With only one digital tuner, your options are limited when it comes to recording and watching at the same time. If you're recording to the hard drive from digital TV, you can watch another previously recorded programme or a DVD, but you can't watch another live channel. Many people will find this more limiting than they might think, especially if you've got a large family with diverse tastes. One solution is to buy a TV with an integrated digital tuner, then you can always watch a different channel, but a dual-tuner upgrade would make the EH60D an essential purchase.
The recording system on the EH60D takes the best parts of an already flawless system and integrates them with the Freeview electronic programme guide. The guide includes full listings for all channels up to seven days in the future, with a small review of each programme. Panasonic's system lets you cut out any channels that you don't want to watch (goodbye, shopping channels!) as well as search by genre, such as movies and drama. You can select the quality you want to record to, from XP (44 hours-worth of space on the hard drive) to EP (355 hours). The SP mode, with 89 hours, is the best quality-to-capacity tradeoff.
As well as Freeview PVR features, Panasonic has created a fully featured DVD recorder as well. The drive supports DVD+R, DVD-R/RW and DVD-RAM discs for recording, and all discs for playback. While Sony has made advancements in dual-layer disc recording, it would be too much to ask for here at this price point. What we do expect is DivX playback though, which the EH60D lacks. DVD-RAM support is a good bonus as it is more versatile than the other formats, but as DVD-R is much cheaper, you'll probably want to use these discs to archive your favourite recordings.
Recording quality on the Panasonic is superb, and if you ever have to resort to the poorer EP or LP modes they are surprisingly good. Panasonic has perfected its compression technology so that more lines of detail can be recorded at the lower quality levels, so there is less loss of detail than before. But with the SP level offering 89 hours on hard drive and 2 hours on a DVD, you should use this recording mode in most circumstances, and the loss of quality over the original broadcast is barely noticeable. In fact, you should consider using the highest quality XP mode when recording to the hard drive, and the EH60D can downsample to SP-level to a DVD if space is an issue.
With all that technology packed into the recorder, it's a wonder that the EH60D offers a decent AV performance as well. If you can use the component video outputs then you should, as the images are solid and colourful. If you're a CRT user and stick with RGB Scart, the picture is just as beautiful. Audio recording is always made in Dolby Digital 2.0, and sounds clear and crisp whichever recording quality you choose.
Edited by Mary Lojkine
Additional editing by Nick Hide