A DVD recorder that does its job well, if not spectacularly
Decent DVD recording quality
No card reader
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For many people there is a good reason for hanging on to VHS technology - a large library of tapes that they want to either keep watching, or transfer to DVD.
The Panasonic DMR-EZ45 is aimed primarily at the latter, with the DVD recorder promising to make this a relatively painless experience. Recordings can be made on all types of blank DVDs (they can also be made on VHS tapes, but what's the point?)
Flexible editing is mostly limited to DVD-RAM discs. DVD-RW discs can be recorded in VR mode, but editing options are still limited.
The built-in digital terrestrial receiver is on hand for when you want to record programmes rather than dub tapes, and the input Scart accepts RGB signals, so you can hook up other items, such as a Sky box.
There are five preset recording modes (giving one, two, four, six and eight hours on a single-layered DVD), plus Panasonic's Flexible Recording setting for fitting in programmes that don't fit neatly into one of those slots without sacrificing quality.
When it comes to playback of DVDs, the HDMI output can upscale output to 720p and 1080i levels.
The aforementioned feature count is pretty good, but it could be further boosted by the provision of a card slot for adding extra subscription channels.
DVD recordings are excellent in the top two modes. Recordings off the Freeview tuner benefit from staying digital all the way, but recordings off Sky via an RGB Scart remain excellent.
The two-hour setting introduces just the slightest artefacting on fast-paced sports, but it is hardly noticeable at all.
Picture quality drops after this (it's a big step from two to four hours) so use the flexible mode to minimise the drop-off.
Editing produces polished results on RAM discs, but these are not widely compatible with other players (and they cost more thanregular recordable discs).
The VCR section is quite average by comparison. Pictures on playback are okay, but nothing special.
Dubbing from VHS to DVD gives you a boost in image quality, with the fizzing that plagues VHS being cleared up a little bit.
Stretch the recording capacity of the DVD section, however, and the picture will be plagued by digital artefacting, so try to stick to the three-hour mark or lower (enough for most VHS recordings).
Playback of pre-recorded DVDs is very good indeed, with excellent detail that receives a slight boost when you upscale via the HDMI output.
Even the RGB Scart output looks great, however, so don't worry too much if you don't yet have an HDMI-equipped TV.
It's impressive visual stuff overall, and more than capable audio rounds off a nice performance from a deck that neatly mixes the old and new.
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