Top critical review
Apparently a good unit, but be cautious
on September 20, 2013
[After copying a tape to DVD and finalizing it (a process repeated at least 5 times, judging from the disc disposal I now see in my waste basket), and employing suggestions from Amazon reviewers as well as the weighty instruction manual, I'm giving up on this product. I waited too long to try out its primary feature--dubbing DVDs from VHS--so it's too late for a return and, as my only remaining VHS player, it's too useful as a player to toss. For your information: Each time I "burned" a tape, I ended up with a DVD containing a Video_RM and Video_TS file. Each time I tried playing these disks in any of 3 machines, I came up with a "Menu" of 2 rectangular boxes: one on top, #1, labeled LSS SPP; and underneath it #2, labeled "Empty Title." I even copied these files to an iMac and tried burning them with several programs. No luck, NaDA, NOTHING. But it's entirely possible that this machine is capable of performing as well as my Sylvania from 10 years ago--a dedicated dubbing machine that proved far more convenient and effective than a computer-crashing software burning program. I may take another look at the Toshiba model. It appears we're so far out of the VHS age that there's insufficient consumer interest for manufacturers to produce this type of machine much longer. But that's not necessarily sufficient reason to spend money on a device that may not work now and certainly will not work in the not too distant future.]
[Update: I decided to give it "one last try." Suddenly the remote has gone completely dead! (Yes, I did all of the battery stuff--many times over.) This was a "refurb"--but a refurbished car with 200,000 miles is still a "wreck waiting to happen." What if the previous owner used the machine to convert a collection of a thousand VHS tapes to DVD? Is there any way a re-seller can "unlog" all of those miles on the machine? Last week "Toshiba Direct," the manufacturer's site, was selling the Toshiba DVR620 VHS/DVD recorder for $120 (this week it's back to $190). But it's bound to go on sale again (enormous discounts can occasionally be found on the manufacturer's site at Tivoli Audio as well as at Canon (last week a new Canon Powershot SX230 was less than $100, including postage and handling and 4 "gifts"). in any case, I've just seen a new Toshiba remote control for the DVR620 going on eBay for $140 all by itself! The prices are simply volatile, erratic, and a bit crazy. Moreover, the technology impresses me less than the Sylvania dubbing machine I purchased 10 years ago from Sears. Finally, except for "cosmetics," there's a disturbing similarity between the Toshiba and Magnavox machines, including the remote switches. I'm beginning to suspect that both machines were outsourced to the same manufacturer and that design, construction, and quality control were deficient in both cases.]
I don't think this is the place to brag about, or regret, what you paid for a product. I would agree that bargain-hunters might be well advised to check out the refurb units from Amazon. I also agree that it's a fine piece of machinery. It'll play your discs and tapes with the quality of the best standard, or non-hi-def, machines. But what about dubbing a tape to DVD? Can it do it? Yes, I think so. But the instructions are erratic and unclear, leaving out necessary steps. From what I've discovered so far, there's the "intuitive" way of dubbing and there's the "intended way."
Intuitive Method: Start the tape, then hit the RECORD button on the remote or unit. Then finalize. If you wish, you can go a step further by activating "automatic finalizing." (I don't recommend it--at least not to begin with.)
Manual's Instructions: 1. Start and PAUSE the tape 2. Hit DVD as well as RECORD, pushing the latter "to the desired recording mode." (it moves by half-hours). 3. Now hit D.DUB. (Apparently it simultaneously releases the tape from "Pause" and starts the DVD.)
I've tried following the instructions and have yet to score a finished DVD. Here are 2 potentially knotty steps: 1. If it's important to push RECORD simply to get the "desired recording mode," doesn't it make sense to go back to pushing the VHS button before pushing D.DUB? 2. Can the machine give me a read-out of the recording time on the tape for use during step 2 (above)? I'm trying to dub a friend's tape and have no idea about its "recording mode" or running time.
My 10-year-old (now "expired") Sylvania machine automatically "read" the tape and made time settings quick and painless. The Magnavox looks more sophisticated and even simpler than my Sylvania model. But I'm finding operation to be anything but a "no-brainer." I learned the hard way that computer software programs for converting tape to DVD are the buggiest of all, quickly eating up all available memory and leading to multi crashes. So a dedicated machine like the Magnavox is definitely the way to go. But is it asking too much for clear and complete instructions about the most basic use of a dubbing machine?
The 100-page manual has no more than 2-3 pages related to the use most of us purchased this machine for, which is dubbing from tape to DVD (can this thing really dub the other direction, as the manual explains. And if it can, who would want to dub their DVDs to tape?) The manual will tell you how to edit camera angles, how to over-write what's on the tape, how to creating sizzling titles--lots of "information." Unfortunately, none of it is good at telling you how to dub a tape to disc. (If I had to do this again, I'd go to the Toshiba site (unlike Magnavox, they're a "real" company, as big as Sony). Compare the instructions in Toshiba's free manual with those for the Magnavox. If the Toshiba's make more "sense", maybe it's not a bad idea to forget about saving a few "cents." Your time and peace of mind may be more valuable than a hundred bucks.)