Pause live TV works really well too, using a timeline banner to indicate your position in relation to live TV (there’s an eight-hour buffer). Panasonic has got rid of the on-screen logo, instead displaying ‘Pause Live TV’ on the unit’s front panel.
Elsewhere, the on-screen design is familiar and friendly. The Functions menu boasts a clear layout that looks fresher and more sophisticated than Panasonic’s regular Freeview combis. The same goes for the setup menu, which is once again tucked away in a separate sub-menu, but presents its seemingly endless array of options in a straightforward manner.
The Direct Navigator menu is easy on the eye, displaying your recordings in a list with a moving thumbnail on the left. All the basic details are listed, but for a full synopsis hit the ‘i’ button (hi-def programmes are denoted by a little ‘HD’ logo). By pressing Options you can access loads of editing modes. Here, you can rename, chop up or partially delete your titles, plus you’ll also find the DR File Conversion feature. All of these editing functions are carried out using the same simple, intuitive screens found on Panasonic’s regular Freeview recorders.
Sadly the EPG hasn’t been revamped for the Freeview HD generation – it’s the same cluttered Guide Plus design we’ve seen before, with the annoying grey box taking up most of the space. Seven channels are listed at once but they’re so squashed up that you can’t read any of the programmes in the grid. That means we had to switch to the single-channel portrait view more often than we’d care to. You can whittle the guide down to certain genres though, and at least it’s quick to populate and responsive.
The BW780 is a Freeview+ HD device, which means it features Series Link – to set it, you have to select the desired programme from the EPG, then confirm your choices on two subsequent screens, making the process much more long winded than most other Freeview+ recorders. The unit also boasts Guide Link, which tracks the start and end times of programmes to make sure you don’t miss anything if the schedule changes.
Hitting the blue button on the remote from the Direct Navigator brings up the copying screen, which walks you through the process step-by-step. It’s quick and self-explanatory, which will please those who make regular copies. There’s a high-speed mode for copying recordings in their original quality, but converting to other recording modes can only be carried out in real time.