I'm finally getting back to add my observations.
My source is a Cablevision-provided Scientific Atlanta Explorer 8300HD (Hi-Def with Hard Drive) cablebox, connected to the Panasonic ES15 via the SA-dedicated 'Copy-To-VCR' output connectors using S-Video + Audio.
The monitor here is a JVC LT-40FH96, which is a 40" 2-Megapixel (1920x1080) LCD display which upconverts to 1080P output.
The ES15 is connected to the JVC TV via Component.
[The ES15 replaces the ES20, which is waiting to be moved to a different room]
(BTW, - The JVC LCD is HIGHLY recommended.)
Any comparisons are from the 'new' Panasonic ES15 to the 'old' predecessor Panasonic ES-20.
Many Thanks to MrRetroGamer, kents, SimonBelmont, ncaahoops, et al, for their salient posts; also thumbs up to bobkart, vferrari, kelson, et al. They collectively dig a bit deeper (and ask/answer solid questions) to all our benefit.
I'll just add a few more comments here, mostly responses:
Remote seems to be slightly redesigned - larger fonts/numbers on keys. Keys seem to be identified easily and placement is good."
I still miss the 'Eject' on the remote!
If they have properly dealt with the signal RF noise problem, they might have a winner! So far I do NOT detect RF interference on TV passthru or recording like I did from the ES20. This is GOOD!"
I also experienced RFI video noise with the ES20, albeit occasionally, sporadically, and seemingly indiscriminately. Video was sometimes blurry/animated, but mostly just the live feed thru the cablebox menu. I believed it might have bled thru to the recorded program, but did it? Recorded images did not take on the 'buzzy' and animated sine-wave modulated images of the menu. Very Odd and unresolved with the ES20.
I changed cables, moved cables, right-angled cables, left-angled cables, to no avail with the ES20. The ES20 was persistently inconsistent re RFI noise. Perhaps this was close proximity RFI from the cablebox, or from the refrigerator compressor motor, microwave, TV, the audio amplifiers?? Heck, Amityville is but a half-hour drive from here... WooBuzzWooo...
(Hmmm/ whooshhhh - perhaps the fan in the ES20???)
The ES15 exhibits NO RFI noise. NONE. NaDa. Kudos to Panasonic for shielding this ES15 deck the way the ES20 should have been. Dead Quiet video.
Initial observations indcate proper audio sync when played back on other equipment, which is good like ES20. I don't like watching TV recorded like bad Kung-Fu movies!"
My ES20 never exhibited this anomaly, but occasionally our Cable Box sure did.
I'd guess it was your source feed.
â€¦I'm not ready to draw any conclusions, but the implication is that the new model is more efficient with its VBR recording. The ES15 still claims 500 line resolution in LP (4 hour) mode."
Yes, the ES15 makes an Excellent recording in the LP/4-Hr mode, as did/does the ES20. I believe the ES15 is a bit more noise-free, but I offer no more than my subjective opinion.
[An A/B comparison of the same ES20 / ES15 recording at the same recording speed cannot be instantaneous; therefore the subjective evaluation, as such, is suspect to the viewed playback lag.]
I'm very pleased with what I've thrown it at LP.
LP recordings are Excellent; SP and XP recordings are superlative.
- One thing thats BUGGING THE CRAP out of me - the new ES15 remote doesn't have a tray open (Eject) button, you gotta use the console button to eject. Sure, you have to go to the unit anyway, but it changes the way I work. "
Agreed. I got used to using the Eject on the remote as a 'reset'/'re-read the disk'. It changes the way I work too.
- there are several UI changes in the menu and front panel with the 15 showing more info, such as the % complete on finalizing certain disk formats."
Yes, a welcome addition. As a bonus, the ES15 finalizes faster than the ES20.
* When you Open/Close the tray of a recorded disc that has not been finalized, you get a screen that asks you if you want to finalize. The bizareness of it is that you press RECORD (!) to finalize! What genius thought of that? :-) The manual is not very clear on how to quickly ignore that message."
"The only thing I can think of that could be a nuisance with the ES15 is whether the auto-Finalize screen can be discarded quickly when removing unfinalized DVDs..."
Oddly enough, ncaahoops, I find this works rather well!
Push 'Open/Close' once on the deck, and it asks you if you want to Finalize. Push 'Open/Close' a second time and the disk ejects :)
IMO, that's a pretty easy override...
...If you KNOW that you've recorded all the data you planned to on that disk, just push REC on the deck as above and it takes you right to the Finalize screen, which saves you from going into the Disk Management menu via the Functions button on the remote and to it's bore-down-to-the-Finalization menu. This is a quick and easy way for both the tyros and the more experienced users to Finalize a disk.
Thanks ncaahoops, And lets hope they fixed the "PAUSE" issue with the "FR" Recording Mode because to me that will be a big issue when people ask me what to buy."
Already confirmed here; Pause works in FR mode :)
Additionally, when Paused, both a pop-up on the TV appears, and the 'Brighter Red' REC lamp on the ES15 display (ref to a dimmer/smaller indicator lamp on the ES20 display) located on the ES15 console flashes.
...One last thing I find annoying is that you don't get a sign that the recorder is "paused" unless you want to leave the "status" on display at all times."
See above- 'Additionally, when Paused, both a pop-up on the TV appears, and the Bright Red REC lamp on the ES15 console flashes.'
Mechanical: The ES15 is quite different mechanically from the ES20. The ES15 is NOT an 'updated' ES20:
- Different Drive
- Different connector layout on rear of unit.
- Quicker responses to user inputs.
I'd like to pull the covers off both ES20 and ES15, but I'll leave that for someone else...
In summary: In my opinion the Panasonic DMR-ES15 is an Excellent DVD Recorder at a bargain price.