Written on: 13/06/2007 by diablo944 (16 reviews written)
Functional tool, fast record/backup from HDD to DVD (providing you have set things up correctly before original HDD recording took place), vast array of writing mediums, Freeview tuner, HiDef upscale and connection via HDMI interface cable. Fast record from standby (if the target drive is set ready to accept a recording).
Can be a bit fiddly at times, and takes a while to get used to its occasional quirks. Annoyingly, it allows you to record in a format that cant be copied quickly to disc, recording settings need to be considered before use as getting this wrong only allows real time burning to disc, rather than the super fast option available if the settings were correctly input before use.
Sold in the UK as a region locked unit, many are region free now due to demand for a region free recorder/player. Occasionally struggles to play DVD's that other players have no issue with, usually resulting in green artefacts on such awkward discs. As a recording device though, it is a very capable contender. EPG is OK, not earth shattering but OK. Editing facilities for hard drive recorded items are exemplary once you get used to the controls, allowing easy editing out of any portions/adverts that may ruin the flow of the programme. Single tuner is a bit limiting, but if two tuners are needed, you should look elsewhere. On first setup for the recording preferences to HDD, it is essential you choose carefully so as to allow fast record from HDD to DVD later. Get it wrong or fail to address this early on, and all recordings from HDD to DVD take place in Real time, ie:- a 1 hour programme will take an hour to record. Get the settings right and the same hours recording will transfer to DVD in ten minutes. Some aspects of the recording from HDD to DVD do not flow as nicely or logically as you may expect, but again, once you are used to it, it is an OK setup. Displaying the HDD recordings menu:- whichever of the recordings is highlighted begins playing in the window allowing you to see what the program is without having to actually play it. Recordings made via the Freeview EPG take the title from the EPG for the recording. Items done with quick start record use 'recording 1' 'recording 2' etc. Selectable compression for writing to DVD gives results from excellent short play to truly low quality long play at the maximum compression. That said, if you are trying to stretch a DVD to 6 hours, you would expect a massive reduction on quality, the fact that the option is here is a bonus. The auxiliary input allows for the HDD recording of an exterior source (video/tivo etc), and the obvious ability to then edit the adverts out of these recordings. All in all, the Panasonic is a good machine, occasionally not as intuitive as I would like (if set to record to DVD, pressing record brings up the device not ready if no disc is inserted rather than just commencing a recording to the hard drive as a default, it can mean missing the start of a programme). With the amount of features crammed into the box, it isn't really a surprise to find that there is a bit of a learning curve involved in getting the most out of it. I wouldn't recommend it to someone technologically challenged, but otherwise it is a nice machine. As with any device with a hard drive recording facility, the bigger the better. models sharing the same name with a different number are identical barring the hard drive size. Only get a smaller drive model if your budget is tight. If region free is important to you, make sure you get one that is already sorted, the task of doing this is not simply a remote code. The remote control is initially quite a busy item, but again, it doesn't take long to get used to what you need to use.