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.