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184 of 193 people found the following review helpful
on March 19, 2005
Don't tell my girlfriend, but I think I'm in love.

I picked this unit up yesterday, so this is obviously a very preliminary review, and I'll update it later if my opinion changes, but this seems like a real winner. And at a list price of $200, a real steal also.

After buying (and returning) one pile-of-junk DVD recorder, I did a fair amount of research and found many horror stories and much dissatisfaction ... except for the Panasonic DMR-E55 (and slightly different models), which almost everyone here and at videohelp.com loved. However, it did have some difficulties for my intended use, in particular that it only wrote to write-once discs and to DVD-RAM. Now DVD-RAM seemed slick as a greased weasel, allowing the DMR-E55 to do TIVO-like tricks such as starting to record a show while you're out, getting home midway through and then watching the beginning while it's still recording the end, but if you wanted to watch the resulting disc on a standard DVD player, or to use your computer to make copies or transfer to hard drive for editing, you were out of luck (or would have to buy a DVD-RAM supporting drive). Plus, forget archiving stuff on DVD-RAM, even for use on Panasonic machines, since they run $4+ per disc.

Nevertheless, with a somewhat heavy heart and plenty of reservations, I decided the E55 was what I'd go for, the least-bad solution, so I hied me down to Best Buy thinking I'd probably come home with one. Alas, they only had a display unit left, with no box, no remote, etc. But the sales guy sort of offhandedly mentioned, "Well, we did get this new model in, there's a stack of them over there." We opened up a box, checked the manual to make sure it had all the nifty features of the E55, and in a kind of daze I walked out with one, all the qualms and the feeling of settling for something that might be a pain-in-the-neck gone.

I spent yesterday afternoon and evening playing with it, and what can I say ... it just works, smoothly and efficiently. I obviously have tried only a portion of the features and possibilities [and of course can't say anything about long-term reliability], but this new machine gets around some of the difficulties with the old E55. It seems like Panasonic was actually listening to the complaints, and came up with solutions ---

-- except for the not widely supported DVD-RAM, the E55 only recorded to DVD-R, and reportedly not to (most) 8X blanks either. The ES10 additionally records to -RW and +R/4X and +R/8X, all of which I tested (and the +R were cheap discs, Teon and WinData). The results play on my computer's DVD drive. Being able to use DVD-RW gets around the DVD-RAM incompatibility for now (I can record, say, a bunch of episodes of Frasier, then transfer to the computer to edit out the ads, and re-use the original disc), though I might install a DVD-RAM compatible drive eventually. [For some reason, DVD+RW discs are not supported for writing.]

-- many people commented on the obtuse manual and difficult to use remote and menus. I can't compare directly, but having been driven to blinking distraction by one bad DVD recorder, I can say the ES10 was a delight to use -- it was easy to find what little I needed in the manual, and I could largely just wing it. I was making "flexible record" discs (where compression is chosen based on total program length to use the entire disc precisely) immediately. If you hit the wrong button by mistake, the unit does not begin to make grinding noises and/or go into never-never land; it's OK to try things to see what they do. And if you're stuck, the "magic" button that gets you out of certain menus or situations seems to be labelled Return.

-- to fast forward/reverse, you had to use and hold the chapter skip buttons; there are now separate buttons.

I have no substantive complaints so far, but here are some annoyances. That most are so trivial speaks volumes --

-- the open/close control is on the opposite end of the unit from the disc drawer; for some reason this is not intuitive to me.

-- there is no on screen display of the record mode (XP, LP, etc, i.e. recording quality). Only the display on the unit itself, which can be hard to read across the room.

-- the unit uses 8.5 watts even turned off; the manual notes this and says you might want to unplug it when not used for long periods. Why can't they just put in a genuine 'off' and a 'standby' if they feel it's needed?

-- some of the remote buttons are too closely spaced for my stubby fingers, yet there is unused or underused real estate in the configuration.

-- 'stop' and some other controls seem to leave the unit in a kind of intermediate state (though they do have the desired effect); to go to a 'neutral' or startup state, I have to hit stop again. (Maybe this is some feature I just haven't figured out yet. Or maybe it's somehow an example of ...

-- the menus maybe go a bit too far trying to protect you against doing foolish things. You get asked twice, not just once, if you really want to format a disc, for instance.

-- the 8-hour/disc mode really is substandard, worse than a 6 hour VHS tape; but the 4-hour mode should be acceptable for many uses. [There is a 6-hour mode, but apparently you have to select that instead of 8-hour in Setup and I haven't tried it yet.]
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81 of 82 people found the following review helpful
If you're going to copy a lot of VHS tapes to DVD-R or DVD+R discs, this is the one to get. I tried both a Philips DVDR600VR DVD recorder/VCR combo and a Sony RDRVX500 DVD recorder/VCR combo. The Philips had a couple problems and I returned it, so I'll compare the Panasonic to the Sony:

The Sony had a lot of nice features and overall good quality, but I found that it had a major problem copying VHS tapes from a separate VCR with a GoDVD device. The quality in that case is substantially degraded, with streaks of interference, as with a satellite dish with the polarity or azimuth tuned wrong. This is either with the composite video connection, or using an S-Video cable from the GoDVD to the Sony. The odd thing is a signal from a separate DVD player comes through the same GoDVD device OK, and the signal from the VCR is OK without the GoDVD. The only way I found to get a decent signal from a separate VCR through the GoDVD to the Sony was through an adapter to the coaxial input, which of course is lower quality anyway and somewhat defeats the purpose.

However, with the Panasonic DMR-ES10, I made perfect copies of the exact same tapes from the same VCR through the same GoDVD device. Additionally, the Panasonic has the following handy features not on the Sony combo unit:
1. Flexible speed recording. If you have a tape that's 2 hours 5 min. you can record it at a speed that exactly fills the DVD-R (or +R), where if you just left it in SP mode it would run out. I tried a DVD-R disc recorded this way on 2 other players and it works fine.
2. You can change the thumbnail images in the menu. With the Sony you're stuck with the first frame. With this model Panasonic you can play the title to any frame you want to select for the menu image.
3. You can store phrases for the titles. For instance, if you're recording Perry Mason episodes, every title starts with "The Case of the ... " You can store that so you don't have to spell it out each time. I like to add previews to the extra space on a disc, so I saved "PREVIEWS."

The only problems I've had with the Panasonic DMR-ES10 is with DVD+R media. When recording stops, it fouls up the disc so it's unusable. I've had this problem with TDK, HP, and Sony DVD+R disks. Once in a while it works if the recording is under an hour. It always works fine with DVD-R.

This isn't a combo unit, so the quality from the VHS tape depends on the VCR. I tried two different VCRs, an old Toshiba and a newer cheaper model, and got great quality DVDs from both. I tried both VCRs with the Sony and both had the problem with the GoDVD described above, but seem fine without the GoDVD. But the VCR built into the Sony combo unit seems to have worse performance than the separate VCRs, causing flickering sometimes.
Because of that I don't see much advantage to the combo unit, and recommend the Panasonic DMR-ES10 as the best option for copying VHS tapes to DVDs.
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34 of 34 people found the following review helpful
on April 15, 2005
Panasonic DMR-ES10 DVD Recorder

Pros: Great low price. Excellent recordings ,even in the LP (4Hr) speed.

Cons: PIP & Commercial Skip wont work on Finalized DVDs.

Full Review :
Unlike all previous Panasonic DVD recorders. Besides being able to record on DVD-R and DVD-RAM. This new model will also record on , DVD+R , DVD-RW. This is a much needed and smart move by Panasonic.

But a word of caution. Due to strict new copy protection laws. Some broadcasts now contain Copy Control signals. They may have one of three signal types: Copy-Free, Copy-Once, or Copy-Never. The recorder limits the recording according to the copy protection signal. Copy-Free encoded signals can be recorded at any time with any compatible blank disk type.Copy-Never encoded signals can not be recorded on this unit. Many of your premium cable stations(HBO,SHO)are Copy-Once programs. This means you may record the program to a disk. But you are not able to take that disk and then make a copy of it. According to the manual copy once programs may only be recorded using DVD-RAM. I did have some problems finalizing copy protected recordings from HBO using DVD-R and DVD-RW disks.

I highly reccomend purchasing the Sima CT-2 (GO DVD) Video Signal Processor (Amazon Price: $69.49) This will allow you to record any copy protected source (Cable,VHS,DVD).

Being that this is only a $200 unit. It is not made as sturdily as some of the previous models. But the many important new features and low price make up for that.

Panasonic made alot of bold claims about this unit.I was hesitant about them , especially since this is only a $200 unit. While other DVD recorders like the SONY sell for nearly $400.00. But I am happy to report that all the claims are true. The unit works great. Panasonic really backs up all thier claims about this DVD recorder.

All the DVDs I made recorded played back with very high quality. I also found no problems with compatibility when playing those DVDs back on other DVD players. Recordings made in the four (4) hour (LP) speed looked nearly identical to those made using the (2) Hour(SP)speed. The VCR Plus feature is fairly useless if you have it connected to a CABLE box. But if you have it connected to a standard antenna then VCR Plus is a useful feature.

The remote control also controls your TV. It can also be adjusted so that it wont control any other Panasonic equipment you may own. Among the important new features is that all the new Panasonic models for 2005 now have improved horizontal resolution. In the LP (4 Hours) mode, this DVD recorder has images twice as sharp as last year's models. It gives up to 500 lines resolution. This is double the horizontal resolution compared to the 250 lines of conventional LP mode recording. Thanks to this, you now have high quality four hour recordings as sharp as the Two Hour (SP )speed.

Another new feature is what Panasonic calls "VHS Refresh". This feature offers improved quality when Dubbing VHS to DVD. When connecting a VCR and the DVD recorder to record VHS videotape images onto a DVD disk. Something similar to a "Time Base Corrector", helps reduce jitter and also performs signal conversion to create a stable signal.

The unit also has 3D Digital Noise Reduction which detects and virtually eliminates randomly generated noise and color errors to help minimize flicker. This 3D DNR works on any video input source. Thanks to these two technologies, the video input signal is automatically detected and optimum processing is performed to provide an easy way to even more beautiful digital pictures. There is also a Digital Noise Reduction for playback. This helps clear up recordings made in the EP 6 hour speed. This unit has an option to allow up to Eight (8) hours of recording time. Although I really don't recommend recording with the 8 hour speed due to quality issues.

One of the most important new features is the nearly instantaneous response time in start-up and recording. It is as quick as five seconds from the DVD-RAM insertion to Play or Record. The unit has nearly as fast times for other blank DVD media. Disk finalizing takes about four minutes which is a bit slow.But that's a minor trade-off for the very quick disk recognition. The Panasonic DMR-ES10 DVD Recorder also has a "One Touch Record" button. Each press gives 30 Minutes recording time up to 4 hours. The unit then powers itself off after the recording time has finished.

All Panasonic DVD recorders offer all the benefits of the DVD-RAM format. Which include " Chasing Playback". -- This feature lets you view a program that you're currently recording from any point that's already been recorded, while continuing to record the live program in progress. So you no longer have to wait for the entire program to be recorded before watching it from the beginning to the end. Simultaneous Recording & Playback are also possible using DVD RAM. This way you can record a live TV program while watching any other program that's been previously recorded on the same disk. Time Slip Button -- Just press the Time Slip button once during recording on a DVD RAM, to start playing back the scene recorded 30 seconds earlier. You can also use the cursor keys to return to any point from 1 to 360 minutes earlier.

The Panasonic DMR-ES10 DVD Recorder offers a PIP(Picture-in-Picture function) and commercial skip during playback.

Please note : These two features will NOT work after the DVD +/-R/W disks are finalized. These features also wont work on pre-recorded (store bought) DVD movies. They do work on on DVD RAM disks. Since those disks do not need to be finalized.

The unit has a new layout with finalize and disk setup which makes it alot easier to use. Also new is that it goes into record mode and loaded blank and pre-recorded DVDs so much faster. Both are major improvements over earlier units. I also liked the smaller size, and large easy to read numerical readout. Total ease of use is also much improved. But novices will still need to read the manual thoroughly. I like the new sleek look. This model seems very user friendly and priced low enough. So if you haven't already purchased a DVD Recorder. Then this is the unit that may make you put away your VCR. For those who like their components to match. This unit also comes in Black. I have only one minor complaint. There is no disk time remaining display during a DVD movie playback. The time remaining display is viewable during all recording modes to view the recording time left on disk.

Connections - 1 RF(TV) Input/1 RF(TV)Output, 1-Front Panel Audio/Video(S-Video)3-Rear Panel Audio/Video(S-Video),1 Rear Panel component video input. 1- Audio/Video (S-Video)Outputs,1- Digital Audio Optical Output.

If you need even more features than the DMR-ES10 offers. There is the DMR-EH50 model ($500) which features a 100GB hard disk drive. This gives up to 177 hours of recording time using the hard drive.

The Bottom Line :
Low Price with great Quality LP speed video ,new user friendly features. All adds up to an excellent DVD Recorder
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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on August 8, 2005
If you have been looking at options for converting your old analog tapes to DVD, then this unit is a consideration.

After looking at multiple options, including countless computer accessories, software, Digital8, firewire, I finally decided to use the "point and shoot" approach this unit affords.

Since we already own a Panasonic DVD/VCR unit, the user's manual was a cinch. It took about 15 minutes to get this thing out of the box and begin burning my first DVD from a vintage 8mm tape via a camcorder.

Quality was excellent. Many approaches complain about the ability to sync sound with action. This was not evident on this particular unit.

What was especially nice was that I was able to utilize a batch of Verbatim DVR-R disks that I picked up on sale.

One drawback is the inability to create multiple chapters with the -r format. The documentation states that the unit automatically creates 5 minute chapters with a DVD-RW, however I have yet to test that feature.

One other glitch is Panasonic does not seem to differentiate their remotes. In other words, the ES10 remote will turn on, activate and eject DVDs from my other Panasonic unit. I will be moving this unit to another location to avoid this.

If you invest in the DVD-RAM technology, you can edit, create new chapters etc. This might be a consideration in the future. However, since the "RAM" technology seems to be favored by the Panasonic brand, I would prefer to burn a few "generic DVDs" first.

Another option is to invest in a DVD recorder which has a hard drive built in. Prices seem to be dropping on these as well. However, reading reviews of this technology indicates a greater tendency for breakdown, so an extended warranty would certainly be a consideration.

If you are looking to convert analog tapes to DVD, are on a budget, but still desire high quality output, then this is the unit for you.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on May 25, 2005
I have a digital cable box from cablevision with the built in DVR which to me is a better option than buying a $500 + DVD recorder with a built in hard drive. Considering that I rent the cable box for 10 bucks a month, and considering the lifespan of a hard drive, I think it is a cheaper option. Also if you have a digital cable box

you can't record one show while watching another, so spending all that money would be pretty useless to me.

The reason why I bought this model is because aside from owning a dvr there are occasional times where I want to keep a permanent copy of a show or movie.

You can record one show while watching another if you bypass the cable box, however you can only watch or record the analog channel's (1-99).

To record digital channels:

With the dvd recorder connected to the cable box I can set the VCR timer on the cable box to record my programs while I am not home, the VCR timer on the cable box will turn the box on and turn to the channel you want to record for however many shows you want. You just have to program the recorder to record channel 3 and set the times you want to record. The menus are pretty simple and it really isn't any trouble at all.

DVD-RAM is the best media option for this recorder because it allows you to edit the disk before you finalize it, it allows you to watch one recorded show while recording another as well. With DVD-rw if you want to erase a program in order to free up space you have to erase the last one you recorded, with DVD RAM it doesn't matter which chapter or program you delete, the free space will be useable.

DVD-RAM can be rewritten up to 100,000 times and you can buy the disks in a protective cartridge which will play in this player.

The only downside to dvd-ram is that it is not compatible with most other players and you can't use it on your computer unless you have a dvd-ram drive. I would recommend buying two or three dvd-rams double sided and in the cartridge for recording your disposable sitcoms (the ones you only want to watch once). You do of course have to flip the double sided disks if you want to record on the other side.

For the recordings you want to keep I would recommend getting some

dvd-r disks as they are most compatible with other players (more so than dvd+r).

You can also record from your DVR to the dvd-recorder, I have not tried this myself but I have read on several forums that you can.

I have copied an old VCR tape and it came out great.

The picture quality is very good on two hours and pretty good on 4 as well.

The dvd recorder will not record dolby 5.1, but it will record 2 channel dolby digital. There are no dvd recorders on the market that will record 5.1 (set top boxes that is, of course you can copy 5.1 and DTS on your computer if you have a recordable dvd drive).

This unit is perfect for use in my bedroom, since I have the DVR in my living room. I wouldn't spend much more money on one of these things because you know in a few yrs it will be obsolete with the new blueray technology.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on April 13, 2005
I just purchased the Panasonic DMR-ES10S yesterday, so I cannot assess its long-term merits at this time. However, I have had fantastic luck with everything Panasonic makes from portable CD players to vacuum cleaners. On to the recorder.

I purchased this unit as a replacement for two things; a dead DVD player and the VCR. I considered Tivo, but didn't want to pay a monthly subscription.

In short, for $199.99 (no taxes where I live), the Panasonic DMR-ES10S is a bargain and does everything I hoped it would, and more.

As a DVD player, it has everything you've come to expect from standard players (although I haven't found a zoom-picture function yet, but that's not something I used before). I find the sound quality to be quite good, especially compared to the Sony I had previously. I dislike Sony stuff, particularly when it comes to audio equipment.

Recordings on the DMR-ES10S can be made at four different speeds/quality levels. At 8 hours, picture quality suffers noticably, and I don't have a fancy television set either. In other recording modes (i.e., speeds), recordings are good quality. Please refer to other reviews concerning available aspect ratios. Since my television is not high definition some distinctions of picture quality are not visible to me.

While recording, it is possible to view the recording you have just made. There are a few ways to do this. One is to simply hit the "play" button. Doing so will take you to the start of your recording. The recording continues, but you are watching the start of the recording. Another is "Time Slip," which takes you back a specific amount of time into the program that is being recorded. "Time Slip" also provides you a picture-in-picture with the current recording taking up the lower-right side of the screen. Finally, you can press "Direct Navigator/Top Menu" to take you to a menu of previously recorded materials that you can watch while your recording progresses. In each of these instance, while you watch something that has already been recorded, the current recording progresses.

The Flexible Recording (or "F Rec.") feature is nice. This takes a segment of time and makes it fit on the entire disc at the highest quality. For instance, if you want to record a 2.5 hour show conventionally you would have to set the recorder for either 2 or 4 hours play time/quality level. With two hours, obviously, you wouldn't get the entire show, and with four hours, you would have lower quality picture, but plenty of time left over. "F Rec." makes the entire 2.5 hours fit onto just one disc at the highest possible quality setting.

During playback, there is a commercial skip feature that jumps one minute ahead in the recording.

Once recordings have been made, a top-menu is created. This page displays six different panels at a time. When you highlight a panel, the recording begins playing inside the panel allowing you to preview the selection. From the top-menu page you can name selections or delete them.

Use of DVD-RAM discs provides some flexible features to completed recordings. For instance, you can create "chapters," which are essentially new track markers within the recording. Additionally, this allows you to single out certain sections with a chapter mark on either side and then later erase out that section. FOr instance, if you put a chapter mark at the beginning and end of the commercials, you can later erase those commercials from the recording. You can also rearrange sections as you wish. These features only work with the DVD-RAM discs. I tried it with DVD-RW discs and it didn't work.

There are drawbacks. DVD-RAM does not play on a computer without a DVD-RAM-specific player, which most probably don't have. It also won't play on most other DVD players. Plus, the DVD-RAM blanks are expensive compared to DVD-RWs or DVD-Rs. The DMR-ES10S uses DVD-RW (not DVD+RW; I tried) and DVD-R, but they do not support the chapter building features I noted above. You can create playback lists in DVD-RW, but only for playback (this is according to the manual; I've not yet tried this). One DVD-RAM disc is provided in the box with the player/recorder.

The design of the unit is a bit 80s-retro, which is OK; ultimately I not that concerned. It's slightly longer than any of my other components (stereo tuner, VCR, CD player) and because of the cables in the back, it protrudes a bit from my A/V cabinet. That's OK since I don't have doors, but you might want to check this out with a measuring tape yourself to see if it will fit.

Minor complaint. It was mentioned previously that the record speed/quality is only displayed on the unit and not on the screen. This is true and I find it hard to read from across the room. There are color differences between the different speed/quality settings, but this difference is ultimately not helpful in determining which setting you are on.

Another minor complaint. I found the remote difficult to suss initially, but I think I have the hang of it now. For instance, "Direct Navigator" is not immediately recognizable as some kind of menu button. It says "Top Menu" underneath the "Direct Navigator" button, and it seems to me that just writing top menu or main menu would have been enough. There is no "exit" button; the "return" button often serves as the "exit" button. It is only through trial and error that I have (tentatively) come to understand the differences between the "Display," "Status," and "Functions" buttons.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
The Panasonic ES10 is a smooth-functioning, feature-rich machine. Someone at Panasonic must have spent a lot of time designing this unit and it shows. It is easy to program and use. If you are coming from the world of VCR recording, you will appreciate many of the features you can use to record and playback your favorite shows. Using the DVD-RAM disc, you can play and then delete your recorded programs in a snap. The ES10 comes with one DVD-RAM disc which Panasonic says can be used up to 1000 times. The DVD menu function allows the viewer not only to see snippets of the recorded shows in a small on-screen box, but to hear them also. Thus, you can easily decide what programs to keep, and which to delete.

There are four record modes. I mostly use the Long Play mode which gives you four hours of recording time per disc with very good quality. Compared with a VCR, the picture quality is very sharp.

I especially like the "Commercial Skip" feature which is labelled "CM Skip" on the remote. You can use this feature with DVD-RAM discs to skip ahead one minute at time. I also find this useful to skip ahead in a recorded program.

The only thing I would change would be to put more controls on the front panel of the unit. As it stands, you can only play, stop and record from the front panel. There are also up and down channel buttons in a recessed front panel next to the front VCR inputs (there are 3 sets of VCR inputs -- two on the back and one on the front). You must use the buttons on the remote control to access all the unit's features including fast-forward and rewind. For my medium-sized fingers, the remote is comfortable to use and easy to operate.

Overall, this unit is a great value for the price and a huge improvement over VCR recording.

(Dr. Simeon Hein is the author of OPENING MINDS: A Journey of Extraordinary Encounters, Crop Circles, and Resonance and PLANETARY INTELLIGENCE: 101 Easy Steps to Energy, Well-Being and Natural Insight)
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on September 22, 2005
Note that a newer model of this unit on now available, the Panasonic DMR-ES20. It seems to be the same as the ES10, except that they've now added a firewire input. For some reason this unit is not yet available on Amazon (as of 9.22.05), but I just bought the ES20 at Best Buy (the ES10 was on clearance there, as I believe that model is now discontinued).

I love this machine.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on April 23, 2005
I pick up one of these unit one week ago at bestbuy,

to use as a player, because my sony dvp-ns575p went out and only had it for 6 month. All the other player had a bad review and seem to be real filmsy. so I saw this panasonic for $188.99 on sale. So I thought this would work as a good player, for my sony dvd recorder. went i got home. Hook him up to my pioneer reciever to use him as a player till I saw my tivo had two output one already use to the reciever the other end I decided to hook up to this panasonic for recording. figure can't be that great for recording for only $188.99 bucks, recording came out very good, very easy to use compared to my sony. have two input jacks in the back my sony I spent $700.00 dollars on doesn't have two input jacks in the back this guy does. Playback very good no skips at all even when changing layers can't say the same on other player. It even burns on cheap disk with no problem great now I can buy the disks on ebay that have the all white label on them so I can print on them. for less then 200 dollars this guy is worth every penny.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on April 23, 2005
Buying a DVD recoreder was a new venture for me. I did extensive research and read every review I could find about Panasonic, Sony, Toshiba and others. Through these reviews I determined that I needed to spend $500-$600 for what I wanted.

Then I stumbled on a review which mentioned this model, before it actually came out. I checked it out and bought it the first week out and paid $189-.

The product works perfectly, but if this is a new process to you, it is not easy. The instruction book is not very helpful. I had to call panasonic cust support twice to get help with hook up and operation. After using it, is gets much easier. But do your homework about the DVD recording and playback formats before you buy anything. You could end up with something you dont want.

No need to spend big bucks on others, this model does most everything you need. I highly recommend it.
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