Electronic programme guide
We've berated Panasonic for this before, but the company insists on using the Guide Plus+ system, which shows adverts for various products as a way of generating revenue. It's not a bad electronic programme guide, but we resent being advertised to when we've paid nearly £300 for a piece of equipment.
Recording from the EPG is a very simple matter, however. Scroll around to find the show you want to record, press 'OK' and you'll be asked to confirm some details. At this point, you can choose to record to either the hard disk or a DVD, and you have the option of series link and manually adjusting the start and finish times. It's all very simple and easy to understand, even for the technophobes amongst us.
You also get some welcome features like EPG search, which enables you to track down a programme you want to record. This is very useful, especially for shows that you always miss because you forget when they're on. The usual Freeview+ niceties of series link and accurate recordings help ensure you get the programme you wanted, even if the schedules get tweaked at the last minute.
Single tuner doesn't cut the mustard
What the DMR-EX79 gains in flexibility from having a built-in DVD burner, however, it loses by only having one Freeview tuner. This means that you can only record one channel at a time, and you won't be able to watch something on BBC One while recording something on ITV1. Of course, most modern TVs have a Freeview tuner anyway, so you would normally use that for live viewing and use the PVR to record, but what can it cost to include a second tuner? We'll wager it's a matter of a few pence, and this is hardly a bargain-basement machine.
Our gut reaction to the Panasonic DMR-EX79 it that it's slightly too expensive. We love the fact that it's a DVD player, Freeview recorder and DVD writer all in one box, though. If you don't have a DVD player already, and want a good upscaling model, the DMR-EX79 is likely to hold much more appeal than otherwise.
In terms of functionality, we miss having a second Freeview tuner. With all new TVs in the last four years or so having built-in Freeview, having two tuners becomes less of an issue. It's still a problem, though, when it comes to recording two channels at once. Overall, there's plenty to like about the Panasonic DMR-EX79. We just wish it were £100 cheaper.
Edited by Charles Kloet