The functional near equivalence of the hard-drive and DVD-RAM recorder sections of the DMR-HS2 applies also to their performance. What makes a difference in image quality here is not what you record on but, as with previous Panasonic DVD recorders, the recording mode (video bit rate) you select. There's a definite tradeoff between picture quality (chiefly in resolution and freedom from MPEG encoding artifacts) and recording time. The XP and SP modes-1 or 2 hours per DVD, respectively-yield essentially full horizontal DVD resolution (540 lines). The big gap is between SP and LP (4 hours), where you drop to 240 lines of resolution with substantially more visible encoding artifacts (blocking, mosquito noise, edge effects). EP (6 hours) looks much like LP except when objects move, which they do with a slight flickering effect because EP seems to record only every other video field.
This performance is identical through all the inputs, including direct digital dubs of DV tapes through the FireWire/i.Link port. The latter was not recognized as a valid DV connection by two Windows XP computers, although it worked just fine with DV camcorders. This means you can't edit a production on a PC and "dump" it to the DMR-HS2 without "dropping" to analog. In most other respects, including audio and component-video output performance, the DMR-HS2 performed essentially the same as the Panasonic DMR-E30 we tested last month-that is, very good video playback, with CD audio not quite on the same level.
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