The Good Relatively inexpensive; excellent recording quality in XP and SP modes; simultaneous recording and playback with DVD-RAM; Flexible Recording mode.
The Bad Somewhat difficult to use; no IR blaster for cable box control; soft recording quality in EP mode; no FireWire input.
The Bottom Line Panasonic's least-expensive DVD recorder is a good choice for basic TV and video archiving.
Now that DVD recorders have reached the brink of mass affordability, everyone is starting to make one. Panasonic was on the scene before just about everyone, however, and its entry-level fifth-generation model--the DMR-E55S--delivers some refinements that set it apart from the and of the world. First on the list: DVD-RAM allows the E55S to perform DVR-like tricks, such as pausing live TV. If you don't need this kind of functionality, if you already own a DVR, or if you find it hard to program a VCR, you should probably go for a different deck. If, on the other hand, you want the most features for your buck, the Panasonic DMR-E55S is a winner.
Editor's note: We have changed the rating in this review to reflect recent changes in our rating scale. Click here to find out more.DMR-E55K