TV Recorder of the Year

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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...”

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