Customer Reviews: MAGNAVOX MDR513H/F7 HDD and DVD Recorder with Digital Tuner, Black (Old Version)
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on June 16, 2011
I purchased the MAGNAVOX MDR513H/F7 HDD/DVD RECORDER on February 23, 2011. The machine was awesome and worked very well. It was everything I needed.

I had it for 3 1/2 months and on June 15th, less than four months after purchase, the power happened to go out in my home. Within a few minutes the power came back on, along with every other piece of electronic equipment in my home - EXCEPT the Magnavox HDD/DVD recorder. It was just dead. I called Magnavox customer service - which was handled by a company called Sunai Service Corporation - and they informed me that the unit was still under warranty and that I needed to call another customer service number to get the name of a local repair shop. But during the second phone call, the rep asked if the power had gone out in my home. I said yes - and she told me that my warranty was voided due to an act of God.

Every other piece of electronic gear in my home came right back on when the power was restored - but not the MAGNAVOX MDR513H/F7.

Power outages are just a fact of life - they happen sometimes - and God had nothing to do with them. Other electronics companies don't have to lie and call a simple outage an act of God just to get out of their responsibility.



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on August 12, 2010
We were looking to (finally) replace our VCR. My wife went to the local big box electronic store. She asked for a DVR and the clerked told her they don't sell them, she needed to go to the cable company, the only way to get a DVR. Uffda!

After a few minutes on the web, including the very helpful AVS forum, I found this unit (at least a near identical predecessor).

We have basic basic cable, no box, no digital. The unit found all the correct channels, no problem, no need for any cable box or other equipment.

Set up is easy, no worse than any comparable electronics gear.

Recording is easy. With 60 plus hours on high quality, I doubt we'll run out too soon.

I wanted a DVD burner to watch recorded shows on the downstairs TV, where we exercise in the winter.

So far, so good.
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on November 28, 2010
The earlier model had a software bug which required the installation of a downloaded patch.

Not so with this model, it worked properly right out of the box. All features tried so far have worked as expected with no problems.

the many complaints about the earlier manual were, I think, unwarranted. In my opinion it was the most complete and accurate manual I have yet run across. The same holds true for the new model and it's manual.

For those who still use an antenna to receive OTA digital programming, as I do, this DVR is the ideal replacement for the old VCR. If I ever "upgrade" to cable I will not have to rent a DVR from the provider since this unit also tunes cable channels.

The ability to burn DVD's is a huge plus and the editing features allow dividing a show between discs in order to maintain the best quality.

All in all a great design.
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on March 29, 2011
The benefits of this recorder are that you are no longer limited to recording a mere 2 hours of good quality video or 3-4 hours of decent quality video as with a standard DVD recorder. The built in 320GB hard drive is enough to record say, a 24 hour marathon of your favorite show in good (SP) quality, and still have 104 hours of recording time to spare. You can edit and save your episodes to a DVD, you can also protect them from automatically being deleted when the machine determines that you are running out of recording space, or you can just delete them when your through watching.

I have used DVD recorders for years because I like to save my favorite shows to DVDs and import them to my computer where I have substantial hard drive space to do so. DVD recorders work like a VCR. You can record a show while you are watching it and hit the pause button during commercials so that your recording does not contain the commercials. Or you can set it to record and after importing the video to your computer you can edit out the commercials using software such as Pinnacle, Roxio, etcetera. These applications also import your videos from the disk.


The device's edit feature is much more robust and easier to use than most video editing software I have used. For instance you can record something from TV to the Device's hard drive and edit out the commercials before you save it to a disk. All you have to do is click the title you want to edit. Choose scene delete, then Fast Forward to the beginning of the commercial block, then Click Start, Then Fast Forward to the end of the commercial block, then click End. Then you can either preview your edit before deleting or just delete it without previewing. Then fast forward to the next commercial block and keep repeating the steps until the end of your video. It takes around five minutes to edit an hour long show once you get the hang of it. If you don't change the recording quality of your video before you save it to a DVD, for instance if the original recording quality was in SP mode and you dub it to the DVD in SP mode, it writes it to the disk in just a few minutes. However, suppose the original recording is in SP mode and you want to change the quality to say, SPP or EP mode for example, it will play the entire video while dubbing. Also you can not only record from TV but you can also dub a DVD to the device's hard drive, and edit it from there. You can also dub from a VCR or camcorder to the device's hard drive and do the same.

This device can be used as a DVR, but unlike a DVR you have to manually program your recording times as well as set your cable box to change channels at the appropriate times.

Also keep in mind that this recorder does not record in HD, virtually no affordable stand alone device does. However it does up-convert to 1080P for playback only. Shows broadcasted in 480P will have the black bars on the sides, and shows broadcasted in 480P wide screen may have the black bars on the sides as well as top and bottom; but it does have a very good zoom feature to compensate for that during playback.
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on February 5, 2011
When Comcast switched to all digital cable transmission, we purchased a new 46 inch Vizio HDTV to take advantage of the improved cable signal quality. We also ordered a Magnavox DVR from Amazon to replace our Panasonic VHS VCR. The Magnavox DVR arrived and when installed, would not function! It was DOA and we returned it to Amazon and got a full credit. A few weeks later, even though there were 13 one star reviews, we decided to reorder another Magnavox DVR in the hope the four and five star reviews it got indicated we received a low percentage bad unit. BIG MISTAKE! This one worked O.K. for a couple of days and then lost audio but had video. We even replaced the RCA cables and coax cable we originally installed with an HDMI cable in the hope it would solve this problem, but still could not get any audio. We ended up sending this second one back to Amazon for refund and went back to using our Panasonic VHS tape VCR. Thank goodness we dealt with Amazon and they are good enough to allow us to take advantage of their return policy!
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on November 5, 2010
I had to give up satellite TV and cable and now use a digital antenna to pick up local channels (and the picture quality is very good, BTW.) The one problem I had was that I could not record the shows I wanted to watch, like I could with my satellite service and DVR. In addition, I could pick up a Tivo and get recording service but it would require a monthly service fee, which is the reason I gave up satellite service in the first place. The Moxi does not require a monthly service but is prohibitively expensive. I figured that was it, I was stuck, and if I wanted to watch my favorite shows I had to wait for Hulu and hope the feed wasn't crappy.

Then...I saw this product. I knew that in order to record to DVD from my TV I had to have a recorder with a digital receiver, so no surprise there. However, I did not really prepare for the HDD...holy wow. This thing is amazing!! I get a great picture, I can program shows to record to the hard drive without worrying about having any DVD's handy, and the dubbing and erasing of the files is super-easy. Basically, I now have a service fee-free DVR. Notice how you can't pick this one up at Best Buy or Walmart or Target? It's a fraction of the cost for the Moxi and cheaper than one year's worth of TIvo plus the DVR you have to buy.

Admittedly, you have to be kind of brave, technologically speaking. The manual is dense and a tough read. The operation is only partially intuitive ( I love to push buttons so this wasn't a problem for me, but it could be very daunting for the technology-challenged.) Plus, you are on your own for when your shows come on and when you want to record. However, if you have an internet connection, you can get your local stations online, either through or your local broadcaster. If you have a smartphone, be sure to download the TVguide app. A bit more work but definitely worth it for the price and for the autonomy.
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on August 4, 2010
I received a very kind comment to my original review - that with a splitter - you can record one channel and watch another. I just ordered an HDMI Splitter Amplifier 1 In to 2 Out Dual Display and I'm hoping that's what the reviewer meant.

Nope - Didn't work - I must use the cable box tuner!! My TV tuner, and Magnavox DVR tuners are disabled! - they cannot tune to different stations. - So it turns out the splitter was a waste of money.

So, while I am recording I can:
1. watch the channel I am recording, or
2. Watch a DVD, or
3. Watch a previously recorded program on the Magnavox hardrive

But I cannot watch a different live program while I am recording.
Another very useful feature: If you are watching a program - and midway wish you had decided to record it - right from the beginning! You can!! The DVR starts recording as soon as you turn on the TV - so you can 'rewind' - and record to the hard drive whatever you have been watching.

I am enjoying this video recorder very much. I love having a hard-drive. It allows me to record anything I MIGHT like - and simply delete if I don't.
Thanks to another reviewer - I tried editing out commercials, etc. - and it IS surprisingly easy.
So far - of the many programs I recorded to HDD - only 1 movie was worth dubbing to DVD to save it - and that was also easy to do.

I rather like the Titling process. It takes a little time - but I can put in what I like, e.g. title & year for movies.

On the DVD - you can select an Index picture to appear on the screen - nice.
On the hard drive, you can't - so I try to edit, so the movie title will be what shows on the screen (this is tricky).

-The recorded picture size is smaller than the original aired HD program.
-I discovered the higher the resolution, the smaller the picture. While my TV has a native resolution of 1920x1080, I set the DVR on the lowest setting 720x480.
I find the larger size I am able to get - is well worth the loss in clarity. And I'm enjoying my recorded movies. But too bad this seems to be necessary. -

There are still a number of features I have not learned - so I may have more pros & cons later. But overall I am happy with this recorder. So much easier than subscribing to Netflix or any other service.
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on September 25, 2010
We've had this unit for all of three days, and have used it to record one show so far, using the HDD.

Goals: Need to replace a DVD Recorder unit, with VHS quality recordings, with something new. Really wanted, a Tivo system, but too cheap to pay so much money over time. Comcast DVR? No thank you. Tired of Comcast's cost and fee structure. I'll minimize my exposure beyond broadband, f you don't mind. but, a HDD system would be really really sweet. But, what do we have here? a DVD Recorder? with HDD? with a TV tuner? Let's check this out !!

Setup: The setup has been pretty easy, with the HDMI output. It scanned for channels, both analog and digital, off my Comcast cable input. This is a straight RF Coax cable from the wall. No cable box, no cable cards. It successfully found the analog and HD digital signals on the line. This was a surprise, as I did not look up the unit beyond amazon, and the unit was able to give me a HD image for the local TV stations. Happy !

Live TV: Started watching a HD TV output from the unit into our HDTV. Looked wonderful. No issues that were outside of expectations. Was able to pause the live TV and to provide the "time shift" of recording live, and watching it with the delay. Need to play with this more to fully play with these features.

HDD recording: First test of this feature. One show only. It recorded everything as expected, in wide screen. No more SD VHS recording any more. Love it. The only issue we had here is that we'd lose signal for a couple of seconds (screen was all snow/pixels. Commercial skipping worked pretty well. Might have missed the boundaries by 3 seconds, but it was impressive. FF and REW was decent and easy to use. Image was great.

Current HW issue thought: The loss of the images? If we rewound, we were able to see the missing images fine. I think the issue is related to a HDMI selection box inserted in line. It takes three HDMI inputs and you can select which one to view. Because it draws power from the HDMI line, it might be slightly underpowered for the line length (6foot cable in, 6 foot cable out). If I turn on my other HDMI device, enough power seems to be drawn from the line to make it happy. My end solution will be find a 5V source for the HDMI source selector.

Look and feel: The remote is cumbersome and the unit is not as pretty as the 3 yr old Samsung it replaced, or my Sony blu-ray device next to it. Magnavox hasn't been a design house, and Funai has never struck me as high-brow in design.

Speed: For TV tuning, it has seemed to be a little slow in tuning. It has "lost" a couple of channels, but have not had time to debug or play with this.

Overall: Happy. It is a good compromise of Tivo, VHS recording, DVD recording. No monthly fees to concern with Comcast or Tivo. If it last's 18 months, it will have paid for itself compared to the others. the Samsung lasted 40 months, so this could be good.

Sor far, so good. Very happy with this product, based on our limited exposure. After we play with it more, we'll get a better feel for the device.

10/2011: Device is still going strong. The only issue is that it has trouble tracking time from a TV station. It will jump to another time zone, or get confused at the DST spring fwd/fall back. So, we don't get a good clock out of this, and thus removing some of the timed programming accuracy. Still have it and still would buy this again.
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on January 15, 2012
The first week, this unit kept losing my recorded programs or clock or just didn't record. I found a firmware upgrade and followed the instructions, and installed the upgrade by burning the file to a DVD and inserting it into the unit. It did the rest. Now the unit has worked flawlessly.


This unit gives me a DVR without paying TiVo or my cable company. I had needed to replace my VCR combo, and a HDD is much better than a VCR.

The manual is the most thorough I've seen in years. For some people, this is daunting and they give up. True, some of the manual is a little hard to follow, but that's mainly because there are so many ways to plug things in, and the unit has so many features.

NOTE: For the people who mistakenly believed you "have to leave your cable box on the desired channel," THIS UNIT HAS A BUILT IN TUNER! YOU DON'T NEED A CABLE BOX! You only need a splitter! Plug one cable into the unit, the other cable into your cable box!

Use a splitter, and the unit records any channel while you watch something else on your TV. You can also chase a program while it's recording (start viewing from the beginning). Just hit Play.

You cannot, however, record two channels at the same time. This is probably the biggest disadvantage compared to TiVo. Not an issue for me.

The other issue is it only has a 30-second power backup. A power outage will wipe out your schedule and settings (but won't erase any saved programs). This is disappointing and surprising. Even the cheapest VCR of yesteryear did better than that. You can buy a UPS battery backup for about $40.

Can't speak to how it displays on HD screens as I don't have a HD screen! :(

The box said "Pause Live TV" but there is no entry for that in the table of contents. Turns out it's under "Autostart" meaning it automatically records any channel you view through the unit. You can pause, then play back speeded up and catch back up if you want. Cool!

I like the ability to jump past commercials 30 (or 60) sec at a time. I'm sure this is all standard fare if you have a TiVo, but it's new to me!

The recorded programs (as I have it set up anyway) don't record titles, so if you had a lot of them, you have to identify them by the date and time. You can add labels, which looks a bit tedious without a keyboard. I just delete them after watching (which does require about 8 key strokes on the remote).

Many of the reviews on this site complain about a myriad of different issues, including people who simply couldn't figure out the plugs, but this is not a defect of the unit. It's a fact of DIY.

Overall, this unit has done everything I wanted it to do (record TV programs). However, I will monitor its longterm reliability in light of other reviews. But I believe a FIRMWARE UPGRADE would have solved their problems (and shame on Magnavox for not including the instructions for how to do this).
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on January 14, 2012
I had an analog DVR from Pioneer that has been great for the last 7 years. With the switch to digital broadcasts, I was able to keep it going by paying for cable service, but I bought the Magnavox to capture digital signals directly through an HDTV antenna. The Magnavox did what it was supposed to do: recognized all the digital over-the-air stations and recorded shows. The on screen menus and editing were not as good as the Pioneer; seemed a little clunkier to navigate. But, all that is irrelevant, as I was watching a show today, and the power blinked off in our house. After a few minutes, power was restored, and everything came back on... except the Magnavox. I unplugged, re-plugged, went into known powered outlets, hit the power on/off buttons, remote, etc. Dead (no timer display). And, I have a DVD disc now trapped inside the device (no pinhole eject visible). Maybe a fluke (one out of xxxx bad units), but I'm pretty unhappy at the moment.

Update on my review (2/24/12)- Magnavox-Funai service, unfortunately, falls way short of the mark for good customer service. Upon contacting them, I was told I would need to return the unit for examination and either repair or replacement. It took them 1+ week to send me the empty box and shipping label. I informed them, both on the phone and in a note included with the returned unit, that I had a DVD disk trapped inside the recorder and I would like it returned to me (it was part of a boxed set). Waited another 10 days for the unit to be returned to me. Upon receipt, the unit had a label saying "refurbished", but, no DVD disc. Also, the remote was returned without batteries. Guess I should have saved the batteries myself, instead of sending everything back. I emailed their level-2 service about the missing disc; no response. I tried calling a few times, but they were closed (must be on Eastern time); when I finally got through, their customer service rep insisted that my email had been answered (she read the response to me over the phone). She also insisted that there was no telephone record of my asking for the return of a dvd disk, and it didn't seem to matter that I had also included a written note with the returned unit. She also stated that it was likely they did not try to repair my unit (i.e., open it up and find the disc), but it was probably junked. Really?!! She offered to let me speak to her supervisor ("who will give you the same answer I did"), then proceeded to disconnect me. Calling back, I got a disconnected/full voicemail box. These are not good people.
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