TV Recorder of the Year
By ‘TV Recorder’, we mean personal video recorder (some say digital video recorder), as used for recording TV shows to watch later. While there are some pretty smart ‘go-to’ solutions in the PVR market at the moment, Panasonic’s third award-winner this year really does deliver something different, effectively combining five functions into the one box — this is not only a digital TV receiver and a twin-tuner personal video recorder, it also includes a 4K Blu-ray drive for playing UHD Blu-rays, supporting all the standard UHD Blu-ray features, although not Dolby Vision. This disc drive can also record to recordable Blu-rays at full-HD, or to DVDs at a variety of qualities — a useful bonus for archiving things you really want to keep when you’re running out of hard-drive space — though with a big 2TB hard drive installed, that may take a while!
And there’s more... there are USB ports and network connectivity (Wi-Fi and Ethernet) which allow the unit to play video and other media (including photos) from storage plugged into the front and back USB ports (also from SD cards straight out of your camera using a slot at the front), or over your network from shares elsewhere on a computer or NAS drive. This goes for music up to high-res audio, as well as video playback.
One final ability is to act as a DLNA server, and it performed this function brilliantly, serving up recordings made on the UBT1 as if from a network share, to play on other network players — very handy for starting a show in the lounge and then moving to the bedroom, say. Using Panasonic’s TV Anytime, it is even possible to watch recordings remotely (i.e. from anywhere in the world) on a portable device, although we found this tended to stream the video at rather lower resolution than full HD (those with a faster internet connection than ours may achieve better results).
Dolby Vision aside, this is as good a DVD, Blu-ray and Ultra-HD Blu-ray player as there is. It produces the best free-to-air TV picture available. It’s also a fine recorder (though others offer more than two tuners) with a large capacity and archiving abilities even to recordable Blu-ray. The $1099 UBT1 demonstrates that a combo device can be well worth it. More info: www.panasonic.com.au
JUDGES’ COMMENT “Not only a ‘jack-of-all-trades’ but also a master of each one, the UBT1 combines a 2TB PVR with UHD Blu-ray and a whole lot more...”