Although the roll out of Freeview HD isn't complete, Panasonic has wasted no time implementing compatible tuners into its products – and we're not just talking TVs.
Take the 'XW380 PVR. A DVD player and recorder, twin Freeview HD tuners and a 250GB hard disc drive have all been shoehorned into it. (A Blu-ray version is in the pipeline, but will cost extra.)
Freeview HD recordings
The Freeview HD element means you can watch and record channels like ITV1 HD and C4HD without any need for an external dish (if your region has gone live with the service, that is: see freeview.co.uk).
Picture quality is very good across the board. Standard-definition broadcasts exhibit good detail and colours appear rich and vibrant.
Switch to HD and the image is cleaner, producing an insightful and realistic picture with only a trace of noise.
Decent picture quality
When you're recording, the PVR stores the direct stream on to the hard drive. Once stored, you can then edit the content or use one of a handful of ‘DR File Conversion' modes to compress the content into more manageable chunks for your hard drive or a DVD. Picture quality is decent through most compression rates.
There's very little to criticise about DVD performance, too. Black levels are impressive and there's good detail on the walls of the mine shaft during the start of There Will Be Blood.
Our only real reservation about the 'XW380 relates to its price. We can't help but feel that a product like this needs to be around £400 to really tempt.
Yes, it might be discounted in the future, but we have to make judgements on the present. So, four stars it is.