The Panasonic DMR-BWT700 is a strange beast. Massively ambitious and hugely capable, it makes a superb catchall HD and 3D Blu-ray product, but it does have a split personality.
Hard disk housekeeping could confuse (or simply bore rigid) a rocket scientist, while making a video call to the other side of the Earth is a cinch.
Picture quality is outstanding all-round; this is a top quality slice of AV heaven for anyone interested in reference-level performance from all sources, while the myriad recording, archiving and storage options will excite any HD obsessive or HD camcorder user.
Add 3D compatibility and Freeview HD, and the Panasonic DMR-BWT700 is a catch-all solution like no other.
A relatively small HDD might annoy, but the main issue is the user interface. We've seen worse, but it doesn't have the joined-up feel that Panasonic's other 2011 AV products benefit from. Nor does it have Viera Connect, which means no BBC iPlayer.
Hugely impressive in some ways, the Panasonic DMR-BWT700 is also your classic AV misfire. Designed to appeal to all, the basics – speed and simplicity – have been slightly overlooked in favour of geek features.
Overall we're not sure the cash saved from swerving the 500GB version is worth all the conversion/ compression hassle. Those after a 3D home cinema powerhouse should aim for the DMR-BWT800, while those just after Freeview+HD will probably find life easier with a dedicated PVR such as the Humax HDR-FOX T2, the Icecrypt T2400 or TVonics DTR-Z500HD.