Panasonic DMR-BWT720 - Alone In The World But Happy To Be Blu

5/31/2013 5:53:56 PM

Our experiences the versatile, space-saving wonders of Panasonic’s DMR-BWT720 – the UK’s only Blu-ray recorder

In the US, only Panasonic offers machines that can record onto as well as play Blu-ray discs. Everyone else, it seems, is happy to focus on HDD-based PVRs, appealing to the watch-n-wipe crowd. Is archiving a dying trend? Almost certainly, by Panasonic continues to support it and we’re glad it does.

Not that the MDR-BWT720, the latest in a very long line of Panasonic disc-recorders, is an old-fashioned slab of electronica. It’s fully 3D-compatible and makes plenty of online concessions. Three handset buttons certainly give that impression – one’s decorated with the Skype logo (bit you’ll need the optional camera here), while the other two shortcut to Netflix and Panasonic’s portal of net-delivered services. A separate network menu yields access to DLNA-networked video, audio and photos.

Panasonic DMR-BWT720

Panasonic DMR-BWT720

The units can also act as a server, enabling recordings to be streamed to other media players, although doing so restricts the machine’s functionality.

However, the DMR-BWT720’s raison d’etre is Blu-ray recording. Making your own compilations of HDTV programmers on rewriteable (BD-RE) or recordable (BD-R) media is great news if you want to keep them for posterity. Up to 17.5 hours, complete with 5.1 soundtracks where broadcast, can be crammed onto one 25GB disc (double that for 50GB). To this end, the DMR-BWT720 includes a Freeview+ HD PVR equipped with two DVB-T2 tuners and a generous 1TB of storage – so watch-n-wipers are still catered for. 1TB not enough for you? This machine also supports recording to an external HDD. Although it needs to be uniquely “registered” with the recorder.

You can record two different programmers at once, while watching one of them, or instead be feasting on previous HDD recordings, USB files, DVDs or Blu-rays. Yet access to networked content (and, inexplicably, USB JEPG still images) is denied to you while the unit is recording.

Lets’ get dubbing

Programmers are archived to the 1 TB PVR, as per a normal Freeview+ HD unit. If you want a Blu-ray copy, the material can be trimmed of junk via a friendly “editing” function and added to a dubbing list. Select one of the five recording modes (which balance quality against duration) and, in real-time, the programmers shuttle across to a ‘custom Blu-ray’ that should (after finalization) be compatible with any recent player.

‘As a digital recorder, the DMR-BWT720 is as good as any out there. HD shows looked exquisite’

UK terrestrial HDTV uses AAC for both stereo and 5.1 soundtracks. This unit decodes them into 5.1 PCM when viewing HD transmissions via an HDMI-equipped AV receiver (only the front channels are active for stereo audio), but they’re transcoded into Dolby Digital 5.1 during the dubbing process. The soundtracks of your discs can thus be enjoyed in 5.1 surround with practically any AV system.

This unit decodes them into 5.1 PCM when viewing HD transmissions via an HDMI-equipped AV receiver

This unit decodes them into 5.1 PCM when viewing HD transmissions via an HDMI-equipped AV receiver

If blank BD media is too expensive for you, multiple-format DVD recording – with four modes yielding between one and eight hours per 4.7GB disc – is also available. Sadly, you can’t use them to make short-capacity ‘mini Blu-rays’ from HD material. The lower-capacity format is, however, ideal for standard-def programmers and recordings from SD sources made via the rear-panel ‘AV2’ Scart socket. There’s a choice of four SD/DVD recording modes, in addition to a ‘make-it-fit’ mode that automatically determines the best way of fitting all of your dubbing list’s programmers onto a single platter.

A 32-event recording timer can be set from the Panasonic’s EPG. Series recording is available, as are the other features offered by modern HD PVRs (including time shift, audio descriptions, subtitles and digital Teletext). Off-air programmers go straight to the hard drive with no recompression (Direct Recording) although you can arrange for conversion to an SD or HD recording mode. Copy-protected HD programmers (most, if not all of ‘em) can be dubbed only once; after that they can be played in HD off the hard drive or dubbed in downscaled SD format only.

Disappointingly, a DVD made form a 5.1 HD source is only given a stereo Dolby Digital soundtrack. You should always use conversion recording/dubbing when going to Blu-ray, or you might not get sound when the disc is played on machines other than the MDR-BWT720 itself. This is because high-speed dubbing keeps digital terrestrial AAC audio ‘as is’, and other Blu-ray players aren’t guaranteed to be compatible.

Another simple-to-use, chunky handset from Panasonic

Another simple-to-use, chunky handset from Panasonic

Stonking performance

In other respects, it’s good news all the way. As a Blu-say player, the DMR-BWT720 delivers a stonking performance. It certainly did justice to The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, Terry Gilliam’s most recent visual fantasy. This imaginative mix of modern London and elaborate Victoriana was conveyed with depth, stunning detail and vivid color. Meanwhile, the DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack, heard through my Yamaha RX-A820 receiver and Rogers 5.1 speakers, proved to be dynamic yet subtle when called for. Up-scaled DVDs also looked good, although not able to compete with Blu-ray on the finer points.

As a digital TV recorder, the DMR-BWT720 is as good as any out there. HD programming looked exquisite, with a 1080i 4HD broadcast of The Simpsons Movie approaching the quality of the BD release.

As for the quality of its archiving, I found the middle-rung Blu-ray HE recording mode (which provides five hours per 25GB disc) offered little deterioration relative to the original broadcast. With that in mind, anything above is probably wasteful of disc capacity. On the other hand, if you go lower, artifacts become more noticeable. Placing SD and HD material side-by-side on a Blu-way only serves to show low the standards of some SD channels have fallen.

DVD recording is up to Panasonic’s usual standards, quality only taking a turn for the worse when more than four hours of material are crammed onto a 4.7GB disc.

Unique option

The DMR-BWT720 is a fantastic machine, enabling buyers to combine a PVR and Blu-ray player into one unit, and archive their favorite programmers to DB or DVD or posterity. It’s unique in that regard, so manages to justify the rather high price tag.

Panasonic used to offer a Freesat Blu-ray recorder, but stopped last year. I only hope it continues with this Freeview iteration for the foreseeable future. If it doesn’t – we should find out in the next month – then there’s even more reason to grab one of these.

On the menu

The Panasonic’s user interface mixes the modern Viera Connect portal with more staid-looking setup and feature menus. There are a lot of options here, though, so a full-color animated GUI is probably wishful thinking

The Panasonic’s user interface mixes the modern Viera Connect portal with more staid-looking setup and feature menus

The Panasonic’s user interface mixes the modern Viera Connect portal with more staid-looking setup and feature menus

AV info

Product: Freeview HD PVR and 3D Blu-ray recorder

Position: Panasonic’s only current Blu-ray recorder

Peers: Samsung BD-E8500; Panasonic DMR-PWT420; LG HR929M

The verdict

Highs: The only self-contained Blu-ray recorder available anywhere; exceptionally well-featured; easy-to-use;

Lows: Can only dub HD to Blu-ray once and no 5.1 on DVD dubs; online features and general user interface can be sluggish on occasions

·         Performance: 4.5 stars

·         Design: 4 stars

·         Features: 5 stars

·         Overall: 4.5 stars


·         HDD: Yes. 1TB

·         Tuner: Yes. 2 x Freeview HD

·         Up-scaling: Yes. To 1080p

·         SACD/DVD-Audio playback: No/No

·         Connections: HDMI v1.4 output; aerial in/out; Scart input (composite/S-video); Scart output (composite/S-video/RGB); optical and coaxial digital audio; Ethernet; 2 x USB; SD card slot; composite video; stereo analogue audio

·         Dimensions: 430(w) x 59(h) x 249(d) mm

·         Weight: 3.1kg

·         Features: 3D Blu-ray playback and recording; five HD recoding modes (4-17.5 hours per 25GB Blu-ray); four SD recording modes (1-8 hours per 4.7GB DVD); DR (bit stream) TV recording, record two different programmers simultaneously; multi-format DVD (DVD+ /-RW, DVD-RAM, DVD+/-R/DL); dub to/from non-copy-protected Blu-ray or DVD; copy SD/USB content to HDD’ music jukebox (with CD ‘ripper’); FR (‘just fit’) dubbing to DVD’ conversion of AAC soundtracks into 5.1 Dolby Digital; integrated Wi-Fi; DLNA client/server; Smart portal; Android/ iOS app control; extra storage with external hard-drive

·         Panasonic DMR-BWT720 price: $825 Approx


Video tutorials
- How To Install Windows 8

- How To Install Windows Server 2012

- How To Install Windows Server 2012 On VirtualBox

- How To Disable Windows 8 Metro UI

- How To Change Account Picture In Windows 8

- How To Unlock Administrator Account in Windows 8

- How To Restart, Log Off And Shutdown Windows 8

- How To Login To Skype Using A Microsoft Account

- How To Enable Aero Glass Effect In Windows 8

- How To Install Windows Store Apps From Windows 8 Classic Desktop

- How To Disable Windows Update in Windows 8

- How To Disable Windows 8 Metro UI

- How To Add Widgets To Windows 8 Lock Screen

- How to create your first Swimlane Diagram or Cross-Functional Flowchart Diagram by using Microsoft Visio 2010
programming4us programming4us
Top 10
Free Mobile And Desktop Apps For Accessing Restricted Websites
TOYOTA CAMRY 2; 2.5 : Camry now more comely
KIA SORENTO 2.2CRDi : Fuel-sipping slugger
How To Setup, Password Protect & Encrypt Wireless Internet Connection
Emulate And Run iPad Apps On Windows, Mac OS X & Linux With iPadian
Backup & Restore Game Progress From Any Game With SaveGameProgress
Generate A Facebook Timeline Cover Using A Free App
New App for Women ‘Remix’ Offers Fashion Advice & Style Tips
SG50 Ferrari F12berlinetta : Prancing Horse for Lion City's 50th
Popular Tags
Video Tutorail Microsoft Access Microsoft Excel Microsoft OneNote Microsoft PowerPoint Microsoft Project Microsoft Visio Microsoft Word Active Directory Exchange Server Sharepoint Sql Server Windows Server 2008 Windows Server 2012 Windows 7 Windows 8 Adobe Flash Professional Dreamweaver Adobe Illustrator Adobe Photoshop CorelDRAW X5 CorelDraw 10 windows Phone 7 windows Phone 8 Iphone