The Panasonic DMR-HW220 is one of several new hard-disk recorders in Panasonic’s 2012 range, but unlike some of the step-up models, there’s no Blu-ray recording on board for making copies of hi-def programmes. This is a straight up Freeview HD PVR with a 1TB hard-disk, but it does throw in most of the snazzy features from the company’s Blu-ray players, such as Viera Connect, built-in Wi-Fi and DLNA certification. Great news, but with Samsung’s brilliant BD-E8500 Smart PVR already laying down the gauntlet, Panasonic doesn’t have things all its own way – let’s see what the Japanese brand brings to the table.
First up, Panasonic has done very little to change the external design this year. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, as the all-black casing with silver trim is tasteful and easy to match with other components. We’re impressed by the aluminium bodywork, which gives build quality a boost, but at 59mm high it’s surprisingly chunky.
Panasonic likes using flaps to hide front panel clutter and here it covers up a USB port, an SD card slot and buttons for changing channels. The lack of Blu-ray drive means there’s a large blank panel on the left, plus there’s a large LED display panel and cluster of lights to indicate a recording is in progress.
On the back the socket line-up covers all bases. Interestingly there’s a second USB port, which can be used exclusively for Panasonic’s communication camera should you choose to buy one, allowing you to make Skype video calls from the comfort of your sofa. That leaves the front USB port free for media playback from HDDs and flash drives. There’s no need to connect a wireless LAN adapter as the HW220 comes with built-in Wi-Fi (the cheaper DMR-HW120 does require one, however).
You’ll also find an HDMI output for sending pictures to your TV, analogue stereo output, optical digital audio output and an Ethernet port, which provides an alternative (and possibly more reliable) connection to your network.