Panasonic DMR-PWT530 – Pciture Quality
Freeview HD channels look terrific, particularly brightly-lit studio fare like Loose Women and daytime quiz shows. The vibrant colours of the dressed studio sets have impressive punch and purity, plus clothing and skin tones are subtly shaded and free from noise.
Also impressive is the amount of detail on display, making prestige HD programmes like BBC Two HD’s The Fall and ITV HD’s The Dales look sumptuously sharp and realistic. With the latter, panoramic shots of country landscapes are packed with texture and nuance, while the former looks lustrous and filmic.
Standard definition channels lack the same wow factor but scrub up nicely, offering similarly radiant colours and reasonably sharp detail. The main difference is that with SD there’s a lot more shimmery pixel noise when objects move – the degree of which varies from channel to channel, but it’s very obvious on lower bitrate channels like ITV3 and 4.
This is clear with fast-moving content. During the epic Djokovic v Nadal French Open tennis semi-final on ITV4, the image appears fuzzy and hazy as the players move around the court due to pixel break up. That said, the ball stays firmly visible as it zips over the net and despite the noise the actual movement of the players is smooth.
This isn’t necessarily the Panasonic’s fault either – mosquito noise is par for the course with low-bitrate Freeview channels, and won’t greatly spoil your enjoyment.
Crucially, when you record any programmes onto the hard-disk the picture quality appears identical to the live broadcast. If there is a drop, it’s imperceptible.
As a Blu-ray player, the Panasonic DMR-PWT530 is nigh-on faultless, delivering mesmerising pictures rich in detail, texture and colour. Movies look deep and cinematic and motion is smooth. These qualities bleed into its 3D performance, which is utterly absorbing – during The Hobbit, shots of forests are beautifully layered and sharp as a tack.
Should I buy the Panasonic DMR-PWT530?
There’s no denying that the Panasonic DMR-PWT530 is a well made Blu-ray/PVR combi with decent features and excellent performance with Blu-ray and Freeview. Tricks like Remote Recording and multiroom TV streaming to DLNA devices are a real bonus.
But unfortunately it faces tough competition in the form of Samsung BD-F8500, which for similar money offers more flexible recording functionality (you can record two channels while watching a third) and provides a superior selection of Smart content, including all the catch-up TV services and LoveFilm. Its operating system is also slicker and it comes with Wi-Fi as standard.
And if you’re happy to have a separate Blu-ray player, the Youview-based Humax DTR-T1010 has far batter catch-up TV support, too.
Faced with that sort of competition, the Panasonic DMR-PWT530 is hard to recommend, despite its many virtues.
Panasonic DMR-PWT530 – Verdict
The Panasonic DMR-PWT530 is a very Blu-ray player and a decent PVR, with attractive network features and impressive picture quality. But comparatively limited recording functionality and smart TV content – not to mention the absence of built-in Wi-Fi – make Samsung’s rival PVR combi much better value for money
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