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I'm not the most technically-minded person, so when it comes to machines, I like them to be easy to work as well as reliable. When we upgraded our TV to digital a few years back we realised that our old video recorder was: A) outdated and: B) not able to record the digital channels, so we looked round for something to replace it. Having collected a lot of videos over the years, some of which are of our kids when they were small, we wanted to still be able to watch them and also, if possible, transfer the films to DVD, plus be able to record directly onto DVD from the TV on all channels. We found this particular DVD combi recorder and it seemed to have everything we needed in one package.
Let's start with how it all looks. The machine is about the size of standard video recorder. On one side is the video player/recorder and the other side has the DVD player/recorder. There is a display panel on the front which tells you what type of media you are using, plus the running time. You can also use this to see how much disk space there is on a DVD, which I find very useful. It all looks a tad chunky, but if you can get over that, this is a good machine which is well-made.
The machine is connected to your TV with the usual scart and aerial leads and our machine came with a scart lead included in the package.
Setting up the machine is very easy as it has an auto-setup, which tunes it to your TV in a few minutes. Whenever a new channel is added to the list it will tell you and ask if you want to retune, though if you do this it will wipe any TV programmes you have timed to record later, so you need to re-programme them afterwards.
I like the fact that you can record from VHS video to DVD, and this is easy to do with an on-screen step-by-step instructions. The DVD recorder also supports all types of recordable disks, which is very useful. We use the DVD ram disks, which allow you to edit recordings without losing disk space, plus it make chapters in the each programme if you desire, as well as splitting longer recordings into separate programmes. You can also edit the names of each title too, then if you want to keep them from getting erased, all you need to do is lock them and they can no longer be edited or lost accidentally. I also love the partial-delete mode. If you record a film that has annoying adverts in, you can use this function to edit them out. We find the ram disks are very economical to use. If you choose to use standard DVDs, you can delete recordings, but you do lose disk space, though once they are full you have the option to 'finish' them, which the machine does in a couple of minutes. That then makes the recordings permanent and they can be played on other machines.
There are several different DVD recording modes, which include standard XP, SP, LP and EP. VHS recording gives you SP, LP and EP options. We usually use the EP mode, which gives 8 hours of recording on a standard DVD disk. The quality of the playback for this is excellent. What I like about using the ram disks is that you can watch a programe you have already recorded on the disk at the ame time as recording another, plus you can also watch the programe you are recording on 'catch-up', which means that if you delay watching something you are recording with adverts in by a few minutes, you can fast-forward through them and enjoy the programe much more.
As the DVD recorder has Freeview it will record all the digital channels. Since we don't have Sky TV I am not sure how it works with recording their channels, though there is a reference to this in the user manual (which I have mislaid), so I am guessing that it is possible.
The ease of recording is very pleasing. Planning ahead is great too, particularly if you go away on holiday and want to record something while you are away. All you need to do is go to the guide button on the remote control and it will give you a week's worth of listings for all the channels, including radio channels and the BBCs Red Button. You simply find what you need, highlight it and press the 'OK' button and it's programmed in. Couldn't be more simple!
Everything is operated by the remote control, which is a fairly chunky handset, though I like that fact and the buttons are easy to see if you have sight problems.
Once you learn what everything this machine does, you wonder why on earth you never got one before! I always like Panasonic goods and this DVD combi has proved to be an excellent buy and a very reliable machine. I'd certainly buy another if this one ever went wrong!
Ours cost about £290.