Panasonic is a leader in the market for Freeview personal video recorders with built-in DVD writers, and it's not hard to see why. Its machines are sturdy, easy to use and reasonably feature-rich. For most of the operational facts about the DMR-EX89, you can read our review of the lower-end but similar . In this review, we'll focus on the extra features that the DMR-EX89 offers. It's available online for around £380.
Added value, but added cost
One of the things we didn't like about the DMR-EX79 was its price: £280 or thereabouts. The situation hasn't improved with the DMR-EX89. You get the added bonus of a much larger hard drive -- 400GB as opposed to 250GB -- and an SD card slot, but that's about it. For those advantages, you'll pay about £100 more. To be totally honest, if the DMR-EX89 supported it, you could buy and fit a 1TB hard drive for that kind of money.
More storage for Jeremy Kyle
Because the DMR-EX89 has a 400GB hard drive, it can record 89 hours of full-quality video. This compares well to the 55 hours that the DMR-EX79 can achieve. If you're prepared to compromise on the recorded video quality, you can get up to 534 hours in EP mode, compared to 300 on the DMR-EX79. We'd recommend that you don't use the EP mode, however -- you'll reduce the quality of the recorded picture to the point where it isn't going to be pleasant to watch. Besides, as this machine has a DVD writer, if you want to hang on to shows, you can simply plonk them onto a disc and save hard drive space for new recordings.
Although the SD card slot is one of the bonuses offered by this machine over the DMR-EX79, you can't play video back via an SD card. You can, however, play both video and music via a USB storage device or DVD-R/RW. Video can be up to 720x576 pixels in size and up to 30 frames per second. The DMR-EX89 is basically a standard-definition product, which is understandable, as most devices like this can't actually play high-definition files, despite outputting at resolutions of 1080p.
The option to edit video is found on all of Panasonic's PVRs. It's quite a handy feature, especially on these machines, which feature a DV input. If you have a Panasonic camcorder, or possibly certain camcorders from other manufacturers, you can use the FireWire port to transfer standard-definition video onto the internal hard drive. From there, you can perform basic editing tasks, such as trimming a clip and merging two pieces of video together.