The Panasonic DMR-PWT550 is a Blu-ray player and a hard-disk encoder, but that’s not the main selling point of the unit. It is one of the first to incorporate Freeview Play. It is a new connected TV platform which combines catch-up TV and live broadcasts in a single EPG. It works in a similar fashion as with Freesat’s Freetime and YouView as it will allow viewers to scroll back up to seven days to stream programs from numerous services such as ITV Hub and BBC player. With the DMR-PWT550, it does ass the functionality of streaming TV to other devices around your home.
The Panasonic DMR-PWT550 Lets You Watch Blu-ray Movies and Catch up TV From Connected Devices
Aside from the Panasonic DMR-PWT550 having Freeview Play, it also comes with a good list of recording features. Such features include twin Freeview HD tuners and series link, a 500GB hard disk, and it’s a fully-fledged 3D Blu-ray deck with 4K upscaling.
Much like the company’s other recorders, it takes on a functional approach to a modern design. It is a plain black set-top box that has a plastic flap hiding the disc tray and a USB port. There is also a scrolling LED display which shines through said flap. The display will show information such as the selected channels and functions. There is a silver strip running the width of the box which is perhaps the only eye-catchy design feature of the unit.
While it may not be the most appealing set-top box in the market, it is certainly solidly built. It is made from sturdy aluminum, but the front plastic flap does feel a bit on the flimsy side. Its dimensions measure in at 430-millimeters in width by 59-millimeters in height. It is a bit chunkier than your average Blu-ray player, but it can still fit into an AV rack quite easily.
Going into the Freeview Play EPG and you will be greeted with a very eye-catchy and also practical menu. Menu items and selections are crammed into a single page but it does not feel cluttered. The screen is mostly filled with the program grid which will show seven channels at a time over a 2-hour period. Each of the programs are listed as a thick gray bar, and a program will be highlighted in orange when it is selected.
However, the navigation around the menu is sluggish and there is a very annoying lag when you move the cursor around the grid. This can let users frequently select the wrong program. Also, the grid can populate quite a while if you move around quickly. Therefore, it may take ages for you to reach your favored HD channels.
While the Panasonic DMR-PWT550 is a fantastic machine in more ways than one as it gives a generous list of features, there are some restrictions, lags and niggles that users can experience. Because of these shortcomings, it falls short for achieving top marks.