[LEFT]The primary way in which I use my Panasonic DMR-ES15 DVD recorder is to burn (Verbatim Taiwan) DVD-Rs at LP level (4 hours) with a series of recent episodes of current TV shows. That means that I am, for example, on 4 occasions, once per week, burning a given DVD-R with a one-hour episode, and then finalizing the DVD-R when I've filled the disc with the fourth episode. (Similarly for eight 30 minute episodes). I remove the disc from the player and put it near the top of a spindle between recordings of successive episodes. I record manually from a TiVo (by just playing the show and passing it through RCA cables to the DVD recorder). Why I do things this way has to do with limited space on my Series 2 Tivo and my TV viewing regimen.
This normally works fine, but now I'm getting erratic results. Usually the first episode will record fine, but some later episode, might be the second or third, seems to record fine until I press "stop recording," when I'll get the final writing-to-disk message and then some horrible grinding that ends in a disc-writing failure (I think U61, might be U88) or the machine just getting stuck grinding and grinding until I power it off. When I restart, it then does the self-repair -- the other programs on the disc usually survive, but doesn't let me finalize it to play on other players (which is what I'm trying to do.) And then the DVD recorder seems to be fine, takes a new blank disc without complaint, can read DVD's; and if I repeat the process then at some later random time, it will again undergo a similar failure after trying to write a few episodes to a DVD-R.
One other thing I noticed -- I can tell now when a recording will fail because I hear a rather subtle but unusual chattering/rattling noise during the recording process (while everything still seems fine otherwise). When I don't hear this noise, the episode seems to record fine.
Some other data: I bought the unit new three years ago, recording maybe 1 hour per day -- it failed completely last summer. I took it to a local repair shop (was after the $130 flat rate discontinued) and they replaced the RAM/PCB module (yes it was expensive) in September 2010 and then it worked perfectly -- until a couple of weeks ago when I'm having the randomly occuring failure described above. Being lazy, I brought it back to the repair shop, described the problem -- they thought it might be an alignment issue and an inexpensive repair so I gave it to them to diagnose. The repair shop called back and said everything seems fine and they can't replicate my problem. Also, I had the same problem I describe here (intermittent failure with separate multiple burns to a DVD-R) with a DMR-ES10 years ago, but at that time just gave up and bought a new one.
I'm being clingy about this unit because I haven't heard anything good about the Panasonic EZ series, and the ES are hard to come by now... As for Magnavox -- I have several DVD-RAMs and unfinalized DVD-Rs that lock me into the Panasonic brand...
Anyway, I've searched in vain for anyone else complaining about the recorder failing randomly after multiple burns to a DVD-R, coupled with a quiet chattering/rattling. I'd be appreciative if anyone would have any suggestions about what the problem and/or remedy might be.[/LEFT]