Panasonic DMR-E20 DVD-R/RAM Deck Page 4

If you edited a program using a DVD-RAM disc instead, you'd be left with the problem of getting the edited version onto a grandma-compatible DVD-R without copying it back onto vid eo tape (yuck) and rerecording it onto a DVD-R. Depending on the original source material, the recording mode you use, and the quality of VCR employed, you might end up with a DVD-R that looks worse than a VHS tape-to-tape edit!

Panasonic's manual states that the play ability of your finalized DVD-R on other DVD-Video players "is not guaranteed" but depends on "the player you are using, the DVD-R, or the condition of the recording." But I had no problems recording on a TDK DVD-R blank and playing the finalized disc on six DVD-Video players, includ ing the four tested in this issue ("Progressive Views," page 46). The video quality of the dub was determined by the DMR-E20's recording mode. And while you can't manually define chapters the way they are on prerecorded DVD movies, the recorder automatically inserts handy chapter marks every 5 minutes.

So the DMR-E20's ability to record on DVD-Rs shouldn't be overestimated. This function is probably best used for archival preservation of high-quality material using the excellent XP mode and of very long programs using the EP mode. I'd make my edits for grandma on a DVD-RAM and send her a tape copy to play.

Now, don't get me wrong, the DMR-E20 is a giant step in the right direction for re cordable DVD. The DVD-R facilities do offer some degree of compatibility with non-DVD-RAM machines. The three play-while-recording features bring to a re mov able-disc recorder the kind of control over TV pro gramming previously available only from hard-disk recorders. And while I consider the Panasonic deck's editing functions somewhat primitive, they might be all most users will need. They're certainly about as easy to use as can be imagined.

The DMR-E20 is probably best suited to making high-quality "keeper" DVD-RAM dubs of timer-recorded TV programs from which the commercials have been expunged by playlist editing. The resulting discs mark a big advance in picture quality and con venience over the best you can get with a VCR. And all of the Panasonic's recording modes - even the resolution-impaired EP - score big over analog videotape for their superior color performance (no "bleed ing"), lack of video noise, and rock-solid picture stabil ity. I'm looking forward to the next gener ation of DVD-RAM record ers, which I hope will offer improved editing capabilities and will probably be priced closer to high-end VCRs - whose days are clearly numbered.