Which DVD Recorder to Buy?

I have a Panasonic DMR-ES45V DVD recorder (does not have a hdd), which is about a year and a half old. I bought it because I had a Panasonic VCR for 10 years and it was a wonderful machine. Sadly, This Panasonic’s DVD recorder hasn’t been anywhere near the quality of my previous Panasonic VCR. There are quite a number of reasons that I don’t like it so I won’t go into them all here.

The biggest problem is that it freezes up when I am viewing a DVD program at the same time it is recording another on DVD. When this happens, it takes approx 3-4 minutes (or more) to clear the lock-up (can only be done by powering off and back up and I lose recording of the program during this time). I have made sure it has the latest firmware and have cleaned the spindle but neither of those seem to have any effect on the problem.

The problems with it have been so frequent and significant that I have decided to retire it for use as a back-up machine and purchase a new recorder. I am not sure what to get however. I would prefer one with a hard drive (hdd) but there seem to be very few left (I prefer a hard drive because I like to playback one program while another is being recorded, i.e. chase play and I also like the flexibility of a hdd). My signal input is strictly via Cable TV and no antennas.

If I want a recorder with a hard drive (hdd), about the only contender left seems to be the Philips 3576. It seems to have quite a number of reasonably good reviews but are hard to find. If I can find a new one, it seems as if it will be $500-$750 or so.

On the other hand, Panasonic doesn 't seem to be making DVD recorders with hard drives anymore, or if it is…at least they are not selling them in the USA for some reason (I live in the USA). There appear to still be a few (very few) Panasonic hdd recorders to be found in the USA but again, have very high prices ($500 and up) if you can find them.

I am not sure I want another Panasonic machine given the problems I have had with my current ES45V. On the other hand, I don’t like to finalize my DVD’s (I use DVD-RAM format on the Panasonic) so another Panasonic machine may be an advantage in that I could play my un-finalized DVD’s from the ES45V on the newer Panasonic machine. Don’t know for sure if that could be done but if it can, that would help swing me to another Panasonic. I realize that I would not be able to play un-finalized DVD’s on a different brand machine, such as the Philips.

The one thing I have noticed about shopping for a new DVD recorder lately is that there doesn’t seem to be a lot of options any more. There don’t seem to be that many brands still making them and there don’t seem to be many models available within those few brands, regardless of whether one is looking for an hdd model or one without hdd.

I would appreciate any comments anyone might have in helping me make up my mind. Thanks in advance for any feedback.

AFAIK if you want a new HDD/DVD recorder the only US choice is the Magnavox 2160A available sporadically through WalMart.

If you record from a STB (line input) one of the [I]international[/I] Panasonics from places like W.I. would work just fine. They don’t have a US tuner but they make great recordings NTSC (US) recordings from a line output.
Also note it sounds like your ES-45v(BTW great machine) just needs to have it’s spindle cleaned. If you look at your discs and see fine scratches in the clear center spindle area of the disc, that’s a classic example of spindle slippage. The center of a dvd should look clear like a pane of glass.