We've never seen anything quite like the Panasonic DMR-EH80V. It's like the Swiss Army knife of DVD recorders, with both a hard drive and a VHS deck busting out of its oversized chassis. Going back to VHS is like an 80s nostalgia trip -- you want to fire up a massive IBM ThinkPad and listen to Wham! for the complete experience.
In this age of high-definition, flat-screen TVs, it doesn't seem quite right, but if you've got some old programmes that you just can't bear to lose, you can back them up to either hard disk or DVD with a one-touch, 6-way dubbing system (as long as it's not copy protected, of course).
It's not a complete technological throw-back, with progressive-scan video and a 200GB hard drive justifying its high-end price tag. The hard drive will hold up to 355 hours of recording at the lowest quality, or 89 hours at a quality you'd actually want to watch. You can also transfer directly from a camcorder over DV and play photo slideshows directly from an SD card. As for vanilla DVD recording, the EH80V supports Panasonic's own RAM format as well as DVD-R/+R. It's a shame there's no support for the RW format though.
The EH80V is available now for around £600. We'll have to wait and see if it has the recording power of Panasonic's previous machines -- expect a full review soon. -GC