Review Price £350.99
It’s a combined 3D Blu-ray player and hard-disk PVR, equipped with a 500GB hard-disk drive and twin Freeview HD tuners. With two boxes merged into one, it’s a great solution if you want to keep clutter to a minimum under your TV, and with smart content, DLNA and USB playback, it’s a versatile media hub to boot. But considering it doesn't include built-in Wi-Fi, can it possibly justify its hefty price tag?
On appearances alone, probably not. The Panasonic DMR-PWT530 is a tasteful but unremarkable black box, with a silver strip on the fascia lending a touch of glamour. Importantly, build quality is excellent thanks to the robust aluminium casing, which is firmly bolted to the chassis.
The fascia is a flap that covers up all the front-panel clutter, fashioned from tinted plastic that allows the LED display and status lights to shine through (it shows the current channel name by default).
Drop the flap down and you’ll reveal the Blu-ray disc tray, an SD card slot and USB port (both for playing photos, music and videos) and a couple of buttons. There’s a plasticky feel about the front panel materials, and the blank panel where we’d expect the CI slot to be isn’t particularly classy.
The rear panel's plethora of connections hints at treasure's inside, however, as the Panasonic DMR-PW8530 has all the sockets you could possibly need. There’s a 3D-capable HDMI v1.4 output, two audio outputs – one analogue and one optical digital – plus Ethernet, a second USB port and RF input/loopthrough sockets.
The inclusion of a second USB port is significant here as the lack of built-in Wi-Fi means you’ll need to plug in Panasonic’s optional dongle (DY-WL5, about £50) to get a wireless web connection. Given the price, the lack of Wi-Fi is a tad disappointing. While many people keep their routers by the TV and a LAN connection is a more reliable connection, this won't suit everyone.
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