Panasonic DMR-HW220 set top box

Panasonic’s first PVR is impressively easy to use

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  • User Reviews (2)
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Panasonic DMR-HW220
  • Expert Rating

    4.00 / 5
  • User Rating

    3.00 / 5 (of 2 Reviews)

Pros

  • Fast operation
  • Accessible interface
  • Plenty of hard drive space

Cons

  • VIERA Connect is inferior to Samsung and LG

Bottom Line

The DMR-HW220 is the first dedicated set-top box from Panasonic, and it handles basic set-top box duties very well. Its Internet features are reasonable, but more useful is its capacious hard drive and smooth and simple operation.

Would you buy this?

The Panasonic DMR-HW220 is basically a DMR-BWT820 Blu-ray recorder with the Blu-ray drive cut out. It’s much cheaper, and retains the high quality internal TV tuners and simple interface that we liked about the BWT820.

Panasonic DMR-HW220: Design and setup

From the front, the HW220 and its BWT820 big brother are almost indistinguishable. They both have the same mirrored, flip-down front fascia that covers a single-line LCD screen, USB and SD card ports. There’s no Blu-ray player on the DMR-HW220, so the space reserved for the disc tray is conspicuously blank.

The front panel also has basic channel and playback controls, which might come in handy if the remote goes walkabout and you can’t control the DMR-HW220 over VIERA Link (using another Panasonic device’s remote when connected via HDMI).

Identically to the DMR-BWT820, the Panasonic DMR-HW220 has a single HDMI output, composite video output, surround digital and stereo analog audio output, a USB port and antenna input and output terminals. It also has Wi-Fi built-in, so there are multiple ways to connect to your home network and the Internet.

From the moment you turn it on, this is a set-top box that is helpful but unobtrusive in the way that it operates. A simple setup process — scan for channels, set up your network, then go straight to watching TV — isn’t at all technical or confusing. We’d happily leave a Luddite to set up the DMR-HW220; it’s far less complicated to set up than a TiVo, for example.

Panasonic DMR-HW220: Operation and performance

As we’ve mentioned earlier, the Panasonic DMR-HW220 is a very simple set-top box. The blue-and-white user interface is clearly laid out, and the electronic program guide especially is very easy to understand and navigate through. It’s got plenty of different features integrated, but the HW220 doesn’t force them on you at every turn — it’s perfectly content to just be a set-top box and show you an intuitive, well-engineered channel guide.

Changing channels is a quick process, whether you’re recording a program on the secondary tuner or not. We were able to change channels in under two seconds consistently, which is our benchmark for a quick TV tuner. Anything longer than two beats starts to feel slow, so we’re happy that Panasonic’s digital TV implementation is speedy.

The internal 1TB hard drive can handle over a month’s worth of non-stop HD video recordings. This is heaps; it’s got six times the storage of a standard TiVo HD set-top box, for example. If you’re at all capable of deleting recordings once you’ve watched them, we sincerely doubt you’ll encounter many or any problems with the hard drive space in the DMR-HW220.

It can record two programs at once on the twin tuner, saving them to the hard drive in uncompressed Direct Recording mode for the best possible quality. This will only net you 140 hours of recording time, which is still plenty in our humble opinion.

If you do manage to fill it up, you can use an external hard drive via USB for additional storage. Up to 2TB is supported — another two months’ recordings for a small extra cost.

The comments we made about the Panasonic DMR-BWT820’s implementation of the VIERA Connect service, with its video on demand and social media apps, applies equally to the DMR-HW220 set-top box. VIERA Connect is good, but not great. The video on demand services are reasonably populated with content — and as usual ABC iView is our go-to favourite — but Samsung and LG have better Smart services on their Blu-ray players and PVRs.

This set-top box also supports DLNA through its wired and wireless network connections, acting as both a server (for content saved on the 1TB hard drive, or connected via USB) and as a client (for any content saved on a networked DLNA device like a PC or smartphone). It works perfectly well, supporting any file type that the box supports directly over USB — so AVI, JPG, AVCHD, MP4, MKV all work without hassle.

Panasonic DMR-HW220: Conclusion

The Panasonic DMR-HW220 has the same high-quality interface and features (sans Blu-ray) of the DMR-BWT820, and is similarly speedy and easy to use. It’s also half the price.

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STUART LESLIE

1

I am seriously looking at this one, but have a number of questions. Can you retitle programmes? Are there variable skip and fast forward and rewind speeds? Can you export a programme from the internal to an external drive? Are there various settings for timer recording---once, weekly, Mon to Friday, etc? Is the remote well set out and easy to use?
I feel that these sorts of features should be noted in reviews, because some PVR s don't have them all and are thus very frustrating

Allan

2

Having just installed this PVR here are some answers to your questions

I have successfully renamed a recording
there are variable skip forward and back speeds
I was able to copy a recording to my pc using my home network buy viewing the PVR as a network drive
I was able to set timer recordings for daily, weekdays, weekly
My wife used the remote first time so it's very straight forward
Internet access easy - get ABC iView here in OZ no problem
Set up DLNA client and server first time so can stream to and from PVR
It's a very nice device!

Steve

3

OK, so it's a high-end PVR, like the review said, very usable and well-featured compared to cheap offerings.

My 2c's worth:

(1) Features are really not as good as my 12-year-old DigiCrystal: (eg no 1-click, "Delete from start to here" or "Split recording into two at this point.")

(2) Files and hard drive filesystem are in a proprietary format. So no viewing your recordings on another machine until there's a hack. (Somebody, please?).

(3) A Bi-IIG problem for me is *un-responsiveness* What did we ever to to Panasonic so as to deserve the click-and-wait (Wonder if you've clicked hard enough, so click again - Oops, I've clisked twice and stuffed it up") syndrome. (In aviation it's called "Pilot-induced error" where eg a helicopter's blades take so long to react that the pilot has already made another attempt at correction; both corrections come into effect later while the pilot engages in wrestling the aircraft into the ground).

Now this *might* be fixed with an SSD in the place of the mechanical hard drive. IT *could* be fixed with a decent processor (the one in my phone would do), but that won't happen. When any future model comes endowed with faster hardware, the consumer will choose more features over speed every time. The extra code will slow the PVR down. Bust hey, since when did you see "Response: 120 milliseconds" marked on a box? instead of a list of killer features? (Call this Moore's Inverse Law: "In traffic as in IT, the public will always put up with a certain amount of delay")

paul bailey

4

Just bought the dmr-hw220. What a mistake that was.... The main reason I bought this unit was to enable a single remote while using with my Panasonic Plasma. Other reasons were: 1tb hdd, usb interface, network via DLNA and MKV playback.
As per Steve's comments.. any usb device must be initialized by the unit rendering it unusable anywhere else (pc's etc)
It claims to playback MKV (my entire library) but wont recognise the file format while streaming via DLNA. Left to assume the MKV file needs to be on the usb device or the internal hdd, but how does it get there?

What a waste of money. I should have stayed with my htpc, or at least looked at the LG units.

vodka

5

I have a older Panasonic recorder and it plays MKV files from a 32GB USB stick OK, maybe use a pc to copy file to a smaller USB device and try again just to test whether it plays or not, I'd also be interested.

smcf

6

Search is very basic. Nintendo Wii sitting in same place allowed Wi-Fi connection but had to buy powerline comms for the panasonic because reception was weak (note they weren't on at the same time). No multitasking i.e. can't use the web when recording freeview. My previous PVR, a Humax, allowed me to rewind back and then start recording, the panasonic doesn't. NO search on the main guide. Picture viewer a bit basic. Hopefully the unit has the power to accomodate some of these after further development, I look forward to the anticipated upgrades . PS it Won't accept ext HD that already has data, you have to reformat.

smcf

7

I also forgot. If you have two recordings set one after the other on different channels then it ties up both tuners during the switch over so you have to wait before watching another. Currently having problems with the Rovi guide and Panasonic are passing total responsibility to Rovi. This would think is acceptable but they push Rovi because there own guide is useless.

Gez

8

Need help with my Panasonic DMR-HW220, I am trying to transfer shows I have recordered of the tv onto a usb external hard drive and then play them on my MacBook air lap tap. Problem the lap top doesn't recognize the format the DMR records in? Is there anyway around this? I have spoke to Apple support, they suggested I down load a universal media player which I did (VLC) now just need to know how to change formats on how its recorded I presume? The external hard drive I am using is a WD elements and when it has the recorded movie from the Panosonic recorder on it , it wont recognize it. Though when I delete the movie it will then enable it to format the empty external hard drive to my lap top, so I presume its not the external hard drive its just the format of the HD high definintion that's the issue? I was also advised not go down the track of buying a windows package for my MacBook air laptop, because the will create further problems. So to some it up does anyone know how to do this and is it actually possible?, thanks for your help, regards Gez

Gez

9

http://support.apple.com/kb/ht3775?viewlocale=en_US

this link shows the supported movie formats for macbook air laptop...

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Andrew

2.0

1

Pros
Plenty of space, easy to use EPG
Cons
Major downside - no series record option!! Panasonic, are you serious? It can be set to record a program at the same time weekly but it's "dumb" in that it will not stop when the series ends or adjust the time automatically if the broadcast time is changed. Smarter boxes like t-box can do this.
• • •

I have owned this unit for 6 months and it crashes on a daily basis. It also deletes recordings automatically even when not watched all the way through - I cannot find an option set-up to turn this off.

All firmware is up to date and the problems persist. Can't believe such a seemingly "reliable" brand is so unreliable, particularly for the high price... back to the t-box with it's smart series-record...

rossnroller

4.0

2

Pros
sounds great
Cons
Frreeview or not?
• • •

Just a question, pls. Is this unit Freeview?

Thanks.

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