Panasonic DMR-PWT500 review

A Freeview HD PVR which also has a Blu-ray player built-in Tested at £350

What Hi-Fi? Verdict

Panasonic’s new all-in-one one-box is a very accomplished all-rounder


  • +

    Impressive picture and sound

  • +

    record two channels at once

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    network and internet access


  • -

    No BBC iPlayer

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    some have bigger hard disks

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    separates perform marginally better

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Pretty much everyone wants a Sky-like experience for their TV, but far from everyone is prepared to pay the £50-odd a month for it.

That’s where a Freeview HD PVR comes in, with its hefty chunk of channels, sprinkling of HD, and the ability to pause, rewind and record live (free) TV.

Buy a device like this Panasonic, and you even get Blu-ray playback in 3D and 2D, too.

The Panasonic’s credentials are increased further by its ability to record two channels at once, stream from DLNA servers on your network and access Panasonic’s web portal.

No BBC iPlayer access
We do have a couple of minor gripes, though: the 320GB of storage should be enough for most folk, but many PVRs come with 500GB. And there’s no BBC iPlayer access, among other internet omissions.

In terms of performance it’s hard to fault, though. It’s clean, controlled, balanced, and eminently watchable all-round with standard-definition content, and in HD it’s beautifully sharp, detailed and vibrant.

Our Award-winning Samsung BD-DT7800 is perhaps just a smidge crisper overall, but that’s a standalone PVR.

Impressive picture and sound
The Panasonic, on the other hand, also has a Blu-ray player built-in – and it’s a good ’un.

Play Thor in 2D and you get very detailed, precisely defined pictures with solid motion and colours. Switch to the 3D version and it’s equally impressive, with images that impress with their depth and comfort-enhancing control.

True to the form established by the company’s standalone players, the PWT500 also has a robust way with sound.

For the same price as the DMP-PWT500 you could buy the DMP-BDT110 and Samsung BD-DT7800 PVR, and on close inspection that would give you a marginally better performance and a better web portal.

But if you want a neat all-in-one and can live without BBC iPlayer, the DMP-PWT500 makes a lot of sense.

See all our Freeview set-top box reviews

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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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