Looks like we've a cocksure DVD recorder on our hands here. Straight off, the Panasonic DMR-EZ25 confidently ticks all the right boxes for connections and flexibility, then nonchalantly serves up a wealth of extra features for good measure.

Its connectivity is excellent, including that vital RGB Scart input. Even more impressive is the presence of HDMI output, a purely digital connection, also able to upscale standard-definition programming to hi-def specifications - 720p and 1080i. The DMR-EZ25 also enjoys a built-in Freeview tuner.

Recording is available on just about every disc you could want, including dual-layer discs. The most flexible editing options come with RAM discs, because the equally flexible VR mode for DVD-RW discs is not available.

With RAM platters you can enjoy chasing playback, watch a recording while recording something else, as well as building playlists and deleting sections of a programme. You can cram up to 8 hours onto a single-layer, single-sided disc, but you are most likely to use the one-hour or two-hour settings to preserve picture quality.

There is an SD card slot, a seven-day EPG, a 16-event, one-month timer with VideoPlus and PAL/NTSC recording. The most notable omissions are facilities to upgrade to pay TV services and DiVX playback, however.

Recording results in XP (one-hour) mode are exemplary. Most of the time this will be overkill, but it will preserve digital camcorder footage in pristine form, and is also useful for treasured programme archiving.

The two-hour setting introduces such minimal artifacting (and then only on really complex stuff, like football) that you will be happy with it almost all of the time. Usually it is impossible to tell the difference between the broadcast and the SP mode.

Playback right

LP (four-hour) mode retains 500 lines of information, but it does introduce more noticeable artefacts. Digital haze will now surround moving football players, but the mode will be useful for less demanding recordings, like soaps.

The six-hour and eight-hour EP settings are only worth considering if you absolutely have to record large chunks of material. The picture has degraded significantly by this point. On pre-recorded DVDs, upscaling produces an extra touch of clarity, almost like a final polish. It's not as dramatic as true hi-def, but it's noticeable.

Sound quality is another big plus point, and even though DVD-Audio playback is only in two-channel mode, it does hint at the quality this format can provide. If you want a high-quality DVD recorder, but you're not interested in one that also packs a hard disk, Panasonic has just produced a deck to consider strongly.