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Not compatible with Sony TV or digital receivers
on 4 May 2009
I'm trying to use this with a Sony Bravia TV (new in 2008). All I can say is that these two items are incompatible - a warning that isn't noticeable anywhere else; indeed Panasonic claims this unit will work with any new TV.
What surprised me even more is that it is not very compatible with digital receivers either. It appears to be set up to be its own Freeview digital receiver and cannot cope with Sky, Virgin etc. You can record via a Sky or Virgin box, but the recorder treats them as a single channel. This means that you cannot watch one programme and record another, and it even records information boxes that appear on screen, such as when you use the Sky or Virgin volume control or TV guide. To quote Panasonic's reply to my query on this, "In order to record from one digital channel and watch another you would need a DVD recorder with digital tuner connected to a digital box or an IDTV. ... Panasonic do not currently market a twin tuner."
Connection using HDMI does not work, which means that the TV and DVD recorder cannot be properly integrated. I now have three remote controls to juggle, and some functions require me to use all three at once. This is related to the VIERA function, which is much trumpeted in the product description on this page. I reiterate, this is not available if you receive TV via a Sky or Virgin box. The setup instructions assume you are using the recorder as your main digital receiver and are of no help if you are not, since all they say is, "Plug it in, switch it on and it sets everything up automatically."
I thought I was buying quite a sophisticated piece of equipment, but it seems rather rudimentary, especially considering the price.
I'm going to abandon my Panasonic and start looking for a system that can be integrated. I'm lucky. I can afford to do that. Can you?
[UPDATE APRIL 2011: OK, I didn't throw it out, since I'd probably have had the same problems with another model. And now the DVD drive has packed in. Just goes to show: with technology, if you pay budget prices, you get crap. But if you pay a bit more, you still get crap, only with more buttons and a fatter user manual]