2,4,6,8 Hours: What Is Quality Differnce On DVD?

I have a DVD stand alone burner set up with my cable…not on my computer.
It offers those speeds and I was wondering if the quality is all that noticeable when playing back.

Assuming I am copying a normal Hollywood film…am I going to notice if the DVD is playing back in any of those speeds? Will most new DVD players accept all of those speeds?

I also have a DVD recorder hooked to my cable TV, as well as a cable box with the built in Digital Video Recorder, similar to TIVO.

When we first started making recordings, I compared the out from the cable, from the cable recorded on the DVR, and the cable recorded on the DVD at all three speeds.

The DVR is virtually indistinguishable from the direct output of the cable box. There is some loss of detail, and a little more color smear, but it’s very close. So close I’d don’t think I’d notice without a direct comparison.

The DVD is not quite as good, but two-hour mode is pretty good. There is some definite detail loss, more color smear, more noise, etc, but it’s still very watchable. (Commerical DVDs, by the way, look great! Even a little better than the digital cable feed, I think.)

Four-hour and six-hour mode each get a little worse. Four-hour is usable, but a definite step down in quality. I see more compression artifacts, more color smear, occasional jerkiness when the scene moves quickly, etc.

Six-hour mode is another step down. I don’t record much in this mode because the picture is very noticeably worse. Especially in dark scenes.

So there is a difference. My wife, who is not usually a “high-end” kind of person for either audio or video systems, looked at all three speeds, and insisted that we record her “Columbo” episodes in two hour mode. I did a quick blind test with her, and she could easily spot the difference.

My recorder is about 2 years old, I think, so things may be different with a new unit. But it was a very highly rated recorder when new, pretty much Panasonic’s top-of-the-line unit.