Panasonic DMR-XW450 DVD recorder
The Panasonic DMR-XW450 DVD/hard disk recorder has YouTube connectivity and a 500GB hard drive.
- YouTube and Google Picasa connectivity, 500GB hard drive, good DVD upscaler, HDMI 1.3
- Expensive, remote control is not suited to playing DVDs, limited movie playback from SD cards, cannot transfer movies from hard drive to SD or USB
The Panasonic DMR-XW450 is a very good DVD recorder with a 500GB hard drive as well as YouTube and Google Picasa connectivity, but it's slightly overpriced. Despite a wide array of ports, recorded TV content cannot be transferred to USB sticks or SD cards.
Price$ 1,319.00 (AUD)
The Panasonic DMR-XW450 is a YouTube-enabled DVD recorder with two tuners for recording HD-TV to a DVD or the 500GB built-in hard drive.
The Panasonic DMR-XW450 is the next generation of the Panasonic DMR-XW300. The two recorders have many similarities, with the main difference being the introduction of YouTube and Google Picasa connectivity. It has a sleek piano-black fascia, with the drive tray on the top left and an LED that provides information on the top right. The lower section opens up to reveal an SD card slot, USB port, S-Video port and composite port.
There's an HDMI 1.3 port on the back, so if you've got a Full HD TV you'll get the best image possible from digital TV and upscaled DVDs. Unfortunately there are no Australian free-to-air TV channels that broadcast at Full HD 1080p.
It is easy to set up the Panasonic DMR-XW450. Once we connected the antenna and the television and switched everything on, it was a simple matter of selecting our state from the list and letting the built-in DVB-T tuner automatically find the available channels. Manual channel searching is also available, but in our case the auto-search acquired all available channels.
The Panasonic DMR-XW450 uses a twin DVB-T tuner that can record two channels at the same time. You can record the HD-TV content to DVD-RW discs or the hard drive using the H.264 format. When recording at the highest quality this means up to 110 hours of content, or up to 885 hours at the lowest quality.
We found that recording television was a simple affair. If you're watching a program you'd like to record, just press the record button and it begins with less than a two second delay. The dual-tuner lets you record one channel while browsing the other networks, with no disruption to recording.
The Panasonic DMR-XW450 DVD recorder provides a seven-day EPG (Electronic Program Guide) that lets you set which programs to record and the quality at which you'd like them stored. We found it easy to program, but you'll need to make sure that the clock is correctly set to avoid mistakes.
There is a YouTube function similar to what we found in the LG BD370 Blu-ray player. It's an interesting feature that lets you access the online service if you connect the DVD recorder to the net via the Ethernet port, but the image suffers when videos are viewed on high-resolution screens.
While the LG BD370 had BD-Live as well as YouTube to encourage users to plug it into a net connection, this DVD-recorder only has the latter and Google Picasa.
If you have your own movies stored on a USB stick or SD card you won't be able to play them on the Panasonic DMR-XW450 unless they're AVCHD files (such as videos recorded by a high-definition camcorder). Pictures and MP3 files can be accessed, however, and you can create on-the-fly slideshows with your images and music tracks.
When playing DVDs, the Panasonic DMR-XW450 DVD-recorder works very well as an upscaler. When watching the lobby scene from The Matrix, we found that there were very few artefacts and that motion was captured well. The level of clarity was on par with what we'd expect from a good entry-level Blu-ray player, but slightly below what you get from a standalone DVD upscaler like the Toshiba XD-E500-K-TY.
One thing we didn't like about DVD playback, however, was the complicated remote control that lacked a button to access a DVD's main menu directly. Instead we had to use an initial menu button and then select the menu key from the drop-down box before being taken to the DVD's main menu.
The Panasonic DMR-XW450 DVD recorder is a worthwhile device for anyone that enjoys television and doesn't have a DVD upscaler. While the YouTube connectivity is nice, it's the only thing on the device that needs an Internet connection.
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