The 320GB drive may seem rather stingy, but you can store around 80 hours of DR hi-def content, running to 154 hours with standard-definition material. Should you want to move material to Blu-ray disc, or reduce its footprint on your drive, you can re-encode it using a variety of variable bit-rate modes. The deck also offers simple editing tools that allow recordings to be cut and trimmed before preservation on disc.
The DMR-BWT700 is automatically recognised by Panasonic's 2011 TVs as a media-content source when they share the same network. This is great. You can look into the recorder and stream anything recorded on it directly to the TV without having to manually turn the DMR-BWT700 on.
But the recorder isn't a convincing media streamer in its own right. There's currently a big divide between the brand's TV and Blu-ray products in this regard. While the former offer excellent media-streaming capability, with extensive file support, the latter bumble around the network like characters from The IT Crowd.
When pointed at a network-attached storage drive, our DMR-BWT700 could only manage to stream AVCHD video content. MP3s play, but without album art or full metadata. If you have stacks of AVI and MKV content that you want to watch, you'll need to load them via USB or burn them to disc. File playback from USB is accomplished.
The DMR-BWT700 also fancies itself as a music jukebox and will rip CDs. Once a disc is loaded, it uses a built-in Gracenote database to find album and artist data. The playback presentation is rather pedestrian, however, with no album art on show to liven things up.
The Panasonic DMR-BWT700 overflows with functionality. But this sophistication is paired with a displeasing level of complexity. You will definitely have to refer to the manual.
Persevere, though, and you'll be rewarded with a high level of performance. From Freeview HD archiving to 3D Blu-ray playback, there's little that this box can't do. We particularly liked the addition of Skype to the Viera Cast online portal, and the recording options can be considered best-in-class.
Edited by Charles Kloet