Panasonic DMR-E20

DVD video recorder

PC technology takes another step farther into the living room with the arrival Panasonic's latest DVD recorder, the DMR-E20. Many home entertainment enthusiasts have been waiting for a device such as the DMR-E20, which provides video recorder features using a DVD disc instead of standard videotape.

Two types of discs can be used in the unit: DVD-R (costing $39) discs, that you can write to until they are full and then no longer write to; and the more expensive rewritable DVD-RAM discs (costing $99). Recording times will vary through the four available modes, from 60 to 360 minutes on a 4.7GB DVD-R or DVD-RAM disc, and twice that with a 9.4GB DVD-RAM disc.

The DMR-E20 has its own TV tuner, a remote control with G Code and the usual timer facilities to pre-record programs from television. This is where the similarity to a VCR ends and the fun begins.

One of the first things that caught my eye was a rotary button on the front of the DMR-E20, illuminated by a blue bar with the words 'Time Slip' written above it. The immediate question is - what does it do? If you press the 'Time Slip' button once during recording, it will start playing back the scene recorded 30 seconds previously - while the recording continues in real time. By rolling the 'Time Slip' button you can review scenes on a small on-screen window in one-minute intervals, anywhere in the recorded section. A fantastic function, which many of us have been waiting for!

This feature typifies the difference between DVD recordable and conventional VCR technology. Other similar features include the ability to start watching a program you are recording, before it has finished, while it continues to record, or simultaneously recording one program while playing back a program previously recorded on the same disc.

Connectivity is excellent via SCART or standard AV connectors, as well as S-Video and DV-Input.

Panasonic DMR-E20 ****

This device's innovation and versatility provide superb functions for home DVD enthusiasts and, though pricey, it is a must-have for anyone waiting to join the DVD revolution.

Price: $3299.

Phone: 13 2600.

URL: www.panasonic.com.au.

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Spiro Hionis

PC World

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