Standalone DVR's with HDD's - how much can they REALLY hold?

okay a little confused here, all the sites, reviews and magazines tell us that some of these amazing HDD standalone recorders (like the Panasonic or Pioneer) can hold a whopping 200+ hours of recording on their HDD - although we all know that is using the worst possible quality encoding …

What I REALLY want to know is:

(maybe this is best answered by someone who owns one)

  1. Using the BEST recording quality (CBR or VBR, whatever), how much (timewise) can an 80GB hard drive store? 16 hours? More?

  2. Does the real storage time depend on what is being recorded?

i.e. If I was recording (using the BEST quality possible):

(a) an action movie with lots of fast moving and fast paced scenes

(b) snooker or chess which would both have lots of slow moving scenes

Would the amount of hard drive space used for 2 hours of snooker/chess be less than that used for a 2 hour action movie?

(Estimated figures in HDD space used would be of good help here!)

  1. Roughly, using BEST quality recording, how much in hard drive space would be used for recording a 2 hour movie?


My Panasonic e 80h holds about 14 hours in XP mode on a 80 gig drive, it holds 114 in the worst mode. I usually use SP as the video quality is still very good, it fits a single disk most of the time in high speed dub mode, and can usually do just over 2 hours that way. I do think if the video has a bit more complex encoding it will use a tiny bit more space as all the bitrates vary with content. I don’t know for sure what it takes in actual space but I think it takes a couple of gig in sp mode. devide 80 by 14 and you should get a rough estimate. XP mode will only do an hour on a disks so thats fine for a normal show but isn’t going to do longer without spanning disks.
There are newer units out now that claim much improved slow speed performance in EP mode, might be worth checking out, Panasonic claims that now and most reviews say it is better. I wish I’d gotten a bigger drive now, this unit so far will not format anything past 80 gig. Some units will let you plug in bigger drives and use them.