Manufacturer’s Description: Enjoy a variety of content with this Freeview Play compatible Recorder. 4K Video Playback lets you play 4K content via a USB connection. Internet apps, such as those, for NETFLIX and amazon instant video are also supported. And TV Anywhere lets you watch and record programmes both at home and while you’re away.
I must admit I enjoy relaxing of an evening when the children are finally asleep and the mounting chores are ignored to watch my favourite shows. However with only a basic freeview box and no TV subscription services when busy life gets in the way so I don’t get to sit down to watch my shows I often miss them. Whilst I can at times catch up online on my laptop I can’t always rely on this as not all channels offer this catch-up service online. Another downside to basic freeview is that there is no guarantee that shows Bug likes will be on the TV when he is enjoying a bit of TV time after being busy and having adventures.
As it can be disappointing to miss my favourite shows I was keen to test out the Panasonic Smart Network HDD Recorder in the hope that it would be the solution to me missing my favourite shows and Bug’s disappointment at not getting to watch the children’s shows he wants when he wants.
The box is sleek, classy, compact, and lightweight with the black glossy front complementing our TV. It comes with a stylish remote filled with buttons. Designed to be fingertip-easy the remote has all the bells and whistles including a Freeview Play button for one-touch access to the Freeview Play catch-up service as well as a Netflix button. In spite of the numerous buttons and complicated looking design the lightweight remote is easy to navigate and use.
As a person who always reads the instructions of appliances and products, especially anything technical, the box comes with easy to read and understand instructions so not only can you know how to set up the box but also understand and use the box to its fullest and take advantage of all the amazing features it offers. The unit also comes with 3 cables – HDMI, Power, and Arial. The box is straight forward to set-up with step-by-step on screen instructions helping you get the unit up and working.
Gone are the days of having to wait to pop to the bathroom or make a cup of tea mid-show thanks to the very useful feature of being able to pause, rewind, and fast-forward live TV. Another top feature of the box is TV Anywhere which allows you to watch programs and set recordings away from the box using your smartphone or tablet. Not all programs are permitted to be watched using TV Anywhere though due to copyright restrictions.
Arguments of who gets to watch their channel have been stopped thanks to the twin tuner recorder which has the option of recording 2 channels at the same time. I am sure it will also come in handy for preventing arguments on whose shows get deleted when we eventually fill up the hard drive (with an impressive 1TB hard drive that will allow for recording over 600 hours of shows this will be no mean feat I’m sure) as you can transfer recorded shows onto another device for safe keeping and to free up space rather than having to delete saved shows.
I also love that if we do miss shows and have not recorded them the box has a feature that allows us to access a number of programs from the past 7 days via the TV Guide. Using the box’s Freeview Play feature when connected to our Wi-Fi network allows us to access Catch-Up services from the mainstream TV Channels. At the moment at time of writing the box supports BBC iPlayer, ITV player, All 4, and 5 on Demand, as well as BBC News and BBC Sport. Freeview Play also offers HD channels which is a great feature if your TV supports it.
Whilst we have yet to use this feature, if you have a subscription to Netflix or Amazon Instant Video the unit supports the apps for them which are pre-installed on the unit so you can access your Netflix and/or Amazon Instant Video accounts and watch all your favourite shows via the unit. I love that if we ever decide to get any of these subscription services the box is ready and waiting to support them – might just have to get Netflix just to see what all the hype is about the Neflix documentary series ‘Making a Murderer’.
The box also comes with a YouTube app pre-installed, with other apps available to download through an online market. If you are a social savvy person who likes to always be connected to social networking sites you can also access sites such as Twitter through the box. Whilst I have not used this feature personally so that I don’t get distracted from my favourite shows by Twitter – heck my phone does that enough – I think in the social media age we live in it is a great additional feature to offer.
We have been very impressed by this nifty little unit that packs a powerful punch of great features in one compact unit. Thanks to the box it has turned our basic TV into a Smart TV at a fraction of the cost and has provided us with a way to stay up-to-date with all of our favourite shows and enjoy all the functionality of services such as Sky or TiVo without the expense of monthly charges.
The box has been the solution to our TV needs, we can record all of our favourite shows and take advantage of Catch-Up services without having to use the laptop, Bug is especially happy about this as he can watch his favourite cartoons and children’s shows.
Now that we have experienced the Panasonic Smart Network HDD Recorder that has given our TV a new lease of life I would hate to go back to our old basic freeview box.
Disclosure: This product was sent to us free of charge for the purpose of this review. However, this review represents our honest opinion of the product.