Panasonic DMR-HW220 set top box

Panasonic’s first PVR is impressively easy to use

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  • Buy Now 2
Panasonic DMR-HW220
  • Expert Rating

    4.00 / 5
  • User Rating

    0.00 / 5 (of 1 Review)

Pros

  • Fast operation
  • Accessible interface
  • Plenty of hard drive space

Cons

  • VIERA Connect is inferior to Samsung and LG

Bottom Line

The DMR-HW220 is the first dedicated set-top box from Panasonic, and it handles basic set-top box duties very well. Its Internet features are reasonable, but more useful is its capacious hard drive and smooth and simple operation.

Would you buy this?

  • Buy now (Selling at 2 stores)

  • Panasonic Dmr-hw220glk Pvr Twin Hd Tuner 1tb 329.00
  • Panasonic Dmr-hw220glk Pvr Twin Hd Tuner 1tb 398.00
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The Panasonic DMR-HW220 is basically a DMR-BWT820 Blu-ray recorder with the Blu-ray drive cut out. It’s much cheaper, and retains the high quality internal TV tuners and simple interface that we liked about the BWT820.

Panasonic DMR-HW220: Design and setup

From the front, the HW220 and its BWT820 big brother are almost indistinguishable. They both have the same mirrored, flip-down front fascia that covers a single-line LCD screen, USB and SD card ports. There’s no Blu-ray player on the DMR-HW220, so the space reserved for the disc tray is conspicuously blank.

The front panel also has basic channel and playback controls, which might come in handy if the remote goes walkabout and you can’t control the DMR-HW220 over VIERA Link (using another Panasonic device’s remote when connected via HDMI).

Identically to the DMR-BWT820, the Panasonic DMR-HW220 has a single HDMI output, composite video output, surround digital and stereo analog audio output, a USB port and antenna input and output terminals. It also has Wi-Fi built-in, so there are multiple ways to connect to your home network and the Internet.

From the moment you turn it on, this is a set-top box that is helpful but unobtrusive in the way that it operates. A simple setup process — scan for channels, set up your network, then go straight to watching TV — isn’t at all technical or confusing. We’d happily leave a Luddite to set up the DMR-HW220; it’s far less complicated to set up than a TiVo, for example.

Panasonic DMR-HW220: Operation and performance

As we’ve mentioned earlier, the Panasonic DMR-HW220 is a very simple set-top box. The blue-and-white user interface is clearly laid out, and the electronic program guide especially is very easy to understand and navigate through. It’s got plenty of different features integrated, but the HW220 doesn’t force them on you at every turn — it’s perfectly content to just be a set-top box and show you an intuitive, well-engineered channel guide.

Changing channels is a quick process, whether you’re recording a program on the secondary tuner or not. We were able to change channels in under two seconds consistently, which is our benchmark for a quick TV tuner. Anything longer than two beats starts to feel slow, so we’re happy that Panasonic’s digital TV implementation is speedy.

The internal 1TB hard drive can handle over a month’s worth of non-stop HD video recordings. This is heaps; it’s got six times the storage of a standard TiVo HD set-top box, for example. If you’re at all capable of deleting recordings once you’ve watched them, we sincerely doubt you’ll encounter many or any problems with the hard drive space in the DMR-HW220.

It can record two programs at once on the twin tuner, saving them to the hard drive in uncompressed Direct Recording mode for the best possible quality. This will only net you 140 hours of recording time, which is still plenty in our humble opinion.

If you do manage to fill it up, you can use an external hard drive via USB for additional storage. Up to 2TB is supported — another two months’ recordings for a small extra cost.

The comments we made about the Panasonic DMR-BWT820’s implementation of the VIERA Connect service, with its video on demand and social media apps, applies equally to the DMR-HW220 set-top box. VIERA Connect is good, but not great. The video on demand services are reasonably populated with content — and as usual ABC iView is our go-to favourite — but Samsung and LG have better Smart services on their Blu-ray players and PVRs.

This set-top box also supports DLNA through its wired and wireless network connections, acting as both a server (for content saved on the 1TB hard drive, or connected via USB) and as a client (for any content saved on a networked DLNA device like a PC or smartphone). It works perfectly well, supporting any file type that the box supports directly over USB — so AVI, JPG, AVCHD, MP4, MKV all work without hassle.

Panasonic DMR-HW220: Conclusion

The Panasonic DMR-HW220 has the same high-quality interface and features (sans Blu-ray) of the DMR-BWT820, and is similarly speedy and easy to use. It’s also half the price.

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nta

1

Hi there.

I'm thinking of getting this model. Do I need have a TV antenna connected to our roof to be able to use it? I've been told that some people need a TV antenna on the roof for it to revive a better signal. At the moment I have a 42 CM Philips HD TV with a digital antenna connected in the same room. Does anybody know?

Paul

2

Could I use this DVR in New Zealand?

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dogboy

0.0

1

Pros
NTSC (shame it's not for Australia)
Cons
PAL
• • •

In short, if you require a HD output over HDMI, DO NOT buy this unit.
Let me lead you through this.

Set the unit up, choose PAL (because we are Australia and that's our standard).
http://imageshack.us/scaled/landing/30/jgpa.jpg

I want to use the HDMI output as HD, so I go to the HDMI output page to set it to be 1080i.
Hang on... all options are grey'd out except for Automatic!!!
http://imageshack.us/a/img30/1827/i93c.jpg
Oh well, shouldn't matter, says auto will detect my TV and operate at the best resolution.

Wha????? 576P????? Isn't that a SD resolution????
http://imageshack.us/a/img585/5164/w8g6.jpg
Something is not right there at all... Aspect ratio is wrong too, not the PVRs fault, the projector is always set to display native so if it gets given a SD signal, it gets the aspect ratio wrong.

Hmmm... just out of curiosity, I wonder what happens if i change it to NTSC?
(Yeah, I know the DVB won't work, but do I get different options)
http://imageshack.us/a/img593/7181/99s4.jpg

http://imageshack.us/a/img801/3751/xog8.jpg
Will you look at that!!!!
Change it to be NTSC, and I can choose a 1080i output for HDMI!!!

I wonder if it actually displays 1080i...
http://imageshack.us/a/img11/6985/9vv7.jpg
YES!!!... but, of course it won't pick up any TV channels lol

BTW; I sent an email to Panasonic, they called me back within a day, so that was very nice of them. The guy I spoke to on the phone was a little arrogant (that's okay, I am too) and immediately proceeded to tell me what the problem was (he was wrong, and I corrected him). He did suggest a few helpful things such as bypass the HDMI in the Integra Amp and connect directly to the Projector, but basically he said that this behaviour is by design, not a fault, and if I was not happy to return it for a refund (which I have done!!!).

Dear Panasonic,

You have released a product that 'randomly' does scaling to HD resolutions in PAL, but seems to reliably scale to HD resolutions in NTSC.

You CANNOT seriously expect to believe that this is by design and NOT a design fault of some type?????

I can overlook other shortfalls in the product (can't stream video while recording), but a HD PVR that randomly plays back media in SD or HD is totally pathetic.
:-(

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