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249 of 259 people found the following review helpful
on October 5, 2012
The MDR537H/F7 is one of three in the 53x Series of std def (480i) HDD/DVD recorders... 533 and 535 are the others. This 537 has a 1000GB (1TB) HDD while the others have 320GB and 500GB HDDs.

More info at avsforum.com > Forums > Video Components > DVD Recorders > Magnavox 537, 535, 533, 515, 513, 2160A, 2160, 2080 & Philips 3576, 3575.

Page 1 there is the only page you need to read and bookmark.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
The Mag 533/535/537 (53x) Series is the 8th, and possibly final, generation of simple, family-friendly, durable, std def (SD, 480i) analog/digital DVD recorders (DVDR) with hard disk drive (HDD) that are yearly improvements of the same basic design and operating system.

They're the ONLY recorders, SD or HD (720/1080), available for daily use in North America with:

-NTSC/ATSC/QAM tuners for antenna or cable.
-Easily replaceable/upgradeable/expandable HDD.
-Easily replaceable DVD/CD drive for burning DVDs and playing DVDs and CDs.
-Widescreen (16:9) recording.
-Amplified coax passthru w/unit on or off.
-Amplified coax and line inputs.
-DV input.
-Coax digital audio out.
-1080p HDMI upconvert.
-36 timer-rec programs with pre-titling.
-6-hour autorecord buffer.
-Pause & rewind live TV.
-Chase play.
-Skip/replay.
-Simultaneous play/record.
-Record while watching diff. channel on TV via coax passthru.
-Integrated TV/DVDR control via HDMI CEC-link.
-1-2 hour power backup, dep. on whether Auto Clock is off or on.
-Simple editing for your archive copies or home movies.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
FOR NEWCOMERS TO DVDRs OR THIS BRAND OF DVDR

The 53x Series are standalone units that can record from antenna or cable coax. They also have line inputs so they can record from cable boxes and satellite receivers or copy from VCRs, DVRs, cameras and camcorders.

They're so easy to use they can be operated by the entire family, from kids to timeshifters to gearheads.

Timeshifters can reliably record a bunch of named shows, unattended and with NO tapes or discs.

Gearheads can upgrade their HDD or create an "HDD farm" of multiple 2.5" and 3.5" external (E-SATA) HDDs with unlimited storage, <1-min. drive swapout, HDD portability, and external power for less internal heat and stress.

The DVD burner is also DIY replaceable with a ~$70 OEM unit.

For the past 5 years, this same HDD/DVD recorder design has proven to be a simple and reliable way to record your daily and weekly shows on analog or digital channels, completely unattended, so you can go on a long vacation or business trip and you'll never touch a disc!

It's the only device you'll need to copy your family's home movies or your DVR recordings to a stand-alone, no-monthly-fee HDD, where you can edit or not, then high-speed dub to DVDs for a perfect mirror-image of the original. You can also record/copy direct to DVD, if you prefer.

If you get your TV signal via OTA antenna, you won't need a digital converter box wherever you've got one of these.

Fair warning: The HDD will spoil you rotten!

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
FOR OWNERS OF PREVIOUS MODELS

If you looked at or have one of the previous models in the Philips or Mag HDD/DVD series, you might only need to know that, with the 53x Series, Funai is basically only satisfying a "Primary Wish": KEEP MAKING THE MDR515!

The 53x Manual reads virtually the same as the 515 manual, except they now show 999 titles possible on the HDD instead of 600.

One major disappointment, other than the fact that the MDR53x Series doesn't add any new capabilities, is that the remote still operates the older Mag HDD/DVD recorders, the 2080, 2160, 2160A, 513 and 515. Users of multiple Mag machines will still have to use barriers to operate a single machine.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
ERRORS, OMISSIONS AND MISLEADS STILL IN THE MANUAL

Be aware that the 53x manual STILL has several important errors, omissions, and misleads.
Three of the worst are:

1. WRONG - SETTING THIS DVDR UP BEHIND A CABLE BOX, pg 19.
Makes this DVDR a "slave" to the box! It should be 1st on the incoming cable coax unless you order PPV/VOD thru the box... only then do you need a 2-way splitter on the incoming coax. This Mag already has a built-in, amplified splitter that (1) passes the raw signal thru to downstream components like a cable box or TV, and (2) feeds the Mag's tuner so it can "pick off" (record) ANY unscrambled channels in the signal. It should NEVER be behind a cable box where it can only record the channel the box is tuned to... EVEN IF ALL YOUR CABLE CHANNELS ARE SCRAMBLED (makes no diff.). Of course, you must do an Auto Channel Preset > Cable (Analog/Digital) to make sure your DVDR sees and memorizes the unscrambled channels (if any).

2. OMITTED - MAKING FRONT- AND END-CUTS IN EDIT, Pp 93-94.
Frustrates many new users! In the Scene Delete menu, only REW stops on 1st frame and only PLAY and FF stop on last frame. 2160, 2160A and 513 also had a totally confusing and unnecessary auto-Preview after an End Cut that should be IGNORED. At least the 53x Series doesn't have the confusing auto-preview!

3. MISLEADING - RECORDING 16:9 WIDESCREEN AS 4:3, pg 45.
This half-truth has caused more misunderstanding than almost anything else in the manual. It's a "deep" technical subject that didn't need to be there! It HAS TO record a 4:3 aspect pic FRAME because the DVD Std was built on the old 4:3 VHS Std, but the DVD std allows a combo of square/non-square pixels, variable horiz. rez, compression and decompression within that 4:3 frame. THAT'S what allows your HDTV to stretch the "non-square" (rectangular) pixels of a WS image inside that 4:3 frame to natural 16:9 WS aspect. You just need to set this DVDR's Video > TV Aspect to "16:9 Wide" and your HDTV on its "Wide" aspect setting. However, this DVDR's DEFAULT setting for aspect ratio is "4:3 Letter Box" so you have to change that to 16:9 Wide during setup or none of your recordings will be 16:9 WS!

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

More info at avsforum.com > Forums > Video Components > DVD Recorders > Magnavox 537, 535, 533, 515, 513, 2160A, 2160, 2080 & Philips 3576, 3575.

Page 1 there is the only page you need to read and bookmark.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Disclaimer: I have never represented or worked for Funai or any seller in any capacity... and currently don't work for anyone else! -:)
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134 of 139 people found the following review helpful
on November 15, 2012
Update 3/1/2013: This item can now be had for only $279+tax, with free shipping site-to-store (at 'Wall-Mart' site).
Amazon current has TWO listings for this IDENTICAL item, the other is even pricier than this listing. Sellers here are STILL overcharging for this DVR, beware! Maybe when Amazon itself finally offers it, the price here will drop, but don't hold your breath.

This is a great DVR for over-the-air TV recording, and it allows you to edit out commercials and copy your shows to DVD (in SD, but it looks pretty good in the SP or HQ mode via the HDMI output), but don't buy it here unless you get it for $280 or less, with FREE SHIPPING.

The list price for this item is NOT listed on this page, so see below.
Note that this unit is available with THREE different hard disk capacities:

MDR537H: 1TB, List Price: $399.99, you should be able to get it for at least $100 less.

MDR535H: 500GB, List Price: $349.99, you should be able to get it for at least $100 less.

MDR533H: 320GB, List Price: $299.99, you should be able to get it for at least $70 less.

Don't get taken to the cleaners, do your homework before buying!

And, to Magnavox / Funai, I'm still waiting for a full HD version of this unit, with a 3TB HDD and a Blu-Ray burner or at least AVCHD to DVD capability!
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113 of 118 people found the following review helpful
on October 26, 2012
First, this is a standard definition DVD recorder centered around a 1 terrabyte high density hard drive recorder. It is designed to be used with over the air digital and analog broadcasts and unscrambled digital and analog cable systems. While the picture is not high definition, it produces the best quality enhanced definition 480p picture that is possible with the DVD standard. And it upscales to 720p, 1080i and 1080p for HDTVs thru its HDMI connection.

Pros:

HUGE 1 TB hard drive. Storage capacity is really limited only by the number of titles its software can deal with: 999. It stores well over 200 hours at its highest quality setting. Over 1000 hours at its lowest quality.

Records off Internet streaming devices like a Roku with a very nice SD picture. No it is not HD, but no other DVR that I know of allows you to record off these devices in any definition. You can also edit out commercials and save on a DVD for viewing on a device that is not connected to the Internet. And since most streaming or pay per view content is available only for a limited time, this unit allows you to keep something permanently.

Dubbing: You can record from a DVD to the Hard Drive and from the Hard Drive to the DVD. The recording seems like an exact copy.

Editing, Editing, Editing: Once recorded you can edit out commercials (or any length of video you want) permanently. If you re-watch something, you won't have to skip the commercials ever again. This is FANTASTIC feature for those who like keeping programs and re-watching. If you are a live concert fan there are lots of concerts available on the internet. But many of the streaming services have ads. This device allows you to edit out the commercials permanently and DUB the final product to a DVD to watch or just listen to again and again.

Very HQ Amplified and Sensitive Tuner - This unit pulls in over the air digital signals better than either our TVs' digital tuners do alone. I don't know why or how, but we get more reliable channels with this thing, and it feeds a stronger signal to the regular TVs so that the TV's own tuners get more reliable channels than without this unit. We even get a couple of additional long distant channels when using this thing.

No Fee Recording Timers. Unattended recording is based on old fashioned timers, but with a far easier to use interface that makes it easy to set up, edit, and title events. There is no $12 a month schedule fee, and you don't rely on inaccurate over the air TV schedule services. You manually program the DVR with free schedule information off the Internet, also available on moble phone app. Recheck the schedule once a week.If you are only recording from Internet, broadcast TV or unscrambled cable, this works well.

A cable or satelite box can be used to feed a descrambled SD picture into this DVR. If you have one with an Infra-red device that can tell another device when to start to record, this would make a great SD-DVR unit for that receiver, and no monthly DVR payment.

Cons:
No automated guide or title recording. For those who can't live without search features, and can pay for them, then this is not for you. You must pay attention to when networks change the schedule, and update your recording timers manually.

Not real HD. For some content, like watching live football, HD is better. You will want to watch live sports on your TV's own High Definition tuner. If you want your own replay, you run this unit on the same channel as the TV, and switch back and forth between the two to run replay off the Magnavox. If you have picture in picture, you can watch the replay off the DVR and the live signal at the same time. But the replay is not as high quality a picture as the HDTV picture.

Is not itself an internet streaming device. It would be nice if I could hook this into the internet without the ROKU device.
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81 of 87 people found the following review helpful
on December 9, 2012
I bought this unit to bring HD signal to my older 55" TV that does not have HD capability. It works great for this by sending the signal to my TV using the HDMI connection. Excellent picture and DVR replay quality is also excellent.
One really nice feature about this unit is that as long as you have it on, you can replay anything you've watched that day even if you haven't put it on record. Then it dumps everything when you turn it off (unless you've recorded it of course).
This unit has the potential to be outstanding. But:
1) The DVR does not search for programs, you have to program it for start and stop times like old VCR's. I knew this before buying it. But it sure seems like a $325 DVR should have that feature. The DVR interprets all the incoming signal and give all the program information. But it doesn't know enough to record it.
2) The remote can only be used for the DVR. It can't be used for anything else, like turning on the TV.
3) The menu's are very complex and are not very intuitive.
4) Whenever you use the replay feature, the information overlay comes on automatically. It's really annoying. It can be turned off during replay, but I don't know how to make it default not to do this.
5) While recording, you can not change channels while watching TV through the DVR. If you have an HD TV this is not a problem because you could feed signal to the TV and change channels from there.
I haven't used this unit to record to a DVD yet, but the 1TB hard drive performs well.
So overall, this unit does what I bought it for and I like the fact that I pay nothing to play, record, replay in HD quality.
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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
on February 6, 2013
If you subscribe to cable, satellite, or use an external antenna, and/or receive digital programming, this DVR will record all of these broadcasts without having to pay a monthly fee.

This DVR will work with newer digital or older analog TVs.

This unit does everything VCRs did and more, and is very similar to a VCR to use. The only difference is the extra wire if you have an HDMI TV, and the need to make a few extra settings.

This DVR records to a hard drive, like the hard disk in your computer, allowing TV programs to be recorded and watched on your own timetable, then erased. If you only care about that capability, you never need to deal with the DVD features of this machine, such as buying discs and so on.

If you do not use a cable box, you will be able to watch one channel while the DVR is recording another channel. Note if you do have a cable box you may not have this option.

This review will perhaps be of best assistance to those who subscribe to cable TV, and do not use a cable box, your cable wire goes from wall to TV.

PRELIMINARY NOTE ABOUT DIGITAL CHANNELS:

The newer so-called off the air (or called "ATSC" or "OTA") digital channels do require some sort of an antenna or active cable or satellite hookup. Your DVR has only one coaxial input. If you have cable or satellite service, it will occupy the input and that means no antenna. Or vice-versa, if your antenna occupies the input, no cable or satellite.

My cable service is only limited basic, I subscribe to no digital channels, but with this DVR, as with my HDTV, numerous digital channels come in, when and only when, the cable service is hooked up and active. They come in via the cable. Most of these are digital broadcasts of the same cable channels I get, but a few are in addition. This may or may not work with your cableco. I suspect that some cable systems, such as Time Warner, which have gone all-digital, are now scrambling even basic channels. I don't know about any free digital channels with satellite services.

If you get no digital channels via your usual service, other options include subscribing to digital cable or satellite or purchasing an indoor or outdoor antenna. But again, you must decide on one reception source.

If you are thinking of discontinuing cable or satellite, I advise first trying an antenna to see if you would get enough digital channels. I live in a metropolitan area, and the online services say I should be able to get numerous channels with an antenna, but with an indoor antenna, the results were disappointing, and I had to have my disconnected cable service reconnected. If you are able to get the right antenna, and especially an outdoor one, and are close enough to stations you like, you should do fine, and will not have those monthly fees.

GETTING WIRED:

You will find a quick setup guide and a thick manual which reads like it was written by people who learned English as a second language. Don't despair.

Unplug your TV. See quick setup guide; take your cable wire, called a RF COAXIAL CABLE, unhook from TV, and hook to DVR IN. Take your (included) second RF cable which looks the same, and hook from DVR OUT to TV.

With the old VCRs, this was all the connection needed, but now you need extra connections.

If you have a newer TV with an HDMI port, purchase an HDMI cable. The ones sold on Amazon work fine, I use the Mediabridge one. Hook it to the DVR HDMI OUT and to the TV HDMI IN.

Of 3 HDMI ports on my TV, HDMI 1 was the one I had to use.

If your TV has no HDMI port, included with the DVR are AV audio visual cables. Connect these between the ports on the DVR and your TV.

Wiring for Reception of Closed Captions:
Transmitting CC from DVR to TV works differently for digital and analog. For cable, you probably have an analog signal, which means that, even if you have the HDMI connection, you will also need the AV cable hookup mentioned above. HDMI is for digital only, it will handle only closed captioning of digital signals.

Also, see manual to set the DVR for recording CC.

INITIAL SETUP:

Put batteries in remote; plug in and turn on TV and DVR. Go to your TV channel that says "HDMI" or "Line In" or whichever channel the DVR is coming through to the TV.

You should then see initial DVR setup screen and get started from there. If you see no setup, press the MENU button and from there, set the language, the time, and do the channel scan, which is all setup is.

"Device Control Inactive"
This is one message you may see right away. It does not mean your remote control is not working. This message refers to the DVR being able to control the TV, if you have the HDMI wire and also set the DVR's "Fun Link" to "on."

Then, if you hold the DVR's power button on the remote an extra 2 seconds, it turns on both DVR and TV and tunes the TV to the DVR channel. Hold the power button an extra 2 seconds to turn off both the DVR and TV. To just operate the DVR, and not the TV, press the DVR's power button normally.

Time setting:
Your time must always be correct in order to correctly record programs. Initially, set up the time manually. There is a special field for the channel number for your local PBS station, so the DVR time stays correct, this is in addition to programming in recording channels, and is important to set. If your time is still incorrect, go back and choose manual time setting.

Channel Setting:
If you have cable, choose the Cable/Digital scan option. And run three scans. This will help this DVR program in the quirky digital channels. More below about those.

It takes about 5 minutes to program cable channels and 15 more minutes for the digitals.

Now surf through to be sure all your channels are there. Add any missing ones and remove any not wanted.

Digital Signal:
This type signal works differently. As noted above, I subscribe to cable and the cable brings the extra digital signal. Two of my 30 or so digital channels regularly "disappear." What is happening?

I do not know the mechanics of how my digital channels are being received. I know I get them if and only if the cable service is hooked up and active. Yet, these channels behave like off the air channels also. Go figure.

In any off the air reception, radio or TV, what you get depends on factors such as distance from the station, terrain, and even weather conditions. You just may get a great channel, only to find one day a blank recording. With analog cable, you may see a snowy picture on a weak channel. With digital you do not subscribe to, you will see no snow, the picture is either there or it is not, the signal is either being completely picked up or not at all. That channel may be gone for minutes, hours, or days. Your TV may even pick up the channel while the DVR does not, if your TV's tuner is more powerful. Be prepared for this, but no worries, the channel will return again.

If you have an actual antenna instead of cable, your reception could be different.

On the AVS Forum, a thread suggests that you run several channel setup scans of this unit to help with getting the best reception. Should one of your digital channels go missing, try running a full channel scan.

But, and this is a big "but," if you have cable, you DON'T want to run an "antenna" scan, hoping it will improve reception. It won't, and if you then run a cable scan, ALL of your timer programming and the time set may be lost.

Again, if you have cable, be careful to choose ONLY "Cable/Digital" when you run re-scans. By the same token, if your main input is over your external antenna, choose ONLY "Antenna" to re-scan. Any time you run a re-scan, choose ONLY the appropriate source, External Antenna OR Cable/Digital.

And, before running channel scans, always write down or take a picture of your timer programming, just in case.

Backup Duration:
The time and programming remain set for a period if the unit is unplugged or loses power, but over an hour and you need to reset everything.

TIMER PROGRAMMING:

This works like the VCR did, you put in the date, time, and channel of the show to be recorded. Unlike the VCR, which would only allow 6 programs, this DVR will hold 3 dozen programs. You can set it to record a movie, a special, a daily program, etc. On this machine, "daily" means Monday through Sunday. Or you can choose Monday through Friday, Monday through Saturday, Saturday only, Sunday only, any weekday, or any specific date. For each program, there is a field to choose your source, cable or digital; cable is the default.

TV Guide:
This machine, unlike TIVO, has no dedicated TV Guide feature, you must use the TV guide broadcast by the cable service, which only shows the current and next hour, and will not show the digital lineup.

I go online for the full scheduling of all the channels I get. A good website for cable is Locate TV. For the digital channels try going to the website of that channel; eg., say you get PBS on Channel 3.1, the website will show programming for Channels 3.1, 3.2, 3.3, etc.

Aspect Ratio:
The review by Wajo discusses this. For a widescreen TV, called a 16:9 screen, there is a place to set the DVR so that the recording is widescreen. If your TV has the familiar squarish, called 4:3 screen, the DVR is already set for this.

PLAYBACK:

Unlike the VCR, this DVR allows you to watch a program - from the beginning of that program - as it is being recorded, or other programs already recorded, right while the DVR is busy recording. No more waiting.

***

PROS:
No monthly fee
Replaces VCR technology while adding better capabilities and features
Quality of recordings is excellent, especially if you choose HQ

CONS:
With TIVO, there is an integrated TV guide feature and simpler programming, and you may be able to record two or more channels at the same time; but with a monthly fee. If you hate entering dates and times, you may prefer TIVO to this DVR.

If you are a subscriber to your cable provider's full lineup including digital, they may rent you a DVR at a minimal monthly fee and set it up; their DVR may have more TV guide and ability to record 2 or more channels at the same time, that this DVR does not have. But for limited basic cable subscribers, cable companies do not offer their DVRs.

.

UPDATE 6/20/14
After working flawlessly for almost 1-1/2 years, the time began jumping on its own, even when set to manual. And the sound on the digital channels stopped coming through, either live or recorded. The first time, the sound problem was fixed by unplugging 1 minute, the next time two minutes, the third time I used 20 minutes unplugged. Finally Iwas able to fix the problem by turning off the machine and unplugging for a few hours, then doing an auto channel scan (set). Make sure you take a picture of your timer programs first.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on November 27, 2012
DVR
I have over the air antenna (ota)
This thing is so similar to the DVR's that comes with cable or satellite
For example if I am watching a show through the DVD I can back space (adjusted from menu how much)
or I can start over from the time I had turned it on (even channal changes).
It will also start timer recording even if it is on. (gives 2 minutes of warning that the channel will change)
the forward skip is veriable (set in the menu)
then number of timer programs is large (did not look at the limit) I have 24 and I am still able to add.
For the price it is a great buy.
The picture quility is what I expect for 480.
DVD
has upconverstion and seems to be a standard quiltiy

I recommend the product
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on January 3, 2013
Nothing fancy, but it works fine for simple recording needs. Unlike fancier PVRs this one has no monthly fee or subscription - but it also doesn't have a program guide; you have to know what channels you want to record and when.

Setting it up was easy and the on-screen menus are simple - but they look very basic and VCR-like.

One cool feature is the unit's ability to play back a show from DVD or hard drive, while at the same time recording another show onto the hard drive (this all happens automatically if you have a timer recording set up).

Note that even if you're recording an HD program, the resulting recording isn't true HD, although it looks as good or better than DVD quality.

The only thing I don't like is that the remote has some buttons that are too small and hard to read.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on July 3, 2013
This unit allows you to record between 400 and 1200 hours on hard disk or 1 to 6 hours on a DVD+RW. Beware it will not record on a DVD-RW, but this is a non-issue as both are readily available. It's picture quality is excellent. It's video processing chip doesn't quite have the processing power of our Oppo Blue Ray or Sony 46" XBR LCD set, but at it's very modest price $289 + free shipping, it comes really darn close. It is 1000 times better than the old VCR...best $289 I ever spent.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on July 8, 2013
I chose to let my cable go:( thought i was paying them tooo much money. Now that i'm over my withdrawals from not being able to watch lifetime:) I can move forward and enjoy my recorder. With the built in tuner, this is just perfect and I still can record my favorite regular tv shows when i'm away from home. I've also bought the roku device and subscribe to netflix and get to watch movies all day long for free. Sure beats a $200 cable bill
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on December 31, 2012
My ever faithful panny video recorder w/80GB hdd/vcr/dvd - DVD drive died - and as it would cost at least $300 to replace the DVD drive/burner - they're not your ordinary, every day, DVD burner - my brother recommended this Magnavox.
A big selling point for me was the phrase "field replaceable DVD burner and HDD" - that I read in another review.

I received it and plugged in the S-video inputs - but no video out - only sound. Fortunately for me, my brother remembered calling tech support to discover that there is a software setting that controls whether the L1 and separately the L2 inputs use the S-video input or the component inputs.. Once I used the menu setting - everything was fine. Page 104 of the users manual - NOT up front in the "connecting your device" section..

One other point - there are only 2 S-Video inputs - one on the front and one on the rear. For my installation - would have been much nicer to have them both on the rear of the unit - since I have permanent connections to both of them.

Very easy to schedule manual recordings to the hdd and the output looks good. Haven't tried dvd burning just yet. Nice have over 500 hours of recording time left !!!!

Overall - I highly recommend this unit.
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