We really ejoyed the picture quality of the EX88. A large portion of what you get out will depend on the incoming broadcast signal, however, and it's fair to say that Freeview's sometimes less than perfect.
Using the EX88 is nice and easy, for the most part. Setting a timer is a simple matter of going into the programme guide and selecting the show you want to record. After you've done this you can adjust where the machine will record to, either DVD or the built-in hard disc. You also select the recording quality at this stage.
We would strongly advise staying clear of the lower-quality record modes. We recorded Family Guy from BBC Three in EP mode, and the quality was pretty horrific. Stick to SP or XP for the best results.
Playing back pre-recorded DVDs was no disappointment either. The quality of the output was everything we would expect from an upscaling DVD player. Our much-loved copy of X-Men had all the colour and detail we'd expect from a high-end machine such as this.
Audio quality too was great. The best results will be had if you hook the player up to an external surround-sound system or other external speaker system, but our Philips TV positively sang with the sound of mutants kicking several bells out of each other.
The EX88 is a good machine -- we liked the picture quality a great deal. It's pretty flexible and serves as both a Freeview tuner, recorder, DVD upscaler and even a limited DivX/Xvid player. It's a little on the pricey side at around £350, but for what you get, it should replace a few boxes under your TV.
There isn't much we'd suggest that beats this machine, purely because it does everything. There are better upscaling DVD players and more versatile Freeview recorders, but there isn't much that does it all. Ultimately, we think the Panasonic DMR-EX88 is a very good choice and we can't see anyone being disappointed with it.
Edited by Nick Hide