Panasonic DMR-EX78 DVD/HDD Recorder - Panasonic DMR-EX78

By Danny Phillips

Reviewed:

Awards

  • Editors choice
Panasonic DMR-EX78 DVD/HDD Recorder

Summary

Our Score:

10

In terms of looks, the DMR-EX78 is relatively slim and dressed in a rather plain black finish, which is nowhere near as stylish as Philips or Pioneer's recorders but far from offensive. The info panel on the right hand side uses large illuminated digits, while a flap hides the FireWire, USB, S-video, composite and stereo audio inputs, as well as a few controls.

On the rear you'll find an HDMI, component, SCART, S-video and composite video outputs, plus optical digital and stereo audio outputs. A second SCART accepts RGB signals from external satellite or cable receivers, and if you want to make a timer recording from one of these, the EX78 features a ‘slave mode' which starts recording when it detects a signal on the SCART input. However, the Panasonic cannot control external equipment using an infrared transmitter as you can on some Philips recorders.

The HDMI port offers 1080p, 1080i and 720p upscaling for all video sources, and supports Deep Colour. This makes it perfectly equipped for the latest generation of hi-def TVs, but if you own a Panasonic Viera set then the newly tweaked Viera Link HDMI CEC technology additionally enables you to control the unit using the TV's remote and access a wide range of other convenient functions. The new version now includes Auto Preset Download, which does away with the need to make initial channel settings by copying the settings from a TV.

The inclusion of a hard-disk gives this unit more flexibility than a rubber gymnast. First up, there are familiar tricks like pause live TV, which comes in handy for loo breaks or when the phone rings. A particularly nice touch is the ‘Pause Live TV' onscreen logo that appears when watching time-delayed TV and looks like a snazzy channel indent. You can also start watching a programme before it's finished recording, while playlist editing lets you rearrange favourite chapters without affecting the original recordings (also available for DVD-RAM recordings). There's also a range of more basic edits like partial delete, which lets you cut out adverts and the like.

If this all sounds complicated, fear not - Panasonic's magnificent user interface makes it a complete doddle right from the word go. The entire operating system is a complete joy to use - the Direct Navigator screen lists all the recordings with a moving thumbnail and presents all of the available options clearly, while other displays like the digital TV programme banners, Guide Plus EPG and setup menu are so welcoming and logically laid out that a child could use them, dumbing down what is essentially a very complex machine. The first-rate remote also plays a big part in this, sporting large chunky buttons, crystal clear labelling and dedicated keys to instantly access vital menus. The EX78's top-notch software lets you navigate menus and surf TV channels with no frustrating pauses.

boban

August 28, 2008, 9:00 pm

Can't transfer from the internal HDD to USB drive, that's quite a shame given that the USB protocol is bi-directional, and therefore it must really be easy to implement.

Iain Marshall

October 14, 2008, 5:40 pm

Love it, however when i turn on my television, a 37PX80, the recorder seems to do an "internal startup" (it does not turn on) and makes an annoying hum. Anybody else found this? If I turn on power save it does not "hum" but you lose the clock. Did you find this on your test?

noxite

March 14, 2009, 8:46 pm

A fine picture - even on a good CRT via scart (its much better over better connections), but of course can't comment on hdmi with upscaling (will soon when I get that HDTV). All the required features are present, HHD to DVD etc. But the best for me is the series link with Freeview - now Dr. Who is all queued up automatically - this is truely the killer feature. Alas, there is one agrevating downer - the startup time from cold is very slooooooooow. 20+ seconds doesn't sound too long, but in real life, its an eternity - I am tending to leave it on if I think I will need it later - there goes planet earth. I assume that they are booting the OS from the HDD instead of ROM - cheapskates. Would I recomend? - yes I think I would.

Hogweed

July 28, 2009, 12:04 am

PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE don’t buy this awful machine. It’s the worst piece of hardware I’ve ever owned. It doesn’t read anything but commercial DVD’s. If you make your own, or back any up, it won’t read them. The remote is just terrible (buttons which cancel everything you’ve just entered are right next to “OK” buttons etc) and the menus are user-hostile at best; the Freeview guide is full of irritating adverts; many IMPORTANT functions are only available on the machine, ie not on the remote!!! Back to the 80’s or what… And it’s far from cheap…

Bob Manning

June 24, 2010, 2:24 pm

Not a comment, more a question. I am interested in putting my recordings from my Sky+ box onto DVD. Would I also be able to transfer any recordings from the Sky+ hard drive to the Panasonic hardrive for later disc transfer?





Thanks, Bob

Fiona

January 11, 2011, 7:34 am

It may be the one (and mostlikely only) one f these models that actually works was given to Danny Murphy to review but the remainder inferior units were then offloaded to the public. DO NOT bother with this machine. It selects when it will work; it DOES NOT copy from HD to disc and even freezes if you try. It cant even pick up signals for some of the HD channels....in particlular ONEHD and Channel 12 (which ONE HD). It even chooses when to allow you to record from any particular channel..if it feels like it. AND dont expect Panasonic to help you...they have a number but all you will get is a person on the other end telling you to find a repairer to fix it....easily another $80 of worthless info that lets you know that its a Panasonic and they have no idea how to fix it. Pay the extra and get a reliable brand for these recorders....Sony at least you will know that they will help over the phone and without charging for it

Guest

June 21, 2013, 3:25 pm

please who can resolve this problem - my dvd player can play some of the .avi files, but not all of them, i dont know why, can somebody help me how to fix this? thank you very much

FUDDY

March 18, 2014, 8:28 am

Can anyone help my DVD recorder DMR EX78 has been working fine until last week then the TV guide is all the place mostly 1 hour out I have checked and the date and time are correct what else can I do

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