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110 of 113 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent but an opportunity missed Mr Panasonic.
It will help you to know that I also have a very similar DMR-E95H (the old flagship) which I have used a lot for the last 4 years. The E95H is now starting to give problems (it appears that the hard disk is very hesitant to start) but it has been extremely useful and I did not hesitate to get another Panasonic machine - even though they share the same drawbacks...
Published on 19 Oct 2008 by Mr. Martin Brown

versus
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars So Near but So Far
I hate writing negative reviews and this was the first bad experience I've had with the many Panasonic products I've bought over the years. The basic functions of the machine are pretty much like my old DMRE58 machine which I was very fond of but sadly passed away recently.

First disappointment- , I bought the EX88 over the EX78 because I read it has an SD...
Published on 8 Mar 2009 by Peter Taylor


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110 of 113 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent but an opportunity missed Mr Panasonic., 19 Oct 2008
By 
Mr. Martin Brown (Romsey UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Panasonic DMR-EX88EB-K Freeview+ 400GB HDD DVD Recorder (Electronics)
It will help you to know that I also have a very similar DMR-E95H (the old flagship) which I have used a lot for the last 4 years. The E95H is now starting to give problems (it appears that the hard disk is very hesitant to start) but it has been extremely useful and I did not hesitate to get another Panasonic machine - even though they share the same drawbacks!

The E95H picture is good but the DMR EX88 picture is better in virtually every respect. One very minor quibble is that when viewing my TV (Viera TX32LXD1) via the DMR-EX88's tuner, the picture looks perfect until you do an A to B comparison with the TV's own tuner. If you do that you can see that there is an artificial smoothness introduced by the EX88. You lose a small element of fine 'texture' so that skin looks smoother than it is on the TV's own tuner. It is as if the EX88 has a filter of some sort which has 'decided' that the skin texture is 'noise' - so it has cut it out.

Don't misunderstand me, the picture via the EX88's tuner looks incredibly sharp, it just loses a little something in the extra processing but you would never normally look that carefully. Without doing that A to B comparison I would probably consider it 'perfect'. It actually looks sharper than the Viera's own tuner but that may be an illusion brought about by the 'noise' reduction in much the same way that a cartoon image always looks sharp on LCD screens. Presumably because there is no subtlety in the image. It is the subtlety that can reveal an LCD screen's dot-crawl shortcomings. On the other hand, maybe the 'diagonal recognition software' in the EX88 is actually making it sharper - difficult to tell. If you have ever done your own photographic developing you may be aware of the 'edge enhancement' of some Black and White developers. The sharpness I am seeing on screen seems similar to that.

The HDD recorded images are again excellent and noticeably better than the E95H. With a decent screen it is well worth using the highest quality recording mode (XP) all the time, everything else is a compromise and with a 400GB hard-drive I see little point in compromising. Despite what you may read elsewhere the image is not quite as good as live TV but it is certainly very close and vastly better than the best VHS. If you have not made the change from VHS yet, you are in for a treat!

The DMR EX88 produces truly stunning images from DVD. As good as any high end DVD player that I have seen. You need to look very closely to realise that it is not an HD image, the up-scaling is presumably responsible for this. I put in a Lord of the Rings DVD to test it and had difficulty tearing myself away from the fabulous New Zealand scenery - as well as the story. I will probably watch the whole trilogy again!

I have no idea if I will use the music and picture storing facilities much but I have copied quite of lot of both from memory sticks which is extremely quick and easy. It could quite feasibly be used as a high quality juke box but why on earth have they restricted it to copying MP3 tracks only? I seem particularly sensitive to the failings of MP3 and I would far rather a lossless format was available - WMA lossless for example or FLAC which I use in other machines or even WAV as there is plenty of space on the hard drive. Bad mark for that one. Good marks though for the audio output which seems flawless. I was only listening through a Panasonic SAXR50 AV amp and Denon surround speakers, which is not the best set up I have ever heard, but I detected nothing to warn that it would not be a good music source worthy of playing through a decent Hi Fi set up. If I get around to trying that I will try to update this review.

I was disappointed with the quality of the photograph images that I copied on to the hard drive. I have not worked out why they did not look good yet but they certainly did not look as good as when viewing them on a computer screen. It is potentially useful to be able to put it into a slideshow mode to show your pictures on the TV but I will probably still use my laptop if I want to show anyone my pictures.

A major failing is that Panasonic still only give you one tuner. If you are recording something and want to set it up to record something else, tough! Believe me, that is a really common situation and it would be so easy for Panasonic to get around it. You can't even look at the programme guide whilst it is recording and that borders on pathetic! Come on Panasonic, you know it is not good enough and we would all be happy enough to pay you the extra 0.50 that it would cost to install that second tuner! I bet the Japanese consumers get 2 tuners!

When you can manage to look at the programme guide 25% of the screen width is taken up by adverts. This makes the actual area of screen where you can see the forthcoming programmes rather small and therefore fiddly and slow to use. This is a very bad idea! Other manufacturers manage to provide the guide screen without adverts so why can't Panasonic? Very poor and annoying!

Hopefully it is just a minor failing but the HDD picture does not seem to be as reliable as it is in my ageing E95H. With the EX88 there is an occasional picture break down into coarse pixilation. It only happens for half a second now and again so it is not particularly annoying - but it does happen! That never happened in the E95H. I hope it is not the start of a significant fault but it does not seem to be getting any worse.

Bearing in mind that we are talking about a high end product, it is annoying that you can not get information out of the machine except by burning a DVD. Why on earth not? It has a USB connector - in only, a fire wire connector - in only, an SD card slot - in only. Why? I would like to be able to copy the video files on to a USB stick and play them on my laptop elsewhere. I would like to be able to store my home movies on the HDD and later copy them on to my computer for proper editing without having to burn a DVD to do so. I want to transfer the stored music to a portable player. I want to record a play from Freeview Radio 4 and output an audio file to my portable player - even in MP3 format if I must. I'd even welcome the VOB file that it uses to save video but no, Panasonic have decided we can't have any useful facilities like those. Why for goodness sake? Presumably it is some nonsensical copy protection policy. If so, they should leave the legalities to us consumers and busy themselves with making a useful machine.

A potentially useful new feature (new to me that is) is that it can play DivX files so you do at least have a way of watching other formats if you can get them on to a memory stick. It is very easy and the quality is pretty good but you can't save them to the hard drive, you can only watch them from the 'stick'. Again - why? It really can't be that difficult for Panasonic to come up with the software to play both VOB and DivX or any other format for that matter. I'm sure many a geek can tell them how to do it.

One feature I was really looking forward to is the 1 second start up time advertised by Panasonic. I never timed the E95H but it is probably around 40 seconds to start up, by which time you have missed the bit you wanted to record. So, I can now start the machine recording in 1 second, can I? Errrr NO! What Panasonic don't tell you is that to have the facility to record within 1 second you have to put the machine into a snooze mode. If you do this it will indeed start up, as advertised, within 1 second BUT, BUT, BUT that means you have to leave it in snooze mode all the time consuming 15 watts instead of the more reasonable standby consumption of 2 watts. I'm not an eco-warrior but there are limits and I'm certainly not going to waste that much power just for the rare convenience of a 1 second start up. To save you working it out, the consumption is about 131 kWh per year!

Maybe I sound a bit harsh with my criticisms. If I do, it is only because I have lived with the old machine and the new machine long enough to know what fantastic bits of kit they both are but how frustrating it is to have such a superb piece of equipment sitting in front of me but have it stupidly restricted in it's capabilities. It could easily be made to do just what I want it to do, and I'm sure future machines will. In the mean time I will just have to live with it being a superb recorder producing magnificent pictures with the minimum of effort. Would I recommend it? Of course I would. It is probably the best machine of it's type on the market. I may be frustrated but I am not disappointed.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent machine, great picture quality and actually works!, 29 Dec 2008
This review is from: Panasonic DMR-EX88EB-K Freeview+ 400GB HDD DVD Recorder (Electronics)
I bought a Panasonic DMR EX88EB after a truly awful experience with the buggy rushed-to-market Philips DVDR 5570H.

Unlike the Philips machine, the Panasonic just gets on with the job - the EPG was downloaded within minutes of the first power up, the unit responds to remote control button presses quickly, it hasn't crashed once, it's recorded everything I asked it to, and it all just works. Picture quality is noticeably better than the Philips too.

Interestingly, my TV now switches to the HDMI input within two or so seconds. It would take 5-10 seconds with the Philips machine (including 2 seconds of bright green screen - very Doctor Who!).

Some quirks with the Panasonic I've found so far:

- You need a Scart lead during the initial setup (and one isn't supplied in the box), even if you only intend to use HDMI. This isn't documented in the patchy instruction manual. Once the Panasonic and your TV have agreed to talk to each other via HDMI (this happens towards the end of the initial setup), various HDMI menus become available, and you can unplug the bulky Scart lead and put it away.

- You can't set another timed recording whilst the machine is recording something. You can't even view the Guide. Odd.

- There's a mysterious comb filter in the picture menu. It isn't explained anywhere in the manual what this really does for you.

- Most people are using HD TVs, and most are 1080i or p. The Machine's user interface is clearly designed for a much lower resolution, so looks blocky and pixellated on a decent TV. Scalable font technology has been around for years, so I can't see why Panasonic can't tidy this up. It is 2008 after all (or even 2009 when you read this).

Finally, and please excuse the shouting, but THERE IS NO ANALOGUE TUNER built in. If you can't get high quality Digital TV signals in your area, the Panasonic is not the machine for you.

Otherwise, buy one!
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Panasonic DMREX88, 14 Nov 2008
By 
Rob (Bristol, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Panasonic DMR-EX88EB-K Freeview+ 400GB HDD DVD Recorder (Electronics)
Replaced my 6 year old Panasonic HS2 40GB HDD recorder ( Which is still a great piece of kit and reliable) with this one. Had it a week and absolutely love it. having had a Panny before then the layout of the controls and menu's were all very familiar which I think is great as its more an evolution from what worked fine rather than being a revolution. with that said even if you are new to Panasonic recorders you should be able to grasp their menus quicker than most others. What is an absolute dream for me over my earlier DVD recorder is the ability to record back to hard drive from the DVD disk ( previously available on the HS2 from RAM disks only ) I find the digital TV tuner very simple to operate, the ads on the left of the screen from the TV guide dont bother me at all and the ability to make almost one touch recordings by selecting the channel and programme from the Digital TV guide is another pleasure.
I could go on all day praising this machine but to sum up Im glad I stayed loyal to the brand and am really pleased to have upgraded to this new generation of recorder.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars So Near but So Far, 8 Mar 2009
By 
Peter Taylor (London UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Panasonic DMR-EX88EB-K Freeview+ 400GB HDD DVD Recorder (Electronics)
I hate writing negative reviews and this was the first bad experience I've had with the many Panasonic products I've bought over the years. The basic functions of the machine are pretty much like my old DMRE58 machine which I was very fond of but sadly passed away recently.

First disappointment- , I bought the EX88 over the EX78 because I read it has an SD card input slot for video. So it does and I expected it to play and load video from my new panasonic HD camcorder directly. In brief - it won't. Doesn't read or play any files in AVCHD format which my camera ( a Panasonic HDD) uses. I thought this was scandalous! Even with SD Video format it wont play directly from the SD card. You have to download everything first which takes ages so you might as well play and record through the camera cables at real time speed as with any other HDD recorder.
I was also looking forward to the jukebox like mp3 library capability. I then discovered there is no way of transferring mp3 or cd data back onto card or disk so backups are impossible. Amazingly the manual actually advises you make backups if you have any problem with the HDD drive - then later in the text tells you this cannot be done.??? So if you build up an extensive jukebox collection of your music and it will die with the machine. However, since there is no search by word facility for albums or tracks you will have to slog through vast lists to find the song you want or spend a lot of time making lists in an order of preference. With 300 albums or 3000 tracks available this means you'll lose all patience with it long before backing up becomes a problem. Another thing you'll lose patience with is the starting up time which takes an eternity unless you leave in quick standby mode ( 15W continuous day and night ).Makes you wonder what on earth its doing all that time.

Timer and programme selection isn't very nice either. A great deal of space is wasted on a fixed 'advertising' panel that severely limits the range of programmes you can see at a glance. You can't opt out of this I find this really annoying, in fact insulting and simply use the much better programme selector on my TV and do the timer programming from there via Vierra link. This may not be possible if your TV doesn't have a compatible quick link feature.Personally I have abandoned the whole idea of using the internal tuner and record instead from my TV's tuner and programmer exept when the tv programmer is full, then I use the onboard programmer to top up if necessary.

To be fair the machine does what it can do extremely well. Picture quality from dvd and playback from TV recordings is excellent and basic functions are OK. The handset is very clearly laid out with large easy to read white on black lettering - a boon for someone like me who uses reading glasses. Also the jpeg picture functions are OK and pictures are very clear except you can only zoom in on low res images, which is exactly the opposite of what you need. Also , I couldn't find any way to supress the grey side bars you get around non 16x9 format still images which very few of my images are. Personally I prefer black. This all underlines the whole problem I have with the machine. It simply won't do the things that I want and need it to do and that is why I've found it all so frustrating in use. With just a bit more effort it could have been a fantastic and versatile home entertainment centre but by this definition it fails to deliver miserably. One final point - I put one of my Audio DVD's in it to see how it sounded - guess what! it doesn't support DVD audio format - which my old ED58 did!
Bottom line - only two stars because for me it really wasn't worth the 50% extra cost over the ex78. The usefulness of the SD input is minimal and with the limited jukebox functions I'll never get close to using up all that 400GB disc space - and that tuner-programmer advertising panel is just horrible.-
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47 of 51 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars DMR-EX88 - Outstanding Excellence, 20 July 2008
By 
Mr. John Williams "JohnW @ PG" (Enfield in North London) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Panasonic DMR-EX88EB-K Freeview+ 400GB HDD DVD Recorder (Electronics)
Well I have to say after two weeks of use I'm absolutely knocked out by it's performance. The picture quality is superb and the copy quality from the Hard Drive is the best I've seen. Having had two previous Panasonic recorder/hdd combo's this really is their best yet.
As a previous reviewer noted the instruction details could do with a user friendly tweak, but that aside I have yet to see a better machine.
If you use and record from a HD source you will require calming measures as the end product should carry a Government health warning.
So should you be in the market for a dvd/hdd recorder look no further.
Highly recommended.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good machine,however watch out!!, 11 Jun 2009
This review is from: Panasonic DMR-EX88EB-K Freeview+ 400GB HDD DVD Recorder (Electronics)
Panasonic DMR-EX88EB-K Freeview+ 400GB HDD DVD Recorder
Bought this unit from Amazon and basically only used it for recording via the Freeview, never thinking to check to see if the DVD worked or not, as I have a Blu Ray home entertainment system and only use this to watch DVD's. Six months down the line from the purchase date, i thought I would transfer some of the programmes from the HDD to DVD dics to regain some space on the HDD, when I came to do this, the player would not accept any kind of disc whether recordable or pre recorded. After contacting Panasonic they have told me to have it repaired at an authorised repairer and 2 weeks later I am still waiting for its return. I told Panasonic that I had never used the DVD player at all and it must have been a faulty unit and should have been replaced at time of purchase. Having spent Approx 3000 on Panasonic goods this last year, I thought they would replaced it. Disappointed with Panasonics response.
I have always been happy with Panasonic and basically this is a good unit, but if you purchase make sure you try everything out fully, before 30 days expires, as Amazon don't want to know after that time and you will only get a repair and not a replacement. BEWARE!!!!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Panasonic DMR-EX88EB-K Freeview + 400gb HDD/DVD Recorder, 17 Feb 2009
By 
I. M. Brown (London, England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Panasonic DMR-EX88EB-K Freeview+ 400GB HDD DVD Recorder (Electronics)
Having bought, three years ago, an earlier Panasonic DVD Recorder (Panasonic DMR EH80V), this 400gb model looked extremely attractive for both functionality and price. It has proved to be an excellent machine in the month that I have been using it and is highly recommended. The electronic programming guide is simplicity itself and quality of both picture and sound, even in LP mode, is remarkable. My previous Panasonic dvd recorder is still working perfectly well and this machine will operate alongside it. A product definitely worth considering and in my opinion represents exceptional value.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Simple hi-tec, 1 Feb 2009
By 
J. Izbicki - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Panasonic DMR-EX88EB-K Freeview+ 400GB HDD DVD Recorder (Electronics)
This machine is straightforward to set up and, after a couple of minutes familiarising oneself with the remote control, reasonably intuitive to use. The programme guide is clear on the screen and the selection process simple, whether for recording or erasing.
My only small gripe is the time it takes for the machine to be ready from turning it on. In order to save power we power down after use and the restart time is slow. Otherwise a great machine for clarity of picture and sound from TV recordings. We haven't yet used it to play a DVD, other than to ensure that it would do so.
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27 of 30 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars THE NEW GENERATION OF HDD/DVD RECORDERS., 25 Sep 2008
By 
NEO "Daren" (orpington kent) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Panasonic DMR-EX88EB-K Freeview+ 400GB HDD DVD Recorder (Electronics)
This new machine has one of the largest HDD I have ever seen to store TV and even Music. It comes in a sleek black but isn't the best looking of unit's and tends to look retro. Performance isn't bad and it offers a clear picture from the HDD in EP mode and from a Dvd. The Remote is well designed and easy to use as are the on-screen displays. It get's quite noisy and hot after some time in operation which can be distracting. Also the DVD loading door is a plastic flap which reverse hinges. This can be opened easily and I can imagine a child flipping this open and breaking it off. Or even worse pushing a sweet etc into the gap which could make the DVD draw fail to operate. The biggest flaw is the single tuner ! Why Why ?? , it limits what this can do and what you can watch. And long term I doubt it's longevity as I had the previous model to this one and the Tv Tuner died after just two years. I had it insured so I got this new model for free via an insurance claim so I am very happy. The Gracenote media is a good idea but in practical terms and 'DRM' it could prove a problem to, get your music to your iPod via a Memory stick or SD card. All in all a good but expensive buy , But I would look to Sony before buying this unit.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely excellent DVD recorder with hard drive, 19 Sep 2008
This review is from: Panasonic DMR-EX88EB-K Freeview+ 400GB HDD DVD Recorder (Electronics)
I own a Panasonic Viera TV so I am really into Panasonic now. My old DVD recorder with hard drive (JVC) purchased 4 years ago blew up so I needed a new one. This one ticked all the boxes and since it arrived I have been so pleased with it. It is so easy to use and the upgrading is excellent. When I play Sky through it - even that looks more colourful. The navigation is simple and recording - I would definitely recommend this.
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