Panasonic DMR-PWT530 - Operation

By Danny Phillips

Reviewed:

Summary

Our Score:

7

User Score:

Despite bringing nothing new to the table, the Panasonic PWT530’s operating system is generally pleasant to use, taking a simple and clear approach to its onscreen menus. From the moment you fire it up, the deck tunes channels and runs through network setup.

Panasonic DMR-PWT530

After that, everything you need can be accessed from the Functions menu, which plays live TV in a large box over a blue background, with a column of options on the left. Here you can access the EPG, network features, recorded programmes, the timer schedule and setup menu, plus access content from any drive.

Panasonic DMR-PWT530

The EPG is excellent, with an eight-channel programme grid, a small live TV box and colour-coded short cuts running along the bottom. It’s clear, easy to follow and responsive as you move around the grid.

The Rovi Guide EPG in Viera Connect boasts a more sophisticated design, complete with thumbnails within the programme grid, but sadly it’s slow and cumbersome to navigate.

Panasonic DMR-PWT530

The Freeview info banner (accessed by pressing the ‘i’ key) isn’t quite as impressive, only showing you now and next details – some allow you to explore the entire schedule. Still, at least it looks good and provides clear information about the current programme.

Panasonic DMR-PWT530

Recordings are located in the Direct Navigator menu, the layout of which has been the same for years. It lacks the jazziness of rival PVR menus, but it’s logically designed, listing all content with moving thumbnails and comprehensive details. There are little icons denoting when a title hasn’t been viewed or if the recording was interrupted. It also warns you if a programme can’t be streamed via DLNA due to copyright issues.

Move along the tabs at the top and you can filter out stuff you haven’t watched yet, or by type. Hit the red key and you can switch to photos and music on the hard disk, while hitting the Options button brings up a list of editing modes. These include Partial Delete and Divide Title, which work by entering start and stop points on a separate edit screen.

The Viera Connect menu is colourful and engaging, using large thumbnails for each app, but it’s also slow and impractical – it splits apps across several pages, which is a long-winded approach. You can put your most-used apps on the first page, but we’d still prefer all the apps to be presented on a single page like other portals do.

Panasonic DMR-PWT530Panasonic DMR-PWT530

The media playback screens are basic but easy to follow. When playing photos or music, the menu has a blue/grey background with files listed in the centre of the screen in a box. Hitting the Options key brings up various playback settings. The video menu uses more sophisticated graphics and a classier colour palette, which looks great but does make the GUI seem inconsistent.

We tried out the multiroom streaming feature on an iPad. The app is easy to use and looks great, allowing you to swipe through lists of recordings and TV channels quickly. Streaming to a device takes up one of the tuners, which means you’re locked into one channel on the main TV. It was a bit stubborn at times, giving us messages like ‘communication error’ and ‘this title cannot be viewed properly’, but when it works it’s impressive.

The Remote Recording feature requires registration, but once activated it’s straightforward. Programmes on your selected channel are presented in a simple list. Tap one and you can choose the recording frequency (once, weekly, weekdays etc) then tap ‘recording’ to set it.

We checked the Timer menu and the remote recordings were scheduled as requested. This menu makes it easy to manage future recordings, letting you resolve conflicts and change the recording mode.

The DMR-PWT530 takes an ‘if it ain’t broke’ approach with the remote, retaining the chunky rubber keys, large lettering and intuitive layout common to most Panasonic zappers. The playback keys are coloured blue to make them stand out, likewise the bright green ‘Guide’ key. It’s perhaps a little cluttered but generally pleasant to use.

Matthew Weston

June 12, 2013, 11:13 am

I've got a Samsung blu ray, Freeview hd plus box. which is similar to this. since i've had it, my TV has only been used as a display. I am about to kit out another room with a similar system. so is it possible to buy a really thin TV that doesnt have any tuners or smart functions, as it seems daft to pay for clever processing and smart functions, when I am only ever going to be using it to display images over hdmi?

Jordan

June 12, 2013, 9:30 pm

For years I've simply wanted a large-screen monitor as I don't even use the built-in speakers as well as the tuners, smart features or even remote. But because the market is so small for this it would probably mean they wouldn't recoup the R&D and manufacturing costs, so they don't get made. You can get big plasma and LCD monitors for business use, but they're expensive and not optimised for Blu-ray viewing, gaming etc.

Projector mounted on the ceiling?

Matthew Weston

June 13, 2013, 2:58 pm

Thanks Jordan

That is what i figured. it is crazy though that every flat tv has a huge bulge sticking out the back containing electronics that a great many people will never use. really cant see the wife going for projector in a living space. we tried one once and watching eastenders on a 9 ft screen is actually quiet unpleasant.

Jordan

June 13, 2013, 3:17 pm

I can imagine - watching it on a 14" screen at my Gran's back in the day was unpleasant enough! :)

Yeah it's only really suitable for movies I guess, at least until all TV channels are available in HD.

MikeX

June 15, 2013, 9:55 am

Although you can buy the Samsung BD-F8500 for the same price as this Panasonic, you have to suffer a frustrating user experience. The biggest bug bear is that even the most basic operations require multiple key presses to achive your goal. You also can't set a program to record while away from home as you can with the Panasonic. For me I will take the loss of built in Wi-Fi over the remote recording facility and the slicker user experience over the extra online content, which is generally available on your TV anyway. Even the point about being able to record two programs and watch a third is a rather antiquated notion, as most buying this product will have a Freeview HD TV anyway. If you look at the real world owners experience of the Samsung recorders, it is clear there are many frustrated users. In contrast the Panasonic users are a much happier bunch!

Col

September 11, 2013, 5:02 am

I have just checked the local dealer (in Australia) they advise that the unit does include built in wifi, and also it is possible to both stream and record at the same time but only with one of the tuners.

Simon

September 27, 2013, 4:19 pm

I projector would be cool

John

November 15, 2013, 4:36 pm

I have just purchased a Panasonic DMR-PWT 530EB TELEVISION RECORDER. And am delighted with it, except that I have the following problem. When I attempt to record a single program the confirmation clock symbol does not appear unless I OK both normal and HD mode. This results in the same program being recorded twice. Surely, this double function should not be necessary. Please can you help

Slowie

November 20, 2013, 6:51 am

I have just bought a Panasonic DMR-PWT530 and have loaded most used t.v. channels onto favourites for easier recording without having to scroll through the multitude of channels on the guide.
But I can't figure out how record from favourites using the guide.
By the way I think it's a first rate piece of gear.

Pete Richo

December 1, 2013, 5:49 am

Ok here's a question. I've registered a device (external HDD) copied a file to the external drive. The HDDR deleted it once copied. Now i want to move this digital copy to a DVD. Apparently the external HD is ONLY recognised when plugged into the Panasonc HDDR. is there ANY way of have my windows machine recognising the external HD to grab these files off it?

Steve

February 16, 2014, 11:04 am

I have just bought this machine, and started reading the instructions it says it doesn't work without HDMI being connected , I think. Does anyone know if that's correct. All our equipment is in a cupboard under the stairs and we have flat screens fixed on the walls so there is nowhere for the free box except in the cupboard but we didn't wire for HDMI as the install is 6 years old. so the same question again, does anyone know if it works without HDMI...

Mike

April 27, 2014, 10:39 am

can you record from the sky hd box as i am useing this for my bt sport now , after leaving sky

Stephen

May 5, 2014, 7:22 pm

I hate this box as it does not let you watch a third channel when recording. You can be happily watching a show then both recorders kick in because you have set them to record a series, and the show you are watching suddenly flicks over to one of the shows you are recording. To go back to your show you have to go through a difficult process of cancelling one of the shows you are recording, by witch poiint you are frustrated at a) having missed part of the show you are watching, and b) no longer being ablee to record the show you were wanting to record. This is a serious design fault as I know other recorders can show a third show wheile recording two. I don't know why manufacturers don't simply install a third receiver which would solve most issues.

Geoffrey Brown

July 27, 2014, 5:08 am

Only comment I would have is that when going into the Internet side of things if I go into YouTube andselect a video from the history it tries to come up on the display and the unit locks up. About 3 minutes later the unit restarts so there is obviously some major problem with this software when using this part of it. Also when pressing the Internet button everything is very slow.

When using he DLNA from a Windows 8.1 laptop to display video on the TV via the Panasonic DMR-PWT530 from say youtube.com in internet explorer this comes up with a message about not being able to cope with the video format. Trying to display home AVCHD videos works fine but both these video types display fine on the Sony TV I have. There is obviously a subset of the video formats supported by this unit via DLNA but the Sony TV I have that works fine is around 2 years old.

I guess as far as freeview, DVD and Blu-ray goes all pretty good but the internet/DLNA features are not really working properly for me. Using DLNA with the unit connected up via WiFi never even showed any signs of working. Only when using an Ethernet cable to the unit did some DLNA content start working.

Geoffrey.

Ken

September 22, 2014, 10:27 am

I have 2 of these units in my place. the first one is just on 3 years old now and the sound is dying. while watching anything through the unit the sound becomes broken, you loose some of the sound. turning the unit on and off seems to fix the problem for a little while, but it soon comes back.
It does not matter what media you are watching. BluRay, DVD or TV. the only thing that has not been an issue to date is recorded programs on the unit itself. these seem to play consistently at the moment.
I feel the sound processor is dying, however contacting Panasonic's technical help has resulted in immediate questioning of connections, other devices and the like.
If you have one of these units PWT530 just keep an ear out for sound quality and make sure you have exteneded warranty.

Neilinely

October 17, 2014, 10:25 pm

Lose, not loose. Loose means not tight.

Numberonekiwi

November 16, 2014, 11:31 pm

I brought one of these the other day Main reason was having sky
disconnected and I wanted the ability to have instant rewind which was
advertised on the unit. However it is not quite the same as the unit
will go into auto standby after a set amount of time which cant be
turned off with instant rewind enabled. It also does not play .mkv files
from the network drive but that is no major. would love to learn how to
write new operating system firmware / software to enable other features
like all zone BD playback etc and auto standby etc etc.

Geert de Vries

October 13, 2015, 9:17 pm

and then you nee an other one because you record 3 programs and your program is interrupted

comments powered by Disqus