Panasonic DMR-XW300

The Panasonic DMR-XW300 is a very versatile DVD recorder which includes dual-HD recording and excellent DVD playback.


7.7
CNET Rating
7.4
User Rating

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CNET Editor

Ty is a journalist with 15 years experience in writing for IT and entertainment publications. He is in charge of the home theatre category for CNET Australia and is also a PC enthusiast. He likes indie music and plays several instruments. Twitter: @tpendlebury


The Panasonic DMR-XW300 stands out from the rest of the DVD recorder pack because it's Australia's first with twin high-definition tuners. This sort of product has been sorely missing from the market and we're glad that Panasonic has come to the party at such an attractive price-point.

Design
Panasonic is going the less-is-more route with the design of the DMR-XW300. Externally, it looks very similar to the DMR-BW500 in that it's a squat, slightly glossy, black box. While the front is quite clean and lacking in buttons, you'll find a number of inputs and play controls hidden under the silver flap at the bottom.

Like the BW500, the Eject button is also on the wrong side, but eject the tray and you'll find it is broader and flatter than most trays. This is because the player supports DVD-RAM cartridges.

The remote is similar to the models the company has been churning out for the past few years, only a little more confusing. For example, there are three buttons above the direction pad and while Guide is quite self-explanatory it's not immediately clear how "Direct Navigator" next to it differs from the "Drive Select" button elsewhere on the unit. Of course, it should be noted Direct Navigator is used to view recordings on the hard drive.

Features
In addition to the dual HD tuners on-board, the Panasonic also features a 250GB hard drive and HDMI upscaling to 1080p. The company claims the hard drive is able to hold up to 55 hours of recordings in XP mode, and about 30 hours of HD in DR (Direct Record) mode.

The centrepiece of any good DVR is support for the free EGP, and thankfully the Panasonic gives you up to seven days of programming. Setting programs to record, meanwhile, was a little trickier than other machines we've used as we found with the Blu-ray recorder.

The Panasonic also features a LAN port which is used to download track names from the GraceNote database and look for new software updates from the Panasonic website. Unfortunately, there's no media streaming or internet radio for this unit.

The number of connections on the DMR-XW300 is quite comprehensive. Hidden underneath the silver flap on the fascia you'll find an SD card reader and USB input for viewing photos, DV input and an AV input. On the rear this extends to an HDMI slot, optical and coaxial audio, two SCARTS, component and two more AV inputs.

Performance
Unlike a VHS recorder, the added complexity of a hard drive and an SD card reader means there is a little more of a learning curve to this player. But once you've got your head around some of the quirks and eccentricities this is actually a good machine.

Recordings were of a good quality in DR mode, and adding your own chapters is easy thanks to the dedicated "Create Chapter" button. We left the machine recording for 24 hours to see what it would do, and found that it split into four parts and called them all the Bold and the Beautiful. Oh dear.

Once you have your footage you can then edit the "footage" and rip it to a DVD. Unfortunately this machine can't chew gum and walk at the same time: if you want to rip your recordings from the hard disk onto a disc you can't do anything else — not even watch the on-board tuner. Also, if you record your shows in the maximum mode it will take as long to rip as it did to record. So, if you have a two-hour movie you may want to set it up before you go to bed. Our HD test recordings scaled well to SD, however, and would be almost indistinguishable to most people. Also, we had no problems in playing back the discs we made in other players — and they also come with a friendly blue Menu by default.

We were impressed by the Panasonic's capabilities as a DVD player, and despite its lack of high-end processing it did a great job of replaying discs. The Brontosaurus Stampede scene from the King Kong DVD is a solid test for DVD players because it tests a player's ability to replay natural colours and counteract noise. The Panasonic was able to reproduce the opening shot of this scene naturally, which we were quite impressed by because most players make it gaudy and to the point of overexposure. Flicking through the disc, we found that the climactic scene on top of the Empire State Building was rendered without noise and with a good eye for detail and colour.

Listening to music was also an enjoyable experience, and while it's no patch on a dedicated player from the hi-fi brands, it accounted for itself quite well. While the frequency response was a little woolly via the AV outputs, focus was good and the musical message intact.

Finally, in relation to some of the comments below: a) we haven't noticed any problems with recording large slabs of TV, at seven hours 59 minutes the audio and visual were perfectly in sync; b) unfortunately there are only two tuners on-board this machine, and when recording you can switch between them but not onto a third channel.



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Errol
6
Rating
 

Errol posted a review   

Only trouble we've had is that the EPG goes blank periodically, in one or more channels, and is then impossible to program recording on that channel. (Weird!)

MacMan
10
Rating
 

MacMan posted a review   

The Good:Pause Live TV, Record two HD Channels at once & burn/watch DVD

The Bad:Nothing

I found this to be better than TiVo as you can burn the recordings to DVD disc which TiVo doesn't let you. The 7 day EPG is good. The Panasonic remote can also control my Samsung TV, on/off & volume. So you can be one remote down. When burning to DVD you can easily edit out the parts you don't want. I have not watch a commercial break for the past year from all of my recordings. Get it, you can't go wrong.

mike
10
Rating
 

mike posted a review   

The Good:does everything

The Bad:nothing

no faults it is perfect

john116
10
Rating
 

john116 posted a review   

The Good:You CAN timer record overlapping times/different channels. Has to be set to record in DR mode.

The Bad:None

Great unit! Dont' know how I lived 38 years without one.

Mark
2
Rating
 

Mark posted a review   

The Good:Twin tuners, DVD recorder, great editing features

The Bad:No PIP, audio sync dramas, no vol. ctrl

Had sync issues from day 1. As well as audio sync issues, picture would blank out momentarily. Had recent firmware upgrade, audio sync and blanking issues not fixed.

ScoMac
10
Rating
 

ScoMac posted a review   

The Good:This thign does exactly what you want it to do.

The Bad:The on scree menu lacks some direction. I get lost at times compared to the simple LG menu.

I think this is a great pece of equipment. This does everything really well.

 

NME posted a comment   

The Panasonic DMR XW300 is a seriously flawed product.

Major Issues are:
Audio Synch Problem – In addition to my own personal experience, the web is littered with others experiencing this issue. Panasonic acknowledges the problem on it’s support site, but reports it as fixed with firmware upgrade 1.6. It is not – I have 1.7 and I’m still experiencing the issue. (It appears that this issue exclusively impacts ABC and SBS recordings).
Despite the Dual HD tuners, it is not possible to perform a timer recording of two stations simultaneously. The second timer recording kills the first. You can manually initiate a recording while a timer recording is running. However if you initiate a manual recording, any subsequent timer recording will kill it. It seems to me that Panasonic have thrown in a second tuner as a feature, but have not re-engineered the software to properly support it.
DivX and Xvid is not supported in any way (via USB or DVD). This is strange as older Panasonic models support his feature.
Poor customer service. No response to the complaint form, and a truly rude call centre operative.

Minor issues include:
You cannot watch an NTSC DVD while recoding a show in PAL (and vice versa).
No Mute button on the remote, even though it is possible to program the volume controls for most TVs.
Poor support for DVD playing on the remote (eg no zoom functions).
Very esoteric menu system for switching between TC/DVD/HDD recordings.
Loss of sound on TV when viewing the EPG. Made more annoying as menu items are slow to navigate.
There must be a one minute gap between concurrent timer recordings – which is exacerbated by the inability to timer record more than one station at a time. This Sometimes means missing the last minute of a show, made worse by commercial stations tendency to overrun shows.
On/Off switch and DVD eject buttons are poorly located.

 

Daz posted a comment   

The Good:Clear pictures finally!

The Bad:watching telly while recording to DVD.

Can anyone tell me how to combine different titles. I did what the book said and continually delete what I am trying to save then copy.

 

peteda pom posted a comment   

The Good:???

The Bad:???

ordered mine in feb 09 still waiting ....

JoeF Facebook
5
Rating
 

JoeF posted a review   
Australia

If you use a projector you can see the true difference from standard to High definition with this unit you will find that standard is better quality than High def. To me this is some compromise in the system of the DMR-XW300. Very disappointed.

If you use an old 4:3 TV you constantly need to go in to the aspect menu and change the settings every time you change channels or stop & start Record, by the end of your first six months you would have worn out your remote control and fingers ! Also the DMR-XW300 has no RF modulated channel for older TV's. Very disappointed.

To watch the EPG menu you cannot watch any TV channels. Very disappointed.
You would think that if you set for recording from the EPG menu it would add some extra minutes for recording just in case the program might go for longer because of commercials. No they have not done this so unless you add the extra minutes manually you would loose the end of your program. Very disappointed.

To me it is not worth the money not unless they fix these problems.


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User Reviews / Comments  Panasonic DMR-XW300

  • Errol

    Errol

    Rating6

    "Only trouble we've had is that the EPG goes blank periodically, in one or more channels, and is then impossible to program recording on that channel. (Weird!)"

  • MacMan

    MacMan

    Rating10

    "I found this to be better than TiVo as you can burn the recordings to DVD disc which TiVo doesn't let you. The 7 day EPG is good. The Panasonic remote can also control my Samsung TV, on/off & volum..."

  • mike

    mike

    Rating10

    "no faults it is perfect"

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