DVD + DVBT
A short review
Initially we decided to buy a Goodmans GDVDR305DVBT because this
offered exactly what we wanted: to be able to record from Freeview DVBT
onto removable media..
We then wanted to be able then to take the DVDs to one of the other two
DVD players and three PCs with DVD-ROM drives in them which we have in
the house. This is instead of the hard-disk PVR which is pretty useless
without a 100 base T Ethernet socket so we could at least stream the
video around the house network. Ok.. we have 802.11g wireless but not
many (zero) WiFi equipped TV sets.
We gave up on watching soaps after they canned the laughably bad El
Dorado, so we dont need to record hours of episodes on a HDD every
week. If we miss something good it will probably be repeated in the end
Both of the DVD recorder units were not purchased at the cheapest
Internet price possible but instead at mainstream retailers in
Southampton . Unfortunately, this turned out to be a good thing.
This unit exactly met our requirements of cost and basic functionality.
The Goodmans machine cost £149 and we took it home and set it up
without too much trouble. We knew what we were getting was a Freeview
box attached to a DVD recorder with fairly simple integration. What we
found was a very complex multi-modal interface with long delays when
selections were made. Part of that is due to its use of DVD+R or +RW
media which require some additional preparation of the media and
finalisation of the media when recordings are finished. As a DVB-T
tuner, the box was
certainly a lot quicker than our old On/ITV Digital IDTV which takes up
to 20 seconds to change channel to the BBC multiplex.
The user manual had lots of screen shots but not many words. Sometimes
it was a bit like someone got bored after doing the fun bits. Some
features were hard to locate using the manual but eventually we got the
logic, although we often ended up having heated discussions about what
to do to get the root menu of a DVD back once we had cancelled it, and
gone back to Freeview. Sometimes I think the unit was already failing..
Timer edit bug
The Goodmans recorder has 7 day EPG with easy selection of recording
from the EPG. It also has a bug in its timer list display which only
allows you to delete the first timer entry rather than edit or delete
it. If there is only one timer entry then you can edit it by selecting
the second empty timer slot and then the edit option gives you the
first and only timer setting. If there is more than one timer entry
then one ends up editing the second timer slot as expected.
Recordings made at first were playable with ease on other DVD players
that supporter +RW reading (one Compaq 711 laptop cant cope). MPEG
artifacts were more visible even with highest quality 1 hour recording
along with a shimmering background interference probably caused by
Digital-> analog -> Digital processing.
Recordings from Hi-8 S-Video were as good as the original. One could
scale DVD playback to zoom in on eg film credits.
The Goodmans box has no fan. In use it was placed in a media shelving
unit with a glass front door and an open back. The case did not get hot
but we noticed the first unit showing signs of difficulty after a week.
Eventually it wrote coasters and then it wouldnt load a prerecorded
So we changed it for another one . A week later after playing all three
LOTR theatrical edition DVDS on succesive evenings this one went
wrong as well in the same way as I tried to load LOTR extended edition
... and I noticed a gust of hot air from the front slot as I lifted it
up and opened the tray to remove the disc. The store manager said that
he had sold over 10 of the units and I was the only person to return
two units. I got my money back with no problem and went on the
hunt for something similar. A pity, I had come to like the Goodmans
unit but I was getting bored with losing sailing days to DVD recorder
Score 8/10 functionality : 7/10 picture quality : 1/10 reliabilty
short lifetime (180 hours) in our experience.
This is a DVD-RAM based unit with other DVD recording formats supported
. It cost £250. When I plugged it in it set itself up
completely and correctly. It can record at 4 different quality
levels, being 1hr, 2hrs 4hrs or 8hrs on a 4.7 GB disk..
The top feature of this recorder is the PVR functionality it brings
with a DVD-RAM in the drive. It can play and record simultaneously from
different titles on the currently inserted DVD-RAM disk. In this mode
it is like a HDD PVR but with the advantage that a DVD-RAM of 'adult'
content can be removed from the machine and be kept away from children.
The downside compared with a unit combining DVD and HDD functions in
the same box is that you cant watch a pre-recorded DVD and record a TV
program at the same time . For that we still have the VHS recorder
wired to be able to record the output of the TV set.
There is a non-DVBT version, the DMRES10D. We nearly bought that but
then we remembered we wanted to record DVBT when the analogue switchoff
The user manual could do with some English refinement . One place it
says 'press this button to do this item later'. I pressed the button 5
minutes later but actually they meant 'press this button to
cancel'. Again a two box in one box approach. e.g. DVD subtitles
are accessed via a DVD DISPLAY sub-menu, while DVB subtitles have
their own SUBTTL remote control key. There are others.
I was also confused by the two standby modes : Timer standby and Tuner
standby. You need to put the unit in Timer standby to make timer
The Goodmans is more logical in that there is only one
standby mode that is exited either by a timer event or a user
[December 2006] We discovered that once you have put the unit into
timer standby, immediately (or later) pressing the Navigate key on the
remote will return you to a list of recordings that have been made. You
can then start playing any of the recordings on the disc, but can make
no edits. The timed recordings will then take place when scheduled
while you can continue watching either the already recorded media or
time-shifting the active recording.
The DMRES20D has both analogue (with NICAM sound) and digital TV
reception capability - so we could still record Southampton's
analogue SixTV if we ever needed to .... To help us record it has
7 day EPG on digital and Videoplus / PDC on analogue channels/
The EPG on the Goodmans also gave a short summary of the program
content within the EPG , the Panasonic only gave a summary
on the Now and Next view when watching or selecting a channel.
The timer is 10 event. No repeats are allowed, but PDC (analogue) or
subtitle (digital) operation as well as recording formats can be
programmed. An additional recording format is available which gives the
best quality recording for the amount of time available on the disk.
Track titles are based on the program name but can be edited before
recordings are made.
It can also record on DVD-R /-RW formats and can play all
formats of DVD video we are likely to encounter. It is extremely
focussed on DVD-RAM and in this mode it acts just like a Hard Disk PVR
with a simultaneous record and playback facility of different sections
of the DVD-RAM. Downside is that it is the only unit that can play
DVD-RAM in our house at present.
This unit will go to record a currently selected channel to DVD-RAM in
under one second and come up with the EPG in one second. A lot snappier
than the Goodmans.
The DVD-RAM media can be used with or without a caddy.
Having a caddy could be a good idea as the DVD-RAM disks get the most
I have now tried the unit making DVD-RW disks and then finalising them
(you cant trim tracks on DVD-RW , only delete them but you can fully
edit them on DVD-RAM, making chapters and chopping off the ends is
When I tried a disk recorded at the highest 1hr/disk quality it would
play on a PC. If I copied the VOB files from the DVD , renamed
them to .mpg and dropped them into Pinnacle Studio they stopped after 5
seconds of playing. The PC couldnt work out how long the files were,
and only recognised a few seconds of video at the beginning of a track.
I tried using several other media players and they couldnt play
the file as MPEG2. These are for non-copyright files recorded from my
The Video-DVD-RW created by the Panasonic can be read in a Philips 32x
DVD/CDROM combo but not in a Benq DW1620 Dual layer DVD writer (claims
drive is empty). It can be read in a Philips Freeline X20L DVD writer
but not in the older Presario 711ES DVDROM drive. It plays in
other DVD players around the house.
The Panasonic also has a thermostatic cooling fan. It hasnt come on
yet. You cant hear it running , its a lot quieter than the Goodmans.
Score 8/10 functionality : 10/10 picture quality : 9/10
reliability (Still going after one month: havent owned it as long as
the Goodmans !
December 2006 : PC compatibility at last
I have an old Packard Bell Easy One laptop which ended up inheriting a
laptop combo drive resulting from a failed attempt to change a dodgy
DVDROM drive in a Compaq 711 (the BIOS refuses any but the original
drive type). This Panasonic drive plays DVD-RAM. Problem is a 500MHz K6
processor manages about 4FPS playing a DVD.
I found that re-using some bundled software from a now defunct LG combo drive I managed to read the DVD-RAM on the Packard Bell.
I have subsequently purchased an Acer 5103WLMi laptop from Tescos when
all I went to buy was some Christmas cards and some cooking oil for
has a "super multi-DVD dual layer" writer which happens also to read and write
DVD-RAM. It comes with bundled DVD authoring and playback software that
is reduced in functionality. In the as-delivered state the Cyberling PowerDVD player
can play the DVD-RAM video and audio, but you cannot edit the video
properly with the bundled semi-functional Cyberlink PowerProducer, as the Panasonic seems to use DTS audio by default. Once I
paid Cyberlink £20 for an upgrade to Cyberlink PowerProducer 4 which included DTS audio (and in fact
recording an audio track of any sort to the AV on the DVD-RAM) I was
able to edit the DVD-RAMs made by the Panasonic and extract and insert
video clips via the PC.
Finally I can record videos from camcorder tapes using the Panasonic DVD recorder then assemble and edit them on the PC.
Page © Mike James 17th Oct, 12th Nov 2005, 29th Dec 2006