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Panasonic DMR-BS850: The First Dual-Tuner Freesat HD PVR

Andy Vandervell


Panasonic DMR-BS850: First Dual-Tuner Freesat HD Blu-ray PVR

Despite the occasional dodgy set-top box, it's hard to argue with the quality of Sky's HD service right now. However, competition is very important and this is one of the reasons why the Freesat service, which can deliver terrestrial HD programming without the need for subscription, remains a vital cog for television broadcasting. Panasonic has been a strong supporter of Freesat from the beginning, being the first to integrate tuners into its TVs, and it has demonstrated its support today by announcing the first twin-tuner, Freesat HD PVR and Blu-ray recorder.

To be called the DMR-BS850, precious few technical details are available as yet, though it has been confirmed that it'll feature an SD Card slot for instant viewing of photos and videos from a camera or camcorder.

It will also support Viera Cast, Panasonic's take on Internet content delivery, as seen in its new TVs. This, we assume, should mean an Ethernet port is on-board, too, though what other inputs or outputs there will be remains unknown.

This is all we know for now, but we'll be badgering anyone we can find for more info...even if they don't work for Panasonic. So, if you're in Amsterdam and are accosted by a crazed Englishman asking about Freesat HD tuners, just point him in the direction of the nearest bar. Ta.

Update - 18:15, 24th Feb

Firstly, apologies since, as someone has already pointed out, this is not the first dual-tuner Freesat HD PVR, but it is the first such device that also boasts Blu-ray recording and by extension playback, too.

We also have a few more details on this and two other dual-tuner Freesat PVRs from Panasonic.

First, the DMR-BS850, will feature a 500GB hard drive, in addition to Blu-ray recording and archiving encoded in AVCHD. It will utilise Panasonic's PHL Reference Chroma Processor and will be BD Live compatible, along with the previously stated features which include Viera Cast support. This will be joined by the near identical BS750 that will substitute the 500GB drive for a smaller 250GB drive.

Then there's the DMR-XS350. This is also a dual-tuner Freesat device, but replaces the Blu-ray drive with a more affordable DVD recording drive. It will feature a 250GB hard drive as well as Panasonic's music jukebox system, with Gracenote album lookup, which is a feature of its current range of DVD recorders.

We don't have pricing or availability on either of these new models yet, but we're endeavouring to get hold of this information.


February 24, 2009, 9:48 pm

Shouldn't that be "*Panasonic's* First Dual-Tuner Freesat HD PVR"? The Humax FoxSat PVR is dual tuner, HD and has been available since before Christmas.


February 24, 2009, 10:03 pm

Hopefully it'll be cheaper then the Humax box. And it will good to have a bit of competition in the Freesat PVR arena - maybe bring prices down - as I think they're too high at the moment.


February 24, 2009, 10:07 pm

Agreed Jonslon. I did wonder what makes this so special when Humax's baby has been doing this for a couple of months and very well too. It's even been reviewed here on TR.

Andy Vandervell

February 24, 2009, 11:12 pm

Ah, no. What it should actually read is that it's the first dual-freesat hd pvr and blu-ray recorder. My apologies. Just got all the info I needed now, so will be updating shortly.


February 24, 2009, 11:46 pm

In reply, to jonstone ( 24/2), if one wants to get technically correct, Panasonics' heading of being the 1st is actually right, as they've worded here, as it is the 1st 'Blue Ray' incl HDD twin Freesat tuner!!


February 25, 2009, 2:21 am

Ah, so it looks like none of the new models will just be plain PVR's with no integrated Blu-ray or DVD drives? Shame, as I was hoping for some competition for the Humax.


February 25, 2009, 3:51 am

Great to see these appearing at last. I'd much prefer one of these to the Humax box as archiving HD will be much more straightforward (at least the non-protected stuff of course). I think the 500GB model will cost much more than the Humax box, somehow I don't think we'll see it south of the &#163500 mark (at least initially).


February 25, 2009, 2:37 pm

Great news, twin tuner, HD recording, blu-ray recorder. But seeing at the moment there is only 1 24hr HD channel on freesat with ITV having occasional broadcasts, is it possible for those of use with Sky HD to hook up our sky box to this Panasonic box and transfer all our Sky HD recordings onto Blu-Ray ? Can anyone clear this up ? If it could, this could be a killer feature.


February 25, 2009, 4:41 pm

Rich, I suspect not as there does not appear to be a high-def input (HDMI or component). Sky wouldn't allow lossless digital copying anyhow (ie via HDMI). The most straightforward (and possibly least expensive) way to copy HD recordings at their full resolution from Sky HD if you already have a fairly speedy PC or Mac, is to use a Hauppauage HD PVR.


February 25, 2009, 5:18 pm

Gulp! Apparently the DMR-BS850 (500GB) will be around the &#1631,000 according to a Panasonic spokesman! Internet prices should be cheaper of course, but lets hope this drops pretty swiftly.


February 26, 2009, 11:48 pm

In reply to PS3 & half!, if the DMR BS850 does debut at the 1 grand mark, i certainly won't be jumping on the band wagon just yet! Granted it's exactly what the industry needs to be producing right now for Freesat. It would be interesting to know where you got that figure from? If you're correct, i wonder what other info you know about this model, i.e. any technical details yet? like the DVD/HDD recorders, i reckon wait 6 months, if that, before it tumbles in price, especially in this credit crunch age. If they want this to be successful as i presume Panasonic do, they're going to have to drop this suspected price very rapidly!I wonder what Sony will do now? Bearing in mind a little while, TR checked out some new Sony HDD/Blue Ray recorders with up to a terabite capacity, but alas only for the Japanese market! I bet they'll be under pressure now, to ship these over here for Freesat users! Like most here, i was all set to go for the Humax PVR, but i think i'll hang on and see what review this machine gets & of course confirmed price!

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