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If you're in the market for a dedicated DVD recorder, the Panasonic DMR-EZ27EB might well be the solution you are looking for. It's a DVD player/recorder with a built-in Freeview receiver, allowing you to record TV shows to DVD, as well as burn footage from a number of other sources, such as a camcorder, via DV or S-Video in.
The EZ27EB is not a bad looker. It's a little larger than most modern DVD players, but the black frame will fit nicely into most lounges.
It's unusual because it upscales regular material to 1080p, via its HDMI output -- sound is spot on, and picture quality is pretty good in practice.
We watched our special edition DVD of The Big Lebowski on a 42-inch Toshiba LCD and thought the result was easy on the eye. Colour was decent, and the picture had plenty of detail. Freeview upscaling doesn't look so good, though.
In fact, if you are buying this purely as an upscaling DVD player, you should probably consider another model like the Denon DVD-1930, which although doesn't have the 1080p upscaling headline figure, does a better job picture quality-wise.
The EZ27EB records to all flavours of blank DVD disc, so you don't need to worry about which format you pick up the next time you're in Tesco.
In common with other DVD recorders, you can watch the discs you create on a laptop, so long as you have finalised the disc first. That means you can watch last night's episode of Neighbours on the train the next morning when you are supposed to be collating that Web site traffic report or filling in an expenses claim.
Programming the recorder is reasonably straightforward -- you simply navigate through the 7-day programme guide and press okay when you find something you want to record. You can tweak the length of the recording, too, which means you can prevent overrunning programmes from being cut short.
Other cool features include the ability to play MP3 discs and a DV-in port for transferring footage from DV camcorder to disc.
The positioning of the buttons on the front of the unit is somewhat illogical. Over by the disc tray is the power button, and right over the other side of the unit is the eject button. This means that from time to time you'll end up powering the unit off when you want to eject the disc.
The menu system isn't much better, either. The menus aren't particularly attractive and we found them difficult to use. When you press the 'Function Menu' button, we expected to be taken to the player setup menu. In actual fact, you're taken to a menu that has different options depending on what state the player is in. At the bottom is an easily missed option entitled 'to others'.
Hard-disk based recorders are popular because they can be used to buffer live television -- they enable you to press pause, get up, have a toilet break, make a cup of tea and return to the programme without missing a single second. This is a fantastic feature, which unfortunately isn't present on this recorder.
In addition, this machine has only one tuner, which probably won't be a problem for people with a TV that has built-in Freeview or a set-top box, but for those using the EZ27EB as their main Freeview receiver, you're stuck watching whatever it is you're recording.
There's nothing terribly wrong with this product, and you can get some glory from the 1080p badge, but the time of dedicated DVD recorders has been and gone for most people.
If you do want to record a lot of content, you'd probably be better off going for a hard disc/DVD recorder, like Panasonic's own DMR-EX85 or the DMR-EX75, especially when the latter can be bought online for just £60 more than the EZ27EB.
If you do just want to record the odd programme to DVD, however, maybe as a favour for a friend or relative, the EZ27EB will be more than adequate for your needs.
Edited by Jason Jenkins
Additional editing by Kate Macefield