Like the majority of Panasonic’s Blu-ray players, the DMR-PWT500 is crammed with features. Firstly, it’s 3D-ready and additionally equipped with 2D to 3D conversion. Not only can you convert 2D Blu-rays and DVDs to pseudo-3D but also Freeview programmes, which is a bonus with no Freeview 3D channels on the horizon. But if and when they do come, the DMR-PWT500 is ready to record them.
It’s also equipped with built-in Wi-Fi (802.11a/b/g/n) – no faffing about with USB dongles here – and as a DLNA-certified player it can be used as a server or client with compatible devices on your home network. You can access content stored on Windows 7 PCs and other devices, or watch recordings from this recorder on other networked Panasonic units.
This is backed up by Panasonic’s Viera Cast, its entertaining yet comparatively limited internet portal. The apps range from the good (YouTube, Acetrax) to the downright irrelevant (Tagesschau, tn.cz) with the moderately useful Twitter and Picasa in-between. What’s most pleasing, however, is the presentation, a slick layout laced with thumbnails, bold colours and smooth animations when travelling from page to page. Definitely time for an upgrade though.
Skype is perhaps the most impressive use of the DMR-PWT500’s web connection. Through a simple-yet-attractive interface, you can make video calls to other Skype users in HD using a communication camera plugged in the rear USB port. This peripheral is quite an expense, but if you’re a regular Skype user and want to make video calls from the comfort of your living room, it’s probably worth the investment.
Elsewhere the hard-disk can be used as a media library, storing and playing AVCHD, JPEG, MPO (3D photos) and MP3, although a greater range of formats is supported from USB sticks, adding DivX HD and MKV to the list. From SD cards, the unit will play AVCHD, MPEG-2 (SD video), JPEG and MPO.