136 of 139 people found the following review helpful
on 17 July 2013
This top-of-the-range machine is festooned with capabilities which some may find a bit daunting.
Nevertheless, I can wholeheartedly recommend this unit because it's basic performance is exceptionally good, never mind the party tricks. It has twin tuners which allow simultaneous recording from one channel while watching another. I have a weak aerial signal but the quality of signal on this machine is higher than I was originally getting with the aerial plugged directly into the TV (also a Panasonic) so image quality is very good. The recorded image is just as good as the original.
The Electronic Programme Guide is intuitive and is easy to use. This model and the previous DMR 720 generation have a smallish font with coloured graphics which require quite good eye-sight to programme from a distance on my system, compared with earlier Panasonics where the EPG was more easy to read, but not as pretty. In fact the DMR 735 is very much an evolution of the DMR 720, which I also use. In addition to a huge 1TB of storage on the hard drive the DMR 735 is about the only machine currently on the market that allows for archiving from the hard drive to DVD, something that was commonplace over 5 year ago but not any more. So as I like to keep copies of some material I've recorded off the TV this recorder rather selects itself.
On the party tricks:
1. Remote recording of programmes using an Android (or IOS) App allows programmes to be recorded when away from home. The App itself is a bit flakey and tends to crash.
2. Viewing of TV or recorded material on a compatible tablet device wirelessly - handy if you want to watch TV in the garden or bathroom.
3. DLNA services allows playing of compatible recordings from network attached media serving devices, including NAS servers and more interestingly other Panasonic Smart DVD devices such as the DMR 720 (it may work with non-panasonic devices but I have not tried this). So on my system the DMR 735 can display and play the contents of the DMR 720 hard drive, and vice-versa. This is handy if I have recorded a programme in one room that I want to watch in another. The unit can read MP4 and MkV formats but cannot recognise a DVD that has been dubbed directly to the NAS - it can play a single .VOB file but does not know to link them together to complete the DVD. Still, the DMR 720 did not understand a file directory system so at least this model can navigate through my directories to find what I am looking for.
4. Network services allow access to things like BBC iPlayer, Youtube etc. Other Apps can be used to expand this.
I would summarise by saying Panasonic stand alone in this market with this highly versatile model. I have looked at Samsung, Sony, Humax and the like but taking price into account, I consider the DMR 735 is the very best that is currently available.
19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on 30 January 2014
Firstly, I'm not out to write a review longer than Brian Lee's, and before you read this I do urge you to read his review as he covers most things about this machine, and as others have said his review is like the manual should have been.
Anyway assuming you've read it but still haven't decided to buy this first rate machine then lets hope I can convince you.....
Most of my review will be about the recording capabilities as this is what I got these machines for.
I can't, and won't, comment on things I've not tried as obviously it wouldn't be accurate and will give a misleading perception of this box. One thing I won't be commenting on is the app for remote recording as I seem to be part of the 0.0001% of the global population that doesn't have a smart phone.
Well like Brian Lee I have more than one HDD/DVD recorder and like Brian I always use all of them, but unlike Brian who has
obviously and sensibly gradually changed his machines bit by bit over the years I decided to go the expensive route and replace all of my 3 at once! The original machines were only ever a stop gap, were refurbished and only designed to last 12 -18 Months or so before being replaced by more modern kit. So right on time and only 8 years later I finally get round to it. As the price had dropped to £310 I couldn't resist the chance of having 3 of these machines, although I was slightly worried as some customers have ordered these and obviously had been sent previously returned kit I thought these might be too as the price had dropped so much. I needn't have worried though as all came in the original Panasonic boxes.
Anyway as several have commented the 120 page manual isn't the world's best as it takes a bit of following but, once you start
to understand the writer's logic, is useful in parts. An example of the writing is the recordable media part as one thing they
don't mention, but by reading between the lines, is that they don't support or particularly like DVD+Rs. All comments regarding this media are in the format of DVD-R, DVD-RW, then +R and +RW, as if adding DVD in front of this would somehow sully this type of media. (They do work OK but will only write at normal speed, so a 2 hour movie will take 2 hours to copy regardless of the DVD+R speed, also when copying you cannot do anything else on the machine, and that includes timed recordings)
On DVD-Rs it does write faster (about 6 to 8x) and also faster than 1x with DVD-RWs - about 4x with these.
Because of this if you are writing to DVD+Rs then converting from the default DR recording to a suitable DVD type first is a a
waste of time as a DR file will auto convert to the best possible option for DVDs anyway, and this happens in real time.
Therefore if you were to convert it first then a 2 hour film will take 2 hours to record (Wow! Really?), 2 hours to convert then 2 hours to copy to DVD, 6 hours in total, when it could be done in 4.
For DVD-Rs or Blu-ray it may be worth converting first as this stops if the machine has something to record whereas when you're burning to DVDs that will take priority.
On Blu-Ray disks the write speed is even faster, a 2 hour programme copied in about 8 minutes, and I've tried most of the higher level settings available for these although I haven't copied a DR recording to any disks as yet. Also when burning to Blu-Rays you can watch an HD channel or record something else to the HDD.
Update:- I have just copied 3 films to a blu-ray 25Gb disk, very nearly filling it (5 hours 45 minutes of HX quality), and it
copied in just 22 minutes. I have also copied a DR recording and finalised the disk however it won't play that file on my Sony
Blu-Ray home cinema system. That isn't that old so a word of warning a DR file copied to a blu-ray disc, and the finalised does not guarantee it playing on any Blu-ray machine. Just to note the disk also had HX standard blu-ray films on it and they played on the Sony fine, and all films played on the Panasonic, so its not a faulty disk or recording.
One reviewer commented that their machine must have a fault as when it copied to DVD it only used half the disk. Well the good
news for them is that the machine doesn't have a fault. I suspect that they have probably mis-understood the copy limitations
when the machine auto converts. There are several recording options - both for blu ray and DVD - On the DVD side the options are XP 1 hour, SP 2 hour, LP 4 hour or EP which is either 6 or 8 hours depending on how the machine has been set. if there is a 1hr 55 min film to convert the machine will change it to SP mode therefore apparently nearly filling up the disk as nearly all of the 2 hour availability would have been used. However if the recording is say 2hrs 5 mins long then it won't fit in SP mode, so the recording will be changed to LP or 4 hours. The disk afterwards will look mostly empty as there is a fair part of it unused. <<< Because it simply isn't clever enough to convert it so all of the disk of a given recording is used. As the machine is obviously geared up for blu-ray use rather than DVD its a fair guess to say there will never be an upgrade that will enable this.>>>>>
**Update 24th March**
Ignore the bit in the << >> as I've made an error here. ---I've kept it in in case anyone who has read this review decides to re-read it and also proves I am not afraid to admit it when I get it wrong-----. Anyway, the machine is indeed clever enough to use all of a DVD for a non-standard time. You first need to format the DVD, then select copy and from the available recording options select FR. (Flexible recording - what it does is obvious by the name but very clever none the less!) The machine will then fill the disk with the recording(s) to be copied. I've used this twice so far, once 2hrs 55 minutes the other 2 hours 58 minutes. Both times it said the DVD would be 99% used. OK in this case the size of the recordings were pretty similar but I bet it could be used from any length from 1 hour 1 minute up to 4 hours. At the moment I'm not sure about recordings over 4hours as this is going into EP mode anyway and anything under 1 hour would almost certainly be in the highest XP setting so FR mode would be pointless. However now I've used it (and impressed as this means that as all of the DVD is used there is less of a quality drop) I will be trying out various options to find out the longest and shortest times FR can reasonably be used.
I am fairly confident though that it can't be used indefinitely so 8 hours recording time is still the maximum.
I've had a look and anything that's under 1 hour will record in the highest XP mode so a 30 minute program can't be saved in "Super High" DVD quality mode as it simply doesn't exist. At the other end though FR mode can be used right up to 8 hours, so you can store 2 or more films of various lengths on a DVD and get the best quality possible out of the disk. However as blu-ray disks themselves are fairly inexpensive compared to DVDs, using a DVD to copy extreme length files would be a waste of this machine's capabilities. I wouldn't record anything over 4 hours on a DVD, and even if it was only original SD quality material I was burning to this media and it was greater than this length I'd simply use an additional disk.
When recording a program you cannot record direct to a DVD or Blu-Ray disk, you record to the HDD then burn to optical media
afterwards. My older machines did have this facility but I never used it anyway as when you record to the hard drive you can
edit all the unwanted bits out, so a film that's 2 1/2 hours on Channel4 can fit in the 2 hour SP mode on a DVD. Although you
can edit out adverts on a DVD/blu-ray direct the space used is not freed up. And of course if you could record to Blu-Ray and
used both tuners to do this the poor laser would have a dicky fit in trying to record the programs!
The upscaling of SD material is pretty impressive and even a recording in 8 hour EP mode isn't that bad. Of course there is
quite a drop in quality but a conversion mode that can give 1/3rd of a day of video on a DVD, or half a week of recorded
material on a DL blu-ray isn't going to show every individual hair on Angelina Jolie's head.
As the 1TB HDD disk gives oodles of HD recording time I can't think of an occasion where EP mode would ever need to be used as
it would give over 10 weeks(!!) of recorded material on the HDD. For radio broadcasts the quality would be OK but I'm sure there are cheaper machines just for radio recording.
The machine itself it was relatively easy to set up and then once the HDMI port was chosen and a HD TV channel was selected
there was a slight thud. This wasn't a fault but was caused indirectly by the machine as the following events will clarify.
1) Channel selected,
2) Picture displayed on the TV
3) Image hits the eyes
4) Image processed by brain
5) Jaw gives up the struggle against gravity and starts to hurtle towards the Earth's core, only being stopped on its long
journey by gently hitting the living room carpet and so causing the aforementioned thud.
The picture is simply stunning!! Anyone who says it isn't either
a) Hasn't selected an HD channel,
b) Has a rubbish ariel,
c) Hasn't connected it up properly (or possibly at all!),
d) Has used a T*sco value £0.99 HDMI cable to connect up to their TV
e) Hasn't got an HD TV but is unaware of it, or
f) Any or all of the above.
Many others have commented the HD channels are of a higher quality than those broadcast by Sky, and I've done a more thorough
test than the initial 'auto jaw-drop' one mentioned above.
I've been able to test this the same way I did when I had my first blu-ray player, that is comparing a film I had to one being
broadcast on satellite Channel4 HD at the time. Then there was a slight but noticable drop in quality. Now I've been able to try this again with another film being compared to terrestrial TV, again it was Channel4 HD, and yes the quality is higher and
although not quite true 1080p blu-ray it comes pretty damn close!
The editing software for getting rid of the annoying adverts or whatever is excellent as you can adjust it to the nearest frame so editing to the point just before the station id comes up. Also on the ITV channels they put chapter markers in on the advert start and stop points so when doing a partial divide selecting forward skip takes you to the relevant edit point, Film 4 does this too (shame there's no HD version on terrestrial TV yet) but strangely enough Channel4 doesn't.
The EPG, as Brian has commented gives quite a range of view - 2 1/2 hours - on the screen so less scrolling is required, a small touch but a nice one. To record something is just select the item on the EPG and press the red button. If it is a series it will prompt you to series link if required. So far using this method I've missed the start of only one film that was on late on Film 4. As they repeat them a few times anyway I'll catch it next time. BBC, ITV and Channel4 seem to be better at the start/stop broadcast signal as I've not lost anything from these channels, yet.
As for connecting up to the router wirelessly, one machine did it first time, the second took a couple of attempts before it
located it - surprising as the machines are located rignt next to each other, - but possibly because I originally had it wired before reconnecting the cat 5 back to the TV.
The signal strength is only 3 bars but BBC i-player stuff seems fine, not tried Netflix so can't comment.
Some have said that connecting wirelessly has been a pain, and I don't know why one took 1 minute the other nearer 10 so perhaps they are a bit flaky on the wireless side.
The lack of output from the scart socket is only slightly irritating but has forced me to finally replace the old tv in the
bedroom for the third machine. As this was the only place the scart output was used in my original setup to any extent, the fact that this isn't an option any more isn't a show stopper for me.
Some have said that not having a second SCART socket for input/output is penny pinching by Panasonic and yes it is, but SCART
was only mainly a European convention and as it is analogue is starting to die out anyway.
As for no direct RGB sockets, again not an issue for me but I agree with many others that Panasonic may have dropped the ball
The remote not having a mute button is a strange oversight as there are volume control buttons so I don't understand why there
isn't one, and I think it would have been more useful than the Netflix button, but each to their own. Some other buttons aren't naturally easily accessible either, but may become so in time as I get more used to it. Also it can be a bit slow in responding to commands from the remote, its only about a 2 second or so delay but seems ages when you're trying to select something. Again possibly something you just get used to.
The machine can be set to receive only commands from one remote so if you have 2 together as I do then this is a godsend as then you can't be using one and accidentally deleting stuff off the other. In fact they have set it so you can have up to 6 machines in one room and they will all only work on their own remote. Although a tv recorder's dream even I can't see a situation where I would have 6 of these (cost among others) and be using all the tuners to record 12 channels at one time.
All in all the Panasonic BWT-735 is an excellent machine with only very minor niggles, and as far as I can tell the only one on the UK market that offers HD recording and burning to blu-ray. All other manufacturers are loosing out because of this, I only hope the others follow Panasonic's lead rather then Panasonic joining the rest of the herd.
If you've read all of this review and got this far then well done. As I said at the start I replaced rather elderly kit with
this model, and unlike others I'll keep these not until next years' model comes out but when these too become elderly and start to go wrong or become totally obsolete.
So expect my next review on digital recording media sometime next decade when hopefully it'll be the Panasonic model with a 1
petabyte (1000 Tb for those who don't know) solid state drive, recording in 8HK 3D from any of its quad or hex range of tuners
and giving the option to record on uv-ray-v5 10 Tb disks, complete with 6 Month catch up i-player on BBC channels 1 -10, and all variants of ITV, Channel4 and Channel5 as well as the other 100 or so channels available by then.
OK, this is a fantasy today but in 10 years time............?
245 of 258 people found the following review helpful
on 24 May 2013
Just got my new Panasonic BWT735 today - 24th May.
Wow - that was fast - it was only supposed to arrive on 10th June!
Well done Amazon - as usual!
First impressions - unlike my BW780, BWT700 and BWT720 and all my other AV kit - it's not black - it's silver!
Now I'm not actually a fan of silver kit - I prefer black, however as it is to be placed underneath an existing (black) BWT720 it's not a problem as the opening front is tinted black. I know I'm nit-picking already but some people may like to know these things.
Another apparent problem on first switch-on was that it couldn't seem to update the programme guide programme name and descriptions after running through the tuning process. I may have confused it by running the tuning update twice, having noticed that it was getting poor signal quality values (4-6 instead of 9-10) being listed on the first run through and powered it off mid-process. The poor quality values were caused by an aerial lead problem which was soon fixed - but I may have then upset it by forcing a second tuning update manually. Then I noticed that the clock was not displaying any time so I checked the clock option (Function Menu - Others - Setup - Others - Clock). This was set to Off (why?) so I set it to On. Bingo - all the programme titles and descriptions immediately appeared! Fair enough - if it doesn't know what time and date it is it can't really decide what programmes are on - the odd thing is why was the clock set to off in the first place? I will put that down to my powering it off during the startup procedure - never had that problem with any of the previous boxes ...
Readers keen to know about the main improvement over previous models - the remote recording app - will be glad to hear it basically works. I have tested it several times (on Android devices) and it always worked - even from Egypt and Turkey - but occasionally had problems - possibly timer clashes but the error messages tended to be less than helpful! Further details in comment number 516 (Page 52 of the comments).
I will pinch the next few paragraphs from my BWT720 review from last year, as 90% or so of the information therein applies to the BWT735 as well, so it is still very relevant.
I already have a BWT720, two BWT700's and a BW780 (previous models of the BWT735), so I was well aware what to expect from this device, however I was curious to see what improvements had been made over the previous models, and also what things had been downgraded or even removed - as had happened when changing from the BW780 to the BWT700. See my 4* reviews of the Panasonic BW780 and the BWT700 and my 5* review of the BWT720 for more details of those changes.
(Some of these reviews may have been removed as the model is no longer for sale but you can still read them if you scroll to my name at the top of this review and click on "See all my reviews".)
Overview of Capabilities
For those readers who have never heard of this type of machine before, basically the
BWT735 is a virtually unique Freeview set-top box which has the following capabilities:
1) It receives HD freeview so your expensive HD TV can do what you bought it for -
show HD telly - without exhorbitant ongoing fees and forking out for new Blu-Ray disc
releases as often. And it upscales SD Freeview to an excellent standard as well.
2) It records HD Freeview to an inbuilt Hard Disk Drive (HDD) so you can watch the
programs whenever you like and as often as you like - in HD! (or upscaled SD of course).
3) It has 2 tuners so you can record even more HD programs than you thought! And it can be
playing back a third recorded program whilst recording two new ones simultaneously.
4) It has a built-in Blu-Ray Disc player so you can watch your BD's in excellent quality.
(3-D Discs as well in the case of the BWT700, BWT720 and BWT735.)
5) Its Blu-Ray Player is actually a DVD and Blu-Ray Disc Recorder so you can transfer
recorded HD material from the Hard Disk Drive (HDD) to a Blu-Ray disc. Very quickly too in
(the default) DR mode - like 6 hours' worth of HD material to a single (nominally 2-hour)
BD in about 20 minutes! And play them back in full HD with no loss in quality! Magic!
6) It can accept HD movies from a Panasonic or Sony camcorder (AVCHD standard) and copy
them to the Hard Disk Drive and from there copy them to BD for distribution to friends (if
they ever bother to watch them!). Again with no loss of quality.
The above summary was largely lifted from my BW780 review and is still true for the BWT700, BWT720 and BWT735. (Note that the BW780 is not 3-D capable).
By the way - I haven't just copied the manufacturer's claims for this device, I have actually tested and used all these capabilities on the previous boxes over the last 2 years plus, and I have also done a lot of initial testing on the 735 and found it to basically be very similar to the 720. If I find problems I will report them in this review or the attached comments, the same as I have done for all the previous models.
First impressions of the BWT735
Picture quality of HD Freeview received and/or recorded programs is excellent. I have tested the BWT735 connected to a Sony KDL-52W5500 2-D TV and a Sony KDL-55HX853 3-D TV and in both cases the picture quality is first rate. This is the same finding as for the BWT720, BWT700 and BW780 (2-D only in the case of the BW780) in fact, which all reviewers have found to be excellent.
I use Avatar as my 3-D test disc and all people pressured(!) into watching it state that it is absolutely stunning and agree that it is ghosting and flicker-free. Note that this is partly due to the Sony TV but of course the BWT735 also has to be good as well.
SD programs are also good quality, but of course they tend to look a little lacking once you have got used to the stunning detail available from well-produced HD programs.
It is worth while noting that not all HD programs are produced to the same quality - BBC One HD and BBC 2 HD are usually very good (unless older material is being used), as is Channel 4 HD for the most part. ITV HD can be very good but occasionally they throw in an "upscaled" item which is clearly inferior to the best quality available. To be fair they usually admit it is upscaled in the program description.
Recorded programs are initially recorded to the hard disk drive in the default DR mode. This means that they are direct copies of the original broadcast data streams, and are thus perfect copies - there is absolutely no loss in quality when recorded.
Copying Recorded Prorammes from HDD to Blu-Ray Disc
The thing that really sets this family of boxes apart from most others is the capability of copying recorded programs from the HDD to a Blu-Ray Disc. The BW part of the name stands for Blu-ray Writer, the T denoting Terrestrial Freeview (as opposed to Satellite Freeview). So for all of you who have lost treasured recordings when a Hard Disk Drive failed - you now have a way of preserving things on Blu-Ray disc (or DVD for SD stuff) for "ever".
Oh - and don't be fooled by other units that offer external Hard Disk Drive connection (as this one does!), you can't COPY stuff to the external hard drive, you can only MOVE it (i.e. it deletes the original), AND it won't allow a different machine to connect to it so you've still got major problems with hard drive failures. However if you have copied to Blu-Ray the discs will play on many modern Blu-Ray players, and there are conversion facilities available for full backwards compatibility with older Blu-Ray players as well.
Copying to Blu-Ray disc is simple, switch to normal broadcast reception, load in a new BD-R disc and it will offer to format it. Select format (only 1 minute or less to format a new disc) then switch back to the HDD and select Copy then choose the items you want to copy. It will warn you if there is insufficient space on the BD and allows you to modify your choices before committing the copy. If necessary you can also edit adverts etc out from recorded programs to allow them to fit on a disc - just remember to do this on the hard disk BEFORE you copy to BD as the disk space is not made available for re-use if edited on the BD whereas on the HDD the space IS made available.
This is one bit I really like - after starting the copy it gives you a continuous read-out of the progress of the copying task as it happening (or you can opt to switch back to watch another program - live or recorded as required). The read-out initially states that it will take 95 minutes or so to complete the copy - but after 1 or 2 percent of the disc is written it suddenly drops down to about 30 minutes, and eventually a full 6 hour's worth of HD video is copied in just over 20 minutes! Call me sad if you want but I do like this feature! Needless to say the copy is perfect quality - exactly the same as the broadcast original. And you can keep it for "ever"! (See my BWT700 4* review comment#35 for discussions on disc life.)
It is worth while noting that there are copy restrictions placed by the programme producers on individual programmes. BBC HD and BBC One HD are usually unrestricted - you can make as many HD copies as you like of their programmes (so far ...). ITV HD and Channel 4 HD frequently have a 1-copy limit - you can copy a program once from the HDD to Blu-Ray in HD but no more copies are then allowed, although the program remains for viewing only on the HDD. They can be copied in SD however to a DVD as many times as you like. For this the files need converting to SD, and you can do this on-the-fly while copying (in which case it is real-time - i.e. a one-hour program actually takes an hour) or (my recommendation) you can convert the file overnight (say) in standby and copy it quickly (10 minutes or so for a 2-hour film) to DVD later.
Note that the BWT735 will only record broadcast HD, there is no facility for copying professionally recorded Blu-Ray discs or other HD sources to the BWT735's HDD and back again - this would be illegal and is rigorously prevented by DRM protection. You can record AVCHD HD camcorder files to the HDD (albeit using a rather bizarre selection method but it basically works), and from then produce Blu-Ray discs of your holiday films to bore your friends.
The BWT735 has inbuilt wireless internet capability, but does not have a fully-functioning Web browser (in common with most other "Smart" non-PC devices). Instead there is a collection of applications which includes YouTube and BBC iPlayer (see my 4* review of the BWT700 for more details - paragraph Pro's #7). BBC iPlayer can display HD programs - an episode of Top Gear I viewed on my BWT700 looked really good.
There are other apps but I wouldn't rate many of them very highly as yet. Maybe in a few
months time there will be more useful ones. The basic problem is the lack of keyboard and real mouse input, typing in search criteria involves moving the cursor round a table and selecting individual characters - don't pension off your PC yet!
I haven't yet had chance to try the remote programming of the BWT735 - the only advertised improvement of the 735 over the 720 - I will try this ASAP and put an update in the comments.
One advantage of the BWT735 and the BWT720 over the BWT700 is that it comes with full wireless internet capability installed - a feature only included on the previous (+1) generation's top model BWT800 specification. The main other advantage is a larger hard disk capacity of the BWT800 (500 Gb versus 320Gb) but both the BWT720 and BWT735 trump that handsomely with a whopping 1Tb hard disk - enough for 272 hours of HD recording in DR mode!
There are some sillies with these machines that have caused problems - some so fundamental that people have packed them up and sent them back rather than try to sort them out!
One is incorrect Aspect Ratio display of HD 4:3 material - see my 4* review of the BWT700 for details of how to fix this.
Another is Aspect Ratio when copying HD widescreen material to DVD in SD. See comment #2 on my 4* review of the BWT700.
Another is adverts in the Programme Guide. Amazingly Panasonic have largely fixed this but see my 4* review of the BWT700 (Cons #1) for a fix which should stop partial re-occurrence of the same problem. (Actually this looks to be a non-problem now with the 720 and the 735).
Another is apparently bad Freeview reception, the most obvious sign of this being the box unable to pick up a reasonable number of TV channels, one user reported only being able to get 5 channels! This is actually quite easily cured in most cases - see comment #86 on my 4* review of the BWT700 or comment#31 on my BWT720 review.
If you don't have one of the earlier models then the rest of this review is probably not of interest to you. Suffice it to say that the BWT735 is a very capable device and well worth buying if you are looking for a high quality HD Freeview recorder - particularly if you also wish to keep some HD programmes on Blu-Ray disc as a permanent copy. The 1Tb hard disk is very generous, giving 272 hours of HD programme recording before requiring file housekeeping, and the quality of picture and sound is excellent in 2-D and 3-D. The reliability I have experienced from 7 of these devices over 30 months has been 100% apart from one minor fault on one cheap BD disc which caused a 10-minute loss of one film. This is out of over 300 discs written in 30 months. Despite the various minor niggles affecting only those users who may wish to record from other devices, I am going to go for 5 stars on this one!
Comparison with earlier models
In the interests of trying to keep this review brief (see my other reviews for why this is funny!) I will try to concentrate on the rest of the differences between this new machine and the BWT700, as that is probably what a lot of people reading this part of the review would probably want to know, and for detailed capabilities of the machine have a read of my 4* review of the BWT700 and its comments, as a lot of the characteristics of the machines (particularly the niggles) only become apparent after some time.
As I have remarked before, the manufacturer's blurb on these more complex machines are useful for telling you what the machine can do, but they are somewhat poor at telling you what the machine CAN'T do. For that you need these reviews! And the comments as they are frequently ongoing extensions of the review.
Out of the box, the immediate difference between the BWT735 over the BWT700 is the (removable) sticker which proudly proclaims "HDD 1TB" with "684 hrs Recording (HM Mode)" as opposed to the "skype certified" and "Wireless LAN Ready" stickers on the BWT700. Mind you, I would brag about 684 Hrs recording capability too, however I always record in HD DR (the default and best quality and most flexible if you want to convert afterwards) recording mode, but even in this mode you get 272 hours of HD recording on the 1Tb Hard Disk Drive! This is more than double what you get on our 1Tb VM TiVo - this is due to the lower bit rates of Freeview HD compared with cable, but note that the compression algorithms are cleverer than many other systems so you still get stunning HD quality. In fact I reckon the HD quality is slightly better than our VM TiVo (which itself is very good).
Remember that HD DR mode also gives you the capability of copying 6 hours' worth of HD from the Hard Disk to a standard (2 hour) Blu-Ray BD-R disc in just over 20 minutes. Now you may possibly get an inkling of why I now have several of these machines! The BW780 only had a 250Gb disk, the BWT700 a 320Gb disc and only on odd occasions have I run out of disc space on either of them due to the incomparable copy-to-BD capability of these machines. I don't expect to EVER run out of HDD space on the BWT735!
One niggle which appears to be carried on from the BWT700 and is a downgrade from the BW780 is the lack of provision of a full RGB signal to the SCART input sockets. This means that if you are copying from an external device (I have a UK TiVo and Laserdisc etc) into the BWT720 then you can only choose composite or S-Video interface rather than RGB. I have no idea why they chose to do this and in some cases I know it cost them sales - people bought secondhand BW780's instead of a new BWT700 to have full RGB external input quality, however if you are not intending to copy from an external device in SD then this may not be an issue for you. Ditto the removal of the DV Firewire input port - present on the BW780, removed on the BWT700 and BWT720, but only an issue to those with camcorders (non-AVCHD) who need to connect to a disc-producing device.
UPDATE 19/06/13 - just noticed another niggle - potentially a showstopper for those with older TV's!
On all the older models there are two SCART sockets, one for input from other boxes, the other for output to a TV. This allowed users of the machine with TV's with no HDMI socket (e.g. TV's more than 5 years old) to view via SCART (in SD of course) for the time being while they saved up for a more modern TV to get the full benefit of HD. It was also useful when viewing older material as sometimes the upscaling to HD on older stuff can result in unpleasant artefacts like dot-crawl and smearing etc and it is better to view via SCART. This is no longer possible!!!!
One immediately noticeable improvement over most of the earlier models is the inclusion of a live TV picture (and its sound) on selecting the Function Menu. It's quite generous in size as well - say about 25% of the screen, and then reverts to a smaller version in the new TV Guide. I mention this specifically as the earlier models didn't do this, instead carrying stupid adverts which did nothing except infuriate everyone! That was the main reason stated for people refusing to buy the BW780 (myself included to start with) and BWT700, however they missed out on a very good box because of it. I tell people how to suppress these adverts in my BW780 comments and my BWT700 review, but now it's not a problem at all with the BWT720 and the BWT735.
The improved EPG display also allows more program slots to be listed across the screen, for example it now shows detail of programs between 18:00 and 20:30 whereas the earlier machines could only manage 18:00 to 19:30.
The improved menus even stretch to the sound of the current TV program being heard even when in the "Timer Recordings" menu!
One minor improvement of the BWT735 over all the previous models is that the display on the front now has the channel ID as words instead of a channel number. Or part words - i.e. "BBC ON" for BBC One! Or BBC One HD ... Yes - really! To be fair - just after you change channel it scrolls across to read "BBC ONE" (or "BBC ONE HD") in full before finally settling down to "BBC ON" again. OK - maybe an improvement thought I - but (e.g.) Channel 4 is displayed simply as CHANNE most of the time so it isn't really much help at all! To be fair, if you press the Info button the info scrolls again on the front display so even if you can't see the TV screen you still get told what the channel really is! For a few seconds anyway ...
Hmmm - on further thought I think I prefer the channel numbers actually ...!!
One little "funny" I had noticed with the 720 is that if you have the HDD selected as the current device then select "Playback Contents" and "Video Contents" it switches to playing back an iconised (say 10% normal size) picture - with sound - showing the start of the currently selected item (as on previous models). Quite handy in most cases.
However if you have switched playback device to BD, this iconic playback no longer happens! It did do on the earlier models! No great loss really - but is it a software bug which may be corrected later? Time will tell. Panasonic do issue software improvements occasionally - the response time improved dramatically and various silly bugs were fixed on the BW780 via software downloads - and BBC iPlayer magically appeared (in HD no less) after a software download to my BWT700 so these things do happen!
But - so far - after 12 months - the above lack of iconic playback of BD recordings is still absent on the BWT720 - and appears to be still absent on the BWT735. Not really a big problem - in fact some users prefer it as sometimes the iconic playback volume can be very loud compared with the programme currently tuned so it can be annoying ...
To all users of the previous boxes - if you are happy with the BWT700 then you will be over the moon with the BWT720 and the BWT735). They have fixed many of the niggles (but not the changes which made input SD recording worse) and that fantastic disk space means you can record to your heart's content while on holiday and still be confident you won't run out of disk space! I think it's terrific! Keep your other machine as well for Xmas etc when there's loads on and you need more than 2 tuners. Sell off any dumb Blu-Ray players to finance it, keep your BWxxxx and enjoy playing any of your recorded BD's in multiple rooms!
It really is Super! Enjoy!
Oh - and check out any comments as no doubt there will be technical questions and answers galore as on previous blogs ...
Note that my review for the BWT720 contains an index for the technical problems solved in the 400+ comments in the first few comments of my BWT720 review (Comments 2, 4 and 6 to be precise).
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 25 June 2014
BUT you will not be able to play them on any other player than the unit you recorded them on.
The Panasonic techs were most helpfull but not one said hey you cannot do that on this product.
That is to copy a title onto a BD-R disc and play it on any other machine than the one it was recorded on.
Not one of the polite and ever so helpfull techs who offered all sorts of reasons why I could not play the discs said the magic words
It won't do that....!!
The unit seems to have some blocking code built in to stop doing what I purchased the unit to do.
However it does work very well with DVD-R discs but the draw backs are,
Limited capacity 4.7 GB so on a reasonable quality one hour of recording it is oh so slow recording.(takes an hour)
Unlike a BD-R X 6 speed, eight hours of recorded programs done in 30 mins.
So what do I think... I have been cheated from using this system by Panasonic to do what I wanted and nowhere did it say so.
All those super long reviews of the product dating back to the release date.
They may unblock the recording system one day but as a seventy five year old I can't wait too long.So hurry up!!
I have always been a loyal and very satisfied user of Panasonic products and will continue if they wake up to Joe public
their customer's requirements in 2014.....
I rest my case. A AHHH!!
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on 2 September 2013
A few years ago, I bought & reviewed an LG DVD recorder. The LG served me well, but a rogue disc destroyed it last year & I wanted a replacement. As I extensively use Blu-Ray R/W discs in my PC, I decided to purchase a Blu-Ray recorder to replace the LG, so I considered the options & bought this Panasonic unit. The prime function was to allow me to archive some of the TV series that had built up on my Sky box onto my 50GB Blu-Ray discs.
The unit just about set itself up within two minutes of switching it on, & within the hour I was archiving onto the HDD & Blu-Ray drives. I admit that I hadn't taken much notice of the Wi-Fi function other than to set up the connection. It was later that day that I started watching the recorded & live TV programmes on my PC & Notebook, & very slick it is, too. I was impressed by the way everything is set out in the menus: once you get the hang of the Direct Menu & Function Navigator buttons, it all falls nicely into place. The EPG is good as well & is simple to access.
If you want to use an external USB hard drive, there is the usual front panel port. One word of caution: for recording purposes, a hard drive of over 160GB is required; anything lower just won't be seen by the Panasonic. If you do archive to an external drive, it will be formatted by the Panasonic first & your PC won't see the drive should you plug back in. This may deter a few people, but don't forget that the Blu-Ray discs can be used as your main portable media if you want to view video on your PC. Of course, you can still play AVI files from a small USB memory stick through the unit: the facility for recording to a larger USB drive is a good idea for extending the available capacity though.
I am still learning about the unit, but every day I like it more. Mine cost £430.00 from Curry's & I see that Amazon are selling it below £400.00. At this price it is a real bargain.
54 of 60 people found the following review helpful
on 4 June 2013
I've been very happy with my Freesat Panasonic blu-ray recorder, now sadly unavailable; so when the time came to junk the two older recorders and buy another, this was clearly the one to get...
So how does it compare with the Freesat box?
Generally, it's pretty similar, with some STUNNING differences. Program guide is greatly improved - it's now possible to see a description AFTER a program's been recorded, and screen layout is much better. Moving between screens/options seems faster, the terabyte of storage is great; 3D playback is possible, wi-fi is built-in - overall this seems a really worthwhile upgrade.
And the STUNNING bit?
The built-in wi-fi allows you to communicate remotely, via a neat Panasonic app. for iPhone or iPad... this means you can set up recordings remotely, and even watch recorded programmes on your iPad! Lying in bed this morning I spotted a couple of programmes in the tv listings, and - without getting up! - set them to record. And then, encouraged by this, watched some previously recorded material. It was very, very impressive!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 29 April 2014
I have to say that it’s easy to use, given the huge range of options it offers. I won't re-write its spec sheet, that not what you read these reviews for. Instead I'll tell you about the two things I found disappointing. That’s not to say I dislike the unit on the whole, I don't. It’s the only blu-ray recorder on the market and functions well in all main areas. Anyway:
If you connect wirelessly and hide your SSID, the unit will lose the connection each time you turn it on from standby. You must enable SSID display in your router to have a reliable connection.
It cannot output WAV files (the basic audio CD file type and native format for most digital to analogue convertors). This unit could have replaced my Squeezebox had it only this functionality. I've failed to output WAV despite trying USB memory sticks, USB HDD's, using the unit as a renderer of WAV from my PC, using the unit as a server from my PC and playing back WAV rips on its own HDD (It won’t rip WAV without converting to MP3). My five year old Sony bottom spec blu-ray payer could play back WAV from USB.
In fact the only chance you have of outputting high definition lossless audio from this unit is via FLAC. FLAC can be served or rendered by the unit.
Why such a big deal. Well my partner has a 3 generation ago version of this unit and it will rip WAV, as WAV, to its own HDD. This makes it a very usual device. I find it unacceptable that Panasonic cripple functionality in this way. Players should evolve and expand their feature set, not decline.
20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on 29 August 2013
Didn't connect automatically to wi-fi, although connected with Ethernet. Panasonic helpline poor, claiming it was a router problem, despite the connection with cable. On-line comments highlights this a problem with Panasonic, as well as workarounds. Took most of Afternoon, and still don't know how I got it to work!
Internet apps, iplayer, YouTube and Netflix slow and cumbersome.
Remote recording app poorly designed.
Freeview HD excellent picture. DVD up scaling impresses on a 32inch TV.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 8 January 2014
We have found this recorder excellent. Within 30 minutes of opening the box, I had downloaded all the channels (lots), connected to the Internet and our Home Network, played a Blu-ray disc, borrowed from my grandson as we don't have any Blu-rays yet and played an AVCHD I had created with my video editing software. It wouldn't play previously on any players. We have since recorded several programmes and the play back has been very good. I also played a music CD and some photograph slideshows made over the past couple of years. If I can set this up anyone can - I am female, aged 73.
17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on 20 October 2013
Firstly thanks to Amazon for the rocket delivery service as it arrived the next day and thank you to Mr Brian Lee of Preston for his excellent and comprehensive review.
I have a complete SONY system comprising TV, 3D-BLU-RAY, PVR 1TB, HOME CINEMA and a HD SKY BOX. However I have been having trouble with the SONY PVR which keeps locking up (functions freezing)and finally I could not reset it.
I got quite fed up with it as this is the second one we have had in just over a year!! Before I bought the SONY PVR,I looked at the then PANASONIC PVR which had a built in BLU RAY RECORDER, however I did not like the price and the adverts which appeared in the EPG!!
After searching for a replacement I thought I should check again to see what PANASONIC had available and hey, presto I found the new DMR-BWT735.
This is real value for money as you get built in WIRELESS CONNECTIVITY, 3D-BLU-RAY RECORDER/PLAYER and HD PVR all in one box for £385 approx. if you check around.
Out the box it is quick to set up all the channels and you are ready to go.
Picture quality is excellent on standard and high definition, in fact it is better than the SKY BOX!!
It is pretty quiet and quick in operation using the HDD.
Simple to operate from the HDD as a PVR which suits me fine as I will worry about other functions such as copying at a later time.
I think this product is wiping the floor with other manufacturers, as it seems to have got a lot of the operational things right and of course a Blu-Ray recorder which you can use to archive items from the HDD is exclusive to PANASONIC.
So I recommend this as a quality piece of kit.