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Good: DVD's recorded so far have played satisfactorily on a couple of other sets as well as out own.
Bad: Will not play some (legitimate, not pirated) Region 4 DVD's tho' designated a Region 4 player including Lord Clarke's "Civilisation" and Bragg's "Adventure of English" both published by the BBC: Panasonic's dismissal of the matter, alleging that the BBC must market an inferior product.
Comment: We have had the Panasonic DMR-EX79 for about 3 months. It cost somewhat more than the Panasonic VCR/DVD recorder which it replaced and which in turn replaced a Tevion VCR/DVD recorder which was about half the price.
These Panasonic sets ares not as user-friendly as the much cheaperTevion. They do not provide as informative a main menu on finalised DVD's nor do they permit broadcasts to be recorded simultaneously on the two drives - selecting the one drive disables the other except insofer as the "copy" facility is used. That the DMR-EX79 has a hard drive in place of a VHS drive is immaterial to this point.
Material can be copied from the hard drive to DVD but the other way only from finalised DVD's. One would think that material recorded on DVD on this recorder would also be fuly recognised by this recorder whether the DVD is finalised or not.
We record only on DVD-R and DVD+R. Apparently the set will take other media but we leave comment on that to other users. [Of course we record on the hard disk as an intermediate process].
To prospective Australian buyers [we live in Australia] we would have to say that we are not impressed with the attitude we encountered when we sought the assistance of Panasonic regarding the provlem we had playing some of our DVD's. The set as sold to us is zoned Region 4 but will not play Kenneth Clarke's "Civilisation", Melvyn Bragg's "The Adventure of English", "The Story of India" with Michael Wood or, our latest purchase, "The complete Yes Minister & Yes Prime Minister". All of these were purchased at ABC shops, as sold in Australia all are designated Region 4, all are BBC publications. One could hardly ask for better credentials: but Panasonic summarily dismisses our complaint saying that the BBC must be putting out an inferior product.
We have recorded from free-to-air broadcasts and from 8mm camcorder tapes. The recorded quality on DVD seems to be satisfactory and so far we have not had any trouble playing the disks on other makes/models of recorder. However, one would expect this of any DVD recorder on the market so if there were nothing more to be said for or against this would only warrant an "average" rating.
In view of the negatives we have had to set down, something would have to be deducted from the aforementioned "average" rating subject to the proviso that we have not had the recorder long enough to assess its durability. It might well prove to go on doing what it does do satisfactorily for a long time but we can make no comment on that aspect.
Good: DivX & DVD-RAM compatibility
Bad: advert pane in onscreen guide
Comment: For DVD/HDD recorders, Panasonic is best for reasons of quality, usability and edit features. DVD RAM compatibility (Samsung has it too now) is more useful than you might think - very good for archiving items you might want to copy back onto the HDD or edit later. The partial delete function which allows you to remove adverts is crucial, and this can be done on DVD RAM too, though the process is much quicker on HDD. The playlist function enables you to join split items together by dubbing a playlist onto DVD RAM. For most purposes a 160GB HDD is sufficient - any more and you lose track of what you've got - but the 250GB is a bonus. Panasonic was late to support DivX, but on this one it does. Again, crucial, as more DivX material becomes common. The usual SD card slot (excellent for quick slide shows from your digital camera) is sacrificed for a USB slot which is good for DivX material on your thumbdrive, but halleluja! USB card readers can be used, so you can still do SD card slideshows. There is an annoying advertising pane in the TV guide not present on earlier models. This reduces the space available for programme schedule display. The auto index mark function intelligently places index marks throughout a recording - very helpful in removing adverts using partial delete. If you could dub from the HDD onto a USB thumbdrive in DivX, that would be real functionality - but I doubt that will come for a while yet. I know of no PVR's that do it.
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