Performance is excellent across the board. The quality of the deck’s high-definition pictures is stunning, no matter how challenging the material. We viewed Channel 4 HD’s coverage of the Athletics World Championships and the images are consistently sharp and steady. Fine detail, like skin textures and crowds seated behind the action enjoy glorious clarity, while the coloured Lycra suits simply radiate from the screen. When reproducing sprinters, the box keeps pace with the objects without any discernible block noise or break-up.
We watched the same action in SD on regular Channel 4 and unbelievably the drop in quality isn’t as big as we’d imagined. Images retain a depth and crispness that make them enjoyable to watch, and despite the presence of a little extra mosquito noise here and there picture quality is generally smooth.
Any PVR worth its salt should be able to maintain this high level of picture quality when recording programmes, and thankfully the DMR-HW100 does just that. There’s no discernible difference between live and recorded pictures, which is exactly what you strive for. Without a Blu-ray or DVD drive on board there are no recording modes so you can’t lower quality to increase recording time.
Next up we checked the quality of web videos from YouTube and Dailymotion, which look decent and stream smoothly, although they appear a little fuzzy when blown up on a 40in screen.
The DMR-HW100 is a formidable PVR proposition, melding all the essential Freeview HD features with a generous range of networking features and web content.
The only PVR that matches this level of functionality is Samsung’s BD-DT7800, but the Panasonic’s ability to record two channels simultaneously – something surprisingly that the Samsung can’t do – might make it a more attractive option to some buyers.
It’s worth pointing out though that the Samsung comes with built-in Wi-Fi, a better web portal and EPG, and a larger hard-disk drive (500GB), which makes it a better option on paper, but the ability to record two channels at once is arguably more beneficial on a day-to-day basis.
In any case, the DMR-HW100’s excellent picture quality, Skype support, 2D-to-3D conversion, USB and SD card ports, plus a comprehensive range of digital TV features make it a superb choice - just be sure to check out the Samsung before making your decision.