A svelte DVD recorder with a 100GB hard drive, Panasonic's DMR-EH50S impresses on many levels. In our tests, it produced excellent videos recordings with bright, vivid colors that made events like explosions look extremely realistic. Images also showed great contrast, with deep blacks to go along with those vivid colors. The motion of the video was smooth and lacked the compression artifacts that we saw on some other recorders.
- Excellent images, no compression artefacts, easy to use TV guide
- No firewire, scheduling restrictions.
The DMR-EH50S makes high-quality recordings and is easy to use, but some users may not like the TV Guide On Screen program guide.
Price$ 659.00 (AUD)
This model uses the easy-to-navigate TV Guide on-screen program guide. TV Guide On Screen lets you schedule a recording by selecting a program from the grid; you can choose a single recording or you can record at the same time every day or week. Nevertheless, it isn't as flexible as the TiVo service: You can't use TV Guide On Screen to schedule recordings of every episode of a show (such as every episode of The Simpsons, regardless of channel), or to record only new episodes. Ads that support the TV Guide service occupy nearly a third of the screen, and squeezing the grid into the remaining space means that you can see only a couple of hours ahead on the program guide.
The remote control is thoughtfully designed: Buttons for commonly used functions such as play, stop, fast-forward, and rewind, have different colors from the others and are larger, which helps them fall naturally under the user's thumb. The remote has an innovative touch, too: Instead of working with the standard directional keys, you scroll through menus via a rotating wheel (rather like the one on an iPod).The unit's on-screen menu is easy to use, but its small text and preview windows for editing video may be difficult to read if you use it on a small TV.
The 100GB hard drive, while not the largest we saw, is big enough to hold a good chunk of video - up to 177 hours in the lowest quality mode. A nice touch: If you're recording direct to DVD and the disc doesn't have enough space for a scheduled recording, the unit will automatically record your program on the hard drive.
The DMR-EH50S copied programs from the hard drive to DVD briskly: We clocked it at just over 6 minutes, for a 1-hour TV program. The recorder is among the most versatile we have seen: It can write to DVD-R, -RW, +R, and +RW discs, as well as to DVD-RAM discs.
One curious omission: This is the only recorder we looked at that lacks a FireWire port for copying movies from a digital camcorder. On the other hand, it has an SD Card slot for copying still images (which a digital camera or camcorder typically saves to it) to the hard drive or DVD.
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