Panasonic DMR-BWT700 review

The Panasonic DMR-BWT700 Blu-ray recorder may be complicated but it's worth sticking with Tested at £500

What Hi-Fi? Verdict

For the patient and methodical, this is a brilliantly useful machine


  • +

    A stack of functionality

  • +

    good picture quality from all sources (including recordings)


  • -

    Thinks long and hard before doing anything

  • -

    not even remotely intuitive to use

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

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 images
The 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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What Hi-Fi?

What Hi-Fi?, founded in 1976, is the world's leading independent guide to buying and owning hi-fi and home entertainment products. Our comprehensive tests help you buy the very best for your money, with our advice sections giving you step-by-step information on how to get even more from your music and movies. Everything is tested by our dedicated team of in-house reviewers in our custom-built test rooms in London, Reading and Bath. Our coveted five-star rating and Awards are recognised all over the world as the ultimate seal of approval, so you can buy with absolute confidence.

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