Panasonic DMR-EX769 DVD/HDD Freeview PVR - Panasonic DMR-EX769 DVD/HDD

By Danny Phillips

Reviewed:

Summary

Our Score:

8

Despite being Panasonic's entry-level DVD/HDD combi, it's an incredibly versatile machine with far too many other features to cover in full. But among the remaining highlights are pause live TV, Chasing Playback (for HDD and RAM discs) and high-speed copying from HDD to DVD and vice versa. It's also a fully functioning DVD player, which offers HD upscaling, bitstream output for Dolby Digital and DTS soundtracks and all the trickplay modes you'd find on a standalone DVD deck.

In fact, with its slimline dimensions and sleek black finish, the EX769 looks more like a DVD player than a recorder. Most of the front panel is taken up by a transparent strip, inside which you'll find an LED display panel showing the currently selected channel number, the drive being used and the elapsed time during playback in large and easy to read digits. If that doesn't suffice there's a more detailed onscreen ‘Status' display.

The lower half of the fascia is a flap that conceals S-video, composite and stereo audio inputs, but there's no DV input for camcorder dubbing, no CAM slot and as mentioned no USB port or SD card slots. Around the back is a healthier array of sockets, including an HDMI output (that lets you watch TV and DVDs in 1080p) plus component, S-video, composite, stereo audio and optical digital audio outputs. There are two RGB-enabled Scart sockets (one in, one out), and the input's EXT Link function starts the unit recording when it detects a signal from a timer-equipped external TV receiver, though there's no infra-red set-top box control.

Some comment contributors pointed out that the EX79 onscreen design looks ugly and while we concede that it lacks the pizzazz and sophistication of GUIs from the likes of LG and Sony, it's important to note that the basic nature of Panasonic's interface actually makes it easier to use. Its pleasing pastel colour palette and clear, unfussy layout is a real bonus when you want to find options quickly, while the large text will go down well among those with less than 20/20 vision.

The superb Direct Navigator menu is where you'll find all your recordings, and its intuitive layout makes it easy to follow even without the manual's assistance. Recordings are displayed with a moving thumbnail, the channel and date, plus a green flag that indicates if it's a new recording. Once a new recording has played through to the end it returns to the Direct Navigator and doesn't move to the next recording, but on subsequent viewings it plays all the viewed recordings in one go. Hit the Option button and you'll find the editing functions, along with a mode that searches for other episodes of the selected recording elsewhere in the EPG.

The 7-day Guide Plus EPG is tightly packed into the screen, largely due to the massive advert plastered down the left-hand side (which sadly can't be removed), but it's still easy to navigate. It uses a straightforward programme grid that can be switched to a single channel portrait view if you prefer, plus you can search for programmes by genre or using the Free Word Search function's virtual keyboard. It's a shame live TV doesn't play while you browse, but otherwise it's a decent EPG. While watching Freeview you can call up a simple-but-effective onscreen banner, which gives you the basic details and synopsis for the current and subsequent programmes.

Pbryanw

April 19, 2009, 5:57 am

I see that the Countdown screenshot is identical to the one featured in the Panasonic Panasonic DMR-EX79 review. Also a few of the other EPG screenshots also seem to be identical.





Can I assume from this that the EPG on the Panasonic DMR-EX769 is identical to the one on its more expensive cousin, and that taking new screenshots wasn't necessary?

ffrankmccaffery

April 20, 2009, 1:16 am

less than sum of its parts as always with panasonic. Sony although now a shadow of its former self at least maintains a balance between features and practicality. The reviewer mentions samsung and lg as examples of epg interfaces done right, they just the same as this but with a garish mask. For real elegance intuitiveness you should look at the loewe products and admittedly pay a bit extra

Alan Unwin

June 20, 2009, 1:22 pm

I notice that the specs page suggests that this item can view divx but according to the manual this is not the case and I cannot view and dvd's in divx that I have on my system.

Foxtrot

August 30, 2009, 4:22 pm

Suddenly in need of an inexpensive but reliable & simple to operate DVD recorder I was encouraged by your review of the DMR-EX768 to search for that model locally. I soon discovered that very popular model had recently been replaced by the EX769, which is virtually no different, except for the higher price asked at present. Comparing the specifications on the Panasonic website, the only differences I noticed were a slightly reduced electricity consumption during standby and a thinner case.


At a Panasonic store this was confirmed, and I was told frankly that the old model (they no longer stocked) was "replaced" simply because the price asked elsewhere for the EX768 had fallen well below the original list price! So much for competition!


Even now it is still available on line at a relatively cheap price, though already it has all but disappeared from local stores.





I would have thought that your review of the DMR-EX769 should have pointed out how little difference there was between the two models!

comments powered by Disqus