The DMR-EX768 is another model from Panasonic's latest line-up of digital recorders, which in our opinion is the company's strongest ever. We recently tested the DMR-EX78 and were hit for six by its combination of convenient features, magnificent picture quality and ease of use, and the DMR-EX768 seemingly offers more of the same but at a lower price.
As Panasonic's entry-level DVD/HDD recorder, it lacks several features found on the DMR-EX78 (which is about £70 more expensive) such as a USB port, internal CD ripping and the Gracenote database, all of which rules out using the EX768 as a virtual jukebox. Its hard-disk drive is 160GB as opposed to the EX78's 250GB and it lacks the SD card slot found on the 400GB DMR-EX88, but still includes a vast array of features that make TV timeshifting and archiving a hassle-free process.
Of greatest interest is the deck's extensive digital TV functionality. The built-in digital tuner offers the full Freeview channel line-up, which can be recorded directly onto the hard-disk or DVD. You can browse the TV schedules up to seven days in advance using the Guide Plus EPG, which lets you set timer recordings at the touch of a button. But the best thing about Panasonic's latest recorders is that they're all Freeview Playback compatible and therefore support series recording and split recording. And thanks to Guide Link, the start and stop times of timer recordings are controlled by the signal sent from the broadcaster, so you'll never miss your favourite programmes even if the schedule changes.
Interestingly there's no analogue tuner on board, a timely reminder of the impending analogue switchoff, but it does mean that you won't get any channels if you live in an area not covered by a terrestrial digital signal.
The 279-hour maximum recording time offered by the 160GB hard-disk should suffice for casual TV viewers, particularly those that prefer to delete programmes after watching them. But serious couch potatoes and hoarders might want to consider the 250GB EX78 or 400GB EX88, as that 279-hour recording time is only possible in the lowest-quality EP mode - it shrinks to 140 hours in LP mode, 70 hours in SP mode and 35 hours in the top-quality XP. You can also record onto any type of recordable DVD - the maximum recording time is 14 hours and 20 minutes if you're copying onto a DVD-R (DL) or DVD+R (DL) disc, but for all other types of single-sided, single layer disc (DVD-RW/-R, DVD+RW/+R and DVD-RAM) the maximum is eight hours. But to save worrying about which of the four recording modes to use, Panasonic's trusty Flexible Recording mode automatically fits a programme into the available space.