My opinions about DVD recorders

I have been reading these forums for quite some time now here and elsewhere and I see a lot of similarities in people’s complaints…picture quality, poor A/V sync, etc.

Personally I have transfered well over 500 VHS tapes for people, ranging from high quality to poor quality EP using an Instant DVD 2.0 external USB2 capture device - and have found that by far the quality exceeds even the best dvd recorder in the professional level.

I have personally purchased and returned many brands including those mentioned on this forum…The LITEON recorders are a major disappointment IMO - I have not bothered opening a unit but I’m sure it’s mostly due to the crappy video decoder chipsets they use (my educated guess is mostly TI video decoders and low-end C-Cube DVXpress25) crappy chipsets…whereas my InstantDVD2 uses the latest Phillips video decoder with proc amps, comb filtering, oversampling combined with the Cirrus Logic 2288 and so far my DVDs look better than my original - on very clean sources you can turn off filtering completly, whereas crappy DVD recorders apply way too much filtering to the input (softening, etc…)

Greenish tint, dropouts and sound being lower volume than original are common things I’ve seen with the LITEON recorders not to mention after inspection on a vectorscope notice chroma/tint is off while my ADS capture device was nearly identical and preserved chroma and brightness.

A lot of those DVD recorders have poor chroma and IRE problems not to mention a more visible picture degradation over computer capturing

I wonder why people still buy this junk.

I praise my LITEON 1653 and 1693 burners, but I think LITEON did a poor job on its recorders… If you are capturing from VHS or Y/C inputs I would strongly recommend avoiding the LITEON recorders, they handle glitches and poor tracking VHS tapes very badly compared to other models from JVC and Pioneer.

Also it is very odd - I get EXCELLENT Kprobe scans using my LITEON burners, I use Taiyo Yuden and burn at 8x +R, excellent kprobes… Using the dvd recorder and even approved discs get extreme high kprobe errors on quality discs.

using an Instant DVD 2.0 external USB2 capture device
Why would you use a CPU intensive USB2 device when you can use PCI?

crappy video decoder chipsets they use (my educated guess is mostly TI video decoders and low-end C-Cube DVXpress25) crappy chipsets
It uses a dual processing LSI chipset, which is good for a 2004 vintage recorder.

I wonder why people still buy this junk.
It is much easier to use than a PC based unit for most people. It is also VCR friendly and if you don’t mind swapping drives, does a good job.
I praise my LITEON 1653 and 1693 burners, but I think LITEON did a poor job on its recorders
The newer LITEON burners may be okay, but the earlier 451, 813 series are not.
I get EXCELLENT Kprobe scans using my LITEON burners, I use Taiyo Yuden and burn at 8x +R, excellent kprobes… Using the dvd recorder and even approved discs get extreme high kprobe errors on quality discs.
Again the problem is with the 451, 813 series burners that came with the 50xx series recorder and not usually with the recorder/chipset.

Well it’s difficult to argue when opinion is presented without supporting evidence: like, for example, the Kprobe scans. There’s also a lot of guesswork involved in formulating your opinion, some of which is patently erroneous. What should we think of the misuse of terms like “decoder” when discussing ‘encoding’ strategies? Where is it shown that standalone recorders apply “filtering to the input”? Which recorders?

Unless you get some objectivity into the basis of your opinons, I’m sorry to say they’re largely worthless.

The chip used to convert analog video to digital, before sending it to the MPEG encoder is actually called a video decoder. Video is captured first by the video decoder (I know it sounds confusing to some, but that’s the proper name) once it is converted to digital, the full frame, uncompressed frame is then sent to the encoder which converts it to MPEG2.

Also, LSI is the new name for what was once C-CUBE…Not the best of the mpeg encoders. Most of these recorders use poor video decoders like Samsung or TI chipsets as opposed to the better quality Phillips SA7115H and other video decoders that provide a more faithful reproduction of colours and brightness. Same for the chipset for the mpeg compression, the cirrus logic 2288 and better, provides a better quality image, more faithful to the original with proper chroma and brightness levels while the LSI solutions provide more artifacts. This can be proved by testing units side by side, which I have done, comparing each frame.

Also, my unit is NOT CPU intensive as the video is compressed INSIDE the box and then sent via USB2 in MPEG2 format… both video and audio is done in hardware.

Combined with the many complaints about dvd recorders across forums (noisy images, artifacts, jitter problems, etc…)

Yes for most people who cannot be bothered with a PC and software maybe the dvd recorder is a better solution, they have no choice really, but if you want professional quality / better quality, particularly if you are transfering your memories and want decent quality, I would not use any dvd recorder.

as far as the kprobe, this is a test I have done a month ago, and I did keep those discs - will post a comparative between the two. Could have something to do about writing speed. Those TY discs I use provide the best KPROBES when burnt at their rated speeds (8x) as oppoed to lower speed. I use to burn all my discs at 4x but have begun using 8x now since I get good results - despite advice I’ve read about being better to burn at lower speeds for longevity.

Also there IS filtering done on the analog signal if you comapre the original frame to the one on the finished DVD you can clearly see a softening effect - not something the mpeg compression would do… for efficient mpeg compression a certain amount of filtering should be applied to soften the image, but some recorders apply too much of it and without possibility to turn it off for footage that is already soft.

One easy way to test this is to start with SMPTE colour bars and compare chroma and brightness integrity…then go with the ramping tests, patterns and others and finally, the difficult moving scenes…you will see far more blocking on most dvd recorders than using a good hardware encoder on a PC, at the same bitrate. Capturing at 4mbit/s on my ADS IDVD2 looks amazing good, on difficult scenes fairly good where the same scenes would have far more visible artifacts and noise even at 4.5mbit and 5.0mbit for the same difficult scenes. The C-CUBE DVXPRESS25 (now LSI) is a poor quality mpeg compressor at anything below 6-7mbit/s compared to say a Cirrus Logic 2288 which does a fairly good job at lower bit rates. Also, the IDVD2 and IDVD3 capture boxes support Direct to Disc recording as well and it works well, at least for me it does.

Thank you for your informative post but we knew what the chip is and does. In addition, many consider LSI superior: http://forum.videohelp.com/viewtopic.php?t=274732

LSI DoMiNo DMN-860x processor pretty much rules the world in terms of high quality MPEG hardware chips for people that work with traditional home sources like TV, DV and VHS. It not only makes noise-free encodes, it removes any noise that was found in the signal, especially grain and chroma. Some units have their own added DNR (JVC DigiPure), so in tandem with other hardware, it’s quite an effective tool. The noise-free encodes, however, depends largely on the way the chip is used by the machine. The CVBR encodes it does are not great, it should be left as VBR.

I’ve not found a machine yet using LSI chips that was bad quality, though some tend to be better than others.

Compare it to Philips chips (add grain, no filters), or Panasonic chip (add blocks, minor filters), or ESS chips (no filters, crunchy quality past 2-3 hours), or Cirrus chips (mosquito noisy encodes).

Also, my unit is NOT CPU intensive as the video is compressed INSIDE the box and then sent via USB2 in MPEG2 format… both video and audio is done in hardware.
USB2 is quite CPU intensive in data transfer compared to PCI or even Firewire, which was what the question/comment was directed. The comment wasn’t directed at the hardware compression.

want decent quality, I would not use any dvd recorder.
This is a forum on dvd recorders. Most 50xx users here know the caveats of their machine, but most users get acceptable or even good results with the bonus of a VCR friendly (read de-Macrovision) machine and recordable to CDR/W and DVD+/- R/W. There are no other setup that can do that for about $100.

I read up on this and your info is dated. LSI is a bigger company that bought out C-CUBE in May 2001. The C-CUBE DVXPRESS25 is not the same as the LSI DoMiNo DMN-860x processor which with the DoMiNo CODEC is capable of MPEG-1, MPEG-2, DV and MPEG-4 along with built-in 1394 interface. The C-CUBE DVXPRESS25 is only MPEG-2 capable.

Yes the DVXpress25 is only one example, and this chipset was used in many consumer based DVD players. I am familiar with the DoMiNo, and IMO still is not as good as the high quality CL chipsets combined with the Phillips SA chipsets. You can never know unless you have tried and compared. I have personally tried and compared amongst DVD recorders including LIteon, JVC, Pansonic, Samsung and Pioneer, including the Panasonic DMR-E50. While the JVC and Pioneer had good picture quality overall it had visible artifacts in some scenes that would otherwise be clean and sharper with my IDVD2 - The LITEON recorders to me produced the softest images with the biggest chroma differentials of all units i tested.

Thanks for posting the info about the LSI chipset I have a list of recorders using the DoMiNo chipset and I happen to test some units that uses this chipset, including the Samsung R120 and I would still argue that the picture quality of my IDVD2 was better. Perhaps the LSI DoMiNo is a good mpeg encoder according to some, but if it were combined with the Phillips SA7115H it would be much better. Remember, the YCDNR and noise removal is done at the 1st level (video decoder that converts analog to a full uncompressed frame) it then passes this filtered signal to the encoder - it’s NOT the LSI that filters and removes the noise. ALSO, I disagree categorically about the Phillips being grainy - the Phillips SA7114/5H supports adjustable spatial and temporal noise removal. I am considering starting a review site soon and DVD recorders and MPEG encoders is on my list of priorities. Since this is a LITEON sub-forum, I stand by my opinion about picture quality, I am not impressed with the LITEON DVD recorders. The Samsung R120 provides a visible difference in quality for lower bit rates vs. a LITEON recorder, samsung being better.