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Panasonic DMR-EX83 HDD/DVD Recorder - Panasonic DMR-EX83 HDD/DVD Recorder

Panasonic also takes an "if it ain’t broke" approach to the on-screen design, which in most cases is a good thing. The plain, unfussy layout won’t be to everyone’s taste but at least it makes potentially tricky tasks seem straightforward. The Direct Navigator screen, for example, is superb, displaying each recording with a moving thumbnail and the programme name below it. When more than one programme in a series has been recorded they’re grouped into one item, like the latest Sky+ EPG – a useful way of de-cluttering the list.

Likewise good is the Functions menu (the starting point for all of the unit’s functions) which lists its options clearly with some token icons down the side. Putting the Setup menu in the separate, ‘Others’ submenu does seem long-winded, but functionally it leaves no stone unturned.

However, one area in desperate need of a revamp is the Guide Plus+ EPG. Once again there’s a huge intrusive grey block on the left, which is intended for showing adverts but simply displays the ‘DIGA’ logo most of the time. It eats up precious space that could have been better used to expand the programme grid – as it stands the individual programme blocks are too squashed up, making them hard to read, plus the surrounding furniture makes the whole thing look utterly cluttered.

Setting series recording is also long-winded. Selecting a programme from the EPG takes you to a second screen where you choose the ‘single’ or ‘series’ option, followed by a third screen summarising all the timer settings. On the plus side the EPG boasts some nice search tools, allowing you search by programme type, by channel or by entering a key word on a virtual keyboard.

It’s disappointing that you can only view now and next programme information using the onscreen banner. For anything further ahead you have to stop what you’re watching and consult the full EPG.

Thankfully, Panasonic’s typically intuitive remote avoids most operational banana skins. Its buttons are in exactly the right places and they’re labelled in capital letters to make sure you don’t miss them. The only grumble – and it is a minor one – is that the Return and Functions buttons are too close together, which led to a few accidental trips back to the main menu.

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