As much as we love Sky+, the gold standard for recording TV is to have a machine that has both a hard-drive and a DVD recorder for archiving your favourites.

Luckily there are plenty of boxes out there that possess these powers. Our favourites have long been from Sony’s camp, but Panasonic’s DMR-EX77 is a cheaper and equally capable alternative.

Generous storage

Sporting a respectable 160GB hard disk drive, you have the option of recording many hours – up to 36 in the very best (XP) mode – of EastEnders omnibuses but archiving only the tastiest titbits onto DVD.

Playing back the Mitchells’ finest moments will be a pleasure, as the Panasonic provides faultless recordings through the inbuilt Freeview tuner’s stable and detailed signal.

In DVD playback mode it confirms its status as among the best in class: pictures are rich with steady motion and a subtle grasp of light and shade.

Scaling the heights

HDMI, component and Scart outputs are all included, as well as upscaling all the way up to 1080p. It’s an intuitive machine too – the menus, control system and remote are all easy to use.

In fact, the only thing that’s missing is a secondary tuner, which would allow you to record and watch two different programmes at the same time. But now we’re just being greedy.

It’s very hard not to like the DMR-EX77. It may be beaten on performance by Sony’s RDR-HXD970, but at £75 cheaper it’s well worth a look.


Stuff says... 

Panasonic DMR-EX77 review

Cheaper than Sony’s market leaders, the EX77 provides the most performance per pound in DVD recorder town