The Panasonic DMR-EX77 range are quite nice little DVD recorders and hard disk recorders with a few features that are hard to access.
If you want full specs, have a look at some supplier details, these are my experiences:
This does have freeview built in and on connecting it to an ariel the the box quickly scans for freeview signals. Even the programme guide is on in a few minutes (this is a list of all the programmes for each channel and shows approximately one weeks worth of future schedules).
It is a single tuner, so you cannot watch one digital channel whilst recording another, unless your TV is digital as well.
There are five or six buttons for controlling your TV and these worked straight away on mine. In the manual, it shows that these buttons can work with many manufacturers and lists most TV makes that these buttons can work with.
Recording is very simple. Use the TV guide and move to any future programme using the arrow keys. Press OK. It shows the times (which you can edit if you want). Press OK to confirm and the timer is now set. Couldn't be easier.
But what about weekly or daily recording? This box has a little hidden gem that isn't really highlighted very well in the manual.
To do a weekly timer for example, find the programme you want to record. Press OK. The information all comes up, date, start and end time. Move to the date and press the up/down arrow and the date will change; after a few presses it changes from "Sat 23/Aug/08", simply to "Sat" and this will now record every Saturday. A new box at the end appears and this is called 'Renew'. If you change this box it will over-write the recording every week (effectively deleting the old one) which is useful to save disk space.
There are a few niggly issues with the box. You cannot access the TV guide if there is a recording in process so you cannot add new programmes until the recording is finished, unless you enter all the details manually.
You cannot easily jump from you recording list to the TV guide or back again. In the list of TV programmes you have recorded, pressing the TV guide button does nothing so you have to press Exit (or Return) and then press the TV guide.
It can however, record from the AV sockets and there are a few of them. So you can use this to record from Sky or Cable TV. You could even you this box to transfer your VHS recordings to DVD.
It reads and writes to most DVD types so you will never really need to worry about buying the wrong ones.
There are plenty of different recording types you can choose from (short Play, Long Play etc) and the amount you will get on the disk will vary. The last box I had was from a different manufaturer and you could put recordings that had been recording in the best quality into a worse quality. So you could watch a film, then put it into long play to save disk space. Panasonic don't do this.
What they do, however, is allow you to create chapters in a recording. You can jump to any chapter easily during playback. You can even delete chapters, so you can edit out any adverts before buring to a DVD, if you have the patience.
All in all this is a good box and the signal quality it picks up is very good. A few improvements could be made, but then I don't think this is the latest version of this type of box that Panasonic make.
I would recommend one of these. I bought a refurbished one and paid under £150 for it. I think that is a really good price.
This snazzy little DVD recorder from Panasonic is quite simply a gem. It has an impressive 160GB hard-disk and Freeview PVR with a DVD burner built in. This allows easy storing of all your favourite shows. While more advanced users may look for a machine with more features, this recorder offers all the basic functions and features that most people would look for, and is also dead easy to use.
It offers flexibility by allowing the option to record to both the large hard drive, and also to DVD. The 160GB storgae allows for plently of material to be recorded (around 280 hours), and space can be freed up by copying shows to disc. The picture quality on playback is unblemished and crisp.
Four preset recording modes allow you to be flexible in recording quality against recording time. There is also a great range of easy to use editing features included.
This is certainly the best recorder I have used and I would be happy to recomend it.
Overall a good value DVD recorder.