Type Blu-ray/DVD recorder with hard drive
Like the DMR-XW480GLK, this Panasonic scores poorly for DVD upscaling. It has the ability to access internet sites such as YouTube, Picasa albums, Weather window and Bloomberg TV stocks. You can also change the thumbnail for programs you've recorded. It has an easy-to-read and informative front panel display, but lacks the ability to limit channels to your "favourites". It scores very poorly for dealing with a damaged DVD.
The Panasonic DMR-BW880 ($1199) has a 500GB hard drive, but is otherwise technically the same.
Type DVD recorder with hard drive
The Sony's ability to select "favourites" and its excellent faulty DVD handling are offset by some serious limitations. It has only one digital tuner, which means you can't watch one program while recording another without using your TVs tuner. However, it is the only product on test with an analogue TV tuner, so it could be a good choice if you don't have digital TV in your area and aren't scheduled to have it for some time.
Its timer is limited to eight days in advance, so setting up recordings when on holidays of longer than a week isn't possible. Copying to a DVD from its hard drive is more complicated than with the Panasonics, and its front panel display is dim with small characters. The remote control has small buttons, making it difficult to use. It also has the worst DVD upscaling performance on test and uses more than three watts in standby mode – more than three times higher than the other recorders on test.
- The Sony RDRHDC100 ($499) has a 160GB hard drive.
- The Sony RDRHDC300 ($649) has a 320GB hard drive.
They’re otherwise all technically the same.
Type Blu-ray player/DVD recorder with hard drive
The LG can record directly to an external USB hard drive, as well as its own internal drive, which will appeal to people who record lots of TV. It can also handle MPEG4, which will be increasingly handy as free-to-air TV broadcasts begin to use this for EPGs and other extras. It can be wirelessly networked, connects to YouTube directly and has the best DVD upscaling score on test, but still only manages borderline performance.
Like the Panasonics, the LG lacks a "favourites" function, and like most Blu-ray players doesn't cope well with damaged DVDs. It doesn't play region 1(US), 5(Russia) or 6(China and Hong Kong) DVDs, and once you've recorded to its hard drive you can't copy the recording to a DVD or Blu-ray disc, nor can you protect your recordings or crop or divide them. The front panel display is dim if you don't have the front cover open.
The LG HR598D ($799) has a 250GB hard drive, but is otherwise technically the same.