The Panasonic DMR-HW100 Freeview+HD PVR sports 3D compatibility along with the maker's Viera Cast online portal, setting it apart from the crowd
With the Panasonic DMR-HW100, the brand returns to the digital TV recorder arena with a model that makes 3D its star attraction. Looking forward to a time when Freeview's HD broadcasters routinely broadcast in 3D, this slick timeshifter can correctly flag stereoscopic TV recordings to your 3D TV and play back 3D still images shot in the MPO format, but does it do enough to make it one of the best PVRs around?
Panasonic DMR-HW100: Features
The DMR-HW100's feature list is as broad as it is long. In addition to 3D recording, it also makes quite a song and dance about media streaming. There's an integrated USB reader, able to make sense of the more common AV file types (MP3, AVI, MKV, AVCHD, JPEG etc), as well as DLNA network playback.
Once online, you can also nose around Panasonic's VIERA CAST online portal as found on its TVs, such as the . Currently you'll find the likes of YouTube, DailyMotion, Twitter, Acetrax and BBC News – but no iPlayer. Things are changing fast though when it comes to content, and we expect it to pop up there sooner or later.
The deck can also function as a media jukebox, allowing you to copy MP3s and images to the hard drive. And if you really can't get enough of wearing those silly glasses, the DMR-HW100 will also convert 2D telly into faux 3D.
Panasonic DMR-HW100: Design
With its characteristic smoked fascia, the DMR-HW100 wears regulation Panasonic duds. It's acceptably slim and has a classic, conservative look. Given that so many digital recorders come in wacky non-standard shapes, making them a nightmare to rack, such conformity is a blessed relief. The unit ships with a standard Panasonic zapper.
Given just how complicated the Panasonic's Blu-ray recorders are to drive, this PVR is refreshingly simple. Navigation is straightforward, and there're some nice graphical touches to the user interface. The overall vibe is of quiet sophistication.
Panasonic DMR-HW100: Specs
Rear-facing connections comprise a 3D-compatible HDMI, phono stereo and optical digital audio outputs, RF loopthrough and Ethernet. Under a fascia flap sits an SD card reader, CI slot and USB input. While Wi-Fi isn't integrated, the unit is compatible with Panasonic's own dongle. There's also a dedicated port for a Skype webcam.
Benaeth the hood you'll find a 320GB hard drive, which equates to around 80 hours of HDTV. This isn't a massively generous allocation, given that the competition tends to offer 500GB, but clearly Panasonic hopes to win us over with its 3D functionality.
Panasonic DMR-HW100: Performance
Image quality is top-notch. Recordings made from Freeview's HD channel elite look sublime. BBC One HD's The Frozen Planet is as crisp as an iceberg and colour fidelity is excellent.
The deck's dimensional talents also get a thumbs up. Regardless of the stock you put in 2D-to-3D tech, this deck makes a decent job of depth-converting flat content. The results are variable, but given a suitable HD source, it's possible to get quite convincing effects.
Panasonic DMR-HW100: Verdict
While we're not sure if Panasonic's faith in 3D is misplaced or inspired, having it built into this PVR at least ensures you'll be ahead of the curve come London's 3D-centric Olympics. As a regular PVR it's comparable with the best, although its IPTV service is now playing catch-up to its rivals. Overall, we rate the DMR-HW100 as an expensive but classy recorder.
Panasonic DMR-HW100 availability: Available now.
Panasonic DMR-HW100 price: £299