Most helpful critical review
103 of 106 people found the following review helpful
OK but could be so much better if they really tried
on 28 November 2013
This is the third Panasonic HDD/DVD recorder I've owned over a number of years and in each case I've had to get a new one when the previous one has developed a fault that seemed not worth repairing. If the faults had been with the DVD drive wearing out, or even the HDD failing, I would could have understood but in both cases it was the electronics that failed. I've always considered Panasonic to be a maker of the very highest quality products, so the fact that these products seem to fail for no good reason after a few years is disappointing to me.
Perhaps this one will be the exception - but somehow I suspect not.
All three machines (and I can't remember the specific model numbers of the previous two) have had very similar user interfaces, as if Panasonic feel that what they designed maybe 10 years ago is still good enough. So, what we have with this recently launched model, is a machine that does the job very well, but has an over complex, clunky looking, and at times rather slow user interface. If you are used to Sky+ the comparison is dramatic - the Sky box is responsive and very simple to use, whereas the Panny (which admittedly does a lot more than the Sky box), makes everything a little bit more like hard work. The fact that it comes with an inscrutable instruction manual about 1/4 inch thick, just reinforces this impression.
I don't want to knock it too much though. I chose the Panasonic from the limited choice of alternatives because I'm used to them and because I think they're probably as good or better than the others.
Some specific things I do like - compared with my older one:
- It supports series-link recording - just like Sky+ always has, so you can set a series to record and not find that some episodes are lost because they were shown at a different time, or that you end up with weeks of rubbish because it went on recording the same time slot every week long after the series ended.
- The "Direct navigator" list can stack programmes (again like a Sky+ box) so that a whole series is shown as one entry which can be opened up to see the individual episodes.
- The disk is slightly bigger (320GB vs 250GB)
And some things I don't like:
- On the programme guide, about a third of the width is taken up with a space in which they would like to show adverts. You can stop the adverts (google for how - it's easy) but you don't recover the space, so your programme guide is scrunched up into the right-hand two-thirds of the screen. It's absolutely ridiculous, although I knew this from other reviews so wasn't a surprise.
- It's still quite slow to switch on, go into standby, switch between sources (HDD, DVD, SD) - a general feeling of unresponsiveness
- It doesn't receive or record Freeview HD
- It just doesn't feel like a 2013 product to use. I've been comparing it with Sky+ but just imagine how it would be to use if it had been designed by Apple.
Overall then it does the job I got it for perfectly adequately despite some irritations. I just feel that if they only put some effort into it they could come up with something really outstanding - rather than merely good enough.