The Good Outstanding DVD-recording quality, with a best-in-class LP mode; flexible recording speed; chasing playback with DVD-RAM discs; USB port and SDHC card slot for playback of MP3, DivX, and JPEG files; upscales DVD to 1080p; VHS-to-DVD dubbing for home recordings.
The Bad VHS operations are a bit slow; expensive; no Blu-ray compatibility.
The Bottom Line Outstanding recording quality, tons of features, and a built-in digital TV tuner make the Panasonic DMR-EZ48VK an excellent all-purpose DVD and VHS recorder.
Editors' note (February 17, 2010): Panasonic has indicated that it plans to continue selling this 2008 model through the 2010 model year.
Thanks to the rise of Blu-ray, DVD can no longer be considered cutting-edge technology. But with Blu-ray recorders still not a reality--not in North America, anyway--DVD still has the edge when it comes to archiving home video. And because many of those who compulsively record TV shows have a pack rat mentality that dates back to the days of VHS, many of the DVD recorders currently on the market are combo DVD/VCR models.
Panasonic has two such models: the DMR-EA38VK and the DMR-EZ48VK. Both are 2008 products the company is leaving in its lineup for '09. The products are basically identical, but the DMR-EZ48VK reviewed here adds a built-in analog and digital TV tuner. In other words, the tunerless EA38VK is aimed at those who are recording from an external source (such as a cable or satellite box), while the EZ48VK can handle those duties plus it can record over-the-air analog or digital (DTV) signals with the addition of a standard antenna. The DMR-EZ48VK also adds some step-up features, such as a USB port and SDHC card slot for playing MP3s, DivX video files, and JPEG picture files. More important is the DMR-EZ48VK's top-notch performance, which gives crisp recordings even in 4-hour LP mode. The unit also includes our favorite feature, flexible recording, which automatically optimizes the video quality of the content to fill a DVD. While the DVD/VHS combination recorder is surely a dying breed (for the most part, anyway) in today's increasingly digital-only media world, we're comfortable recommending the Panasonic DMR-EZ48VK to those who still need a VHS presence and DVD-recording solution in their home theater systems.
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