Panasonic is testing HD waters with the release of the DMR-BS850, UK's first (and only) Blu-ray recorder that features twin Freesat receivers and an integrated hard disk drive.
The 850 model is accompanied by a lower-specced 750 model. Both Blu-ray recorders come with SD Card Slots (which means you can either read directly from or transfer content to them), Firewire plus USB Ports and BD-Live compatibility
You can use one Freesat tuner for live viewing while recording from the other one and both of them are actually Freesat+ compatible, meaning that you will be able to pause and rewind on demand. They are of course Freesat HD ready.
The only difference between the two models appear to be a bigger 500GB hard disk drive for the BS850 and a 250GB one for the BS750.
Panasonic has yet to confirmed the price of these two recorders but given that Panasonic sells a DVD/HDD Recorder with a single Freeview tuner for around £250, it wouldn't surprise us if the BS850 costs £1000 at launch.
The BS750 and the BS850 will also be compatible with Panasonic's Viera Cast broadband capabilities which allows you to watch online video on your computer.
Humax had released the FoxSat-HDR PVR which has a dual Freesat tuner and a big hard disk drive as well with the only noticeable difference between the two being the presence of a Bluray recorder.
The question therefore is whether you would be willing to fork out £1000 when a similar device exists that costs less than £300; that may depend on how often you use the recording functionality.
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Panasonic will also release a more affordable DMR-XS350 device which boosts a dual Freesat Tuner and a DVD recorder plus a smaller 250GB hard disk drive. Can't wait to see Humax or Topfield come up with a similar model. Expect most of the models to be available from May 2009 onwards and before we forget, it is worth mentioning that both models are compatible with DiVX and Java.