, so all the hours I've invested in the tape to HDD transfer could be down the drain. Sooo, I'm investing additional time making multiple DVD copy sets, as is recommended in the MDR515H instructions. It worries me that the manufactor is explicit in the directions that the HDD cannot be trusted for long term storage.
- There's not an easy way to do a high speed digital back-up to the HDD that I've run across, due to different operating systems....e.g. would be great to be able to utilize a 1tB external hard drive to back up the HDD, but that's not a possibility as I understand it. Maybe someone can please enlighten me if I'm wrong, please. Near as I can tell, a person would have to get another Mag HDD unit and stack them for back-up.
- Deleting of scenes is not as 'exact' as I'd prefer...namely, it appears that where a person starts may be cutting off earlier than what you want, but I'm now thinking the 'preview' option actually plays back 3-5 seconds before the actual 'delete' phase. I haven't taken the time to play with an inconsequential transfer to test this.
- Transfer of 'Titles' from HDD to DVD is just as time consuming when the time exceeds one hour...this will be recorded in real time, versus high speed transfer for titles less than one hour. I'm not knowledgeable of why, but that's just the way it is, so plan to invest more time for the final DVD transfer.

Overall....I'm very happy to have apparently saved our old family tapes before they disintegrate, and not have to entrust their care in the hands of a third party. Have made some multiple DVDs of old family events for two of our kids for Xmas...and will be playing the HDD Titles of Xmas past while everyone is at our house celebrating Xmas this year. A wonderful way to magnify living in the moment. Soooo, many thanks to the tech heads at AVS forum, and whoever did a good job of refurbishing this unit.
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