Panasonic DMR-HS2 DVD Recorder with Hard Disk review

4 out of 5
£900

For

Stick the tapes in the bin

Against

At launch, overpriced; no +R/W

Long live VHS isn't something you're likely to hear these days and if Panasonic has anything to say about this, the funeral's already happened. In steps the hopeful VHS slayer - the Panasonic DMR-HS2. A device that allows you to record to a built-in hard disk and then burn to DVD-RAM if you so desire.

Finished in a brushed steel casing, this is one of those products that will get plenty of oohs and aahs when you pull it out of the box. Put the power on and the front lights up like a Christmas tree displaying all the relevant information at a glance.

Controlled by an all powerful remote this PVR (Personal Video Recorder) system allows you to Pause, Rewind, Fast-forward and record live television either for “time shifting” - the ability to pause the program while you pop to the loo, or for viewing later.

The viewing for later is a simple affair and the device automatically stores all the relevant details such as time, date, channel recorded etc for quick retrieval. If after watching the latest episode of Eastenders you want to delete the recording, you simply do. If it's a treasured moment of television history then you can opt to burn it to DVD-Ram for further prosperity in the knowledge that unlike tape, the quality will not be degrading as it sits on the shelf.

The interface is fairly straight forward and allows you to tune things further. The player also lets you program programmes to record if you go on holiday as well as allowing you to create playlists similar to music players like Windows Media Player.

Those looking to get the most out of the 80Gb Hard drive can change the quality settings as well as recording at MPEG 4 quality to boost capture performance. There are four settings in all not including the MPEG 4 setting which can be applied to all of them and recording time will vary accordingly. The best quality setting will reap you around 30 minutes and you'll be hard pushed to notice any difference from live TV. The lowest setting (ideal for programmes you know you are going to delete afterwards) you can get a whopping 106 hours of recording - almost five days in fact.

Verdict

With an £900 price tag, this technology is not for the masses yet, but then VHS players where this much when they first launched. Overall this is a good player that does the business it sets out to do. The interface was simple to use and the burning on to DVD effortless. This product is aimed squarely at people without a computer. It asks you to confirm four times if you are happy to format the hard drive after a request to do so and because of this extra hand holding the experience is a pleasant one.

If you are looking to replace your VHS to record, this is certainly worth a look. Ridding your shelves of the cluttered blank videotapes and the phrases “is it on this tape or that?”