The Panasonic DMR-BWT735’s picture quality is superb across the board. Live Freeview HD pictures are crisply rendered and rich in colour, while standard-definition channels are thoroughly watchable despite their softer detail.
Broadcasts from Wimbledon on BBC One HD look bright, punchy and stable, even as players zip around the court at high speed in front of a sea of faces, the features of which are easily discernable. Skin tones are nicely judged too.
Even better news is that hard-disk recordings retain this superb picture quality thanks to the high-bitrate DR mode. More remarkable is the quality of recordings converted into the lower-bitrate HD modes – the difference is almost imperceptible aside from a little feathery pixel noise here and there, which means you get the extra capacity without compromising greatly on picture quality.
There’s absolutely no drop in quality when hi-def recordings are copied to Blu-ray either, although XP, SP, LP and EP modes do reveal a major dip, particularly the super-fuzzy EP, but that’s only to be expected.
Blu-ray pictures are also dazzling, whether you’re watching in 2D or 3D. There’s a snap and vibrancy about Panasonic’s pictures that some rivals struggle to match with their standalone players, let alone their recorders. And after viewing a range of lower-quality sources – DVD, web video, DLNA-streamed AVCHD – the DMR-BW735’s scrubs everything up nicely.
Next we tried out the multiroom streaming feature on an iPad. The app is easy to use and looks great, allowing you to swipe through lists of recordings and TV channels quickly. Streaming to a device takes up one of the tuners, which means you’re locked into one channel on the main TV. It was a bit stubborn at times, giving us messages like ‘communication error’ and ‘this title cannot be viewed properly’, but when it works it’s impressive.
The Remote Recording feature requires registration, but once activated it’s straightforward. Programmes on your selected channel are presented in a simple list. Tap one and you can choose the recording frequency (once, weekly, weekdays etc) then tap ‘recording’ to set it.
We checked the Timer menu and the remote recordings were scheduled as requested. This menu makes it easy to manage future recordings, letting you resolve conflicts and change the recording mode.
With a vast amount of recording, editing and copying features on board, coupled with decent Smart functionality and excellent picture quality, the Panasonic DMR-BWT735 is an undeniably impressive machine.
There’s very little it can’t do, making it an ideal machine for AV enthusiasts who not only want to watch Freeview and Blu-ray movies but also copy programmes and camcorder footage onto Blu-ray or DVD. Internet content, nifty network features and decent media format support are the icing on the cake, and it’s easy to use too.
However, it’s not perfect. Little niggles and limitations mean it’s not as slick and versatile as some PVRs, while Viera Connect is in desperate need of better content and a makeover. We also found iPad streaming inconsistent.
The bottom line, though, is that the Panasonic DMR-BWT735 is the only Blu-ray recorder on the market, so if that’s what you’re after this is pretty much your only option. Thankfully, it’s a very impressive option.
An impressive array of recording and archiving features and superb performance from any source make the Panasonic DMR-BWT735 an excellent buy, if Blu-ray recording is a must – although there are better PVRs on the market