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Panasonic DMR-EX88 DVD/HDD Recorder review

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Panasonic DMR-EX88 DVD/HDD Recorder
  • Panasonic DMR-EX88 DVD/HDD Recorder
  • Panasonic DMR-EX88 DVD/HDD Recorder
  • Panasonic DMR-EX88 DVD/HDD Recorder
  • Panasonic DMR-EX88 DVD/HDD Recorder
  • Panasonic DMR-EX88 DVD/HDD Recorder
  • DMR-EX88 Digital Video Recorder (DVD-RAM, DVD-RW, DVD-R, DVD+RW, DVD+R, CD-RW, Secure Digital SD Card - DVD Video, MPEG-2, PCM, MPEG, DivX, MP3, JPEG, SVCD, Video CD - Progressive Scan - 400 GB Hard Disk - 712 Hour - Black)

Summary

Our Score:

10

The beauty of Sky+ is that it's so simple to use even your Nan can record an entire series of Midsomer Murders without getting flustered. Features like pause live TV and Series Link have really caught our imagination, making it easier than ever to record and watch TV. And thanks to Freeview Playback, terrestrial digital PVRs now offer the same level of simplicity and flexibility as Sky's satellite trendsetter.

But for some reason DVD/HDD combis have always lived in the shadow of hard-disk PVRs, which isn't really fair when you consider that they offer loads more features and let you burn discs of your favourite shows. Perhaps people think they're simply not sexy enough or too complicated to use, but if that's the case then the introduction Freeview Playback into the DVD/HDD combi world will make them seem a lot more attractive.

The DMR-EX88 is one of the first DVD/HDD recorders to sport a Playback badge and completes Panasonic's ‘holy trinity' of new combis, which also includes the DMR-EX78 and EX768 - both of which we enthused over elsewhere on this site. The EX88 is the top-end DVD/HDD model (not counting the VHS-equipped DMR-EX98V).

At 400GB, it boasts the largest hard-disk capacity in the range, which not only allows you to record up to 712 hours of TV but also store MP3 and JPEG files, turning it into a virtual jukebox and photo album. You can also make TV recordings directly onto DVD-RAM, DVD-RW, DVD-R or DVD+R discs, or copy stuff from the hard-disk to any of these formats. If you need more that the eight hours of recording time offered by these formats, then you can also copy HDD recordings to dual-layer DVD-R and DVD+R discs, increasing the recording time to over 14 hours.

It's not the most inspirational piece of AV kit we've ever clapped eyes on, though, putting functionality over frills with a rather dull black finish. But open the flap on the front and things get a little more exciting, with the discovery of a USB port for plugging in memory devices and playing back media files, and an SD card slot, which you won't find on the EX78 or 768. The slot accepts SDHC (High Capacity) cards of 4GB and over, and allows you to play back MPEG-2 SD video as well as JPEG photos. It's joined by a DV input to transfer camcorder footage in the highest possible quality, plus a set of AV inputs.

Nicecuppatea

August 3, 2008, 2:15 am

Question: Planning on buying Panasonic plasma and HDD/DVD - do I need to keep screen on constant standby in order to record?

Nick@Redhill

October 26, 2008, 12:34 pm

Can you please clarify whether the EX88 will record Freesat images obtained from the tuner in a Panasonic TH-46PZ81B at the higher Freesat HD resolution (obviously the programme being recorded will need to be broadcast in HD). The recorder connects to the plasma TV via SCART and Viera link and will record direct from the TV's freesat tuner.

Kevin OLeary

February 17, 2009, 4:15 pm

I own a Panasonic DMR-EH50 DVD recorder. On the basis of this, which was fairly good, I purchased a DMR-EX88 recorder. I found out (after the fact) that I cannot save titles (which I regularly record) to a playlist. I have to therefore laboriously type in the name of the program every time I record it. I contacted Panasonic and their answer was "This feature is not available on this model" Why not?


It is an "okay" recorder, but I would think twice before you but it.

rpage

March 8, 2009, 1:31 pm

Panasonic can issue software updates and have done so for their LCDs... Strange that they cannot issue an update for this device... Seems like someone simply forgot to carry over that bit of code from the previous model to the new models.





I recently bought a Panasonic LCD and Cinema system thinking that Viera link would mean I could work the two devices with one controller! How naive was that of me! It is not much better than my old Sony set up which was user vicious needing separate controllers to work the system. Switch on the TV on one controller and use the other to make any changes on the cinema system / dvd player. Pain in the neck. Wouldn't be awesome if they invested in offering a touch screen universal device for the entire system? Doing that they would certainly get one up on their competitors.

Dewi Lewis

September 5, 2009, 3:32 am

1. The DMR EX88 cannot fast dub/copy a DVD to HDD, one has to watch the video and any fast forward or other actions will not be recorded.





2. It cannot play unfinalised camcorder or other DVD's.





3. It cannot unfinalise a DVD+-R so video cannot be added. Have to format & start again.





4. Auto finalises DVD at end of copy from HDD.





5. Not all digital terrestrial channels picked up..very fussy or what.





Why are none of these cons are mentioned in the review. This recorder is not a patch on my Sony RDR-HXD910 which is easy to use and does all of the above.





The Panasonic does not deserve to be in the sam class as the Sony.

Kevin Allen

January 5, 2010, 8:56 pm

It might make a fine DVD player but only if you want to play Region 2 discs.





I did see another site claiming this was a multi-region player. It isn't.

dl

December 18, 2010, 3:39 am

Poor value for money. This is not a user friendly device.





No mpeg2, mp4, avi files.





{1} As usual, Panasonic formats do not match other popular formats. For example, you will not be able to copy a video file to the USB (from any standard market device: nokia, casio etc) and watch it. If you wanted to do so you would have to file convert into the Viera format... so no mpeg2, AVI, and mp4 files !!!





{2} The menu system is slow and cumbersome (although this appears to be industry standard).





{3} Adverts take up 30% of screen in the channels view.





{4} Viera link works, but with reduced features. If the user requires anything more than play & stop, they will need the second controller which is dissapointing.





Unless you are getting a significant discount, don't buy it...

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