Pros DVD-RAM media makes this work like a DVR, Clear QAM tuner picks up the free digital and HD channels from my cable company
Cons Remote control takes some getting used to, I wish I could watch a different live channel while recording on another
Summary I bought the DMR-EZ28K in September 2008 and I've been using it for 5 months. I wanted to find a recorder that I could use to record television programs throughout the week. I have basic cable service and I wanted a recorder that had a built-in cable tuner that could also pick up the clear QAM channels that my cable provider delivers for free. I also preferred a recorder that would give me DVR-like features that would allow me to start a recording and allow me to watch it during the recording process. The Panasonic recorder delivered almost everything I wanted.
I was very happy to see that the built-in Clear QAM tuner found all of the free digital and HD channels that my cable company provides plus a bunch of digital music channels. I started out recording my shows on DVD-RW media which worked fine, but it wouldn't record programs from the HD channels in wide-screen format. When I switched to DVD-RAM media, it worked great at capturing the wide-screen picture I wanted. Unfortunately, the limited capacity of DVD recordable media does not allow the recorder to capture a full HD quality picture but it still looks very good compared to recordings off the analog channels. We'll have to wait for Blu-Ray recorders before we can capture full HD quality recordings.
I find that recording in "LP" mode gives me the best compromise between recording capacity and picture quality. I can get about 4 hours of recording on a DVD-RAM disc in "LP" mode. The "EP" setting is virtually unwatchable for me. If I need to capture more than 4 hours on a disc, I use dual-layer media - usually DVD-R/DL. The only problem I've had with dual layer media is that the commercial skip feature works VERY slowly. I have to use the FF button instead.
I highly recommend using DVD-RAM media if you want to use this as a DVR-like device. Using DVD-RAM gave me the best picture quality, fastest commercial skip performance, and the ability to erase a program at the beginning of the disk to make room for new recordings. With any other DVD rewritable media, you have to erase the last program recorded in on the disc to make room for more recordings. On DVD-RAM media, it doesn't matter which recording you erase when you want to free-up space for more.
The recorder does take a while to power on and off, but it doesn't seem any worse than other recorders I've seen and it boots faster than most Blu-Ray players. The only glitch that I've experienced with this recorder happened when I had multiple infra-red repeater eyeballs hanging in front of it. The recorder locked-up on me and would not respond. I had to hold the power button down for about 15 seconds to turn it off and then back on again. When I removed the extra repeater eyeballs and left just one, the problem disappeared.
The remote control is a little clunky and it takes some getting used to. The names that they use to describe the buttons don't match what I'm used to seeing on most DVD remotes. For example, the "Menu" button on most remotes is labelled "Direct Navigator" on the Panasonic. There are a lot of extra buttons that you need to use to delete recordings and exit from function screens. After using them for a while, I've gotten used to it. I did program the remote to control the volume and channels on my TV and it works fine.
The USB port on the front of the Panasonic is pretty cool for quickly transferring photos, video and music from my computer to watch on the TV set. I haven't tried the SD card reader yet.
I also have not tried recording any camcorder footage or VHS tapes yet. I hope to transfer some video to DVD in the future.
I install high-end home theaters for a living and I have recommended this recorder to clients. I have been very happy with it for my recording and playback needs.
Pros Great remote - works well with Television. Super quality upconvert of DVD's to near HD quality. Easy to set up programming, it does the heavy lifting.
Cons The unit has a tendency to freeze up and stop playing. Sometimes it locks up completely and has to be unplugged for 30 seconds. Firmware upgrade instructions were easy to follow but unit does not readily acknowledge the new load.
Summary We purchased two units to get ready for the OTA switch to digital. We thought that two compatible units would allow us to use RAM disks and move between the player downstairs and the unit upstairs. The units are easy to set up and have a great tuner and provide great signals to the TV. Unfortunately the units have a tendency to "lose logic" and freeze up. Often on a daily schedule. I tried pulling down the firmware upgrade from the Panasonic site. It appears to load but no difference is noted in behavior. When the upgrade is placed back into the disk drive it should acknowledge it is up to date - but it doesn't and reloads the driver all over again (or acts like it does). This was supposed to be the most stable player on the market at a reasonable price ($220 from Amazon) but it's not proving to be a champion.
Pros I like the good quality of LP recording, digital tuner, HDMI output, DivX capable, full featured for recording
Cons I had some issues with the non-intuitive text input for titles, resetting the recorder for playing disks, slightly complicated to use remote,
Summary This DVD recorder is connected to a Sony Bravia 1080p LCD HDTV through a HDMI cable. I planned to have this DVD recorder in place of a VCR in this digital age. I have used this DVD recorder since Jan. 2009 and have gotten used to its capabilities as well as limitations. The positives of this device include the full features such as the digital tuner, HDMI output, DivX capability, double layer DVD recording, The tuning does take a second or two, however, I've seen both faster and significant slower digital tuners so this device is acceptable as a primary digital tuner if necessary.
The initial setup does take a while especially acquiring the channels. Once that is done, the rest is fairly simple. Setting up scheduling for the device is simple until you get to naming the title where the text input design is time consuming. Recordings play well even on the LP setting with a fast format and finishing for DVD-RW disks. During playback, the commercial skip feature is less useful than the fast forward function although the setting for fast forwarding come in increments of 2x, 5x, 10x, 30x, 70x, and so on depending on the type of disk.
I have used this device to play disks burned on the computer and apparently there is a bit of software that needs to reboot for those disks but otherwise, .avi files can be read without problems although it would be nice to have playback for other formats as well similar to a previous DVD recorder I had.
The auxillary USB port is a nice feature for viewing pictures and videos but I have not tried the SD card or DV link.
Overall this is a solid piece of equipment that I am very happy with in comparison to a DVR.
Pros On-screen setup user friendly
Cons Freezes up. Has to be reset often. When scheduled recording is st, it wom't record somtimes.
Summary Sent in to Panasonic repair in-warranty twice and it still doesn't work. Don't buy it.
Pros Good digital tuner - at HD resolution
Good DVD 1080p quality
Good DVD recording quality
Includes many user-friendly features
Cons 1. It has to be off in order for scheduled recording to begin.
2. When recording is taking place, you cannot change the channel. Fortunately, it has an RF out that allows me to connect a coaxial cable (pass-through) to my 52" Samsung.
Summary I never paid much attention to DVD recorder until very recently, when I searched for a way to record HDTV programs off the air (I am done paying monthly fee for DVR or TiVO). And I seldom write product review.
I just got my Panasonic DMR-EZ28K from my local BestBuy who is willing to match Amazon's price. I was a little wary because CNet review says that it cannot output digital broadcasts at high-definition resolutions, which is incorrect. I confirm that if you use component cable or HDMI cable, this DVD recorder does output HD signal to your TV. Now by specification, DVD is only 480p, so naturally any DVD recording is done at 480P only.
So far, the HDTV signals are great (I am using a 7 years old amplified antenna from RadioShack). I have recorded using DVD-RW and the quality is great on my PC monitor, on my 52" Samsung LCD, and on my 26" Sharp Aquos LCD. Of course, don't expect HD or commercial-quality DVD please. DVD's specification is limited to 480P.
Aside from what others have said about this product, the user-friendliness and the details that Panasonic puts in are impressive. For example, when you are in your recorded list, it plays the chapter that you highlight (like video clip search result in bing.com). And as you select the channel that you are scheduling to record, it plays the selected channel in a small window so that you know whether you have selected the right channel - a great feature.
As far as slowness, I don't see it at all. With the QuickStart on, it powers up within seconds. When I popped Star Wars Episode III in, it starts playing within seconds. Maybe Panasonic has fixed the issue that others were talking about?
For channel switching, I have had DishNetwork for the last three years. The digital tuner is actually much faster than my DishNetwork DVR when it comes to channel switching. DMR-EZ28K takes around 2 seconds to switch between channels, as opposed to 5 seconds with my DishNetwork DVR. So while others are complaining, this is a significant improvement for me. Mind you, if I hook an antenna directly to my Samsung LCD, switching between channels takes less than a second.
There are two big problems I have with this DVD recorder:
1. It has to be off in order for scheduled recording to begin.
2. When recording is taking place, you cannot change the channel. Fortunately, it has an RF out that allows me to connect a coaxial cable (pass-through) to my 52" Samsung, which has a built-in amplifier and digital tuner. So now I can record a program and watch another on my TV.
I have not tried the DVD-RAM feature yet since BestBuy does not carry any. So I am ordering some DVD-RAM to check out the DVR-like feature next.
I highly recommend this to anyone, and am so glad I tried it out instead of going with the Toshiba DR570, despite of some negative reviews on this product. I am a very satisfied customer.