Panasonic expected to launch Freesat PVR

Panasonic have hinted at a PVR with 500GB hard drive and Integrated Blu-ray Recorder for the UK Freesat platform. It’s said to be based on the recently launched DMR-BW500 to the French market, featuring an integrated twin HD Digital Tuner for FTA broadcasting, making it possible to record two digital programmes simultaneously.

We are waiting on news from Panasonic’s PR company to see if we can get confirmation of intended release, but the second quarter of 2009 is expected, with a premium price tag of £500 plus.

Speaking briefly at IFA 2008, Michael Friedrich, Manager of Product Marketing at Panasonic said,

…so in the UK we are in close discussion with Freesat. The technology is a bit different that’s why can not simply use the France version. In France its based on DVB-T, the UK version will be satellite. But we are in discussions, and will conclude when it will come to UK soon.

The likelyhood of this going ahead is high, Panasonic like to make use of their products in as many ways as possible, so if you are waiting for a unit capable of all this in one box, then this might be for you.

Partial news courtesy of PVR Junction.

26 thoughts on “Panasonic expected to launch Freesat PVR”

  1. Wow ! I got the Bush HD freesat box at launch – love the HD pictures. Was hoping to buy the Humax PVR & a Blu-ray player this Xmas. May just wait a little longer now !

  2. This is great news and potentially offers the opportunity to reduce the number of boxes under the TV. I wonder if Humax are listening on this point?

    What’s more the price potentially looks good.

    A panasonic BD35 Blu Ray will cost you £329. If this is offering the same Blu Ray quality as the BD35, + Freesat HD PVR for £500, with Panasonic quality, then its going to be worth it. Its just going to be a question as to whether its £500, £500+ a little ie £10 or £20, or £500 + a lot.

  3. I too was going to buy a freesat pvr and a seperate blu ray recorder for christmas (we have two big tvs and weve already got the Humax HD on one of them) but now I’m going to wait and see how this story develops 😉

  4. As I wished and predicted a few months ago.Panasonic have enjoyed their taste of freesat. Glad to hear that the pvr could become a reality. Might now hold off buying the humax pvr

  5. Cheers Wayne,

    But I wouldn’t hold out much hope. I think Nigel who posts on here works for Humax and he’s already made it quite clear their PVR won’t record Freeview as well, something I view as vital in keeping the box count down. I have serious doubts therefore whether they’d want to include Blu Ray.

    Personally, I’m more hopeful of Panasonic because their PVR / Blu Ray combo already exists and records Digital Terrestrial in Europe on the DVB-T standard and is having to be converted to Freesat for UK Freesat use. So it would seem much easier for them to kit it out with both DVB-T2 (when available) and Freesat tuners or at least a means of recording a terrestrial signal to give a truly universal box at a cheaper than individual component price.

  6. They will really hit a gap in the market with this box. Can you imagine, Freeview, Freesat, PVR and Blu-ray Recorder all in one. Just needs to be a surround sound package also and what more would anyone need 🙂

  7. Well, let’s hope Panasonic do rather a better job than the last time. When I was thinking of buying my Topfield PVR back in 2005 ( to replace a Pace Twin) I checked round and saw two products which might have fitted the bill, a Humax and a Panasonic. I got the Humax home, and the fan was way too noisy for a living room. Returned it. Then researched the Panasonic on the net, and found page after page of people who had bought it and were plagued by problems of all kinds – firmware, hardware, the lot. So I have the Topfield. And until there is a Freesat PVR that doesn’t have lipsync problems ( Humax denying that it is the kit and blaming the broadcaster is a joke – haven’t they noticed that other brands of set top boxes are getting the same signal and not having lipsync probs?) and actually works out of the box then I am not throwing away a few hundred quid.

  8. Surely only those HD programs flagged as able to copy will be able to be recorded to bluray, which as things stand right now is …. none.

  9. There is one company stopping blu-ray recorders; BBC. Panasonic originally wanted to release a blu recorder this year before xmas but BBC doesn’t want removeable media for copy issues. But there are no plans for a fully fledged PVR from Panasonic (2 tuners with HDD only).

  10. Gimme gimme gimme! Thank you Panasonic – I presume it’s already working well in the French market and has everything I have been waiting for. Roll on Q2 ’09! 🙂

  11. Al said “I think Nigel who posts on here works for Humax”

    Nope; never have done. I don’t know what gives you that idea.

    My website makes it fairly clear whom I have worked for over the years, but I’m fundamentally a self employed freelance journalist, and have a fair bit of knowledge of this particular area, some of it in very gruesome technical detail.

  12. I had the impression that you did as you’re always staunchly pro Humax. My bad.

    BTW, I’m not for critising companies for the sake of it, but my view is they have to take the good with the bad and without any feedback on the negative things, nothing ever changes for the better. I’m all for praising them when praise is due. 🙂

  13. I’m not particularly pro Humax at all; since I also run the web site for Topfield products, I’ve actually been accused of being rabidly anti-Humax at times as well 😉

    I do understand the technical and financial reasons behind things like why there won’t be the capability of recording from external sources, or built in tuners. I know you think they’re missing a trick there, but really there are sound reasons for those choices, whether they’re made by Humax or anyone else.

  14. So…Nigel…as one who understands, could you please enlighten me? In the event that this Panny PVR with Bluray built in does go on sale here in the UK, are you saying that it will deffo not be able to record HD progs onto Bluray disc?

    If so, what on earth is the point of the thing? Also, I thought that the HDCP thingy only worked when the material was routed through HDMI ….which presumably the Panny, having everything ‘built in’, would not need to do?

    Sorry if I have it all confused….with my brain, it all comes out that way, lol.

  15. I was dreaming of just such a device on a post here the other day. Since the launch of Freesat, I have been thinking of a combination of PS3 + Humax PVR to replace my old, but still trusty, Toshiba HDD/DVD recorder + freesatfromsky box + Humax Freesat HD box. Depending on the HDCP factor, this might just change that plan…

    I’m not really into gaming. The PS3 was mainly for Bluray, upscaling DVD, photo centre and Linux. On the other hand, such a Panasonic box would tick most of these boxes and be a bit cheaper.

  16. Don’t PVR have there uses for recording SD anymore? Appreciate that the benefit of Blu-ray is it’s HD capabilities, but it will also be useful for storing ALOT of SD programming.

  17. Recording onto Blu-Ray may depend on how the different broadcasters decide they will flag things. At the moment, for example, there are restrictions on the component outputs on the Humax, because right now, the BBC can only flag everything or nothing; but they say they’re working on a way to set the options for individual programmes.

    At the moment, protection is not entirely the fault of the BBC – if they’re told they have to set restrictions for some material by the rights holders, they have to do so, or they can’t show it. Unfortunately, because they can’t set them individually for each programme, it means all the broadcasts end up with the most restrictive setting. That, as I said, is something they’re working on to change.

    I would suspect that some programmes may never have the rights set to allow you to record to BluRay, but you may be able to record to the hard disk – it is, strictly speaking, not presently permitted under UK law to make recordings to place in an archive for repeated viewing, after all.

    So, the best answer is that we really don’t know exactly what will be permitted – it depends on the rights holders, and on the broadcasters being able to signal those rights to the recorders adequately.

    Don’t bet, however, on being able to record films in HD from a channel like the BBC with no adverts, and burning to BluRay – I honestly can’t see the hollywood studios wanting to let that happen, when they can charge you to buy their BD release instead.

  18. Hi I have to agree Nigel that I can see the studios being tough on allowing this also. That said, I also, don’t see what the worry is.

    Even a Blu Ray recording, as good as its likely to be, is not going to be the same quality as an original disc because its been subject to broadcasting compression and transmission. Therefore whereas its likely to be acceptable as a HD viewing experience in much the same way as DVD recordable was acceptable for SD, true cinema buffs are still going to want to buy the original because of the difference in picture quality through compression and sound (Dolby Digital vs True HD). Therefore personally I see it as an option for those who just want to have a film in case they want to watch it in a bored moment with nthing else on, rather than it being one they’d actually ever buy, whereas true fans of the film will still go out and buy it.

  19. Hi Nigel,

    Thanks for your detailed reply chap, much appreciated. However, there is still bits there I find a bit blurred…..for instance, were you to record something onto the HDD, is there any way ‘they’ can then stop this being transfered to a BD?…I can not see how, but just wondering, lol.(I realise that if a prog. is flagged, you would not be able to record to either)
    At the end of the day, is the pany a bit of a red herring?…If , as it seems, there is serious doubt as to whether anything much of worth will be allowed to be recorded in HD/BD, will it be worth the considerable outlay to buy this box?

    Cheers, Dave

  20. HDCP allows for different levels of protection; this is encoded somewhere in the stream of data, so the PVR should be quite capable of being able to allow temporary storage (eg the hard disk), but not permanent (BluRay).

    Ultimately, it’s all going to depend on a) the BBC sorting out the signalling for individual programmes, and b) how restrictive the various rights holders decide they want to do.

    So I’d wait and see if a) gets sorted out, and then see how b) is reflected in, for example, the switching on and off of the RGB and component outputs on the Humax box, which will give more of an idea about how much you’ll be able to archive HD to BluRay.

  21. the Oz version of the BW500 has an SDHC card reader so you can transfer your high definition AVCHD camcorder video to blu-ray – i hope they leave that in the UK spec!

  22. Come on Panasonic! Get the ball rolling, I can’t get FreeView in my area, so have been waiting for Panaonic to launch FreeSat receiver with PVR for ages. I can then make a combined purchase if Panasonic HDTV, FreeSat Receiver and PVR. Got to be ready for Christmas….how about it !!!

  23. I’m totally confused and gobsmacked! If one can currently record form the terrestrial & satellite channels, i.e. BBC onto DVD ( a permanent format) then what on earth is the issue with recording onto Blue Ray, as another permanent format?!! Whether a film/programme is recorded on a HDD or Blue Ray disc or both, what’s the difference whether it’s on a ‘temporary’ or ‘permanent’ format? If the BBC are against people recording onto a ‘permanent’ HD format, (quite why i just don’t understand, especially as they have jointly introduced the FREESAT service! Surely they don’t really expect other companies not to want to get on the band wagon to be able to record from it, either temporarily or permanently?!)), then it’s not going to survive the competition in my view! If the film producers are worried that if they let people record onto a permanent HD format that they’ll lose royalties on films they can sell, it’s been exactly the same for the DVD format since it’s inception!! has the recordable DVD format really destroyed the film industry in this way?, no i don’t think so! Besides, sooner or later with all this up and coming technology coming to the fore, it’s going to happen sooner or later anyway, i’ll bet!

    What was the point of introducing both the Blue Ray and the HD DVD format( initially) if people aren’t going to be able to put satellite/terrestial broadcasts onto disc in much the same way as DVD?! I’m certainly never going to invest the £300+ to purchase a machine that only shows HD films if i’m not going to be able to record onto it!! I’d rather blow £500+ on a machine that both plays & records from an HD source onto an HD disk, rather than part with £300+ on something you can only watch pre recorded disks on!

    At this rate, if it’s going to take another 20 years to sort these things out ( in this country), then lets forget the whole digital idea of broadcasting and keep it anologue!!, it seems far easier and siginificantly less confusing, not to mention far more flexible in what people are or aren’t allowed to record!!

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