What is the Panasonic DMR-PWT655?
Design, Connections & Control
Disc Playing Performance
Standard definition & DVD PlaybackThe DMR-PWT655 will treat your old standard definition material with a good degree of reverence. Scaling is excellent and the player is fully able to detect the necessary film cadences and is equally fine at deinterlacing any video material you send its way. There is no apparent detail suppression or nasty ringing artefacts and when the source is good – particularly with high quality animated titles – the output of the PWT655 is about as good as you could hope for without getting a costly outboard video processor involved.
2D & 3D Blu-ray PlaybackAs with just about all Blu-ray players on the market, the PWT655 produces an exemplary high definition output in both two and three dimensions. Provided you leave it in the default ‘Standard’ Picture Mode, there is no unnecessary processing, no issues with colour or any unwanted, backdoor noise reduction. Movies shot at 24/23.976p (that make up the overwhelming majority) are handled flawlessly but even those rare 1080i60 discs provide beautiful images, thanks to the PWT655’s excellent video deinterlacing capabilities
4K ScalingIn all honesty, unless you’ve bought a really cheap Ultra HD TV, you’re unlikely to see any real benefit in the Ultra HD scaling algorithms present in the DMR-PWT655EB, at least with real world content. We could, perhaps, see a slight improvement based on a couple of test patterns against the Sony XD93 displaying 1080p content but if there were any, it was marginal at best and we certainly wouldn’t recommend anyone purchase the player based on this feature alone.
Freeview PVR Performance
The new generation of Panasonic’s are better at dealing with timer clashes than the older PVRs. In the event you try and schedule more than two concurrent events, you will be transported to a screen where you have the opportunity to alter or delete one of the overlapping timers, or even just keep it as is, and have one curtailed before it has ended. In an ideal world, as with at least some of the Samsung PVRs, you would be offered alternative times but at least you will be given adequate warning by the PWT655. As per YouView, and possibly others, we would also like to see the Panasonic recognise when a standard definition recording has been scheduled and offer up an HD alternative, should one exist. There is a little box at the top of the EPG that shows you the text ‘SD>HD’ but it’s hard to see and a pop-up message would be much better.
As we alluded to above when describing the remote control, two of our favourite features of the DMR-PWT655 are related to ‘time slip/skip features accessed from buttons at the bottom of it. As well as the minus 10 second and plus 60 second buttons, there’s also the chance to skip backwards, or forwards, in user-defined segments at minute intervals using the TIME SLIP button, which is really useful for getting through the adverts or through large segments of recordings/chase play viewings.
While the PWT655EB is a good Freeview recorder, there are certain things we’d like to see improved and/or refined. One thing that got on our nerves – although instances where it happens are relatively rare – is that you can’t pause a channel you are recording when both tuners are being used to record; you’re forced to go in to the Video Menu, hit the Play button and then you can. Also, pausing of ‘live TV,’ in general, feels sluggish and it can take up to three seconds for the player to react to the button press leaving you feeling as though it might not have received the infra-red command. You are also unable to alter any settings while a recording is taking place and using the EPG when watching a previously recorded event sees you placed back in to live TV upon exit; it’s sometimes useful to be able to see what’s coming on later or schedule another recording while watching one so we’d like to see this addressed also.
- Spot-on disc playback
- Solid Freeview HD recording
- Lots of apps
- Almost all catch-up services
- Some minor operational niggles
- Demand 5 missing
- TV Anywhere is very flakey
Panasonic DMR-PWT655EB PVR/Blu-ray Player Combi Review
Is it worth buying?Specifically, as a one box solution to kill two – and arguably three - birds the Panasonic DMR-PWT655EB is certainly one we’re very happy to recommend. As a Freeview Play enabled personal video recorder, the Panasonic is a steady and reliable performer capable of capturing two programmes simultaneously, season links and chasing play, i.e. watching a recording before it ends, with no fuss whatsoever. It does have some foibles in this department, such as not being able to access settings when recordings are taking pace or being able to effectively use the programme guide while you’re watching one but there’s nothing show-stopping or genuinely annoying.
As a Blu-ray and DVD Player, the PWT655 is even better with faultless replay of both 2D and 3D video and high quality video processing ensuring you’ll be seeing images at their best. The build quality and connectivity options are also good, so it’s thankfully near silent during playback and you can hook up to the vast majority of equipment with ease. There is also a very good selection of video on demand and streaming apps, although we were a little surprised Demand 5 was absent from the Freeview Play roster. All things considered, however, the Panasonic DMR-PWT655EB represents very good value for money with an attractive set of features and functionalities so is well deserving of its AVForums Recommended Award.
Ease of Use Menus/GUI
Picture Quality HD
Picture Quality SD
Value for Money
Our Review Ethos
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