Hugely impressive in some ways, the basics of the Panasonic DMR-BWT700 – speed and simplicity – have been slightly overlooked in favour of geek features
Sparkling images from all sources
Extensive archiving options
Freeview HD EPG
320GB HDD too small
Fragmented user interface
No iPhone app
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After witnessing the 3D greatness of its latest Viera plasmas, we shouldn't be too surprised to see the Japanese brand go on to deliver the cleverest hi-def machine yet.
Do we mean Blu-ray? Well, yes, sort of … the DMR-BWT700 does indeed spin Blu-ray discs of both kinds – 2D and 3D.
It even converts the former into the latter, and not just on Blu-ray but DVD and Freeview HD, too. The latter comes from one of its two DVB-T2 tuners that fetch (and pauses/rewinds) Freeview HD channels, but it's this deck's status as a HD recorder that's got us most excited.
It can't record from the Sky 3D channel, but anything else can be stored on its 320GB hard disk drive (here's the maths: one hour of SD uses 1GB, and an hour of HD uses 4GB – that's 80 hours in total).
That could be a tad small in the long run, especially for those who stick to a strict hi-def diet, but there's also the option of archiving to Blu-ray.
We say 'option', but there are actually a plethora of compression modes designed to allow the user to squeeze as much as possible on to a blank BD-R or BD-RE disc (bear in mind the 'copy once' restrictions, though it deals freely in AVCHD footage from camcorders).
Other features on this rather staid-looking, typically Panasonic-style product include an SD Card slot for AVCHD and JPEG display, a USB slot that adds AVI, MKV and MPEG video, and the option of adding a Skype camera that makes full-screen video calls (via some quite brilliant software).
Unfortunately the DMR-BWT700 lacks WiFi because as well as Skype and DLNA streaming, this product packs an online hub. In another sad twist, it's not the latest BBC iPlayer-sporting Viera Connect, but an older version, Viera Cast, that's onboard.
Aside from a 500GB hard disk, this machine's sister deck, the DMR-BWT800, adds features like WiFi, a second HDMI output for routing audio to a non-3D Ready AV receiver, Digital Tube Sound (a warm sounding six-sided mode modelled on vacuum tube amplifiers) and Pure Sound, which reduces the interference of the machine's rotating fan and HDD.
As a bonus, Panasonic is offering four 3D Blu-ray movie titles [www.panasonic.co.uk/avatarspring2011] when you buy this machine – comprising Avatar, Gulliver's Travels, Ice Age 3 and Animals United.
The same applies to the DMR-BWT800, DMP-BDT110, DMP-BDT210 and DMP-BDT310, as well as its Blu-ray Home Theatre systems.
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Jamie is a freelance tech, travel and space journalist based in the UK. He’s been writing regularly for Techradar since it was launched in 2008 and also writes regularly for Forbes, The Telegraph, the South China Morning Post, Sky & Telescope and the Sky At Night magazine as well as other Future titles T3, Digital Camera World, All About Space and Space.com. He also edits two of his own websites, TravGear.com and WhenIsTheNextEclipse.com that reflect his obsession with travel gear and solar eclipse travel. He is the author of A Stargazing Program For Beginners (Springer, 2015),