Just because the DVD/HDD recorder combi recorder has captured the nation's imagination, it doesn't mean that the humble DVD recorder has been consigned to the AV dustbin. Far from it, we'd argue, on the strength of this number from Panasonic, the DMR-EZ27EB.
The first thing you'll notice about this DVD recorder is its 1080p upscaling capability. It's not genuine HD picture quality, true, but it's the next best thing to true hi-def and works with Freeview broadcast images as well as those on DVD.
This DVD recorder's connections bear out its upscaling capabilities, as an HDMI output lurks at the rear. The deck also has a comprehensive supporting cast, including twin Scarts (RGB input and output), component video output, and a DV input for digital camcorder users.
A stable reference
A built-in digital tuner is also included in the package that claims to support stable signals with reduced blocking even in lousy reception areas. It's a shame that the DMR-EZ27EB is lacking a CI slot for receiving subscription channels.
There's no support for DiVX files, but otherwise, disc playback is far-reaching. The same applies for recording to disc: multi-format compatibility means that you can record to pretty much every DVDR format out there, including dual layer discs.
Getting down to making recordings themselves, there are four recording modes (XP, SP, LP and EP) to choose from. The standard SP mode gives you two hours of footage on a standard disc, rising to between 6hrs and 8hrs in the lowest quality EP mode.
Both the XP and SP modes produce recordings that are pretty much indistinguishable from the original: our DVD recording of Doctor Who has the same visual clout as when it was broadcast. There is minor softening of edges when using the SP mode but it's impressive enough for the majority of your recordings.
As with most lower quality recording modes, expect to see the usual uninvited guests crashing the party - shimmering edges, background instability and stuttering movement are all present and correct in EP mode.
When it comes to playback, the DMR-EZ27EB earns its stripes, showing off some serious upscaling skills in 720p, 1080i and 1080p modes. We hooked up the DMR-EZ27EB up to an Epson EMP-TW1000 Full HD projector and were blown away by the results: standard definition DVDs look a real treat in 1080p on the big screen.
As good as picture playback and recording prowess of the Panasonic DMR-EZ27EB is, we do have a minor issue with the price tag, especially as you could pick up a model with both DVD and HDD recording capabilities. That said, most boxes are ticked, and your outlay will be rewarded with a DVD recorder that suits the majority of archiving needs.