Price (RRP): $1,099
What we have here from Panasonic wouldn’t normally be thought of by most people as a PVR. After all, it’s a DVD recorder with a hard disc. But what’s the difference between the two if the DVD recorder has two HD digital tuners, and a 250GB hard disk drive?
The difference is that some of the features that appear frequently in PVRs are missing. For example, this unit doesn’t automatically ‘cache’ whatever it is that you’re watching, thereby allowing you to rewind. However you can pause live TV, which starts up a kind of temporary recording. The unit takes several seconds to respond to this press on the ‘pause’ key, so it is rather clunky.
However, that can be forgiven because of some features that are really quite unique. First, it is more than the usual DVD recorder because not only can it record SDTV, it can also record HDTV. That is maintained at full resolution on the hard disk, just like any PVR. But you can copy it to a recordable DVD as well for longer term retention. Since DVDs aren’t compatible with high definition video, the unit down-converts it to standard definition.
And it does a pretty decent job of it.
The picture quality produced by this unit was excellent. It supports full 1080p output and clearly had top-notch picture scaling circuitry, delivering a clean and sharp picture.
The unit has an Ethernet port for networking, but this does not to permit recordings to be copied to a computer, nor to allow multimedia playback from that source. What it actually does is allow the unit to connect to YouTube and Picassa, and play back videos and photos respectively.
It also allows the ‘Gracenote’ CD database built into the unit to be updated. This is used by the unit to identify artist, album name and so on when you insert a CD. You can copy the CD to the unit’s hard disc drive, turning it into a jukebox.