What is the BWT850?
Design, Connections & Control
Features & Apps
Freeview PVR Performance
The BWT850EB is better able to deal with timer clashes than pre-2016 Panasonic PVRs. Now, if you attempt to schedule more than two concurrent events, you will be flashed a warning screen giving you the opportunity to alter or delete one of the overlapping timers. It’s not got to the point where the software will offer you alternative broadcasts of the same show – like some PVRs do – but at least the warnings are in place. It also would be good if the software would warn you when you’ve set up a standard definition recording and an HD alternative exists, although the information is displayed at the top of the programme guide by the text ‘SD>HD’, that's not especially clear and certainly not fool-proof.
As we said when discussing the remote control, the DMR-BWT850 has some nice ‘time slip’ features. You get minus 10 second and plus 60 second buttons and a dedicated TIME SLIP button, allowing you to enter user defined segments of time to move around, in increments of one minute up to the total duration of the programme; for instance, you might have recorded a music festival but know that the band you want to watch didn’t start for an hour in to the programme, so just press the TIME SLIP button and enter 60 to jump straight to it.
There are some limitations with the 850EB, largely owing to its multi-functional nature. Pressing the GUIDE button during playback of a recording will see you dumped back in to ‘live TV’ on exit. Sure, it’s not difficult to resume playback at the last viewed point but we do still want unfettered access to the guide at all times. Another drawback is that you can’t easily pause a channel that’s being recorded without entering the Video Menu to watch it as a recording and pausing Live TV, feels decidedly sluggish and it’s easy to get caught in the trap of unnecessary multiple presses of the pause button but we’d expect most will get used to the hiatus reasonably quickly.
Display of interlaced content always provide more of a challenge to players and it’s here that we often see what a video processing engine is made of. Setting the player to 1080i and loading up both edge and source adaptive deinterlacing tests from the Spears and Munsil and the HQV discs revealed the Panasonic DMR-BWT850 was a more than capable performer. The player fared very well in edge adaptive deinterlacing where fine details were largely retained under movement with just the merest hint of jaggies. Of course a lot of that is academic if you have a 1080p display and set the BWT850 to output accordingly.
The DMR-BWT850 displayed due care and attention with SD content, faithfully reproducing all detail without incurring any of the ringing or artefacting you sometimes see. Deinterlacing tests revealed just the slightest amount of jaggedness under movement but generally directional filtering was plenty good enough and our DVDs looked as good as possible thanks to strong scaling.
- Near peerless archiving capability
- Solid PVR performance
- Perfect Blu-ray replay
- Great processing for SD
- All major UK catch-up services present
- TV Anywhere finally working
- Supplied unit was noisy
- TV Anywhere limited to 360p
- Expensive if you don't need the disc facilities
Panasonic DMR-BWT850EB PVR/Blu-ray Player Combi Review
Should I buy one?Before deciding on whether, or not, you should avail yourself of the multiple capabilities of the Panasonic DMR-BWT850, you first need to ask yourself the question – do I plan to keep, or later archive, the recordings made from the Freeview HD tuner on disc? If that answer is in the negative, move on to something else as really this box is overkill – and expensive – for your needs. On the other hand, if that is one of your requirements, the BWT850 is probably the leading contender on the market.
The build quality is decent, although the supplied review sample had an annoyingly audible hard drive but we wouldn’t necessarily think that was typical, as the other Panasonic recorders we’ve tested didn’t share the same noisiness. Connectivity options are what you’d expect including an aerial terminal, HDMI and both USB and SD ports for media playback and the supplied remote is large and functional. The BWT850 performs its duties as Freeview recorder with reliability and relatively few niggles, although there’s one or two things we’d like to see tweaked. As a disc player it’s even better with faultless Blu-ray playback and excellent handling of DVDs.
The inclusion of all the major catch-up apps and both the Amazon and Netflix services is another bonus and the fact the TV Anywhere service – allowing you to watch the contents of the hard drive anywhere you have an internet connection – now seems to have been fixed at the back-end all adds to the appeal; we would prefer a higher quality option for the video output of TV Anywhere, however, to accommodate those with decent upload speeds and strong network connections but at least it now works. The Panasonic DMR-PWT850EB is a very complete solution that comes with our Recommendation – just make sure it’s not more than you actually need.
Ease of Use Menus/GUI
Picture Quality HD
Picture Quality SD
Value for Money
Our Review Ethos
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