What Hi Fi Sound and Vision Fri, 19 Sep 2008, 11:00am

Panasonic DMR-EX768

Tested at £240
80100
4

A solid recorder that delivers a good picture and great recordings

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For

  • High spec
  • excellent digital TV pictures
  • good recording and playback quality
  • full-bodied sound

Against

  • Some noise with DVD playback
  • interface slightly tiresome

We're never ones to play the numbers game – how big, how many, how powerful – but nevertheless it's fair to say that this Panasonic has an impressive specification.

When it comes to disc compatibility you can take your pick from DVD-+R/RW discs, DVD-RAM and dual layer DVD+R and DVD-R. There's an HDMI v1.3 output capable of sending 1080p video, as well as a 160GB hard disk drive for you to attempt to fill.

It's fair to say this isn't the most intuitive machines we've tested. Initial set-up and channel search is strangely hidden and the remote control is a confusion of buttons and colours that doesn't aid familiarisation, but soon enough we get the tuners up and running.

First impressions of the digital tuner – there's no analogue – reveal a clean, clear and colourful picture, with little interference from digital noise or general off-air instabiltity, and naturally this bodes well for the quality of the recordings.

The EPG is a touch sluggish
There are four modes to choose from, so we start by taking a look at the highest quality XP mode. One-touch recording is responsive but we did find the EPG on this recorder a touch sluggish to respond.

All is forgiven once we see the recorder in action, with both XP and SP modes – the top two – delivering faithful recordings of the television content.

Only when we drop down to the third to we see any hint of softness appear to undermine those previously crisp edges, while the bottom mode should only be used in genuine emergencies or when you've lost your glasses.

Switch to DVD playback and again the Panasonic is largely impressive, offering up a detailed, colourful rendition of Cars complete with solid black levels when demanded.

Sound quality is excellent
Close inspection shows there is some visible noise in blocks of colour, with Training Day showing this recorder suffers a touch more than the best here when trying to deliver a clean, smooth video image.

The sound quality is a welcome surprise however, offering a clear, open and broad soundstage with a pleasing amount of dynamism and subtlety when required.

Impressive spec and excellent recording quality make this Panasonic recorder an easy machine to recommend but if, as we might imagine, you plan to use it for all your video needs, the DVD playback can be bettered elsewhere.

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