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Panasonic DMR-XS350 - Freesat DVD & HDD Recorder review

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Panasonic DMR-XS350 - Freesat DVD & HDD Recorder
  • Panasonic DMR-XS350 - Freesat DVD & HDD Recorder
  • Panasonic DMR-XS350 - Freesat DVD & HDD Recorder
  • Panasonic DMR-XS350 - Freesat DVD & HDD Recorder
  • Panasonic DMR-XS350 - Freesat DVD & HDD Recorder
  • Panasonic DMR-XS350 - Freesat DVD & HDD Recorder
  • DMR-XS350 DVD Player/Recorder (DVD-RAM, DVD+RW, DVD-RW, DVD-R, DVD+R, CD-RW, Secure Digital SD, Secure Digital High Capacity SDHC - DVD Video, AVCHD, JPEG, DivX, MP3, CD-DA, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, MPEG Playback - Progressive Scan - 250 GB Hard Disk - 441 Hour Re

Summary

Our Score:

9

Panasonic's fantastic DMR-BS850 redefined digital recorders as we know them with hi-def Blu-ray recording and twin Freesat tuners, but its extensive, groundbreaking feature list made it staggeringly expensive. Thankfully Panasonic has also catered for buyers on a lower budget with this stripped-down version, which does away with Blu-ray recording and offers a smaller hard-disk for around £400 less.

The DMR-XS350 can record high- and standard-definition programmes from its twin Freesat tuners onto the 250GB hard-disk using the 14Mbps Direct Recording (DR) mode. This captures the digital broadcast bitstream (including 5.1-channel sound, subtitles and Audio Description), which means there's no deterioration in picture quality when you record, unlike most DVD/HDD combis which have to decode the data first.

That 250GB capacity allows you to record 37.5 hours of hi-def (or 105 hours of SD), but that increases if you compress titles afterwards using the built-in H.264 encoder. There are four modes for doing this - HG (12 Mbps), HX (8 Mbps), HE (5 Mbps) and HL (4 Mbps) - which increase the maximum HD recording time to 40, 60, 90 and 120 hours respectively, but in each case it preserves the 1920 x 1080 resolution.

The lack of Blu-ray recording obviously slashes the amount you can archive on a single disc compared with the BS850, but like all Panasonic recorders the XS350 supports every DVD format under the sun, with RAM being the most useful in terms of editing flexibility. Also useful is dual-layer DVD-R and DVD+R recording, which lets you store up to 14 hours of SD material.

Freesat functionality is identical to that of the BS850. Twin tuners offer a level of flexibility missing from Panasonic's Freeview combis, allowing you to record one channel and watch another or record two while playing back something from the hard-disk. The deck's lack of Blu-ray recording and inability to copy hi-def programmes onto DVD in their native form eliminates any concerns over copy protection, so there are no flags that limit the amount of copies you can make.

You get a smart-looking 8-day EPG, which can be filtered by genre. The Landscape view shows seven channels at a time, laying them out in a user-friendly grid formation and helpfully listing all of the available options at the bottom. In Portrait mode the EPG focuses in on a single channel, listing the next seven programmes. The whole thing is much clearer and easier to follow than Panasonic's cluttered Freeview EPG, although it's a shame you can't keep up with live TV as you browse.

ilovethemonkeyhead

June 28, 2009, 2:11 pm

i see some minor barrel distortion on that rear view shot of the unit

Mike B

June 28, 2009, 3:08 pm

Nice price saving but this should have been the price of the Blu-ray model!





Also why can't it record any HD camcorder footage to DVD discs in HD format? Most Blu-ray players (PS3 etc.) will play back a DVD that is organised in the standard Blu-ray format (using the AVCHD files from the camcorder) so you can archive your HD footage to cheap DVDs. If this is not possible I for one would not be interested in wasting my money on this unit.

Techno22

June 28, 2009, 3:52 pm

Sounds like a great machine.


Another great review from Trusted Reviews.


I certainly do trust them, as I find them fair, comprehensive, and accurate.


As you say, it is a shame that you cannot browse the EPG on this machine while keeping in touch with the TV programmes.


It is very pricey, too.


Does Panasonic, Sony, and others not realsie that there is a world wide recession as they overprice their offerings.


£6oo is too much for a DVD Recorder, no matter how good.


250 GB Hard Drive is not that big these days, and does not justify the exhorbitant price.


It would be nice if more people could enjoy the benefits of this excellent technology by being able to buy it at affordable prices.


Unfortunately, I would have to disagree with your value rating for this product.


I could not give it 9/10.

GoldenGuy

June 28, 2009, 5:59 pm

I know no one cares about SCARTs anymore but being a bit of a dinosaur, I like that both sockets are RGB. Handier for an early 2000s setup like mine.

Chuzzwuzza

June 29, 2009, 3:58 pm

250gb is a bit paltry, what the real question is can yer slap a 1tb in just like a humax hdr ??

sacundai

February 10, 2010, 3:29 am

Nice idea but dreadful to use, slow with a badly designed interface, shame.

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