Drill Down DVD Recording Gets Real
OK, so far it sounds like a VCR. Being a digital recorder means there are some impressive tricks it can perform that a VCR only dreams of. One is going to the beginning of a program while it's being recorded. With the E20 you use what Panasonic calls "Chasing Playback." You press the Play button and the program instantly jumps to the beginning. You can then use the forward button or the CM (commercial skip) button if you want to move through commercials. If during a recording you just want to go back five seconds you use the "Time Slip" feature. Press the Time Slip button on the remote and the program jumps back 30 seconds. If you want to go back more than 30 seconds you have to get off your couch and use the Time Slip dial on the unit. You turn the dial until you get the desired amount of minutes you want to go back. Then you press the dial in and playback starts. Yes, this is a confusing and inelegant solution to the problem. A better method would allow you to simply use the Reverse scan buttons the same way you would if you were watching a standard DVD or a program on a digital video recorder like TiVo, UltimateTV or ReplayTV. Recorded DVDs automatically get divided into chapters about every five minutes. You can go back and change the titles of those chapters to reflect the names of the programs. When using a DVD-RAM disc, Panasonic claims you can record on it over and over about 100,000 times. DVD-R discs are write-once like CD-Rs. Once a DVD-R is finalized you can't change it.
Recording home footage was simple. Start your source (the camcorder) and press Record to start recording. Press Stop and recording stops. That segment becomes a chapter on the DVD menu. Press Record again and you start the next chapter. Press Pause during recording to allow the E20 to bypass footage you don't want recorded onto the DVD. By using the Record, Stop and Pause buttons, I turned two full MiniDV tapes into a one-hour DVD with 18 chapters. Finalizing, which takes a few minutes, puts it all together and makes it permanent. Once finalized you can't record anything new onto the disc.