Panasonic DMR-BW780 - Panasonic DMR-BW780

By Danny Phillips


  • Recommended by TR
Panasonic DMR-BW780


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User Score

Review Price £454.00

Sensibly Panasonic has fitted two DVB-T2 tuners inside the DMR-BW780, which makes it possible to record one channel and watch another, or record two channels simultaneously while watching a previous recording. The lack of twin tuners is something that bugs us about regular Freeview HDD/DVD recorders so it’s encouraging to see Panasonic addressing the problem here. We tried using the deck with two recordings in progress and pleasingly it doesn’t lock up or stop you accessing the EPG or Direct Navigator (although the setup menu and Viera Cast are off limits).

Freeview HD programmes can only be recorded onto the hard disk, not straight onto Blu-ray. And when recording an SD or HD programme onto the hard disk, you can only record in the Direct Recording (DR) mode. This makes a direct digital copy of the AV bit-stream onto the hard disk. That way you get no degradation in picture quality, which is important for getting the full impact of hi-def programmes.

You can however convert these DR recordings to lower quality modes to free up space on the hard disk, which takes less time and uses less space when to copying them onto Blu-ray. There are five H.264 compression modes to choose from – HG (high quality), HX (normal quality), HE (long play), HL (longer play) and HM (extended play) – as well as Panasonic’s usual bunch of standard-definition recording modes (XP, SP, LP and EP). You can also copy HD programmes onto any DVD format but they have to be converted into one of the four SD modes.

As is the case with Panasonic’s Freesat recorders, copy protection is an issue when recording Freeview HD programmes. Depending on the wishes of the broadcaster, programmes on the three available hi-def channels (BBC HD, ITV 1 HD and Channel 4 HD) can be flagged, limiting the number of times that they can be copied onto a Blu-ray disc. If present, the flag icon is displayed in the Direct Navigator menu next to the HD programme. Most of the programmes on ITV 1 HD and Channel 4 HD are ‘copy once’, and although most BBC HD content can be copied onto Blu-ray as many times as you like, it’s likely to apply copy restrictions to ‘high-value’ content that it may want to sell on Blu-ray, for example. However, there are no restrictions on copying standard-definition material.

As for Viera Cast, it offers YouTube, Bloomberg, Google Picasa, a weather forecast and Tagesschau, the German news service. Panasonic has also made its interface much easier to navigate than previously. After browsing a variety of clips in YouTube, the software feels faster and less clunky than other networked Panasonic players – clips load up almost instantly, plus in search mode the mobile phone-style text entry method makes life much easier.

General operation is sound. You get the same remote that comes with Panasonic’s other recorders, and it’s still one of the best zappers around thanks to its large buttons, intelligent layout and no-nonsense labelling.

Accessing some menus causes the screen to black out for a few seconds, which gets a little annoying (as does the slight pause when changing channels) but digital text and subtitles pop up quickly and channel tuning is finished in a flash. This kicks in when you first turn the box on, and we have to admit to getting a bit excited when the three HD channels popped up on the list.

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May 4, 2010, 1:18 pm

This is the machine I have been waiting for! Just about everything else in the house is Panasonic and I am impressed with their quality and it is nice when the AV kit can all be operated from one remote.

£700 is a bit of a stinger. I will wait a few weeks and hope it pops up for about £600.

Richard Penhale

May 4, 2010, 2:23 pm

Great review, certainly looks an impressive piece of kit, not sure you'll manage to persuade Andy to invest though at that price Danny!


May 4, 2010, 4:21 pm

This looks pretty sweet, save the price tag and the fact that I have no need to burn anything to Blu-ray. Wake me up when they release a box minus the Blu-ray player/recorder and with a sub-£500 price tag!


May 4, 2010, 5:52 pm

Can it show iplayer a la Freesat boxes?

if so can you save iplayer programs on the hard drive?


May 4, 2010, 6:18 pm

Way too expensive. No need to write to Blu-Ray or DVD.

Looking forward to the Humax FreeviewHD review.

Andy 10

May 4, 2010, 6:25 pm

A comment about reviews like this in general. Although you usually (but not always) comment on the quality of EPGs/on-screen menus (graphic style, readability, usability, speed, flashiness, etc) I think it would also be worth showing screen-grabs of them. This is the part of the system that most people will interface with the most often. And if you are making video reviews I think that video cuts showing interaction with these menus would be even better.


May 4, 2010, 6:55 pm

The device would be better served by removing the blu-ray recorder and putting in a 2TB hard drive. Who backs up programs to disc in this day and age? With the cost of blank blu-ray media it's cheaper to buy the boxset.


May 4, 2010, 8:08 pm

£700 and you get a 250Gb hard drive. Is that a typo or a sad joke? That's terrible. Totally agree with @jopey in regards to "who backs up programmes to Blu-Ray" and the price of blanks.


May 4, 2010, 10:28 pm

I'm not questioning the Panasonic's quality - I'm sure it's great.

The price is nonsense. This player's price is greater than the sum of it's parts and it will be out of date in months if not weeks.

Personally, I'm going to save my cash and buy seperates. That way, when I need to upgrade, it can be done gradually.


May 4, 2010, 10:52 pm

Obviously the folks who are responsible for this are not paying any attention to what their colleagues are doing as with Panasonic Viera TX-P42G20B 42in Plasma TV.

The HDD size (agreed 1-2TB is not too much to ask) is not the only short coming: Why not also Freesat tuner albeit in place of a second Freeview one. After all more and more tv's (as AV manufacturers catch some common sense flu from Pani)are being sold with Freeview HD and soon no doubt Freesat also!! After all the old VCRs didn't have two tuners.

£700 is too much even with a 0.5-1TB HDD - not in this day an age. £500 tops Pani if you a listening and feel free to give us a measly 500GB HDD!! or you can live up to your reputation and fit a 1TBHDD.

As for all this DMR nonsense, why? The VCR didn't destroy the media industry. The DMR on DVDs didn't work – why then all those ads at the start of the DVD about copyright theft blah, blah... yawn. The money saved on not implementing DMR is probably more than compensates.


May 5, 2010, 12:32 am

@Retset > Agreed, I've been waiting for one of these but alas won't be getting Freeview HD for another year at least so in no rush to spend £700 on it.

Those who think that they have no need to copy programs to Blu-Ray are missing the point. Just like DVD/HDD recorders, few people copy programs to discs but rather it's the convenience of having a dedicated Blu-Ray player and a HDD recorder in one unit that appeals to me.

It may finally be time to allow something other than my PS3 to play Blu-Ray discs without a noisy fan getting in the way during the summer months.


May 5, 2010, 2:11 am

10 out of 10 for features on a £600 box that can't stream or even play MKV files.

TrustedReviews should really do an in depth investigation as to why not one company will put out a box that plays blu rays, lets you view or record sky/virgin/freeview/freesat depending on optional tuners, will stream MKV 1080p high bitstream files for a NAS and has access to legal internet stream like iplayer and 4od.

Now that, would be worth £600. All of the above can be done with various workarounds on an HTPC, why is everything so hard.


May 5, 2010, 2:17 am

Since I posted first, I have been interested to read the later comments.

I do agree £700 is too much and 250GB is too little but Panasonic kit is a always a big lure for me! The fact that technophobic wife can operate it on one remote means I can more easily get permission to buy ;)

I want the twin HD freeview tuners (like the reviewers, I live in the SW and the service is live) mainly. The Blu-Ray and networking features are no draw and there is no iplayer so I will try to curb my enthusiasm till a poorer relation appears in the range!


May 5, 2010, 3:33 am

Pani seems to be treating the DB/HDD recorders as set top boxes given that it has separate Freesat and Freeview-HD versions? Then again they must know that their Customers think alike, even though their Pani tvs have a Freesat and a Freeview HD tuners. I would have thought the latter made more sense since Freesat is available NOW across the country while one will be prepared for Freeview HD when it arrives.

CORRECTION: DMR in my previous post should have been D(igital) R(ights) M(anagement) for the odd unforgiving reader!


May 5, 2010, 4:26 am

I must say I bought my DMR-EX87 on the basis of the TR review and well done TR. The SD-LP picture quality makes normal play recording unnecessary. In fact LP recordings are only affected when the original transmission is heavily compressed and then only in FF mode and not in play mode. EXCELLENT 10/10.

Incidentally Freeview-HD is getting extra advertising by Sony and I think PC World (??) with a trade in for your old CTR tv! So hurry to the charity shops or local skip. :-) Only problems is the bureaucratins who came up with the silly time table for the digital switch over and the Beebs Governors (wake up e-mails to: or https://consultations.external... )

@Retset I just Googled and found Cheapelectricals doing it for £622 (inc of VAT & carriage + FREE 3 Blu-ray Films ends July 31st + Installation £70 {May not be required for existing Sky customers}???). I thinks £600 is possible with nego....


May 5, 2010, 4:54 am

Note to technology companies. We want 1 box under our TV that is small, silent (no moving fan parts) and consumes very very little power (compared to a media centre PC).

- Twin tuner Freeview HD or Freesat HD or one of each (which can both be used at the same time)

- Blu-ray (+ blu-ray 3D support) with multi-region for both blu and DVD

- DNLA, simple networking and mapped network drives, NAS etc etc

- Youtube, iplayer, background RSS feed downloading/subscribing (if my phone can do it.!) + project Canvas if that ever happens.

- 1080p MKV/avi/WMV/MP4/AVCHD with all the audio bells and whistles.. and subtitle support.

- bus powered USB ports (at least 1 at the back for wireless dongle - £10 optional extra) with copy/paste back and forth from HDD

- 1-2TB HDD and a simple way to get it out or upgrade it (backup/clone over USB)

- HDMI 1.4 (for 3D) with network cable support.

For £100 lol... sold!


May 5, 2010, 12:06 pm

I second that @jopey.

It is going to happen but not for another 5-10 years. That's when BD will be being replaced and 100TB are the norm!!! ;-)

Better still why not intergrate it all into the tvs? No boxes or cables necessary.


May 5, 2010, 12:48 pm

I'm a little less demanding that @jopey and hoping that the un and coming Humax review will get most of the way there. I'd like :-

- Twin HD Freeview Tuners so that I can record 2 channels

- 1TB (min) hard drive (like I've had in my SkyHD box for ages)

- Ability to play iPlayer

- Ability to play other services like 4oD, etc

- Multi-Region DVD player built in would be nice, but not necessary.

- No DVD Recording

- No Blu-Ray recording

- No Blu-Ray player

- Not worried about HDMI versions as I'm not interested in 3d

- Quiet

- Stylish

- Doesn't take ages to turn on and load the EPG / Library (Humax I hope you don't fail here again)

- Price around £300


May 5, 2010, 3:13 pm

I'm with AJ, but drop the DVD player. I want to be able to record 2 channels and watch a third recording at the same time. I want the box to cache the EPG and periodically update it even when in standby. I don't need any optical drive, WiFi or analogue outputs - the only sockets on the back should be an HDMI 1.3/1.4, a power input and an RJ-45 gigabit ethernet port. The box should be network aware with cheap (<£100) extenders (with available which can use the tuners and access and schedule recordings on ths 'master' box and output them in HD over HDMI. For large installations it should be possible to have multiple 'master' boxes which cooperate seamlessly to offer a single large storage pool and multiple tuners.

That would be pimp.


May 5, 2010, 3:30 pm

As one of the(seemingly)few people who archive material, the new extended play mode sounds interesting. I wonder if they could offer this mode as a firmware upgrade to their existing Freesat recorders?


May 5, 2010, 6:06 pm

@AJ HDMI1.4 is good because it has an optional ethernet channel. So if you have a TV, receiver, future game console etc etc with the ethernet over HDMI as well, then you only need to feed the internet to one device and then it's automatically routed to everything else.


May 5, 2010, 7:50 pm

@jopey. Sounds interesting if all devices use it, however I suspect some will and some won't, making it pointless.

As all game consoles have wireless built in anyway and all £2k TV's certainly should too, it's redundant anyway.

So I'm really not worried about HDMI 1.4. Just give me wireless N please. Job done.


May 8, 2010, 2:30 am

@AJ - not all consoles have wireless built in - the Xbox 360 still doesn't


May 13, 2010, 12:36 am

all this sounds ok, but at around 700 it's a bit too pricey, one thing however i would have liked to have seen would have been the ability to compress HD content down sufficiently to burn onto a dvd, or am i just asking too much? by the way, does anyone know of anything else that will record and burn HD content that is soon to be released? am finding it quite frustrating at the moment at the sheer lack of freeview HD PVRs that also burn HD content.

Mike B

May 24, 2010, 8:34 pm

I have taken the plunge and pre-ordered from the Panasonic Shop for £565. (Special deal for Corporate Perks users so 25% off the listed price.) Still expensive but more like a realistic price! Now how long will I have to wait for it to be released? Most sites seem to suggest the end of June!

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