Panasonic dmr-bwt800

Panasonic decks almost always excel with picture quality, and the DMR-BWT800 is no different.

Freeview HD, in this case during a live broadcast from the Spanish Grand Prix on BBC HD, is crisp enough and remarkably clean. Even the SD version over on former favourite BBC1 is clean enough and not the turn-off it might be. Recordings, as single programmes or series links, are all made in the lossless DR (Direct Recording) mode, and are identical to the original broadcast.

However, there's a noticeable improvement in colour when viewing our 2D Blu-ray test disc Inception, which also features smooth transitions, edges and pin-sharp close-ups.

It bears all the hallmarks of Panasonic's familiar PHL Chroma Processor Plus (P4HD), which earns its salt by increasing the res of a DVD to a state where jagged edges are barely noticeable.

Avatar on 3D Blu-ray also impresses, with 3D glasses acting as a further filter to refine the contrast – the result being luscious blues for the skin of Na'vi and a more convincing depth to the moon's forests. There was no need to tweak any of the 3D depth settings.

However, 2D to 3D conversion left us unimpressed. It can work on scenes that deserve it – usually close-ups with backgrounds just behind – but it's hit-and-miss. It's pretty obvious, but if something hasn't been designed as a 3D movie, it's unlikely to work consistently well when converted.