• Panasonic DMR-BWT700
Our Verdict 
For the patient and methodical, this is a brilliantly useful machine
For 
A stack of functionality
good picture quality from all sources (including recordings)
Against 
Thinks long and hard before doing anything
not even remotely intuitive to use
Reviewed on

We could use a whole page outlining the Panasonic DMR-BWT700’s features and functionality.

Here we have a 3D Blu-ray player that’s also a Blu-ray recorder, is fitted with a 320GB hard drive, includes web connectivity, media-streaming, twin Freeview HD tuners, and can be fitted with a Skype camera.

It’s even compatible with DVD-RAM. More than enough to cram into one fairly bland-looking box, we’re sure you’ll agree.

The instruction manual is unsurprisingly huge, but even the most conscientious owner will be referring to it time and again – this is far from the most intuitive device. Patience does bring rewards, though.

Impressive with Blu-rayPanasonic’s most recent Blu-ray efforts have been extremely impressive, and the BWT700 doesn’t let the side down.

More after the break

A 2D copy of Paul is enjoyable across the board, with the neutral colour balance, fine motion handling and high detail levels particular highlights.

Switching to a 3D copy of Despicable Me retains most of the performance pluses (motion loses just a sliver of certainty) while offering believable depth of field and convincing edges. Sound quality is well up to prevailing standards.

There’s very little wrong with the way the BWT700 upscales DVDs, either. Some motion hesitancy can be detected in the toughest scenes and there’s a smattering of picture noise in evidence, but it’s on a par with its Blu-ray player siblings.

The BWT700 offers a number of compression options for recording to disc or hard disk; ‘DR’ mode (which aspires to broadcast quality) makes the best copies.

Crisp Freeview HD imagesThe Freeview HD tuners serve up crisp images and, bar a hint of shimmer to the most complex patterns, that’s how copies look too. Copies made from external sources (a Sky box, say, or a camcorder), though, are only ever in standard def.

Navigating the tuners could be friendlier, too. Panasonic is wise to have ditched the on-screen adverts its EPGs sometimes carry, but denying the user a little box on the EPG page playing the channel they’re currently viewing is remiss. 

One big drawback is the length of time it takes it actually to do stuff.

Disc-loading times are reminiscent of Blu-ray players from years ago, and navigating the submenus to switch from recording a TV broadcast to watching a disc is laborious.

Still, if you want one box to undertake a chunk of your home entertainment duties, and you don’t mind keeping the manual handy, this is an appealing proposition. 

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