Product Type: Panasonic DVD recorders
Newest Review: ... them on. With DVD-RAM however, it is far less picky, and I've used several different makes including, Panasonic's own and a Datawrite d... more
My first dip into the world of DVD recording
Panasonic DMR E 50
Member Name: sandemp
Panasonic DMR E 50
Date: 25/02/05, updated on 18/05/05 (1498 review reads)
Advantages: Timeslip, Can be found cheap on auction sites
Disadvantages: No hard drive, Now obsolete
~~~In the Box~~~
The DVD recorder came securely packed along with a power cable, set of AV cables, remote control (with batteries), single sided DVD-RAM disc (without caddy) and a very poorly written instruction manual.
The E50 is silver in colour and looks quite stylish when lined up with other pieces of my A/V equipment, measuring 430mm x 79mm x 283mm it is approximately the same size as a standard DVD player and easily fits in most TV units.
The recorder is extremely simple to set up, even without following the rather pathetic instructions in the manual. There are two scart sockets (one in and another out) along with component outputs and inputs. Under a flap at the front there is a further set of component inputs along with S-Video. I currently have a video sender, VHS and playstation 2 connected to mine and it handles these inputs flawlessly.
~~~The remote control~~~
At first look the amount of buttons on the remote is to say the least overwhelming. But after a few uses it gets to be almost second nature. The recorder responds quickly to button presses, and the only button missing is one to eject the disc.
As I've previously said this machine records on two different types of disc, DVD-R and RAM. Of the two the RAM discs offer the most flexible recording but lacks compatibility, while the DVD-r offers excellent compatibility ( in my experience).
Which ever disc you use you have the choice of four standard recording modes along with a flexible mode.
This is the highest quality mode available and allows 1 hour recording per disc (or side). The quality is absolutely fantastic, but probably a little over the top when you consider that most digital signals are already compressed. I only ever used this quality for transferring camcorder footage.
This is the quality I stick to if there's a program I want to keep. It's very nearly the same quality as a broadcast, personally I can't really tell the difference. And at 2 hours per side it gives quite a lot of recording time as well.
This is really the lowest acceptable recording mode, giving 4 hours or recording per side. I use this mostly for recording programs that I'm going to watch and wipe. The picture is quite a lot softer than SP mode, and a little bit of pixilation shows up on fast moving scenes.
Although this mode gives upto 6 hours per disc, I personally find it unwatchable, there is a lot of pixilation, and the picture becomes very soft with ghosting.
This is the mode that sets DVD-R recorders apart from the +. The flexible recording mode means that you can set the recorder to record for a specified time and it will work out what bit rate it needs to fill the disc. The great advantage to this is that you do not drop a complete quality level just because you want to record something that's just over a limit.
After a DVD-R is filled you will need to finalise it, and its during this time that a menu is created. Now I must say, I totally dislike the menus this recorder creates, along with the fact that it insists on adding chapter marks every five minutes. The menus are very boring and totally text based, no nice thumbnails or anything.
Now we come to the first great advantage of using DVD-RAM discs. The particular format used for recording on these discs (VR) is extremely flexible and means that the disc becomes a virtual hard drive. You can delete commercials out of programs and completely regain the space, as well as deleting any programs you've watched. I love this feature and use it all the time.
And this is the second advantage of a DVD-RAM machine over a DVD+R, you can watch a previously recorded program whilst recording another. This is a feature that I've used regularly, I will start recording a series of programs and then when it has been recording for an hour or so will start watching, simply fast forwarding through the adverts. Once I'd started using this feature I couldn't believe that I'd ever been able to manage without.
The E50 features a timebase corrector, which improves the quality of recording made from VHS and camcorders. Although the improvement is not fantastic it is definitely noticeable and a handy extra feature.
I find the E50 is very picky on which blank DVD-R it will accept, but have had excellent results with Datasafe premium 4x printable, and the resulting discs have played on every machine that I've tried them on.
With DVD-RAM however, it is far less picky, and I've used several different makes including, Panasonic's own and a Datawrite double sided in caddy. However, it is unlikely that these will play in your DVD players or computer, unless it is capable of reading DVD-RAM discs. Luckily, both my Stereo system and computer do, and if your computer drive does recognise them then there are programs such as TMPGenc DVD Author that can be used to convert the programs into DVD-R.
The recorder will not record on DVD+R, DVD+RW or DVD-RW, so its not worth trying these.
The recorder is able to play most discs in the DVD-R/W format along with commercial DVDs and CDs. It also does a reasonable job with MP3 CDs, and DVD-RAM discs recorded on a Toshiba recorder. I've been completely unsuccessful at getting it to play any discs in the DVD+ format.
~~~Picture and Sound Quality~~~
I've found that the picture and sound quality when playing commercial discs is fantastic, the picture is clear and sharp, even without using the RGB functions, and when RGB is enabled then the colour becomes extremely vibrant.
Unfortunately, the drive in my recorder failed after three months of fairly heavy use and it had to go back to Panasonic for repair. However, due to the long turnaround (2 months), I purchased a new Toshiba recorder with a hard drive while I was waiting.
Since being returned the E50 has been relegated to my bedroom, where it has only occasional use when there is more than one program that I want to record from Sky at the same time.
~~~Price and availability~~~
Although this recorder has been superseded by the E55, it is still available on Ebay at very reasonable prices. I found one that is currently bidding at £62, for this price it makes an excellent recorder for a child's room.
Although I had problems with my recorder to begin with, since the drive has been replaced it has performed flawlessly, so perhaps I was unlucky.
This is an old machine, that can now be found quite cheaply at online auction sites. And as such it is quite reasonable for the price, and far more flexible than the bottom of the range DVD+ machines. However, for many the lack of hard drive can be a major disadvantage, I would therefore only really recommend this either as an introduction to the world of digital recording or as a second recorder.