Panasonic DMR-E500: Test and Review

While previous DVD recorders of the Japanese manufacturer had done nothing wrong from a technical point of view, they fished with a user interface for the less difficult to grasp for non-specialists in image and sound. With the DMR-E500, engineers brand complement the high-end performance with easier access menus for who does not want to spend his weekends nose in a manual rather dense.

The first contact is rather pleasant. Its wide facade hides behind a flap dressed in mirror, the disc loading tray and the large display, easy to read, which indicates regardless of the TV screen, most current information of the operation of the machine. It will be appreciated especially the presence of a pair of SD card readers and PC that will greatly facilitate the transfer of photos from a digital camera or camera. It is possible to select, organize and save its files to Jpeg and Tiff formats to flash, without going through a CD-Rom, directly on the hard drive of the device before burn them to a DVD. Shallow, Panasonic will not clutter your TV stand too, but it will still be careful to give her room to breathe through the monstrous fan to the gray plastic grille to the rear of the housing. Bad taste on a camera in this category will be forgiven by the presence of a hard disk of high capacity 400GB, the largest currently available on the market, which allows up to 709 hours of recording maximum compression.

Technology and impressive capabilities

To complete this giant storage unit, Panasonic continues to build, like his predecessors, to a limited compatibility with recording to DVD-RAM and DVD-R, and that’s all. If the DVD-R is now well known and recognized by most home DVD players, it is not the same for the DVD-RAM, which is the prerogative of the Japanese brand. Yet the choice of the latter is not without benefit, although its compatibility with the outside world is almost nonexistent. First, it allows, as with DVD-RW or hard disk to record and watch one program simultaneously on the same disc and thus enjoy the “time slip”. It is also particularly suited to high speed copies (3x) a program from the hard drive. It is also one that has the biggest storage capacity, even more than with a DVD Dual double-layer mode, since the DVD-RAM can hold 9.4GB of data on both its sides. Finally, it is considered one of the solid supports in the time among all blank DVD disc formats currently available.

But the technical features of the Panasonic did not stop there. It offers innovative options that will not leave insensitive high technology enthusiasts who want to enjoy their pictures all over the house. The Panasonic DMR-E500 is actually an Ethernet jack that allows integration within a network from your computer or a second unit of the DIGA range of the manufacturer. Domestic resulting network allows the exchange of images between the recorder and a computer as well as creating streaming lists all devices integrated in the network created. All simply requires a LAN interface preinstalled on your computer and allows playback of MPeg-4 files, provided you are also connected to the internet. If the input video converters benefit from treatment 10 bit / 54 MHz, playback of your images has not been neglected since the Panasonic has a deinterlacing video circuit that offers a progressive signal on YUV component outputs of the device for optimal quality and image detail on a projector or plasma display. There are also input / output SCART RGB, S-video and composite rear, while the front features in addition to these two standards, taking a miniDV (Firewire) for transfer and browsing your images from a digital camcorder.

To complement the high-end features of the recorder, Panasonic has also thought to incorporate Dolby Digital, DTS and DVD Audio decoders that allow you to access to multi-channel sound directly from the six analog outputs in RCA format that are back of the device. Height of luxury, the DMR-E500 even incorporates HDCD decoder chip which allows playback of 20-bit CD that benefited from this technology at the time of “mastering” for optimal sound quality. The digital / analog conversion of audio signals is 24 bit / 192 kHz on the main tracks and 24-bit / 96 kHz when using the device on all six channels available. It is also possible to recover the optical digital audio signal to connect the Panasonic to a decoder / home theater amplifier, as with an ordinary home DVD player.

Performance and usability

Like most of its competitors, the DMR-E500 offers multiple programming options, more or less assisted through the program guide system “TV Guide On Screen” unfortunately not available on the programs of our continent. In terms of recording, the Panasonic offers five different video compression modes, favoring instead the choice available and the quality, not to mention the VBR (Variable Bit Rate) which leaves the machine to optimize the care itself the flow of information according to the space available on DVD or on the HDD. It is also possible to configure everything yourself until the time error checker, which maintains a smooth and stable image even when it is highly compressed. In terms of earnings, Panasonic has not ashamed to face the competition and demonstrates that the manufacturer controls his subject. If the image is strictly identical to the original minimal compression mode, it degrades very slowly As you’re looking to save space, without losing overall coherence. The backgrounds are not as crisp and the colors sometimes lack a little fishing, but all remains perfectly readable and satisfying to the fourth of the five compression levels available. This must be considered a rescue mode, use only when nowhere more space left to save your images! In usability, despite the remote as ugly as impractical, Panasonic has made progress compared to its predecessors. We can not say that the menus are particularly aesthetic, but it is no longer necessary to be an engineer to use it, as long as one does not try to nit … Regrettably however the latency time of exasperating management of the hard drive while enjoying a small thumbnail display system that makes it easy to navigate when the hard disk is full.

In reading, the Panasonic stalled over some of its competitors. The picture is good, not great and may seem a bit bland and dark on a video projector. Please note, the sharpness is still waiting for you, but on a camera in this category, we expect higher quality video output converters. In all cases, the preferred RGB output via scart or better yet progressive YUV output to make the most of the camera while noting that Panasonic offers audio outputs just fine, which is not always if the DVD recorders.