Panasonic HD and Bluray Recorders - Concept and Use

Gavtech

Administrator
November 2010 ( See later for updates on current machines)

Panasonic have introduced an innovatory set of removable discs recorders which for the first time in this class of machine, have twin tuners and can receive, record and archive, HD transmissions.

The range consists of six models: Three for the Freeview platform and three otherwise identical, for the Freesat platform.

The machines in each set of three are effectively identical, except that the lower model in each case has a DVD drive [and HDD], the two upper models have Bluray disk drives and they are differentiated by having increasingly larger hard drives.

This unique strain of dual tuner recorders record ALL off air material in what is called DR mode [Direct Record]. There is no choice about this.
It is unencoded, exactly as delivered, and when played back is identical to broadcast quality.

This can be saved to Bluray discs in this DR form and can be shifted to them at high speed.
Note - Players must support this DR mode to be playable elsewhere... and only recent Bluray players are likely to do so.

DVD discs do not support these un-encoded streams and so anything that you wish to save onto DVD must be encoded to do so...which has to be done in real time.

The issue arises because un-encoded transmission material cannot be recorded onto a DVD disc to make a standard video disc.

In the past, DVD recorders got around this problem by encoding at the same time as recording... which has the advantage of the recording being able to be high speed transferred to DVD as it is already in an encoded form...but has the disadvantage that recordings on the HDD are quality compromised by being in that encoded form... and are not as good as broadcast even when simply used for time-shifting purposes, and not archiving.

Bluray disc development led to an option to make machines which could use this DR un-encoded mode of recording.

This provides the advantage that recordings on the hard drive are as broadcast quality and can be saved as broadcast quality, and transferred at high speed, and remain archived for evermore in broadcast quality....AND the device can have more than one tuner which is an innovation in DVDR's.

Previously, that would have required an additional encoder for each additional tuner, which is economically out of the question.

The above are all significant advantages.
However, the downside is that if you choose to use legacy discs [ Standard DVD] then the material has to be encoded to go onto them... and that can only be done in real time.

If the original material is HD then the material has to be down-converted [which is done at the same time as the encoding ] to SD before it can go on DVD.
{This produces remarkably good results. It is actually technically better than standard SD and subjectively certainly looks it }


However there is an intelligent system to assist here to save you having to copy in real time.

Titles that have already been recorded to the hard disc can be selected and scheduled for conversion [encoding] whilst the system is dormant.

The machine will pick times, when in standby, when there are no timers due and make the real time conversion.
If you chose to use the machine in the meantime it will cancel the operation and try next time it is dormant.
The machine is effectively silent and does not come into the ON state for this operation.
The only indication it is happening is a small 'Copy' indication in the display.

Once this operation is complete you will have encoded copies on the hard disc which can then be high speed copied to DVD [ or Bluray]

There are also encoding quality settings for HD material, which allow you to make various quality HD BD's which have universal playability for cases where the DR mode is not supported, or when you wish to compress material to get more material onto a disc.




Using the DR Conversion System.

To convert, select the title in the navigator then choose Option / Edit / DR file conversion.

You will be given further options including the ability to do the conversion now, or when in standby, whether to include subtitles etc.
You will also be given the option to convert only, or convert and delete the original.

You will have to choose a conversion quality ... say, typically, SP to go onto DVD-R.

The number of HD copies you can make may be limited by the broadcaster.
The permitted number of copies will be indicated next to the title in the navigator.

When this falls to zero, the HD recording still remains accessible on the hard disc but can no longer be copied in HD to a removable disc.
You can still make SD copies of the material, and the number is unlimited.


Useful Links:

The Master thread for the Freeview range of machines is here.

The Master thread for the Freesat range of machines is here.

The thread concerning the transfer of Camcorder material to these machines is here.

The thread regarding Bluray players which are compatible with the DR Mode form of Bluray disk is here.

Update - June 2011

The 2011 machines have been released: The BWT700 and the BWT800

There are some important differences between the BWT700 and BWT800 that need bringing to the attention of potential buyers.
This is apart from the HDD size which in previous generations has been the only distinguishing difference. [ BWT700 - 320GB, BWT800 - 500GB ]

One of the differences is very surprising to me and shows nothing can be taken for granted:

On the BTW700 there is no RGB input on AV2! ...It is S-Video at best.
RGB input is present on the BWT800.

Only the BTW800 has an inbuilt wireless LAN.

An optional external WLAN can be connected to the 700 via the USB socket on the rear.
However if the USB socket is used for this purpose, it is not then free for optional connection of a skype communication camera.

The BWT700 has one HDMI connector, the BWT800 has two: A main and sub. [Viera control only available on main connector ]

The BTW800 has a 'valve amp sound' option. Not present on the BWT700.

As in previous generations, recordings are done in DR mode, but it is now possible to set a quality mode when programming timer recordings.

If a quality mode other than the normal DR mode is set, the machine will still treat recording and conversion to the mode as separate operations, the conversion done when the machine is dormant... but note that the DR mode is then automatically deleted when the operation is complete.
That may suit some users but it is worth being aware that it can reduce your options.
The method of manual conversion still exists if that is preferred.

The master thread for these machines is here.

Image of the rear panel here.

AVF Review of the BWT800 is here

UPDATE - May 2012

This seasons replacement machine (Only one machine this time) is the DMR-BWT720.

The master thread can be found here.

UPDATE - February 2013

This seasons model will be the DMR-BWT735.

Details of it's capabilities and associated HDD PVR/Player hybrid models can be found here.

If normal patterns are followed, deliveries can be expected about May / June 2013

UPDATE - December 2015

The Freeview Play system has now been added to new models ( 7 Day backwards catchup for some Freeview channels)

The machines are now all digital. All scarts have gone and there are no analogue video inputs or outputs.

The latest Bluray Recorder machine is the DMR-BWT850. Master thread here.
 
Last edited:

nickp8

Novice Member
Do you know if it is possible to upgrade the harddrives in the Panasonic machines? Thanks.
 

Gavtech

Administrator
Do you know if it is possible to upgrade the harddrives in the Panasonic machines? Thanks.
No.

Larger hard drives can be installed ... and it requires a copy of the master software disc to be able to do this ... but there is little point as only the originally specified size of disc specific to the model will be formatted and recognised.
It's written in the software.
 

asm64dx

Banned
No.

Larger hard drives can be installed ... and it requires a copy of the master software disc to be able to do this ... but there is little point as only the originally specified size of disc specific to the model will be formatted and recognised.
It's written in the software.
Can you say more about this "master software disc" ?

What exactly is it and how can I get it ?

Thank you
 

Gavtech

Administrator
Can you say more about this "master software disc" ?

What exactly is it and how can I get it ?

Thank you
It is the master software that provides the operating system for the whole unit.
That software runs on a separate partition on the hard disc ... so if you put a blank hard disc in the unit, it is completely and stupidly dumb until you add the 'intelligence' to it, in the form of that software...which comes on an install disc.

Basically, you cannot get it.

It is available to the dealer repairers only and will only get out into the public domain when someone leaks it.
Security is likely to be very tight, especially on these machines and I would not expect a leak for many years yet ... if ever.
 

zimbo000

Active Member

Update - June 2011


The 2011 machines have been released: The BTW700 and the BTW800
(snip...)
I'm in the market for one of these types of machine but getting confused with Panasonic's BW / BTW / BWT 700/800 etc model naming... but is the first line above a typo? The thread it links to is titled "BWT..." and looking around I can't seem to find any BTW models.

Was the first model range the BW780/880 and this has been replaced/superseded by the BWT700/800?
 

Gavtech

Administrator
I'm in the market for one of these types of machine but getting confused with Panasonic's BW / BTW / BWT 700/800 etc model naming... but is the first line above a typo? The thread it links to is titled "BWT..." and looking around I can't seem to find any BTW models.

Was the first model range the BW780/880 and this has been replaced/superseded by the BWT700/800?
Yes - My error ... and thanks for alerting me to it.
I will correct that.

There are only the BW ranges [ previous season models ] and the BWT series [ Current season models ]

All the currently available Bluray recorder models , both for the the Freeview and Freesat platforms are shown here.

Note - BW prefixed models are for FreevieW, BS prefixed models are for Satellite.
 

leedsunited

Standard Member
It is the master software that provides the operating system for the whole unit.
That software runs on a separate partition on the hard disc ... so if you put a blank hard disc in the unit, it is completely and stupidly dumb until you add the 'intelligence' to it, in the form of that software...which comes on an install disc.

Basically, you cannot get it.

It is available to the dealer repairers only and will only get out into the public domain when someone leaks it.
Security is likely to be very tight, especially on these machines and I would not expect a leak for many years yet ... if ever.
It would be possible to clone the OS to a larger disk using a "disk copy" utility would it not?
 

Gavtech

Administrator
It would be possible to clone the OS to a larger disk using a "disk copy" utility would it not?
Quite probably.... but the software will only address the data partition size which the model designates.... so others found on previous models.

I assume these will be the same.


It is worth mentioning that pulling discs from Panasonic machines can be risky.
Many users have suffered the discs spontaneoulsy re-formatting when re-connected.
I dont think it applies to this generation but it as well to be warned of the risk.
 

HMHB

Distinguished Member
If you set the machine to convert certain titles whilst dormant, does it still keep the broadcast quality version or do you lose that?
 

Gavtech

Administrator
If you set the machine to convert certain titles whilst dormant, does it still keep the broadcast quality version or do you lose that?
It depends how you do it and the choices you make.

If you timer record a title and opt for that title to be recorded in a specific quality mode, the machine records conventionally in the DR mode, then in a separate operation done later, it will do a DR conversion to the chosen quality mode and it will discard the DR version.

If you record in conventional DR form and set no quality mode, {recommended} then you will have the option later of conversion, at which point you will have an optional setting to make of discarding the original when the copy is made , or the default - which is to retain both copies.

Note that in the case of HD material which happens to have a copy restriction of one copy, once you have made that copy (in HD quality ), it can no longer be copied in HD form.
It does remain on the hard disk in DR form and can be watched in HD from the hard disk, but can no longer be copied in HD.

You can make as many SD copies of it as you like.
 

johngie

Novice Member
This is, as is all your advice, most helpful Gavtech and is hugely appreciated. :clap: I have just bought the BWT720 but will set it up in a day or two. Looking at the manual, it's not obvious whether you can set two timer recordings to be done at the same time (say BBC1 and ITV1 simultaneously). Can this be done?
 

Gavtech

Administrator
This is, as is all your advice, most helpful Gavtech and is hugely appreciated. :clap: I have just bought the BWT720 but will set it up in a day or two. Looking at the manual, it's not obvious whether you can set two timer recordings to be done at the same time (say BBC1 and ITV1 simultaneously). Can this be done?
Yes. No problem.

Good luck with your machine.

Generally, just try things you are not sure about and anything that is not possible will throw up a message
 

ncmoody

Novice Member
No.

Larger hard drives can be installed ... and it requires a copy of the master software disc to be able to do this ... but there is little point as only the originally specified size of disc specific to the model will be formatted and recognised.
It's written in the software.
Has the situation changed in the past 2 years?
 

gwladok5

Active Member
Hi Gavtech, this article might be the answer to my problem!

Quite simply I have been using a Panasonic DMR-EZ28 to record my Sky programmes (either on the fly or from the Sky box HDD) to DVD (or DVD-DL as required)
This machine has the added advantage of a basic DVB tuner which also allows me to record a programme "on the fly" if required

This machine has now packed up & I'm looking for a replacement to provide me with the same recording facilities.

The option of twin tuners & HD might be an advantage but does the same recording ability as described above still exist with the modern machines?

I'm not sure if I want to go as far as a Blu ray recorder as I'm not interested in writing HD programmes to Blu ray discs but I'm open to comments.

Your help & advice would be much appreciated
 

square-eyes

Novice Member
I've had any number of Panasonic recorders over the years and they appeal to me for their quality and ease of use. What does not appeal to me is the restrictions on what you can copy and play on your machine.
I have just bought the latest DMR-PWT530EB. This has a 500Gb disc and Blu ray player. This is in addition to my 2011 DMR-BWT700.
What I like about the PWT530 is the speed of start-up, the setting over the internet and the image quality. What I don't like it that it only has 1 HDMI. It has dropped the ability of playing DVD-RAM disks. Panasonic have pushed DVD-RAM for many years and I have a large collection. It also seems to start and stop recording from the EPG at different times to any other PVR. It chopped the end off two programmes last week. Panasonic help desk were not much help. (are they ever?). You can't play AVCHD discs. There go the holiday videos! There is no way to get any video off the PWT530 to any other media. You can copy it to an optional USB HD disc, but that is locked to that particular machine so cannot be played anywhere else.
I suppose I should have bought the machine with the Blu Ray recorder in it but that was 50% more expensive.
 

HMHB

Distinguished Member
Something just struck me about being able to archive recordings onto an external hard drive. That hard drive is locked to that recorder, but what happens if that recorder dies? Have you lost the ability to play back the recordings archived off to the external drive as well?
 

Gavtech

Administrator
Something just struck me about being able to archive recordings onto an external hard drive. That hard drive is locked to that recorder, but what happens if that recorder dies? Have you lost the ability to play back the recordings archived off to the external drive as well?
Yes. They die with the machine. Tyrannical isn't it.

Somewhere, in describing this External HDD function, Panasonic have used the term 'Backup' but it can scarcely be described as such.

At best , it is a temporary expansion of capacity.
 

Gavtech

Administrator
Update @ 21 March 2014

Expected in May / June will be this seasons replacement Bluray Recorder: DMR-BWT740EB

No information details about the machine are yet available.
 
Last edited:

Gavtech

Administrator
Some early info about the '740 here.
 

Nic6

Active Member
Recording and Archiving to Bluray
I have found that keeping recordings in their original 'DR' standard is the best option for burning to bluray.
The only benefit of file conversion before burning to disc is the finalised disc will work in any player and on PCs.
In the original DR format the disc will play on a PC but the audio is encrypted and cannot be found by any type of player.
A disc which has had file conversion from DR--->>HG mode will play on any player nevertheless the file size becomes bloated and the disc still CANNOT be copied, the encryption is within the menu structure of the copied disc.
BBC transmissions are NOT encrypted therefore DR mode recordings can be burnt to disc (in original DR format) and be moved to and fro to the Panasonic's HD at any time.
A 25GB bluray will hold 8 hours of recordings in DR format.
However if the files are converted to HG format (which many find indistinguishable from original DR recording) only 5 and a half hours will fit onto a 25GB bluray disc.
With the price of bluray discs so cheap the question is why register an external hard drive to the machine which can be corrupted or accidently wiped when recordings could be archived to disc? :thumbsdow
 

Gavtech

Administrator
In the original DR format the disc will play on a PC but the audio is encrypted and cannot be found by any type of player.
A disc which has had file conversion from DR--->>HG mode will play on any player nevertheless the file size becomes bloated and the disc still CANNOT be copied, the encryption is within the menu structure of the copied disc.
Just to clarify - HR Mode is not of itself encrypted. Other players wont play with sound simply because they do not support the particular sort of file structure used in broadcast video ( because those standards were derived long after the disc standards were set.)

Copying control and limitations are controlled by the managed copy element of the AACS system.
See: (Advanced Access Content System)
 

zappo

Novice Member
I only recently discovered DR conversion (Thanks Gav), I tested it out with an LP recording and it worked but when I converted a programme to SP and set the copy to Normal SP it would not copy except in real time. What am I doing wrong?
 

The latest video from AVForums

Podcast: Panasonic HX800 TV + Sony HT-G700 Soundbar reviews, movie and TV show news and reviews

Trending threads

Latest News

What's new on Sky and NOW TV UK for October 2020
  • By Andy Bassett
  • Published
Linn upgrades Majik LP12 turntable with new tonearm
  • By Andy Bassett
  • Published
VPI announces new Prime 21 turntables
  • By Andy Bassett
  • Published
Skyworth launches 8K Q71 TV
  • By Andy Bassett
  • Published
AVForums Podcast: 23rd September 2020
  • By Phil Hinton
  • Published
Top Bottom