The DMR-EX83 replaces last year’s DMR-EX79, a combi recorder that earned our seal of approval with Panasonic’s usual blend of plentiful features and solid picture performance. This 250GB recorder is one of two new DVD/HDD models for 2010 – the other is the DMR-EX73, which boasts a similar spec sheet, but drops to a 160GB hard-disk for £30 less. Tidy.
Aesthetically the EX83 won’t win any style awards, but then DVD/HDD combis never were the height of fashion. This one is a shrinking violet, dressed in a black finish that’ll slink into the shadows of your AV rack with only the front panel’s glowing digits to remind you it’s there. It’s not the most visually arresting piece of kit, but it is impressively slim and provides easy access to the front panel controls and connections.
A flap on the lower half of the fascia hides a bank of AV inputs, including composite, analogue stereo and DV inputs for hooking up camcorders, plus an SD card and USB port (the latter supporting HDD camcorders as well as flash drives). On the back all the essentials are provided, including a HDMI output, which offers 1080p, 1080i, 720p or 576p, composite video output and two Scart sockets – one input and one output, both of which support RGB, S-video and composite video. Completing the set is an optical digital audio output, analogue stereo output and an RF input/loopthrough output for your aerial.
The 250GB hard-disk inside the EX83 can hold a maximum of 441 hours of programmes, which even Jim Royle would struggle to fill, although that can only be achieved in the unlikely event that you record everything in the lowest picture quality. The highest quality XP mode grants you 55 hours of recording time, while the SP and LP modes deliver 110 and 221 hours respectively. If you’re making a timer recording and disc space is tight, select Flexible Recording and the deck will squeeze it into the remaining space using the appropriate mode.
Hard drive recordings can be backed up using the built-in DVD recorder. The beauty of Panasonic’s machines has been, historically, that they support every recordable DVD format going, and the EX83 is no exception. DVD-RAM, DVD+RW/+R, DVD-RW/-R and dual-layer DVD-R/+R – you name it, this deck records onto it. That said, direct recording onto dual-layer discs isn’t possible, they can only be used for copying hard-disk recordings.