Review With a built-in Blu-ray recorder and dual Freeview HD tuners, Panasonic’s DMR-BW880 is something of a novelty among Freeview+ DVRs. Other tasty nuggets include a 500GB hard disk, the VieraCast Internet video portal, DLNA networking, Gracenote CD database access and playback of many common audio and video formats. Along with its little bro, the DMR-BW780, this is arguably the most advanced video recorder you can treat your living room to.
Optical resolution? Panasonic's DMR-BW880
Not surprisingly, it takes some time to familiarise yourself with the BW880. I took the plug ’n’ play approach without recourse to the encyclopædic 120-page instruction manual and happily watched the machine tuning itself in. After setting preferences such as power saving settings and testing the network, I was quickly able to jump to the HD channels from the channel list. No extra info here, such as programme description, but scrolling up and down and selecting is reassuringly fast.
Overall, for such a complex beast, both the menu system and remote control are well designed in terms of their layout and I wasn’t left feeling that any vital buttons are missing from the remote. The ability to quickly switch drives using one button is vital with HDD, BD, USB and SD options at your disposal.
I can forgive the remote for looking a tad boring - functionality takes precedence - but Panasonic’s dated looking UI badly needs overhauling. It reminds me of a 10-year-old Pioneer DVD recorder that looked 10 years out of date at the time.
A rather ancient looking remote is rather at odds with the rest of what's on offer
Worse even than the dated look is the GuidePlus+ sponsored Freeview EPG. Not only does it exit the picture and sound of the current broadcast but valuable real estate is given over to the most amateur-looking poster adverts for a handful of companies. More positively, you can switch between list and grid view with seven channels shown in two-hour segments. You can filter by genre but not by definition type and you directly view the channel or set a recording timer including series link.