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Old October 14th, 2004, 07:16 PM   #1
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DVD Recording on Sony VAIO Computer?

I'm considering the purchase of a Sony RS-Series VAIO computer, mainly for the purpose of using its built-in DVD recorder. However, a Sony tech rep tells me its highest level of recording quality will use only 3.5 Gb of disk space per hour and give about 80 min. of recording time on a single-layer DVD. Since I want my DV footage to be at its best on my DVDs for distribution, I'd prefer the higher grade of recording found on other DVD units, that use the full 4.8 Gb of disk space for 60 min.

What sort of quality reduction could I expect from stretching the disk space this extra 33% in recording time? Has anyone on the forum used the built-in DVD recorder on a recent Sony VAIO model and have an evaluation to give? Are there any good add-on DVD recorders I could put in an expansion slot or any peripheral drives that would have an EHG mode that would give better quality with 4.8Gb per hour? The computer has 2 FireWire ports and 5 USB2 ports. It also has 2 S-Video and 2 composite/stereo audio jacks and an RF jack to serve the TV tuner and PVR function on the harddrive.

Another issue is that the Sony VAIO DVD system has no progressive or component output features. Is there an add-on DVD recorder for this computer that might include these two output features?

The model I would get has a Pentium 4, 3.2GHz, 512Mb RAM and 160Gb HD. I could also order it with a 3.4GHz processor, 200 or 250Gb HD and up to
1Gb of RAM. In the beginning at least, I won't be using this computer for NLE, as I have a full setup for VCR to VCR editing and don't use any special effects with the type of video I produce. Undoubtedly, I will eventually shift some types of productions to NLE, probably sooner than I'm currently anticipating.

Steve McDonald
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Old October 18th, 2004, 08:20 AM   #2
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Do you have a link to this unit?

Is this built-in DVD recorder directly converting an analog source
to a DVD or is it a normal DVD burner inside a PC? If it is the
latter you can use any authoring/burning program to maximize
the disk space (which is NOT 4.8 but 4.5 GB).

What are you interested in exactly?

Rob Lohman, visuar@iname.com
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Old October 18th, 2004, 06:29 PM   #3
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if you want the best quality, then using stand alone dvd recorders isn't the best choice... software encoding for both the audio and video is by far the best quality option.

if you must have real-time hardware encoding of analog source footage, then look for a time-based corrector on either the analog output player or the analog input of the dvd recorder... it helps with picture quality, and some dvd recorders also have good filtering of the analog input signal as well.

what your sony tech is referring to is the dvd bitrate, which is ~9.x mb a second... calculate it by the hour to see how much space it'll take up... what you really need to know to compare things is what bitrate the highest quality mode of the sony records in, not how much space it takes up in an hour.
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Old October 18th, 2004, 07:33 PM   #4
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Rob & Dan,

The computer is listed on the Desktop PC section of Sony.com, under the RS-Series. It is the RS720G, a new model that is currently available only directly from the Sony shopping website.

The maximum Gb per hour DVD recording rate of all the Sony computers, using the drives and software that come installed by Sony, is 3.5. Most of the after-market plug-ins and the stand-alone DVD recorders have an EHG mode that uses the full 4.7 Gb capacity for 60 min. These VAIO computers come bundled with DVD-authoring software, although another DVD program could be installed that might allow recording at the full 4.7 Gb per hour rate. The 3.5 Gb per hour maximum limitation is probably imposed by the software they provide, rather than by the DVD drive itself. The FireWire capture card I've ordered for another computer has DVD recording software on a CD-ROM and it could probably be installed and used instead of what Sony has included in their software package.

Perhaps someone has a suggestion for a specific DVD software program that would be the best for this use. I'm not going to produce DVDs that have anything more than simple video productions copied to them, most of which will have already been edited, before they enter the computer. They will be from DV sources on FireWire and will mostly be copied onto DVD-R disks. Any analog footage I might use will be converted to DV in my VCRs. Later, I'll probably do more NLE work with my DV footage. The important thing is to produce the highest level of quality on the DVD copies and the 3.5 Gb rate won't do this as well as if a 4.7 GB rate is used.

Steve McDonald
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Old October 18th, 2004, 09:09 PM   #5
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it sounds like what you are saying here is that the sony computer is only capable of recording an hour's worth of video onto a dvd?

take a look at this bitrate calculator for dvd's: http://www.videohelp.com/calc ...go into the advanced mode and look at the file sizing, and how it's affected by the bitrate.
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Old October 19th, 2004, 08:25 AM   #6
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Dan, I'm sure the DVD recorders in the Sony computers have modes with lower bit-rate levels and longer recording times. I don't know what they are, as they aren't specified in anything I've seen published. With the highest level, they will record about 80 min., at a 3.5 Gb per hour rate, on a standard disk.

I believe I'm going to skip buying the Sony computer, after receiving some comments from a couple of people about the DVD recording quality they got with their Sony VAIOs, using the factory-installed drives. They described the image quality as being too dark, with not enough contrast and somewhat dismal looking. I don't know if they had poor monitors or bad settings on their system or what. But, it's not the kind of feedback that inspires me to buy, even if it is from sources of unknown validity.
I will explore the selection of DVD plug-ins available and perhaps use one with the more ordinary computer I already have. It has large capacities in all categories and can have a second harddrive installed internally. Thanks for that useful DVD bit-rate calculator.

Steve McDonald
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Old October 21st, 2004, 01:45 PM   #7
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I have been using a Sony Vaio for about 1 1/2 years now and I am able to get excellent quality dvds on the burner, which is not Sony anyway, but a Pioneer. If I am not mistaken, you are not limited in any way concerning amount of time, except by your media (discs) type and software for authoring and burning. The things you want to look at are the write speeds,(which is now about 8X for write once discs rated at the 8X speed), and the format it writes (DVD+R/RW, DVD-R/RW, etc.) I would look for a drive that writes to DVD+R/RW, since it is universally compatible and the discs are cheaper from companies such as Verbatim.

The burner is transferring digital information, and I do not believe it is able to change the video quality or limit the length of information. Someone tell me if I am wrong.

You don't need a Vaio to get what you want. Dell, HP, Compaq, etc. will build the computer you want.

I just happened to get lucky with my Vaio, and got a huge bundle of software, which is not offered anymore, for about $500.00 below list at Circuit City. Look for model changes and rebates.

From what reviews I have read, almost all professional DVD authoring programs will do multi-layer discs (which give you over 9 GB), but I am not sure if they need a special burner. My guess is no. Anybody know?

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