Panasonic DMR-BWT700 review

Sparkling HD pictures make this this Freeview HD, 3D-compatible Blu-ray playing Skype box a treat

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Panasonic dmr bwt700

For all its ambitions and novel features, the Panasonic DMR-BWT700 is one complicated beast. The user interface is good looking, but without a central 'home' screen to tie the disparate features together there's a fragmented feel.

Finding what you want to do – such as finding a library of recordings – is not easily done from the remote control, while our sample also appeared to have constant communication problems with the same-brand TV it was attached to. Content is divided by source, not type, and all hinges on the remote's rather unassuming 'Drive select' button.

Panasonic does have an iPhone app for controlling its Blu-ray players, but it couldn't communicate with the DMR-BWT700 in our tests. That's not surprising given this deck's many features and completely different architecture to Panasonic's more basic Blu-ray players.

The hard drive is at the core of the Panasonic DMR-BWT700 and isn't just for making Freeview recordings. Photos or AVCHD footage from an SD Card (and SDHC/SDXC) can be easily transferred to the HDD or a Blu-ray disc. You may not want to do that, or transfer Freeview HD recordings 'as is', since the DR File Conversion – using an H-264 encoder – attempts to squeeze as much as possible onto a disc.

We've seen the compression feature before, and we like it, we really do, but five different modes for shrinking HD recordings does seem overkill. High, medium and low bitrate compressions would have done (they suffice for SD recordings where the choice is between SP, LP and XP).

But instead, programmes on the HDD are recorded in DR mode, which can only be converted afterwards into HG (high quality), HX (normal quality), HE (long play), HL (longer play) or HM (extended play) files.

It's useful and produces thoroughly respectable, if less pristine, HD images, but engaging this conversion tech entails too many choices, the interface is a tad PC-like, and it takes almost an hour for each conversion.

We can understand it for archiving to Blu-ray and in theory it's a great idea for stretching the HDD, but it's a bit too manual a process to want to actually spend time doing. Life is way too short.

Rapid archivers should opt for the 500GB-endowed DMR-BWT800 and buy a stack of BD-RE discs. At least there are some editing options, including renaming, partial deletes and divisions.

Away from recording and archiving, the Panasonic DMR-BWT700's Freeview HD functions work well, though the system is spoiled by a less than perfect EPG. Showing two hours of schedules for seven channels at one time, it's saddled with empty placeholders for adverts on its left-hand side, something that is eminently hateable on a premium and expensive product like this.

Recording is a cinch, and on issuing the command it's possible to manually add a few minutes safety net either side. However, recording clashes are dealt with rather clumsily – some simple language and either/or choices wouldn't go amiss.

Streaming is handled well, with an excellent Skype function proving the icing on this comprehensive cake. Using Skype does mean buying an add-on TY-CC110 HD Communication camera from Panasonic for around £130, and it's likely to have niche appeal only, but it's the easiest thing to use on this machine by a long shot.

Once the Panasonic DMR-BWT700 is connected to a TV – a simple clip-on affair that's surprisingly stable – it's then a case of either hitting the dedicated Skype button on the remote, or activating Viera Cast and selecting the Skype icon there. Once logged in, it's almost identical to the PC software. Call quality proved excellent in our tests and the system is a joy to use.

Elsewhere Viera Cast just irritates, not because it's particularly flawed – it's still the only smart TV interface we actually enjoy operating. It's because we know its compilation of Twitter, YouTube, QTom, Picasa, Bloomberg and more esoteric Euro-centric services have been bettered by Viera Connect, principally by its addition of BBC iPlayer.

Bizarrely, we were unable to access Viera Cast while the machine was recording from a Freeview HD tuner.

Tech Specs

Product TypeBlu-ray Disc Player/Recorder
Scan Format1080p
Hard Drive Capacity320 GB
Dual-Layer Media SupportedYes
Digital TunerDVB-T2, DVB-T (MPEG2)
Electronic Program GuideYes
DLNA CertifiedYes
Digital Audio Optical OutYes
Sound SystemDTS HD, Dolby TrueHD, Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby Digital
Number of Discs1
Brand NamePanasonic
Audio FormatsCD-DA, MP3
FeaturesBD Live, 2D-3D Conversion
Video FormatsBD Video, DVD Video, AVCHD, DivX, DivX HD, MKV, MPEG-2, H.264
Scanning ModesProgressive Scan
Memory Card SupportedSecure Digital (SD), Secure Digital Extended Capacity (SDXC), Secure Digital High Capacity (SDHC)
Height59 mm
Width430 mm
Depth238 mm
Product ModelDMR-BWT700
Product NameDMR-BWT700 3D Blu-ray Disc Player/Recorder
Manufacturer Part NumberDMRBWT700EB
Manufacturer Website Address
Marketing Information

Advanced 2D image technology accumulated over the years at the Panasonic Hollywood Laboratory (PHL) has also been applied to 3D image playback, allowing high quality images to approach original film quality. Lifelike 3D images with dramatic leaping effects and enhanced depth, lustre and texture are beautifully reproduced. Adaptive Chroma Processing is a high quality image-processing technology developed to precisely process each pixel of the Blu-ray Disc video signal in vertical and horizontal directions. Compared with 2010 models, vertical color data processing has been increased by 1.5 times. This allows Adaptive Chroma Processing to faithfully reproduce color data.

Package Contents
  • DMR-BWT700 3D Blu-ray Disc Player/Recorder
  • Remote Control
Limited Warranty1 Year
Weight (Approximate)3.10 kg