Freeview recorders are exactly like arms. When you've got them, and they work perfectly, you take them for granted. But get one munched off by a shark or alligator and you're really going to miss it. The cruel vagaries of review loan periods, rather than animal attack, mean we've gone without a recorder for a while, and it's actually painful. Okay, not arm-munched-off hurty, but still, a considerable ache. So why not make sure you've got plenty of Freeview recording capability with the Panasonic DMR-EX79?
Where DVD recorder/hard drive recorder combos succeed and other Freeview recorders fail is the unlimited storage. Once the Panasonic's built-in 250GB hard drive is full of Neighbours and Jeremy Kyle, you can simply store the amazing daytime TV you're missing at work on DVD-R discs. That means, for a few pence a time, you've got a place to store those shows you'll watch when you get around to them -- for an almost unlimited amount of time. Thank goodness: we'd be lying if we said we'd never fallen foul of a full hard drive.
This being a Panasonic product, DVD-RAM is supported, which gives you some advantages over traditional RW media, such as longer life and slightly higher capacity. Normal DVD+R/RW and DVD-R/RW media are supported too. There are four recording modes, which adjust the amount of video you can store to either disc or hard drive. The more you store, of course, the lower the quality will be.
You can also rip CDs to the hard drive, and look up the CD information via the built-in Gracenote database. There's 1080p upscaling via the HDMI output, which we remain sceptical about, but we're happy to accept the high-quality digital connection between recorder and TV. You also get Navi Link, which allows you to search listings for a particular show. This is a fantastic inclusion that simplifies recording -- the Freeview guide can be confusing at times.
We've got an EX79 here, right now, and it's begging to be reviewed. So we'll do exactly that. Once we've done that, you'll find the results in our PVR reviews channel. The EX79 should cost you about £280 or so -- hardly an arm or a leg.