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Panasonic DMR-BWT720

Summary

Our Score

9/10

User Score

Review Price £549.99

The Panasonic DMR-BWT720 is an HDD and Blu-ray recorder, 3D Blu-ray player, Freeview HD receiver and network streamer rolled into one, and in each area there’s a stupendous array of features at your disposal. Starting with Freeview, the inclusion of dual Freeview tuners means you can record two channels simultaneously – something that shouldn’t be taken for granted, as Samsung’s BD-D8500 reminded us. When recording two channels you can only flick between the two channels being recorded, but you can copy to Blu-ray or access the EPG.

Panasonic DMR-BWT720

Recording Options

There’s an eight-day EPG, with onscreen banners showing now and next programme information, alongside a suite of automatic recording tricks including Guide Plus (which tracks start and stop times to account for shifting schedules), Series Timer Recording and Split Programme (which records both parts of a programme separated by another).

After recordings have been made they’re found in the Direct Navigator menu. Here, you can delete parts that you don’t want, split them in two, add your own chapters or remove them and alter the details. If you highlight a recording and hit the blue button on the remote, you can copy it to disc or external USB HDD. The latter is a particularly neat feature, as it means that hard-disk space is never really an issue – you can simply dump everything and start anew.

You can also compress an original high-definition DR mode recording to make it smaller and therefore take up less space on the HDD. There are five HD modes to choose from – HG (high-quality), HX (normal quality), HE (long play), HL (longer play) and HM (extended play). Each of these downgrades the quality slightly but maintains the hi-def resolution, with the amount of maximum recording time increasing as you move down the list. The only downside is that it’s not a quick process, and performs the conversion while the unit is in standby.

With such a large hard-disk capacity and external HDD copying, you’re not exactly struggling for space, so these conversion modes are most useful for compressing stuff that you want to save on Blu-ray. If you’re copying to DVD, there are four modes for shrinking recordings down to standard-definition (XP, SP, LP and EP), which are also used when recording from external devices via Scart.

Panasonic DMR-BWT720

You can also copy programmes directly from an external USB onto Blu-ray, and a high-speed copy function is available when copying between HDD, disc and USB HDD – provided you’re not converting it at the same time, in which case it will be carried out at normal speed.

One thing to bear in mind when transferring hi-def TV shows to Blu-ray is that you can only make one copy. This is indicated in the Direct Navigator menu but a little ‘1’ icon, which changes to ‘0’ when it’s been copied.

Media support

Like Panasonic’s Blu-ray decks, the DMR-BWT720 supports a wide range of multimedia formats from USB and networked PCs. Officially it’ll play DivX HD, AVCHD, MP4, MOV, JPEG, MP3, FLAC and PCM, but we were also able to play WMV and XviD. MKV isn’t supported over a network but is from USB devices. Media support from SD/SDHC/SDXC card includes AVCHD, JPEG, MP4, MPO and SD Video (MPEG-2).

You can stream TV recordings stored on this unit’s HDD from other networked Panasonic devices, plus smartphones and tablets can also be used to access media from a server through the BWT720. But if you’re not au fait with all this streaming stuff you can copy music, photos and video onto the hard-disk and create a sort of media jukebox. It rips audio CDs into the MP3 format, and calls up album details from the online Gracenote database.

But the entertainment options don’t stop there. You’ll also find Viera Connect’s array of internet apps, which includes BBC iPlayer, Netflix, Acetrax, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Skype and other services spread across three pages – with more to add from the Viera Connect Market. As we’ve said before, this web portal lacks the slickness and content of its peers but provides a pleasing selection.

Rounding up the other features we find a Timeshift function for pausing and rewinding live TV, a range of picture presets and tweaks (including a bunch specifically for achieving the most comfortable 3D pictures), a few sound modes and all the regular Blu-ray playback tricks like HD audio decoding and BD Live.

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Mike B

June 25, 2012, 7:36 pm

This is one of the best units on the market at this time but it could be made great if only Panasonic had an App so you could set timers without having to turn the unit on, turn the TV on, switch to the Recorder and use the EPG. If anyone else is using the TV it makes setting timers very difficult.

A nice iPad App with a full EPG to allow the timers to be set wold be great, even better if you could access the Panasonic while your out and about to set the timer!

scoobiesnacks

June 26, 2012, 1:48 am

Is this really only Freeview HD and not Freesat HD/. Problem is freeview HD is generally a poorer bitrate and picture quality than Freeview HD. I have both Freeview and Freesat, and the quality difference is noticeable.

peanutfrenzy

June 26, 2012, 3:56 am

@scoobiesnacks: The last I heard Panasonic were dropping Freesat from their recorder line-up. Unless they have a change of heart I don't think there will be a Freesat version forthcoming.

In case anyone was thinking of connecting an external source via the Scart input, I should point out that it is Composite/S-Video only. Not likely to affect many buyers, I'm sure, but some might be disappointed with the lack of an RGB input.

variosonnar

August 16, 2012, 1:20 pm

The Panasonic Blu-Ray recorder is an absolute most. It surprised me that in a comprehensive test/review nothing is mentioned of the ability to record closed captions(subtitles) in DR mode on the hard disc. You can then record/edit to a blu-ray disc with closed captions.

Makes it really easy to follow programs when your hearing is less, or when more than one person is speaking at the same time, or for instance, when the language spoken is not your first language. In music programs it often gives you the lyrics, which makes it really easy to sing-along. Sort of Karaoke.

What's really good about it, is you can, at any time after recording still choose to switch the subtitles on or off. A handy feature when a program has life-subtitling, where subs are a bit later then the spoken word. Or with sport programs where you don't really need them. Or, of course, when there's only people watching who don't need them.

LesB

October 18, 2012, 2:17 pm

Does anyone know if this recorder will play and/or transfer 1080p50 (not just 1080i50 or 1080p25) AVCHD video produced by the latest camcorders?

Guest

March 2, 2013, 9:12 am

You can actually buy FreeSat and cable verions of this box in Europe - they are freely available from the German market (just order one from amazon.de and ask for UK shipping.)

FreeSat:
http://www.amazon.de/Panasonic...

Cable:
http://www.amazon.de/Panasonic...

The cable (DVB-C) version makes more sense for European/Swiss flats, because they are usually outfitted with cable when they are constructed - so everything is already installed. This does not make so much sense in the UK, where you typically get a set-top box whenever you subscribe to Virgin, et cetera.

Billy Brown

May 10, 2013, 9:20 am

Why is it that panasonic has bbc iPlayer in it net memu, also a nice pic of iPlayer on the box.

But bbc iPlayer don't work, they have know about since 2012, A well hidden downer
I have a #20 box that does iPlayer..

Responce I got from panasonic is...
___________________________
Thank you for your e-mail.
In response, please know that we are aware of this situation, and we are
currently investigating for a solution.

Thank you for your patience.
I trust that the above information will be of assistance to you. However, of
course, if you should have any further queries, please do not hesitate to
contact us.

Kind Regards,

Dorina

Customer Service Team
Panasonic UK

blueray

July 9, 2013, 2:21 pm

Machine seems to work well in most respects however I have a couple of gripes. There seems to be no commitment to add the other On Demand channels to the Panasonics response is below,

,
"please note that Viera Castand Viera Connect services are subject to change
without notice, and that no assurance or time scale is given by Panasonic as to
whether an application or feature will become or remain available.

We are looking into the possibility of adding services such as ITV player, 4oD
and Demand 5, but cannot make any guarantee as to whether it will be possible
to make these services available."

Also having created a BD-RE disc with 10 plus titles on it for my PC, I have discovered that the Format of the Disc Menu is Panasonic proprietary so although the disc will play the only way to get to a particular title is to fast forward or drag the play-bar marker. Very frustrating??

Pat

November 2, 2013, 10:31 pm

question on this unit not really sure what I'm doing wrong - i have a 6 part show recorded i want to put on DVD-R but i have copied it twice so far and each time only the picture has copied onto the disc ,no sound whatever ?????

Robin

December 2, 2013, 7:28 pm

I don't record onto a DVD-r disc first, I always use either a Bluray, RAM or DVD-RW because any problems and you haven't wasted a disc (DVD-R and +R are write once only.) Try using one of the above discs and see if you still have the problem - if so then there is a problem with the internal audio link. You could also try connecting another DVD recorder up to yours via HDMI lead, analogue leads or scart and seeing if that transfers the sound + picture.

Martin

December 12, 2013, 4:50 pm

Have owned this unit for just under a year. It developed a fault on playback rendering it not fit for purpose. Panasonics' authorised repairers can't find any error codes and can only change components and 'hope for the best' repair time estimated at 25 days by their authorised repair company. Not very helpful expected better from Panasonic

Puck Fair

June 27, 2014, 11:05 am

Also has Skype - However cannot use Skype (Not even audio only) without purchasing a Special Panasonic Camera that is the only one compatible with this unit and the camera is very expensive - nice one Panasonic
Also forget about region free - has to be chipped - So I'm Staying well clear of Panasonic Products
Talk about shooting yourself in the foot

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