One of our predictions for CES 2008 was that DVD recorders with ATSC tuners would get a couple of key features upgrades that take full advantage of the built-in digital tuner. Well, if Panasonic's new line of DVD recorders is any indication, we were wrong.
Despite some significant clamoring for a DVD recorder with a hard drive, the new Panasonic Diga line of DVD recorders includes only two standard DVD recorders, plus two DVD/VHS recorder combo units. There's also no mention of a few features we were hoping for: true HD output for ATSC programming, an EPG that pulls content data embedded in the ATSC signal, and an IR blaster to control other gear, such as a cable or satellite box.
While that's a lot of doom and gloom about the upcoming units, they'll still work perfectly fine for the standard usage of archiving content to DVD. As usual, all of the Panasonic recorders support all of the recordable DVD formats, including DVD-RAM. Also note that Panasonic is offering two models, the DMR-EA18 and DMR-EA38V, that lack a tuner of any kind--which is a nice option for those who are going to use the units with a cable/satellite box and want to save some money. Additionally, we anticipate that the recorders will include Panasonic's standard array of features, including flexible recording length, an outstanding LP recording mode and chasing playback on DVD-RAM discs.The DMR-EA18 ($180), DMR-EZ28 ($230), DMR-EZ38V ($250), and DMR-EZ48V ($300) DVD recorders are all scheduled to be released in April. Below is the full chart of the Diga recorders' features from the Panasonic press release: