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Panasonic DMR-BWT720 - Operation, Performance and Verdict

By Danny Phillips



  • Recommended by TR
Panasonic DMR-BWT720


Our Score:



Once you’re absorbed its initially overwhelming feature list, the Panasonic DMR-BWT720 is generally easy to use. A series of Easy Setting wizards tunes channels and sets the basics at first boot-up. The unit doesn’t feel sluggish when you’re roaming around the menus and everything is arranged onscreen with pleasing simplicity. The menus are a little workmanlike, lacking the snazzy futuristic feel of the LGs and Samsungs of this world, but the welcoming colours and easy-to-read fonts get the job done.

We’re mostly impressed by the new-look EPG, which scraps last year’s awful interface for look that’s pretty and practical. Gone is the ghastly advertising space, making way for a large eight-channel programme grid with live TV in the top corner and colour coded options along the bottom. You can filter by category, page up and down and view a synopsis by hitting the information key. If you don’t like it, an alternative Rovi guide is be found within Viera Connect, which has a funkier feel with thumbnails embedded into the grid, but it’s dreadfully slow to operate.

Panasonic DMR-BWT720

Rovi guide looks snazzy, but is slow to operate

Recording TV is this machine’s core function, and thankfully it’s easy to do. Highlight the programme in the EPG, hit OK and a screen asks if you want to record it once or as a series. After that, another confirmation screen shows all the details (which can be edited before committing). It feels slightly long-winded but at least it’s thorough. You can also set the timer manually by punching in the start/stop times yourself.

Elsewhere, the Direct Navigator and Functions screens pose few problems – the former listing your recordings with programme names, details and a moving thumbnail, the latter using a simple list on the left showing all the unit’s functions. We had no trouble whatsoever moving media between drives or burning shows to Blu-ray thanks to the helpful onscreen dialogue boxes and the slickness with which it carries out every task.

Panasonic DMR-BWT720

The supplied remote is one of Panasonic’s typically user-friendly efforts, all big rubber buttons and capital letter labelling. The playback controls and direction pad are perfectly placed, with the rest dotted around as conveniently as possible. It’s naturally more cluttered than Panasonic’s Blu-ray player remotes, but absorbs the extra buttons nicely.

iPad/Android app

But here’s the brilliant bit. Download the DIGA Player app on your iPad or Android tablet and you can beam live TV from one of the unit’s Freeview tuners over your home network, which is a great way of solving squabbles over what to watch. You can even stream recordings from the unit’s HDD or a connected USB HDD.

It’s incredibly easy to use – the main menu shows a list of all the channels from the Freeview EPG, simply tap one to view it. Not only can you control what you watch on the mobile device but also the main TV picture. There are drawbacks – you can only watch and record one channel on the recorder while watching on a mobile device; you can’t use the feature at all while recording two channels or using network functions; and hi-def channels are shown in SD on the device, but this is a small price to pay for such funky functionality.


We can’t fault the Panasonic DMR-BWT720’s picture performance. Live high-definition channels look fabulous, and by extension so do recordings because the unit captures the streams in their original quality. The gorgeous detail and explosive colours of crowd shots during Euro 2012 coverage shine from the screen, while dramas like Silk on BBC One HD are displayed with blistering sharpness and cinematic lustre.

We converted a couple HD recordings into the more efficient modes and it’s surprisingly how little clarity is lost when doing so. It’s almost impossible to discern the drop in quality in HG and HX, and only a light dusting of extra noise is visible in HE and HL. Even HM mode doesn’t let the side down, looking sharp and solid, with hardly any break up or mosquito noise on fast movement. Obviously you get a huge drop in quality when converting to the SD modes, but the pictures remain watchable.

Regular SD channels (and recordings) look fine, lacking the outright clarity and stability of HD images due to their extra noise, but none of this could spoil our enjoyment. Web videos have that inevitable fuzz but again the quality is fine.

Panasonic DMR-BWT720

To see the DMR-BWT720 at its very best, load up a Blu-ray disc. The deck renders 1080p images with incredible detail clarity and beautiful-looking colours, but there’s an added depth and definitiveness that even some dedicated players struggle to achieve. With 3D discs, the images look every bit as deep and absorbing as the DMP-BDT320 dedicatd Blu-ray player– clean and poised, with well-defined objects and an overall fluidity that’s makes them impossible to dislike.

DLNA streaming and USB playback are also a hit, locating our content first time and playing it back without any glitches, although it’s hard to wade through a large music library to find an individual song.


The Panasonic DMR-BWT720 might just be the ultimate digital recorder. You can watch and record Freeview HD onto the huge hard disk, edit, compress and copy programmes to Blu-ray or DVD, move them to an external hard-disk drive and even watch them on your iPad.

This range of recording functionality would be incredible on its own, but throw 3D Blu-ray playback, DLNA streaming, Viera Connect, USB/SD card multimedia support, Wi-Fi and hard-disk media playback into the mix and we really are dealing with a formidable machine. Yes the onscreen design isn’t always dynamic and it’s hardly cheap, but no-one could argue that you don’t get your money’s worth.

Overall Score


Scores In Detail

  • Design 8
  • Features 10
  • Performance 9
  • Value 8

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!


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.


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.


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.


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?


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.)



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,


Customer Service Team
Panasonic UK


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??


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 ?????


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.


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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