At first glance, this is as comprehensive as a combi should be.

It has a 250GB hard drive, a DVD recorder, VHS VCR and even an SD card slot.

Connectivity is superb, including an HDMI output capable of upgrading standard signals to 720p or 1080i levels.

There is also a progressive scan-capable component video output, a pair of Scarts (both RGB) and a smattering of lower quality backups. At the front there is a DV input for camcorder enthusiasts.

There is a small omission in that there's no S-VHS VCR and the EX95 can play and dub S-VHS tapes, but only in VHS quality.

Dub vendor

Dubbing can be done in any combination between the three main recording platforms. The HDD has a mammoth capacity of up to 443hrs if you select the lowest quality picture setting. Editing options are abundant, including the all-important partial erase function, which lets you trim unwanted sections out of a programme before archiving to DVD.

You're not short of options when it comes to burning to DVD, either. This deck will record on to every type of disc there is: DVD±R (including dual-layer versions of each), DVD±RW and DVD-RAM platters are all happily accepted.

There is a digital TV tuner (and an analogue one) built in, but another slight off-note is sounded by the omission of a CAM slot for upgrading to pay-TV channels.

Recordings can be set using the EPG with the digital tuner, or there is a 32-event, one-month timer with the benefit of VideoPlus codes. The operating system is simplicity itself despite the vast array of options.

The most important element of this unit's performance is the digital recording. In the two-hour setting, the picture is just about indistinguishable from the original broadcast, and this means that most sporting events and movies can be recorded on to a single DVD.

The higher-quality one-hour setting is potentially better, but it is really only necessary for digital camcorder footage - regular broadcast TV doesn't need it.

The lower settings introduce varying levels of digital artefacting as you boost disc capacity.

Stand and deliver

The VHS deck delivers solid enough images, but dubbing an old VHS collection to DVD is really the only time you should be using this antiquated device.

Playback of pre-recorded discs is excellent, with the HDMI output paying a dividend by eliminating digital-to-analogue conversion.

Upscaling doesn't suddenly give you HD pictures from standard-def material, but it perhaps adds a touch more depth and a cinematic feel.

It all adds up to a hugely powerful deck, and one that only misses out on perfection by a couple of niggling omissions. For many people, this will be a combi that simply does everything they could ever need.