Most people couldn't care less that VHS is going the way of the dodo, but there are many others who just can't let tape technology go, either because they need a VCR to play their video collections or want to transfer irreplaceable tapes onto DVD before they fall apart. If you're one of those people, then Panasonic has the ideal machine for you - a DVD recorder with a built-in VCR that allows you to copy tapes onto discs internally (and vice versa).
Of course, being a Panasonic DVD recorder, it's packed with more features than you can shake a tape at, including an HDMI output with video upscaling to 720p, 1080i and 1080p. Not only does this work with DVDs but also VHS tapes, potentially making those fuzzy SD tapes look better than ever before.
It's also equipped with a digital terrestrial tuner that gets you the entire Freeview channel line-up as well as digital text and a 7-day EPG, the latter making timer programming as easy as pressing a button. That said, it lacks the series and split recording features that make Sony and Pioneer's latest recorders such a joy to use. Freeview channels can be recorded onto either DVD or VHS, but unlike most other DVD recorders the digital tuner isn't backed up by an analogue version - a sign of the times perhaps?
The unit is available in black or silver, but either way the bulky VCR parts packed inside make it a bit of a lump. Our black sample is plain looking and understated with a circular silver button being the only cosmetic highlight, but it's by no means ugly and should blend in nicely with your other kit. A cluster of playback controls and DV input are hidden under a flap on the front, joined by S-video, composite and stereo audio inputs on the left-hand side. Sadly there's no SD memory card slot or USB port for easy playback of digital media files.
Joining the Viera-Link compatible HDMI socket on the rear is a set of progressive scan component video outputs, two SCARTs (one of which is an RGB-capable input for making recordings on DVD from external digital TV boxes) and composite/S-video outputs. On the audio side you'll find optical digital and analogue stereo outputs.
Panasonic has always packed its recorders with a wealth of recording and editing features and the EZ47V is no exception. First up, it will record onto every DVD format going, most notably DVD-RAM and DVD-RW, both of which open the door for flexible non-linear editing of your recordings. It also supports DVD+RW, and for permanent recordings it'll accept any write-once disc, including the double-layer variations of DVD-R and DVD+R.