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Showing 1-10 of 26 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 74 reviews
on October 17, 2005
I agree with most of the things in the reviews, I will just address a few differences:

1.- TV Guide works without a Cable Box (that's what I have and it worked fine, but it does take about 20 hrs to download and may require extra fiddling with it...mine told me there were 4 different downloads so please tell me which one is your cable company...after that I had to wait another 3-4 hrs) but after that it worked as advertised. Organizing the channels in the order I want takes a while. Check with your cable company if the TV guide thing is a must for you...it makes life easier, but you don't really need it if you know when your favourite TV shows play (use your computer and the internet ... not big deal)

2.- It's a somewhat complex (compared with a toaster) machine, so obviously the manual es extensive...but if you finish Highschool and read carefully you should be able to figure it out...I don't understand the reviewers that complained about it...yes the manual could be better, but it's not advanced calculus!!

3.- My $35 DVD player has much more options to play a movie than this thing, that was a let down. I can't "zoom" for example, it's not as easy to call the movie menu or to advance to a particular scene. It takes a few more buttons to turn own the subtitles or change the language/sound on a movie...but I guess otherwise the control would be too big...but still, it could have been made more efficient...so it is really geared to record stuff.

4.- I tape TV programs mostly, 'cause I am never there when they play live, I don't dub VCR tapes to DVDs or mess around with pictures or MP3 (those I do all in my computer) so I don't know how those features would work for you. But if you want something that tapes from your TV, the Hard Drive really delivers, you can record over 100 hrs of TV shows (so if you are gone for a couple of weeks it's great, my VCR stops at 8 hrs tops!) But really that's all I got for $350, so all and all I'm still not sure it was worth the money.

5.- Delivered very fast from Amazon
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on February 5, 2006
I bought this recorder because of its multidrive capability and its large hard drive. I was upgrading from an aging Toshiba recorder. I'm glad I had experience working with recorders because the user manual that comes with this machine is terrible.

The TV Guide on screen setup may be a problem for you if you have a digital cable box. I have a Motorola HD cable box from Cox Cable and I was not able to download the program guide through the cable box. To get the TV guide on screen to work, I had to bypass the cable box by using a splitter. One side goes to the cable box and the other side goes to the recorder. I ran A/V cables from the cable box to an auxillary input on the recorder in order to record the digital channels.
I can record programs from digital channels by manually setting the start and stop time.

I use the TV Guide on screen program guide for the analog channels that do not have to run through the cable box. To record a program all I have to do is select the program in the guide and the start and stop times are set automatically. This is a handy feature.

In the TV Guide setup you may have a problem downloading the correct channel lineup if you live in a town with more than one zip code. I live in a town with 4 zip codes but we all have the same cable channel lineup. I could not get the correct channel lineup until I changed the zip code to a neighboring zip code.

If the channel lineup is wrong when you set up your TV Guide, you might try changing your zip code.

I use the recorder to time shift programs by recording them on the hard drive for later viewing. The recordings are excellent. I cannot tell the difference between the recorded program and the live broadcast. The editing feature of this recorder is very easy to use. You can create. start and stop points, or chapters, inside your program. For example you can divide your program into chapters separated by commercials. You can then delete the chapters you don't want.

Besides the hard drive this recorder will also record on 5 of the 6 formats of DVD available today including DVD-RAM. Creating a DVD-R (the format playable on the majority of dvd machines) is a two step process which is inconvenient. After you copy your material to the DVD-R, you have to go back through the menu to finalize it or it won't be playable on other dvd players. Since finalizing is essential, I don't know why they didn't make it part of the copying step.

This is a great machine well worth the time and money. I would have ranked it higher if it weren't for the TV Guide set up hassles and the worthless users manual.
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on January 12, 2006
Original review dated January 12, 2006. Update(s) at bottom.

Summary: Technically-oriented, patient people are likely to be very happy with the DMR-EH50's marvelous capabilities; but people who have trouble following many pages of detailed instructions probably will not be able to obtain satisfactory results.

If you intend to use this DVD recorder to record premium digital cable content, you have to follow the Setup instructions *exactly*, not almost-exactly. (I kept trying the "almost" approach, and have the dented head to prove it.)

It's excellent capabilities hinge on its ability to control a cable box through the supplied IR Blaster; if you don't need that feature, you probably can find simpler, less expensive ways of recording DVD's. (For example, the Panasonic DMR-ES30V is a VHS-DVD recorder that is incredibly easy to use, rock-solid reliable, and able to make very high-quality recordings; but it lacks a hard drive, so you have to be around to switch blank disks when the previous one fills.)

You can tell the EH50 to record to DVD or to the built-in Hard Drive (HDD). If you tell it to use the DVD but forget to put one in, or if there isn't enough room on the DVD, the EH50 will record to the HDD instead. You can transfer the recording to a DVD later on, or preview it from the HDD to decide whether it's worth keeping.

You can watch, pause, and rewind an existing recording while making a new one; and watch, pause, and rewind what you are currently recording; but unlike a TIVO, the EH50 isn't constantly recording "just in case", so if you come in late to something you hadn't previously told it to record, you can't see what you missed.

The EH50 will start scheduled recordings whether turned on or off. This is much better than many other recorders (VHS or DVD) that must be turned off to start scheduled recordings. For example, the problem-plagued Panasonic ES40V will not start a scheduled recording if it's turned on; but its vastly superior predecessor, the ES30V, will start regardless of whether it's on or off.

If you want to record analog cable content in the range of channels 2-125 (e.g., network TV, the History Channel, etc.,) automatically, you can use the EH50 without using the TV Guide feature... just follow the instructions *exactly*: there are two questions about a Cable Box connection, and you must answer "yes" to the first, but "no" to the second.

For my purposes, the greatest strength and weakness of the EH50 is its ability to record premium digital cable content (e.g., HBO) automatically, including changing the cable box channel through the IR Blaster. But, the EH50 will not let you select a channel above 125 unless you use the built-in TV Guide feature. This limitation is in the manual, although it's not presented as a restriction ;-) and is buried in a table on page 57.

When the TV Guide feature works, it's quite effective: you can highlight your shows with the (clumsy) Guide, then press a "record" button on the remote (not the one labelled "record"), and the machine does the rest. You can enter VCR+ codes instead, or schedule recordings manually, even for the digital channels above 125. At the specified time, the EH50 will use its IR Blaster to change the cable box's channel, then make a high-quality recording for you.

The problems are getting the TV Guide feature to work, and being willing to live with how it works.

If you select the TV Guide feature but the EH50 can't find a channel lineup, you still can manually schedule a recording for any channel on your cable box (including the ones above 125), and the EH50 will use its IR Blaster to select that channel at the correct time. But (strangely), you can't select channels above 125 for immediate viewing unless the EH50 has found a channel lineup.

Some of the other reviewers here have said they couldn't get the TV Guide feature to work with their cable companies. I use one of those "blocked" cable companies, am in the same area as one of the "blocked" reviewers, and everything works fine... now.

The key (again) is following the instructions *exactly*. I'm not defending Panasonic's misguided approach, just stating that the alternative is to try a different brand that probably will have its own quirks.

When everything is working (and that seems to be the case now, a week after getting the EH50), it can change the way you watch and record TV (much as TIVO does). Once you've selected what you want to record over the next week or so, you can just leave it alone, and the EH50 will do the rest. If you remember to change blank DVD's, it'll keep filling them with what you've selected. If you don't put in fresh disks, it'll use the HDD until it fills up (over 20 movies at standard 2-hour quality; and Panasonic's recording quality is really excellent, as other people have mentioned).

Example: while writing this, I've been half-watching a movie the EH50 recorded last night. A couple of minutes ago, it changed the cable box channel and started another scheduled recording, without my noticing or remembering about it. Very nice.

High-speed dubbing (transferring an HDD copy to fill an entire DVD) takes about 8 minutes, as the manual estimates. I applied the October, 2005 Firmware update, but it made no difference: my 16x DVD-R disks still need 8 minutes for dubbing, just as they did before, and I've had no coasters, before or after the update.

"Finalizing", which is necessary to convert any recordable DVD to a standard DVD-Video usable on any other machine, is very fast: just over 1-1/2 minutes, compared with about 4 minutes on the Panasonic ES30V.

Unfinalized disks are interchangeable between different Panasonic machines, even different models; but probably cannot be read on non-Panasonic equipment.

----

Some details about SETUP:

1. connect the cable box A/V (or component) output to the EH50's "IN3".

2. connect the EH50's A/V (or component) output to your TV.

3. plug in the IR Blaster and position it in close line-of-sight to the IR pickup of the cable box (mine is just below the pickup, about 2" away).

4. turn on the EH50 and the TV to make sure you see the EH50's Setup screen.

5. Follow the on-screen instructions, including entering your Zip Code, specifying that you're using a Cable Box that is connected to IN3 (not to channel 3 or 4), and then select the brand of cable box and let the EH50 try to change the channel. If it fails, select "No" to let it try a different code for the same brand, and try again.

(My mistakes in step 5 were to not specify "IN3" the first time, and to not realize that the EH50 will try different codes for the same manufacturer if you tell it "no", the channel didn't change.)

6. Once the EH50 says that Setup is complete and you've pressed "Enter" enough times to get out of Setup, turn the machine off and leave it off for at least 24 hours. Don't try to use the cable box during that time.

---

Setup will change the channel numbers on your cable box, starting with channel 2 and working its way up into the hundreds (probably to 125). This can take a few hours, and it may do it more than once. It's trying to identify what's available, and probably trying to find the PBS station that feeds TV Guide programming information.

Next, it will switch the cable box to the station that feeds TV Guide programming information, and will just stay there. Unfortunately, it doesn't indicate whether it's actually receiving the programming or not, so you'll never know whether this step is working, until you look at the on-screen guide later on.

(Confession: I didn't wait 24 hours the first time, and it's just as well I was impatient: one of my Setup steps was wrong.. I'd specified Input from channel 3 instead of IN3... so it listed the station numbers but said "no listing" because it found no programming on the not-connected channel 3. Once I fixed this, it started to collect programming, albeit very slowly.)

The EH50 only collects programming when in "Standby" (that is, turned off), and can take a few days to collect 8 days of advance programming. You can watch TV, even through the cable box, at any time the EH50 isn't actually recording a different channel, but to avoid confusing it, you probably should turn it on and use the EH50's own remote to change channels. Then, it'll change the cable box channel and know what's happening. When you're done watching, remember to turn the EH50 back off so it can resume collecting programming information.

The above precaution (change cable channels through the EH50) is inconvenient, but not the fault of the EH50: it's inherent in the situation, just as being able to record only one cable channel at a time is inherent. The only way to avoid those limitations is to rent a DVR from the cable company... but my cable company's DVR's don't have built-in DVD's for high-speed dubbing with no loss of image quality.

Some other things to be careful about: if you happen to use another remote control (say, to change TV volume) at the same moment the EH50 happens to be changing the cable box channel, the two IR signals may interfere with each other and the EH50 or the cable box may become very confused. Since you cannot tell when the EH50 may decide to change the cable box channel, there's no obvious way to avoid this problem.

One scheduled recording didn't take place, because after scheduling it, I went back into SETUP and did something that changed the channel lineup. Another reason to give it at least 24 hours.

Once, while it was recording to the HDD and I was adding to the Scheduled recording list, there appeared to be a momentary power failure that affected only the EH50 and the cable box. Since both are connected to a UPS and nothing else in the house behaved as though there had been a power failure, I wonder whether my use of the EH50 somehow caused an electrical problem between it and the cable box. It was necessary to turn both boxes off/on to clear the problems, and of course, the recording was incomplete. The manual specifically says you can do other things while the EH50 is recording, and in the few situations that something can't be done because of some other on-going activity, the EH50 displays a message saying so.

Hiding channels you don't care about will make the on-screen Guide shorter, and may let the EH50 store more days of future listings. Marking channels for hiding isn't too bad, but associated with it is the ability to change the sequence in which the channels will be listed. That feature is awkward, tedious, and very slow to use. You can make it barely tolerable by "locking" the display so that it doesn't keep changing cable channels as you move from one channel to another. But, "lock" is only available if you highlight a listing (any listing) and then press the LEFT ARROW (the left side of the rotating ring). After setting Lock (or unlock), press RIGHT ARROW to get back to the other features. A few more buttons on the remote would have made the navigation features a lot more obvious and easier to use.

It would be nice if the EH50 could use the IR Blaster to select any channel (2-999) without using the TV Guide feature, and if it had an alternate way of obtaining program listing information (such as a telephone or Internet broadband connection).

In summary (again): for the right people with the right requirements, this is a terrific solution. However, most people will be happier with cable company DVR's or simple DVD recorders.

Update (Jan 19, 2006):
Several days ago, my EH50 stopped downloading new TV Guide schedules. Instead of switching to PBS, as it had done since the beginning, it kept trying to use NBC, which doesn't carry the schedules. It never recovered from this error and doesn't let you specify the correct channel yourself. Yesterday, I reset the recorder to it's initial configuration and started over. "Reset" loses the channel lineup as well as all schedules. It quickly found PBS, but it needed over 12 hours to find the channel lineup, and 24 hours to fill in three days of program schedules. As noted earlier in this review, the EH50 won't let you select channels above 125 unless it has a channel lineup, and the only way it can get that lineup is by downloading it. Hopefully, it won't get confused like this too often.
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on November 8, 2005
I've had the dmr-eh50 for about a month. So far so good. It works wonderfully with my cable; basic cable with no cable box (Cox). The TV guide downloads nightly about the next 2 days of information, and makes it a breeze to schedule recording of shows or events for one time or schedule it to occur weekly. Play back is very simple. I do suggest downloading the manual and reviewing it, it does point out that the dvr does not work with satelite. I did wire it differently than the manual suggest, using a splitter to enable my old vcr to also still record shows. If the TV guide is not setup, it really makes the dvr harder to use. I left the machine off overnight. The next night I was able to play with the machine while reading the manual. Got used to the functions quickly. Then I reread the manual a few nights later and picked up things I previously missed. For the money, this is a great box. It would gotten a 5 star rating if I could record 2 shows at the same time.
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on January 31, 2006
A number of other reviews discuss the more advanced operation. Unit works great but there are a few gottya's that you must work around. First the TV Guide is klunky but it works. Secondly the Comcast cable box blocks the TV Guide from getting to the Recorder. Thus to make it work you have to add a splitter, connecting one to the cable box RF-IN and another to the Recorder RF-IN. Then take the Video/R/L output on the cable box and connect it to the Recorder IN1 or IN3. OUT1 of Recorder Video/R/L then goes to TV. This way you get the TV Guide direct from Comcast bypassing the box. You will only be able to use the TV Guide for non-scrambled shows, which in my case is everything but HBO and On-Demand. I still have a TV Guide listing for HBO but I must use IN1 selection to manually record On Demand and HBO. Since most of the things I am recording are basic cable stations I don't have a problem. Also it allows me to use IN1 to use the Comcast TV schedule for general viewing. TV Guide really is poor but it works and it isn't Panasonic's fault Comcast doesn't pass the TV Guide signal through its box (Motorola Digital).

Other than that headache if you are not a technical person you will probably have problems hooking it up. My parents could never operate it. My kids have no problems.
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on January 17, 2006
I too thought that because I can't get the TVGuide channel via my Comcast cable service that I would have to manually program this unit. I do not have digital cable and I do not have a cable box. I just have the raw coax cable going right into the Panasonic unit. I called Comcast directly to ask them about the downloading of the TVGuide grid to a Panasonic unit and they specifically told me "it is not available" and that I would need to purchase their digital cable service to get an onscreen TV listing. A pleasant surprise....After 2 days of not having anything scheduled to record, the TVGuide listing magically appeared !! I'm in the Montgomery County coverage of Comcast, just outside the Philadelphia city line. I haven't been able to view the TVGuide channel for a couple years now, since Comcast starting offering digital service in my area. (I think they removed it as a marketing tool for their digital service). So be patient in Philadelphia, don't schedule any recordings and see if the guide downloads for you too..overall, this product is a gem. I was living in the stone age, still manually programming a VCR to record programs and then trying to keep track of a bunch of tapes.
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on February 1, 2006
This is a wonderful machine!! The hardest part is just putting in time needed to read the owners manual. I've had the machine a month and am still learning features and functions. I recorded VCR tapes to its hard drive and to DVDs and viewed our still pictures off of CD's.

I inquired about TV GUide service from our cable company and they told me the didn't send out that signal. I recorded programs like I used to with the timer and and a week or so after I started using the machine listings began to appear and now I use the TV guide most of the time.

I can't help but think an adolescent raised in these computor times would catch on to the operations of this machine quicker than I.

I bought this from "Vanns" through Amazon. Their packaging was impressive, they used a second box with expandable foam bags so the DVR was well protected.
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on January 18, 2006
The shows I would LIKE to watch are on the History channel, Discovery, Hallmark. Before I bought this machine I never watched them because they have so many commercials. Now, life has changed.

The unit is very easy to setup and use. I have never owned a DVR before. It recognized the TV guide easily. To record a show I just find the show in the onscreen TV guide and press one button. That sets the start, stop, day, and channel. You can watch a recorded program while recording another. The commercial skip button skips one minute at a time. The remote is very well laid out, color coded so it is simple. I was used to using the VCR plus codes to program my VCR. Although the DVR will accept those codes, it is much easier to use the onscreen TV Guide.

Last weekend I was especially impressed. I recorded a football game, then started watching it about 1 hour after the game started. Of course, this allows you to skip all the commercials. The game went over the preset time. However, the DVR was smart enough to keep recording until the game was done!

I use the unit in the SP mode which has great picture quality. The EP mode is OK but doesn't have the quality of the original broadcast.

I also appreciate the front SD card slot. I can take my SD card directly out of my camera, plug it into the DVR, and view a slideshow of the pictures (or individual pictures) on my TV.

Playing a DVD is easy, and I use the optical sound output for 5.1 Dolby Digital sound. Picture and sound are outstanding.

This is only the second time I have written a review of anything, but this product is so outstanding that I felt it deserved commendation.
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on December 17, 2005
I have been researching for a hard drive based DVD Recorder. I have read about the Philip 615 for $199 at costco, Toshiba dx34, and lite-on lvw5045.

I read many negative reviews on TV guide, and I told myself i could just ignore the feature, since i am just interesting recording daily shows and burn on DVDs and share with friends and family. However, the TV guide, did come in handy ( one touch recording, sort programs by catergories, and each category has it's own subcategory (ex: movie->action, comedy; sports-> baseball, basketball). TV guide isn't hard to set up, punching in zip and answer few yes and no, and started working the next day.

I have tried 6 hrs recording which looks a little degraded on picutre quality, and i settle with 4 hrs recording.

I was able to use the basic features right out of the box. after two week of usage, I am capable of dividing a recording into parts and delete parts i don't want, cutting out commericals, making commerical-free dvds.

I haven't tried the SD card slot yet.

this machine will record max at 8X on dvd-r and dvd+r, and 4X on dvd-rw, and DVD-ram which i am fairly satisfy with the speed. I wished it could record 8X on RW, but there isn't 8X -RW yet, at least i haven't seem any. (This machine can only record on single layer disc.)

Pros:

1. easy to use

2. records on DVD-R, DVD+R, DVD-RW, DVD-RAM

3. 2 sets of video and audio outputs

4. programmable commerical skip

Con:

1. no firewire, IEEE1394 connection

2. remote isn't as sensitive as other remotes.

Button line: i am keeping this machine.
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on February 22, 2017
There are some concerns with the operation of the editing, but overall the DVD recorder does what it is supposed to do. Therefore, the product will meet my demands.
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