Panasonic DMR-E10 Recordable/Progressive-Scan DVD Player Page 2
This, however, is the end of the glitch section of the article. Everything else about the player (i.e., its performance) is top-notch. For starters, the DVD-playback performance is excellent. While measurements showed a very slight rolloff in extremely high frequencies, onscreen tests showed no apparent loss. In fact, those same measurements indicate that our reference Sony player had considerably more artificial enhancement to it than it should, while the Panasonic player is clean and clear as a whistle. The DMR-E10 does offer a menu adjustment if you like the enhanced look. The picture, with no enhancement, had a clarity that was stunning to watch. The fact that the player offers a progressive-scan component output that utilizes 3:2 pulldown recognition (indicated by a light on the front panel when active) is but icing on the cake. The combination provides a flicker-free, bright image with no moirés or motion artifacts. This player's output, for $4K, looks better than external video scalers that cost $8K or more. Check with your dealer or TV manufacturer to be sure that your display is compatible with progressive DVD. Otherwise, you can set the component outputs for a regular, but still impressive, interlaced output.
Good progressive-DVD-player performance is almost expected these days, though. What I was more interested in was how well the unit could record. To do this, I evaluated both test materials and video images at each of the player's three recording speeds: XP, SP, and LP. Keep in mind that the player will not record Macrovision or other copyright-protected material. Each speed predetermines the amount of compression used to obtain one, two, or four hours of recording time, respectively, on a single disc. With timer-set recordings, the player can automatically determine the speed needed based on the length of the recording and the available space on the disc. A neat trick.
The tests showed that the LP mode offered, not surprisingly, what amounted to a VHS level of quality. The resolution nearly dropped in half, with colors becoming noticeably faded. On a small screen, the drop was not objectionable, in exchange for the higher recording time. On a larger screen, the difference would be more significant. The XP (one-hour) and SP (two-hour) modes, however, looked excellent. With regular video, there was a slight difference between the original material and the SP recording and no difference between the original and the XP speed. Based on resolution levels, the drop is roughly 2 and 5 percent for XP and SP, respectively. In both cases, colors were vivid, and details were razor sharp.
Other tests showed that the DMR-E10 handles different types of signals equally well. Since MPEG, the compression format used with DVD, requires a component signal, any incoming video must be converted to component by the player. How well the player converts composite signals in particular can greatly affect the recording's image quality beyond just color and resolution. Like any TV, the DVD player uses an advanced Y/C comb filter at its composite input to begin the process of breaking down the signal. The DVD player's filter works flawlessly and removes all dot crawl, hanging dots, and cross-color artifacts as well as or better than some of the most high-end TVs. You'll want to feed the player a native S-video signal whenever possible (satellite, DVD, S-VHS camcorders), but you can rest assured that composite signals will probably look better going through the recorder with an S-video output to the TV than if connected directly to the TV.
Recording junkies will have fun with the loads of features that are at hand on the player, as well. For one, it's easy to erase chapters (or even sections of chapters) that you don't like. The recorder automatically tapes (oops, I guess I should say "discs") each new source as a new chapter every time you stop and restart the player and then lets you label these chapters yourself. A keyboard input would be welcome, as would some form of data connection that could download the info automatically from a hard-disc recorder like Panasonic's ShowStopper. It's puzzling that there's a different button to access a recorded disc's menu, as opposed to a prerecorded disc's menu.
Another slick editing feature allows you to rearrange the disc's chapters and even take sections of chapters to be played back in a particular order. With a DVD-RAM of your uncle's wedding, you could put together a seemingly professional edit of all your favor-ite gaffes, goofs, and otherwise-embarrassing moments to be downloaded to distributable videotapes, a Website, or whatever.
There are about a zillion other features that I didn't even have time to get to before Panasonic started prying the player/recorder from my hands. Apparently, they have numerous other requests for reviews, which isn't surprising. Like I said, even with the recorder's limited compatibility with existing players, it's one of the coolest products I've played with in a long time. The ability to re-record on a digital medium that won't degrade with each new recording or each subsequent playing is just awesome. The fact that the DMR-E10 does it as well as it does is even better.
• Progressive-scan output
• Lots of cool editing features