Following on from the announcement we made back in February that Panasonic were to launch a range of Blu-Ray HDD PVR’s, we now have more news available following their demo at Panasonic UK in Bracknell on Tuesday.
The three models available will launch 20 June 2009 and include two Blu-Ray models (DMR-BS850 and DMR-BS750) and one DVD-R model (DMR-X350). The premium DMR-BS850 will include a 500GB HDD with an initial rrp of £999. The DMR-BS750 with the smaller 250GB HDD will come in at £899. The final base range model, the DMR-X350 is fitted with a DVD recorder instead of Blu-Ray, plus 250GB HDD for £699. These prices certainly suggest the products are being aimed at the enthusiast side of the market, although expect prices to drop after a couple of months.
All three units come with Freesat twin tuners allowing you with the aid of two cables from your satellite dish the ability to record two channels whilst playing back a previously recorded programme; or alternatively recording two channels whilst watching a Blu-Ray/DVD.
The Freesat EPG allows for single programme and series link recording, plus ‘split’ recording for those pesky occasions where films are broken into two parts usually by the news. As with the Humax FOXSAT-HDR, this software is also capable of giving you the option of SD or HD recording should that programme be available in both.
Each PVR comes compatible with Viera Cast, Panasonic’s proprietary internet portal that’s standard across its entire 2009 Blu-Ray range and many of its latest televisions.
The two Blu-Ray models have on-board decoders for Dolby TrueHD, Dolby Digital Plus and DTS-HD Master Audio, and the premium DMR-BS850 gets upgraded audio components such as a better quality DAC and gold-plated terminals.
Coming complete with an SD card slot and 2 x USB connections, the digital receivers will also allow Panasonic camcorder users the option of saving their AVCHD files to the hard drive. Similarly you’ll be able to store music (with Gracenote support) and images from your digital camera (JPEG format).
On the same subject, there is also a built-in music jukebox with 350,000 album and song titles pre-installed from the Gracenote database. This can be updated via the web using the recorder’s Ethernet connection. The Ethernet port will also be iPlayer compatible when it launched in the Autumn.
There will be five quality modes available when recording to the HDD or a Blu-Ray disc; these are DR (14mbps), HG (12mbps), HX (8mbps), HE (5mbps) and the lowest quality HL (4mbps). In the highest quality DR mode you can store 77 hours of high-definition content on the 500GB HDD, 37.5 hours on the 250GB HDD and 7.5 hours on a blank 50GB dual-sided Blu-ray disc. Switch to the lowest quality HL mode and you’ll get 240 hours on the 500GB HDD, 120 hours on the 250GB HDD and 24 hours on a 50GB Blu-ray disc.
Both Blu-Ray versions come complete with 6x BD-R capability, allowing fast copying to disc. The units will be 50GB compatible with 100GB Blu-Ray discs expected in 2010.
The one sticking point is the copy protection flags available for broadcasters, allowing them to select the type of recording available on their programmes; such as unlimited recording, once or never. Whilst you’ll of course be able to record to the HDD, transferring to Blu-Ray may not be possible; it would depend on the broadcaster.
More information on these new Freesat PVR’s can be found on Panasonic’s HD Everything page.