What Hi Fi Sound and Vision Wed, 16 Sep 2009, 1:00pm

Panasonic DMR-EX89

Tested at £400

This recorder will do a fine job, but we don't see a jump in quality or performance compared to the last generation

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  • 400GB hard disk drive
  • good tuner and faithful recordings
  • 1080p upscaled DVD looks solid
  • Gracenote database on-board.


  • DVD images should be punchier and sharper
  • operation could be smoother

The DVD/HDD recorder is a product that has been hit hard by Sky+, Virgin Media and Freeview PVRs. We see fewer models every year, from fewer manufacturers, and very little changes in terms of features and functionality.
Nevertheless, for the functionality of a PVR, with the ability to save content to disc and, of course, play DVDs, a DVD/HDD recorder is still the only one-box solution.

One-box functionality
The Panasonic DMR-EX89 has a hefty 400GB HDD with a best-quality HQ mode that allows you to record around 90 hours of content. You can pause live TV, use the EPG to set recordings, upscale DVDs to 1080p resolution and record to DVD-RAM and DVD-R/RW/DL.

You'll also find a USB input, an SD card slot and Gracenote's music database loaded inside the DMR-EX89 for automatic track labelling.

The functionality is here, but compared with Sky+ or other PVRs, pausing, recording and general navigation is nowhere near as slick, with interruptions and unnecessary screen messages slowing everything down.

Good TV tuner quality
Still, tuner quality is good, with natural colours, smooth motion and clean edges, and recordings in the top mode are utterly faithful.

Switch to DVD and we have few complaints – but compared with a much cheaper DVD or Blu-ray deck, it lacks a little punch and definition.

If you're in the market for this sort of one-box solution, this Panasonic is a good option, but for the money we'd like to see something extra in terms of functionality or an added sparkle in performance to garner the full five stars.

See all our DVD recorder reviews

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