Connect HD DVR to a DVD Recorder without loss in HD quality
by Outlier - 8/15/06 6:23 PM
As of this date (Aug. 15, 2006), I've looked everywhere and I can't find a High Def DVR (with dual tuner) that also records DVD's. So the next best thing I did was purchase a standalone DVD Recorder, the LG RC199H (for reasons I'll explain later).
The HD DVR I have is from Time Warner and has a dual tuner (Motorola 6412). This is also the cable box. What I ended up doing is hooking up component video cables DIRECTLY from the HD DVR to my tv (to maximize the HD quality since it won't be going through the DVD Recorder). Then additionally, I hooked up an S-video cable from the dvr to the dvd recorder, then a 2nd set of component cables from dvd recorder to an additional component video input on my tv (you might not be able to do it this way if your tv doesn't have a 2nd component video input - if it doesn't have a 2nd component input, then use a different input like S-video or composite). So video is going out SIMULTANEOUSLY to both the tv (via the component cables) and the dvd recorder (via the S-video cable). For the audio, I had to buy 2 audio cable splitters to share the audio out. You can also buy an Optical Digital Audio splitter for less than $10 if you prefer digital audio. I personally feel that this is the optimal set-up to maximize the HD when you watch directly from the HD DVR.
Also as of this date, I have not seen a DVD Recorder with Component video input or HDMI input (output yes, but not input). I tried connecting a 1394 firewire to the DV input on 3 DVD Recorders and none of them could recognize the DVR. This DV firewire port was meant for camcorders - not DVR's. So the only input on a DVD recorder as of this date that will maximize the HD is S-video. Make sure your DVD recorder has S-video input.
When you use the DVD Recorder to record from the HD DVR, your video signal will only be through the S-video cable and thus not as high quality as when you watch directly from the HD DVR (although I bet most won't be able to see a difference). Obviously, when you record a HD program to DVD, you won't capture the exact quality as HD but it is still noticeably better than recording a non-HD channel.
And also, with this set-up you don't have to leave your DVD recorder on as you watch tv (saves electricity). And if you plan to record anything in the middle of the night with your dvr, you won't have to leave your DVD recorder on as well.
I could have also connected my tv to my dvd recorder using video out on my tv but my tv's video out is only a composite cable, it doesn't have S-video out.
I tried 3 different DVD recorders: LG RC199H, a Samsung, and finally a Panasonic DMR ES35VS. I first chose the Panasonic because its S-video input is on the backside. The LG's is on the front (so your cables show which is not the most esthetic). Samsung's S-video input is on the backside but for some reason it wasn't even working - the composite video cable was working but the S-video input was not. Could have been a faulty unit but I never bothered to get it again.
With the Panasonic, you cannot edit regular DVD's (+R, -R, +RW, -RW, etc.). When I say edit, I mean you cannot create chapters (it doesn't create chapters automatically either), you cannot divide or get rid of unwanted segments, etc. You can only do this on the much more expensive DVD-RAM discs. And these DVD-RAM discs won't play on my computer DVD-ROM if I want to play it on my computer, nor will it play on most other older DVD players. Can you imagine recording a 2 hour movie with the Panasonic, and then finding out there are no chapters? So you have to watch it in one shot, you can't ever come back to it without fastforwarding for a long period of time. Also I called their customer service number 4 times - never got through once.
LG's customer service is no better. If you have a question that's not answered in the user's manual already, then chances are you're on your own. But on the upside, the LG DVD Recorder can edit DVD's, including your regular DVD's including +R, -R, +RW, -RW, etc. It even creates chapters for you automatically. There are a host of other editing functions that can be performed on regular DVD's, unlike the Panasonic. The only bad thing about the LG is that the S-video is on the front, so the 3 wires are an eye-sore, but I guess functionality will rule over esthetics.