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Panasonic DMR-XW380

Panasonic DMR-XW380 Freeview HD DVR

HDD and DVD-R combo with DLNA sharing

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I had no problems with recording with Freeview+ – the unit wakes up a little in advance, poised to begin recording schedules – and the captured image quality is excellent. You can transfer material from the hard drive to DVD, but only AVCHD material can be authored to DVD in HD.

Panasonic DMR-XW380

Aside from some animations, there’s little visual change on the menus

Alas, the same trick is not possible with Freeview HD material, which you’ll have to convert to SD instead when burning to DVD. The authoring process is fairly straightforward – especially if you start from the library screen, rather than the main menu – but a real time one, due to the re-encoding. SD material can be copied without that, of course.

As well as recording from the various ports on the box, and copying from a camcorder’s SD card, you can also transfer audio CDs to the hard drive, and a link to the Gracenote database gives you fill artist and track information. Also supported is viewing of JPEGs and Panasonic’s VieraCast, with YouTube, Picasa and a couple of other services, though not as many as on the TV range.

Panasonic DMR-XW380

Recorded material can be browsed by genre

Perhaps one of the standout features, though, is DLNA sharing. Sadly, the DMX-XW380 isn’t a media player, but if you have recorded TV shows on it – even HD ones – then they can be played back over the home network, on a PC or TV. So, a Panasonic TV in the bedroom can watch shows saved on the recorder in the living room.

That said, compatibility may be an issue – my 2010 Panasonic TV couldn’t play any content, while a Sony EX703 could play back SD shows, and a 2011 Panasonic set could see everything, and replicated the recorder’s own interface.

Although the process is a bit of a fiddle, up to four DLNA devices can be authorised. Also worth noting is HDMI control; most kit only tends to work with the same brand, but I had no problem controlling the Panasonic using HDMI from a Sony TV set.

Panasonic DMR-XW380

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Next page: Verdict

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