Having only one digital tuner does have its drawbacks, as you can't watch one live programme while you record another -- but it's the only feature absent from the otherwise ample specification. And if you have an integrated digital tuner in your TV, the problem is solved.
Most recordings will be made using the sizeable 160GB hard drive. As usual, there are several recording modes that trade picture quality for recording time with the highest quality XP mode offering 36 hours, SP mode 70 hours, LP mode 138 hours and the lowest quality EP mode up to 284 hours. Unlike conventional recorders, the EX75 doesn't reduce the horizontal resolution with the low quality LP and EP modes so it makes better quality long recordings.
The spacious hard drive allows you to make easy, instant recordings. But the unit is also compatible with all recordable disc formats if you want to archive or share your recordings. And the high-speed copying feature means you can transfer programmes from the hard drive to disc in a matter of minutes.
DVD-RAM is the preferred disc and is the most flexible format with various editing and time-slip functions such as chasing play and simultaneous recording and playback. Temporary disc recordings can be made using either +/- RW formats, while permanent recordings suit –R discs, especially if you want to play them in other devices. In short, this versatility gives you full freedom and control over recordings.
The simplest way to make copies is by using the attractive electronic programme guide, but you can also set up manual timer schedules, VideoPlus+ or one-touch recordings, which begin instantly to ensure nothing is missed. The excellent Disc Navigator system features moving thumbnails with sound that allow you to easily find recordings and access an extensive range of useful editing functions. All operation is aided by an uncomplicated, iconic menu system and abetted by the intuitive remote, which will hold no fears for even the most technophobic newcomers to digital recording.
The Panasonic DMR-EX75's recording performance is outstanding across virtually all quality modes, with very little image deterioration between the XP and LP options. Using the intermediary SP mode will satisfy most needs. Only the grainy images produced by the lowest quality EP mode should be avoided, unless you require the maximum storage space.
The integrated digital tuner provides a perfect input for recordings, using rich colours and deep blacks to create plenty of density, depth and detail. Apart from occasionally jagged movement, image stability is excellent, with distracting picture noise and digital artefacts kept to a minimum. Subsequent recordings carry the same hallmarks of the original, with only edge definition suffering as you regress through the quality modes.
Equally impressive is the performance of DVD playback, especially if you own a display with an HDMI input. Upscaled DVD images appear incredibly detailed, exposing the slightest nuances in tones and textures. Colours are more naturally balanced and movement glides effortlessly across the screen. If you don't yet own a compatible digital display, the performance from either analogue component inputs or the RGB Scart is on a par with most decent standalone players.
Edited by Mary Lojkine
Additional editing by Nick Hide