If you’re yet to experience the delights of Freeview HD and Blu-ray, then this terrific combi from Panasonic gets you both in one fell swoop. The DMR-PWT500EB throws twin Freeview HD (DVB-T2) tuners, a 320GB hard disk and a 3D-capable Blu-ray spinner into a single box.
It brings you four hi-def channels (BBC One HD, BBC HD, Channel 4 HD and ITV1 HD), as well as a wide range of standard-definition channels and radio stations. These channels can be recorded onto the HDD, which offers a lengthy recording time of 79 hours in high-definition or 154 hours in standard-definition.
In terms of design the DMR-PWT500 is similar to Panasonic’s other Blu-ray players and recorders. It uses a conservative yet modern black finish, with a partially transparent flap covering the entire front panel. A large LED display shines through the flap providing running time and channel number information. Behind the flap is Panasonic’s usual pair of media ports – SD card and USB – which offers two ways of playing digital media files or copying them to the hard-disk.
The rear panel offers a decent selection of sockets, although not as good as it could have been. The HDMI v1.4 output is obviously crucial, while the optical digital audio and analogue stereo outputs might come in handy. Yet the lack of a second HDMI output, as found on Panasonic’s DMP-BDT310, is a shame and there’s no component output for those who need it.
However, there is an Ethernet port and a second USB port specifically designated for Panasonic’s TY-CC10W communication camera, which is required if you want to use Skype video calling – one of this unit’s most alluring features.