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Seán
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Join Date: Jun 2002
Location: Republic of Ireland (North West)
Posts: 11,180
General DVD Recorder FAQs and posting tips

As there are quite a lot of similar questions asked here over & over as well as posts often made here that should be pleased elsewhere, this guide will either help answer your question or at least guide you how to go about asking a question that is more likely to get answered. First of all, please note that this forum as well as sub-forums deal with home entertainment and standalone equipment. For PC drives such as DVD±RW, DVD-ROM, CD-RW drives, as well as external USB/Firewire drives, please use the Optical Drives forum to discuss about these. Before you post an inquiry about an issue or other video based equipment: Unlike the optical drives in PCs, standalone equipment can vary from country to country due to different TV standards, connections and so on. For example, most people in Europe use a Scart cable to chain devices, however as the US does not use Scart, most consumers chain their equipment using composite or SVHS cables. To help get a better answer, we would suggest mentioning the following in your post:
  • Device brand & model # - It is usually essential to mention this, particularly if you need help carrying out a particular task, since one model # can have a totally different On-screen display layout or setup compared with another model #.
  • Equipment region or Country - This gives the reader an idea of what connections or TV standard it uses as well as what firmware it can take. For example, a German DVD recorder model may take different firmware than a UK DVD Recorder of the same model.
  • Configuration - If you have issues tuning in channels, cannot get the picture from your device to show on your TV, etc., it is will worth mentioning your method of hooking up your equipment as this will help the reader. A typical example: VCR TV-out connects to DVD Recorder Aux-in by Scart and DVD Recorder TV-out connects to TV by SVHS and 2x Audio Phono (RCA) cables. The RF (coaxial) cable from aerial connects to VCR RF-in, then from the VCR RF-out to the DVD Recorder RF-in and finally from the DVD Recorder RF-out to the TV.
DVD Recorders - Frequently Asked Questions DVDs recorded on my DVD recorder will not play on my DVD player, PC, etc. How do I solve this? Unlike VHS tapes, DVD-R's and DVD+R's must be finalised before they can be played anywhere else. Have a look through the menu for an option to finalise the disc or check the user manual on how to carry out this operation. Please note that once you finalise a disc, it is no longer possible to add further recordings or make modifications to the disc. Depending on the DVD recorder and initialisation method, DVD-RW's may also need to be finalised before they can be played elsewhere. Note that once a DVD-RW is finalised, it is not possible to modify the disc's contents or make new recordings to the disc until the disc is formatted (erased). How come my DVD player will no longer initialise or play certain recorded discs? If the DVD recorder is fairly new such as just a couple of months old and has not gone through much use, then there is a good chance that it has a faulty optical pick-up or laser. In this case, it would be worth bringing the recorder back under warranty for replacement or repair. When it comes to older players, while most consumers usually assume the recorder has reached the end of its life or that the firmware is suddenly the problem, in the majority of cases the cause is something as simple as a dusty/dirty lens. This is most likely the case if the player is operated in a bedroom or a room with a carpet, if there are any smokers in the home or if dust build-up on surfaces and TV screens is quite a common occurrence. The simplest way to clean the laser lens is to run a laser lens cleaning disc. The wet/dry discs tend to have larger brushes and will usually do a better job. However, before using the included cleaning fluid, first do a test for residue by placing a drop of the fluid on the data surface of an unwanted CD/DVD and leave it to dry up. If any residue is left over, do not use this fluid as it will likely cause the problem to get worse. The best fluid to look out for is fluid with as high alcohol solution as you can find. Again, before using it in substitute for the original cleaning fluid, perform a residue test. If the test drops dries up without residue, apply it to one of the brushes and play the disc as instructed by the packaging. If running a cleaning disc has no help or the drive is unable to even start playing the disc, the only alternative is to dismantle the drive to manually clean the laser lens. Use a cotton tipped bud (Q-tip is a common brand) and gently wipe off the surface of the lens. However, please be warned that any warranty on the drive will void if it is opened, so only do this is bringing it back under warranty is impractical or the warranty has already expired. How come my DVD recorder does not tune in any digital cable, digital terrestrial (such as Freeview) or satellite TV channels (besides the one that I have turned on)? The majority of DVD recorders have an analogue TV tuner, which means that these will only tune in analogue terrestrial or cable broadcasts. While there are a few DVD recorders that have a digital tuner, due to the nature of how satellite TV works, it is not possible to get a DVD recorder with an integrated satellite TV tuner, unless your satellite provider happens to offer such a device. As a result, you will need to connect your receiver up to the DVD recorder using AV cables. To make a recording, set your DVD recorder to record from the AV-in socket the receiver is connected to and put the receiver on the desired channel to record from. When a digital cable, terrestrial or satellite receiver tunes in a channel, most modulate the channel on a broadcast frequency such that this can be tuned on early TV sets, VCRs, etc., which do not have AV inputs. As a result, if your RF cable is looped through the receiver and then your DVD recorder, when you do a scan for TV channels, it will pick up the tuned in receiver channel as a broadcast. However, for recording purposes, we strongly suggest using an AV cable (Scart, SVHS, Composite, etc.) to connect your receiver to the DVD recorder as most receivers only modulate the sound as mono via the RF cable. Why will my DVD Recorder not erase or format my DVD+RW (or DVD-RW)? Interestingly, this is quite a common question asked here and is usually an issue that occurs with a disc that already had content on it. First of all, check that the disc is free of scratches, fingerprints, dirt, etc. Rewritable discs (whether CD or DVD) or far more sensitive to this than write-once discs, particularly since these discs are used again & again, unlike write-once discs which are written to once and the put away until later playback. If this disc already had content written to it and its surface is definitely clean, try performing a full erase with a PC DVD writer. This will make the disc appear like new, which means that all the recorder has to do is initialise it as with a new DVD+/-RW disc. Will my recorded disc be region-locked or encrypted (CSS protected)? Unlike movie DVDs, which are generally CSS protected and region-located, DVD recorders do not put copy protection, encryption or region locks on recorded discs. As a result, these discs can be played on region-locked DVD players in other regions, their contents can be accessed on a PC and it is possible to rerecord the disc to VHS or another DVD recorder, since no Macrovision flag is added either. If I finalise my DVD-RW or DVD+RW, can I still erase or format the disc? Yes! Like DVD+/-R's, DVD-RW's generally need to be finalised in order to be able to play them back on another DVD player or on a PC. However, once a disc is finalised, it is no longer possible to edit its content or make further recordings to the disc, however it is still possible to erase or format the disc to reuse it for recordings. DVD+RW's do not need to be finalised in order to play them on other DVD players and even if your DVD recorder can finalise these, like DVD-RW's they can still be formatted or erased. What type of disc should I go for? One thing to watch out for is that many DVD recorders treat each type of disc differently. First of all, find out what type of discs your DVD recorder will accept. The following guide gives a few tips about each disc type common with most DVD recorders; however we strongly recommend having a look at the manual to find out what limitations are present with each type of disc:
  • DVD+R & DVD-R - These discs are write-once media, which means that it is not possible to recover free space by deleting content. With most DVD recorders, it is possible to edit content, such as insert chapter points, delete titles and split titles. These discs must be finalised before the disc may be played on other DVD players. Note that finalising the disc will prevent the disc from being edited or further recordings from being be made.
  • DVD-RW - These generally function the same as DVD-R, with the exception that the disc can be erased. On some DVD recorders, it is possible to recover space by deleting recordings, however most others simply treat these the same as a DVD-R with the exception of giving the option to erase the disc to reuse it. A few DVD recorder models give the option to perform a full initialisation, which means that the disc can be used in pretty much the same way as a DVD+RW, such as play it on another DVD player without finalisation. However, a full initialisation can take anywhere between 15 and 30 minutes depending on the speed of the disc and recorder.
  • DVD+RW - This disc has the major advantage of not requiring finalisation in order to play it elsewhere. Most DVD+RW DVD recorders give the ability to edit the contents such as split/merge titles, delete titles to recover space, change the menu layout, etc. For example, it is possible to record a show on DVD+RW, play the disc back in a DVD player and later make another recording to the DVD+RW without erasing it first.
  • CD-R - DVD recorders which can record Video CDs can be useful for recording documentaries, TV episodes, etc. where a long recording duration or a high picture quality is not required. These also have the advantage of being playable with Video CD players. Unfortunately, the CD format is less versatile than a DVD+/-R as they don't support chapters and most DVD recorders than can record to these don't give any ability to edit the contents, such as title the recordings, etc. Like DVD+/-R's, these must be finalised before they can be played on another player.
  • CD-RW - These work just CD-R's if the DVD recorder can record to these, but with the advantage that they can be erased. Unfortunately, unlike DVD+RW's, it is generally not possible to edit or delete content, with the exception of erasing the disc.
Other FAQ's and Tips For other useful information and tips, please check out the 'Read first' stickies present at the top of the forum or sub-forum relating to the equipment you are have an inquiry about or are interested in discussing. Finally, before starting a new thread don't forget to search these forums to make sure what you are about to inquire about is not already answered in another thread.
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