First post from a long time lurker/reader.
I have been using (and now suffering) with a 5115 from COSTCO (LVW-5115GHC+ I believe) for quite some time. Over the years I've been through several exchanges and most fw revisions and have finally been relatively "stable" (quirky but predictable) since the last unit/latest fw for quite some time.... until this past month or so.
Of course, now I'm experiencing all the same issues that many of you have taken the time to detail and resolve -- huge thank you to you all! But, I have some questions that I cannot find (as well as a tip) so here goes.
Here's my specifics/recording style for reference:
DVDs usually contain multiple sessions/recordings -- many times over a dozen segments until the DVD is "filled". (Out of paranoia, I almost always stop recordings manually before they reach "Disk Full" status, but on those rare occasions, I've had better than 50/50 luck hitting "Disk Full" and NOT having the DVD ruined!)
DVDs are usually a mix of different speeds (mostly 2-hr mode and 6-hr mode).
I use "good" quality media (DVD-R) and keep them extremely clean and well cared for.
Problems are with "finalized" as well as "non-finalized" DVDs.
What's happening in increasing numbers is that DVDs that were once perfectly fine but NOT finalized, are now being rendered "Invalid Disk" (or "Write Fail" or other bad things) by the recorder when I either try and add another recording, or even when I just try and finalize.
In the first case, the added recording goes well, but when I stop it, instead of closing out that one session, it eventually freezes the unit and I have to unplug it. After that, the DVD will either be OK but NOT contain the last recording, or it will be a partial or full "coaster" where it will slowly "Load" and I can pull up the Menu, but the last recording's text will be gibberish and will not play at all, or will only play up until a point, at which point it will either freeze but recover back to the menu after a long while, or it will freeze up the unit completely.
In the second (and increasingly common) case: DVDs that I'm panicking to close out will finalize OK, but then immediately be unplayable with "Invalid Disk" coming up as soon as you try and access it again. Even ejecting, powering off/on, etc. does no good now (it used to work once in a while).
Also, there are other really weird behaviors such as:
While recording, I will occasionally notice that the recording counter will be "jumpy", stalling for many seconds then jumping ahead; I assumed that this might be just bad media, but it's always with DVDs from even the same "good" spindle. This problem is usually accompanied by the drive spinning up every once in a while to racing speeds (like a jet/vacuum cleaner)! After this completes and everything seems OK... coaster!
Previously recorded on (but not finalized) DVDs "Load" as a virgin DVD and go through the "Preparing" phase again! No trace of my previous recordings
On two (so far) finalized DVDs, after hitting "Play", there's still this very lightly ghosted outline of the previous screen/menu! This goes away after a bit.
(Note that I've almost never had any of the other issues like not being able to play commercial DVDs; taking forever/stalling on "Preparing" OR "Finalizing"; audio dropouts/stuttering; etc.)
I know that replacing the drive will probably fix most everything (at least for a while).
I know that giving it a good "take apart" cleaning might fix things too.
I even suspect that "some" of my DVDs might all of the sudden become "OK" then; but, there is no doubt that some of them are "coasters" and they all have stuff on them that I really want.
So, I know that there are Windows tools (CDRoller?, ISO Buster?) that will allow you to mount and pull files off of damaged and non-finalized DVDs from standalone recorders (which I understand use a slightly different DVD format).
Does anyone here know of any Mac programs that can do the same? (I know there are a few professional ones for $$$, but I'm looking for shareware to budget price.) I've already emailed the makers of DVD2one and am waiting to see if their sw does this.
BTW, I really just want the video files (with audio!) -- I don't care about making a DVD from the files again (so OK to lose extraneous "DVD" files, etc.)
Guru level questions (Mac or pc):
Can any sw also "see" sessions that were not individually stopped ("closed out"?) properly? (In other words, the recording went all the way, but when I hit "Stop", the recorder eventually froze.)
Can sw see files that were recorded, but then the recorder "Prepared" the media again? I'm guessing that like "Delete" or "Erase" on your computer, the "Preparing" phase didn't really ruin the previously recorded sessions, but may have reset the DVD as "empty" and OK to write over (sort of like initializing a hard drive)?
Has anyone here recovered files with such sw but had the video slightly damaged or corrupted? If you did, has anyone had success with the "Quick Stream Fix" feature from VideoReDo (pc only)? Anyone know of a similar feature in any of the many Mac programs?
One thing that I have found out regarding the audio sync issue (where some recordings upon playback will show an immediate slight audio offset). From what I have read here this can go away when played on another DVD player, or be reversed (be OK on the Lite-On, not OK on another player).
I have found that (at least for me) you can many times "fix" the issue by hitting "Pause" and step-framing it a bunch (the more the better!), then hit Play again and everything will be better to perfect. This gives me hope that perhaps the recording is not "ruined" and that it is more likely player related. Has anyone extracted files to a computer and seen the sync issue disappear using DVD Player, Quicktime, whatever?
Couple other quick questions:
Can I swap out the DVD mechanism??? (I'm not at home to take it apart yet, but I did read here that one person said it's not the usual setup; that the drive is REALLY bare, and even uses a non-standard connector?
Will my future Panasonic recorder be able to play non-finalized Lite On DVDs?
I'm assuming still no Macrovision hack for this unit (and prolly never)?
Thank you in advance for any info/help/advice!