How to Enable a USB Output on a Panasonic DVD Recorder
By Fred Decker
VCRs were relatively unintelligent video recorders, with only the memory and connectivity needed to record and play back a television signal. Modern DVD recorders from major manufacturers such as Panasonic are significantly more sophisticated, often containing substantial hard drives for storage and USB connections for transferring data to and from computers, camcorders and USB flash drives.
Output to USB
Connecting to a USB device with most Panasonic DVD recorders is a simple matter of plugging your external device into the USB connection. Most models since the early 2000s have used USB 2.0, though a few early recorders used version 1.1 and USB 3.0 will begin to find its way into higher-end models over the next few years. Once the USB-compatible device is inserted, the DVD recorder will display its USB menu screen. From that point, you can use your remote and the onscreen menus to copy data from the USB source or export data to the USB device.
If you're connecting your computer to the DVD recorder, it acts as an external hard drive or USB drive. You'll be able to browse media files on the computer or export them from your DVD recorder. Camcorders, still cameras and MP3 players can also be connected for data transfer purposes. Most DVD recorders don't support bus power, so these devices will need to have their own power supply rather than drawing voltage from the USB port. This isn't a problem with low-power USB flash drives, but they'll need to be formatted first on your computer.
Individual Panasonic recorders might vary slightly in the data formats they support, but support for the major audio and video formats should be universal. Recorders can import and export still photos in JPG format from digital still cameras and camcorders, and audio in MP3 format. Video can be transferred from camcorders, computers or USB memory in MPEG 2, MPEG 4 and DIVX formats. Computers and other digital video sources can also transfer standard- or high-definition video to the recorder.
Be careful not to disconnect your USB device while the DVD recorder is importing or exporting data, as this creates a possibility of data loss. It's especially important with USB flash drives, so it's prudent to back up your data before you transfer it to the DVD recorder. Many flash drives have an LED that flashes during data transfer to reduce the risk of this happening accidentally. Some USB flash drives might not work with a specific DVD recorder, although they work on other devices. This can be frustrating, but it's not unusual. Try a different USB device, preferably from another manufacturer.
Fred Decker is a trained chef and certified food-safety trainer. Decker wrote for the Saint John, New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal, and has been published in Canada's Hospitality and Foodservice magazine. He's held positions selling computers, insurance and mutual funds, and was educated at Memorial University of Newfoundland and the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology.