Customer Review

77 of 80 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Nice recorder, shame about technical support, 5 Nov 2010
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This review is from: Toshiba DR20 Digital DVD Recorder with Freeview (Old Model) (Electronics)
If you just want to record programmes directly from live TV to a DVD disc, this could be the machine for you. The instruction manual could be better, but I nevertheless found the Toshiba DR20 to be easy to set up for basic use. Scanning Freeview channels and recording on to a DVD is straightforward.

My problem was persuading the Toshiba to recognise the existence of my Humax PVR, so that I could copy programmes from the hard drive of the PVR on to DVD. Putting this right involved juggling the menus of the TV, the PVR and the DVD recorder, with their three separate remote controls, and three menu systems. I was convinced that changing one of the settings on one of the machines would get everything working, but I could not tell which one was causing the problem.

In desperation, I spent half an hour on the phone to Toshiba technical support. At first the young man I spoke to told me that the Toshiba DR20 couldn't do what I wanted, though the manual explicitly said that it was possible. He then said that I would have to swap the SCART leads over at the back of the Toshiba every time I wanted to transfer a PVR recording to DVD. When I said that this was unlikely to be the best solution, he told me that there would be no point in contacting technical support again because nobody there would be able to "help" me further.

After a bit more juggling, I managed to make everything work as it should simply by changing a setting on the Toshiba's Input Select menu. I now have a DVD recorder that does exactly what I want, but it took several hours of frustration to make it happen, with no help at all from Toshiba.

Conclusion: good machine, though for anything more than basic use you might need a degree of perseverance (or more knowledge than I have!) to set it up.

UPDATE 26 November 2011: This machine worked well until it suddenly died in mid-recording, two weeks after its one-year guarantee ended. Toshiba suggested I try changing the fuse, otherwise it will be treated as a "chargeable repair", being out of warranty. I've changed the fuse, but the machine is still dead.

UPDATE 2 June 2012: I am still using my Toshiba (repaired privately, not by Toshiba). I really wanted to ditch my old PVR and get Virgin Tivo, but I hesitated over it for a long time because so much has been written about the inability to make DVDs in conjunction with a Tivo box. I took the plunge last week. I can now make DVDs on the Toshiba using Tivo as the source, either from a live programme, or from a previously-recorded programme, or now (new, courtesey of Tivo) from an "on demand" programme (i-Player or catch-up on other channels). I still can't watch channel A while making a DVD of something that's on channel B, but I never could do that anyway, so I'm not complaining. All very satisfactory.

UPDATE 18 August 2013: Well, that's it. The Toshiba recorded a programme and allowed me to edit its title, then stopped while writing the data to the disc. I re-started and the machine attempted a repair, but lost the new title, wouldn't let me edit it again. Now it needs kick-starting three or four times before it will start up, and I just don't trust it any more. End of story, I'm afraid.
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Tracked by 4 customers

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Showing 11-19 of 19 posts in this discussion
In reply to an earlier post on 11 Feb 2011 18:48:29 GMT
steady eddie says:
I have found this thread exceptionally helpful because I am in the market for a dvd recorder at the moment and this one may fit the bill. However, I am new to all this new fangled digital business having only just converted within the last 3 months. I have 2 PVRs (both Humax), is it possible to create dvd s from the freeview pvr and also the freesat pvr (obviously not at the same time) simply by connecting the appropriate pvr to the dvd ? (Given that I have the same success as Maggie did in getting the dvd to recognise the pvr). I only really wanted a dvd recorder but they all appear to have freeview tuners incorporated.

In reply to an earlier post on 11 Feb 2011 19:02:47 GMT
Maggie says:
I'm afraid I don't know the answer to your question for sure, Steady Eddie, but I don't see why the Toshiba shouldn't work just as well with either PVR, once you've got the basic setup working. The one thing that might cause you a problem is the fact that the Toshiba SCART sockets are (as usual) round the back, so swapping them over might be a bit of a pain.

As for the Toshiba's tuner, I was able to forget about it until I was confident with recording from the PVR; nowadays I'm comfortable switching between the Toshiba tuner and the Humax.

In reply to an earlier post on 11 Feb 2011 19:45:32 GMT
steady eddie says:
Thanks for that, the SCART scenario wouldn't be a problem as I have a few SCART extender thingys knocking about so it would just be a question of REMEMBERING to select the appropriate button on it.

Posted on 14 Apr 2012 23:07:28 BDT
Tempestas says:
I'm thinking of buying this, and you seem to know what you're talking about --- so --- I just want a plain machine that will record one programme onto disc while I'm watching another. Does it do that? And does it record from Video Plus numbers? Can I use DVD-and DVD+ RW and R discs? Will it play discs already recorded onto DVD-RW and DVD-R (these have been recorded on my Panasonic, now rendered useless by digital TV!)?
Thanks in advance if you're able to see this and answer!

In reply to an earlier post on 15 Apr 2012 08:50:31 BDT
Maggie says:
Your first two questions are difficult because I've never used the Toshiba to do this. I've had a look in the (devilishly complicated) manual and can't get a straight answer. I'll try record-one-and-watch another and get back to you - watch this space. Again, I don't use Video Plus numbers so I don't know the answer, but I'll see what I can find out. (I use my PVR to record one or two while I'm watching another. When I record on to DVD, I only do it when it's something I really want to keep, and I'm usually watching it at the same time.)

Will it play discs already recorded onto DVD-RW and DVD-R? -- I make DVDs on my computer, and can run them on the Toshiba. I use DVD+RW to make trial versions while I'm still editing the video, and they work fine. I haven't used -RW, but can't see why they wouldn't work.

I'm writing this Sunday AM. Hope to answer the outstanding questions later today.

In reply to an earlier post on 15 Apr 2012 10:58:03 BDT
Last edited by the author on 15 Apr 2012 11:02:49 BDT
Maggie says:
I've experimented, and the results are not good, I'm afraid. The one positive thing is that I used a DVD+RW for the experiments, and that worked fine.

If what you have is simply a TV and the Toshiba, you can't record one programme while you're watching another, and I can see no way of using Video Plus numbers to set the timer. You can set a timed recording in the normal way, of course, entering start and finish times yourself, and there's even an option to record subtitles if you want them, which is a nice touch.

There's a warning in the manual about the possibility that discs recorded on other machines will not play on the Toshiba, but I've never found a problem with this. A section in the manual deals with compatibility, and explains how to play (and add new recordings to) unfinalised +VR mode discs recorded on other machines. I haven't done this, but it seems to cover what you're talking about.

If what you really want to do is record a programme while you watch something else, a PVR sounds like the best option.

In reply to an earlier post on 15 Apr 2012 17:30:52 BDT
Tempestas says:
Many thanks for your swift reply! If I get a PVR this means it has a hard disc, right? So how do I get programmes onto a DVD disc? I'm assuming I can't transfer the hard disc content to my non-digital Panasonic recorder, so I'm guessing I'll have to get a new PVR that also records onto disc? Yikes! Expensive! Who said going digital would enrich my life!

In reply to an earlier post on 15 Apr 2012 19:42:08 BDT
Maggie says:
The PVR has a hard drive, yes. They're usually a pretty substantial size nowadays, so you can fit a lot on them. When I know there's a programme I want permanently on DVD, I usually record to the Toshiba at the same time as it's broadcast, and I also save a copy on the PVR (belt and braces, just in case something goes wrong with the Toshiba while I'm recording). But I can also make a DVD from a PVR recording, as described earlier in the thread - the Toshiba records whatever is on your TV screen, even if that's a recording and not a programme that's currently being broadcast. So your Panasonic might well be able to record from a PVR hard drive - if you get the cables and settings right, which is where this thread started.

"I'll have to get a new PVR that also records onto disc" - I wish! I got the Toshiba as the next-best-thing because the current generation of DVD-cum-PVRs wouldn't let me do what I wanted. For example, they wouldn't allow me to record to DVD directly from the broadcast - you had to record it on to the hard drive, then play it all again to transfer it to DVD. My PVR + Toshiba does exactly what I want it to do. Unfortunately, it won't do quite what you want it to do (record one programme and watch another) - you need a PVR for that.

In reply to an earlier post on 15 Apr 2012 20:34:00 BDT
Last edited by the author on 15 Apr 2012 20:34:36 BDT
Tempestas says:
Many thanks, Maggie! You've been really helpful, and it's beginning to make sense. Good karma, dude. You'll definitely come back as a higher life form! (A hologram, maybe?)
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