- Extensive feature list
- Brilliant picture performance
- Much improved EPG
- Superb iPad app
- Won’t play MKV over a network
- Some menus a bit drab
- Can’t watch in HD on mobile device
- Viera Connect lacks slickness and content of rival portals
- Review Price: £549.99
- 1TB hard-disk drive
- Twin Freeview tuners
- Blu-ray/DVD recording
- 3D Blu-ray playback
- External HDD copying
- Built-in Wi-Fi
- DLNA support
- Viera Connect
If you like the idea of a PVR that also lets you archive hours’ worth of TV shows or home movies on high-capacity Blu-ray discs, then you’ll find yourself in seventh heaven with the Panasonic DMR-BWT720. As the company’s latest flagship Blu-ray/HDD recorder, it’s a versatile machine packed with all the tools you need to record, edit and back up treasured TV shows or camcorder footage in pristine hi-def quality.
But it’s much more than just a recorder – like most of Panasonic’s current Blu-ray crop, the DMR-BWT720 is also a versatile entertainment hub, capable of playing 3D Blu-ray discs, web content and media from USB sticks, HDDs, SD cards and networked devices (thanks to the built-in Wi-Fi and DLNA certification).
But first let’s cover the basics – the Panasonic DMR-BWT720 comes equipped with dual Freeview HD tuners and a massive 1TB hard-disk drive, which offers up to 259 hours of hi-def recordings at the best-possible quality, or 684 hours of HD if you convert into one of the more space-efficient modes.
It also has an optical drive that can record and playback BD-R/RE, DVD-RAM, DVD-R (DL)/-RW and DVD R/ RW discs. The amount of material you can squeeze onto a disc depends on its capacity and the recording mode you’re using, but with a dual layer Blu-ray in the tray you can store 13 hours of HD or 26 hours of SD in its original quality. You can’t record directly onto a disc – everything is captured onto the hard-disk in its original quality in ‘DR’ mode, then you can convert it to free up space on the HDD while the unit it in standby.
Looks-wise, the DMR-BWT720 is classic Panasonic – tasteful but not dazzling. The black finish is brought to life by a band of silver that flashes across the front flap, which conceals the disc tray, play and stop buttons, a USB port and an SD card slot. You’ll also see a large LED display that shows the channel and which tuners are recording.
On the rear panel you’ll find a comprehensive selection of sockets, including Scart input and output, which is a blast from the past. The input allows you to record from external devices like Sky boxes or VCRs, perfect for making shiny new discs of your old tapes.
Bringing it back to the 21st century, we find an HDMI output – v1.4 for 3D pictures, naturally – joined by two digital audio outputs (one optical, one coaxial), analogue stereo and composite video outputs. Ethernet provides another way of accessing the unit’s network and internet functionality, while a second USB makes it easy to connect an external USB, flash drive or communication camera (an optional extra for the built-in Skype video calling feature).