Here is the official Panasonic DMR-EZ28k thread.
Before you get into the thread, you might want to check out the basics in the helpful links below:Panasonic DMR-EZ28Panasonic DMR-EZ28 User ManualComparrison between DMR-EZ27 & DMR-EZ28
I recently upgraded from the Panasonic DMR-EZ27 to the DMR-EZ28. I brought it home and went to town on it. Here is what I found:SOME BACKGROUND INFORMATION:
I tested this DVD recorder using my Kenwood VRS-N8100 Network AV receiver for audio and my Panasonic PT-AX 200U projector for the display. The image was taken directly from the Panasonic DMR-EZ28’s HDMI port via an HDMI 1.3 cable into the projector (the image was not processed by any other components). The television signal is brought in via my OTA roof-top antennae (not via cable nor satellite). The image was displayed onto a 92 inch projector screen (Cinetension TE92HC2), so image flaws should be expected to be very noticeable. Now on with my findings.
The first thing I noticed was that the price was about $20 less than last year’s model (Panasonic DMR-EZ27). I bought mine at a local BestBuy, so you will likely be able to find yours even cheaper (MSRP = $229.95).FROM THE FRONT:
Out of the box the Panasonic DMR-EZ28 looks essentially identical to the Panasonic DMR-EZ27. A couple of the buttons are moved around a little, but the most notable difference is the presence of a USB terminal inside the front flip-down panel. Panasonic indicates that this can be used for a camera connection or for USB connected files like JPEGs and music (see "Features" for more info". This panel also posses the SD card slot (which Panasonic says can take video directly to and from a DVD-RAM disc - see "Features" for more info). There is also an DV in port for video camera connection, the standard three composite ports and a S-video port. If you like a clean front face, these Panasonic models accomplish this well as none of the input/output ports are viewable from the front face (as long as the cover is up).FRONT THE BACK:
Both the DMR-EZ28’s rear input/output ports and the remote are identical to the Panasonic DMR-EZ27’s. Both have the RF in/out, composite in/out, S-video in/out, component out (capable of pass through up to 1080i), optical audio out, and HDMI out (v 1.3 and capable of up-conversion to 1080p per Panny). No changes here.SET-UP/INTERFACE:
Initial set-up took about 15 min get through the initial menus and for the auto channel finder to do its job. The system stalled when it tried to set the auto time. I had this same problem with the Panasonic DMR-EZ27. After about 20 minutes of waiting for the clock to set itself, it finally succeeded and did so correctly. Set-up took over 35 minutes total!!!GUI
: Panasonic references its graphical User Interface (GUI) as being “designed for ease of use by everyone”. This GUI is the same software program that ran the Panasonic DMR-EZ27 - no signficiant differences in speed, content or interface. I thought it was a pretty intuitive set-up with a quick learning curve, but my wife got frustrated several times (she has minimal experience with AV equipment). More than once, I heard her say “this just doesn’t make sense” and “why did they put that there”. I guess the take home message here is, if you have a rudimentary amount of experience with AV equipment and various GUIs, you will find this one farily easy to work with, but it certainly will not be a breeze for your grandmother who does not know what an MP3 is. My biggest complaint is that when you are copying something (say from an USB drive to a dvd) or when you are finalizing a dvd, there is no way to move out of the GUI to watch television while these time consuming endeavors are being completed. It can take up to 15 minutes for this recorder to finalize a DVD +R and all you can do is sit there and watch the status bar move across the screen while you wait.IMAGE QUALITY:Foreword:
I need to start with my limitations here first. I am not a professional. I do not do this for a living. I have no extra equipment to help me with advanced evaluation of picture quality, so the majority of this portion will be very subjective.
With that said, I will mention that my Panasonic PT-AX 200U projector has a nice feature that helped me out here. This projector is set up so that inside the menu, users can read the resolution of the input signal being fed to the Panasonic PT-AX 200U projector. This feature at least allowed me to confirm that when the DVD recorder thought it was sending out 480p, 720p, 1080i/p images, it in fact was.
I have owned LG, Philips, Panasonic, and Toshiba DVD recorders/DVRs in the past, so it is with those experiences that I will be comparing – this will be from memory. I also have an Xbox 360 connected to by projector via HDMI. Believe it or not, I have noticed that in the past the Xbox 360’s DVD player and up-conversion software has shown at least a slight advantage in video quality to every other DVD recorder/DVR I have owned (especially the Philips; OMG that was a horrible picture [traumatic shiver]), so it is also with the Xbox 360 that I will be comparing – this will be a direct video comparison. All of my tests on picture quality were done using HDMI out.DVDs:
DVD video is generally acceptable. No better or worse than the majority of other recorders out there. That is to say that it was slightly below what my Xbox 360 does. Definitely better than the Philips DVDR3575, but what isn’t? DVD up-conversion produced a generally well defined and well saturated image which was watchable even on my 92 inch screen. I found the deinterlacing of the Panasonic DMR-EZ28 to be average to above average for what one would expect for this level of image processing. The Panasonic DMR-EZ28’s biggest weakness seemed to be with loss of detail and sharpness in high contrast scenes/areas. Specific examples are when there are a lot of faces on the screen, panning through a bunch of flowers, or fast moving sports scenes with a lot of data. I am not referring to a deinterlacing problem, as this is more of a loss of detail/sharpness in scenes where there is a lot of image data that needs to be processed quickly. This weakness appeared more prominent when watching television (see below), than when watching DVDs, but because I noticed it in both circumstances, I suspect it is at least in part secondary to the DMR-EZ28’s image processing. When I move a DVD from the DMR-EZ28 to my xbox 360, and watch identical scenes, I do not notice this processing flaw (so I think that means that I was able to isolate the problem to the DMR-EZ28’s image processor). Keep in mind that my screen is 92 inches, so these flaws may not even be noticible on more standard sized screens.Television (digital and analog):
We all know that your television picture is no better than your source, so let me tell you what I did here to try to isolate problems with the image between the original source and the recorder's image processor. I think the recorder’s image processor does not process the image until it hits the HDMI out. This means that an unprocessed image would be placed on a recorded dvd, then, when played, it would be processed and upconverted to 1080p, and then output through the HDMI to the display. With this in mind, I first watched both analog and digital television directly with output through the recorder (HDMI), then used the recorder to record some television and played the disc on my Xbox 360 & then on my PC. My assumption here is that if the image is being processed as part of the recorder’s output process, then I can take this recording on a DVD and play it in my Xbox 360 or PC to see how many of the image problems I am seeing from are from my standard/digital television signal versus the recorder’s image processor. Here is what I found:
To start with, it is worth stating that this recorder uses an analog tuner and ATSC/digital tuner to receive television signals. Image quality is about average to above average for this class. There is an obvious improvement when viewing digital versus analog channels, but no more than one would expect. The digital channels are sharper, but they are not OMG sharper. There are some deinterlacing problems with fast motion and some peripheral jaggies that I noticed when watching both analog and digital programming. On my 92 inch display, one of the most distracting problems is with a difficulty the processor seems to have with image contrast and sharpness in areas that use a lot of data (flowers, a crowd of faces, etc). These problems were more apparent when the image was output through the recorder's HDMI than when they were output via a DVD, and then watched on my Xbox 360 or PC. I would suspect that most people with a large display would notice this when watching television programming (perhaps 46 inches and above). It is noteworthy to mention that these flaws are not always noticable and generally will not catch my eye unless the scene is particularly busy or I am really looking for it. Personally, I am willing to suffer through those subtle intermittent image problems as long as I get the other television watching features listed below (chasing, commercial skip, timeslip) - but that is my personal preference. Changing channels takes about a second per channel change (it seems like forever when you are surfing through multiple channels). There is a play x1.3 feature for watching television and there is audio present when using this feature (only available with RAM discs), but no audio is present when you press the fast forward button.Image Quality Summary:
I have not seen any difference in television (analog or digital) image quality between the Panasonic DMR-EZ27 and the Panasonic DMR-EZ28 on my 92 inch screen. Based on what I have seen, I believe these two models use the same image processor. There are some subtle intermittent problems with image proccesssing when the recorder tries to process very busy scenes, but this may not be noticable on average sized displays. My recollection of other DVD recorders indicates that the image quality of this recorder is significantly better than the Phillips (DVR) models, about the same as the Toshiba and last year's panny models, and slightly worse than the LG and my Xbox 360.Update:
I searched through Panasonic's website and the user manual to figure out what image processor the DMR-EZ28 uses and could nit find anything. I emailed Panasonic and asked what processor the DMR-EZ28 uses and whether it is different than the processor the DMR-EZ27 uses. They just emailed me back stating simply "Our unit is designed with a Panasonic Farujha chip." They did not specify type nor did they specify if there is a difference between models (which leads me to beleive that they use the same chip).FEATURES:USB:
When I hooked my camera (Canon Digital Rebel XL) to the USB, it recognized it and displayed the pictures without any problem, but it took about 30 seconds for the recognition to take place. There was a significant delay of 8-10 seconds for scrolling through all the pics (each pic is 8 megapixles; around 3-4 mb each). This outputs the images at whatever resolution you have the recorder set to (up to 1080/60p). I later attached a USB drive with pics and mp3s on it. The recorder did a good job of displaying this as a slideshow with audio, but you have esentially no control over the slideshow. Everything you put on the USB will be in the slideshow (audio and pics). This DVD recorder allows you to transfer pics and audio from a disc to & from USB. You cannot record from television directly onto the USB, nor can you transfer a recorded program from a DVD onto the USB. You can copy from the SD card to the USB, but you apparently cannot copy from the USB to the SD card.SD card slot:
Good for picture viewing, but cannot play audio. It outputs JPEGs at whatever output resolution you set the DVD recorder up for (up to 1080/60p). The slideshow delay for my pics was about 8 seconds per pic (again my pics are 8 megapixles; about 3-4 mb each). You cannot record television shows directly onto the SD card, nor can you transfer a recorded program from a DVD onto the SD card. You can copy files from the SD card to the USB, but you apparently cannot copy files from the USB to the SD card.DV in:
I have completed a superficial test of this port. I have not had any problems, but I do not personally use this function very much, so I doubt I pushed its limits.Scheduled Recording:
To begin with, the recorder needs to be off in order for a scheduled event to record. The task of setting the recorder up to automatically schedule a pre-determined television event can be accomplished in numerous ways. The options for setting up a scheduled event are pretty standard - one time only, weekly, M-F, M-Sa, Sa & Su. There is no Program guide, so you need to do all the scheduling manually (this can become tedious quickly). I successfully made scheduled recordings using all the media types the Panasonic lists with the exception of dual layer and -RW (I do not have those media types on hand). There is a rarely encountered glitch with the scheduling software that will sometimes lead to the recorder missing the second scheduled event. I was able to elicit this glitch, but I honestly may not have been able to do so if I did not know exactly what to do to get the scheduling to fail. jjeff has several posts in this thread and another
that can shed more light on this glitch.Commercial Skip (one button to skip forward 60 seconds):
This function works well on this unit. My only complaint is that there is no way for the user to modify how much time is skipped with each press of this button. I personally prefer a 30 second commercial skip and this recorder's default setting is set at 60 seconds and is not changeable. I would also like to see a replay button (essentially the same thing as a commercial skip button, but in reverse – allows you to skip 30 seconds backward), so I can quickly go back if I went too far forward, but this is not a common feature and I might be getting a bit greedy.Chasing Playback (start watching a program while it is being recorded):
This function works well. Personally, I love this feature and will not buy a DVD recorder without it. I will start recording a 60 minute television program at the top of the hour, then play around on the internet for 15 minutes or so, then come back to the program and start watching it at the beginning while the last 45 minutes are still being recorded. When I get to the recorded commercials, I use the commercial skip button. If I time things right, this system usually allows me to finish watching the recording of the episode at the end of the hour right when the episode is over. Tada – 15 minutes of free internet time, and now I can start it all over if there is another program I want to watch… what can be better than that? These commercial skip and chasing playback features work beautfilly together and are a must have for any DVD recorder/DVR I use.Timeslip (start watching a previously recorded program while currently recording another on the same disc):
This recorder posses this function and it works well. One does not need a button to use this function, all one needs to do is access the DVD menu and start playing the selected title while another one is being recorded, so I was a little confused to find a “TimeSlip” button. The TimeSlip button itself is a bit misleading as it is essentially an uber commercial skip button. The TimeSlip button on the remote allows you to decide how many minutes you want to skip forward or back while viewing a pre-recorded show on a DVD-RAM disc. In short, this DVD recorder does have the TimeSlip feature, but the TimeSlip button does something completely different.DVD Recording:
There are 5 recording qualities to choose from: XP (1 hr), SP (2 hr), LP (4 hr) & EP (6-8hr per disc – based on user setting in main menu). No surprises here. A nice additional feature is the FR setting (FR = Flexible Recording). To use this feature, you simply tell the recorder how many hours of television you anticipate recording and the recorder will look at the available disc space and record using the best possible video quality. There is a convenient FR button on the reomte that allows for this task to be simple and effecient. A quick review of the spec sheet will reveal that it covers all the common DVD types including dual layer and DVD-RAM. When watching a recording, I could not tell a difference between the XP and SP recording settings on my 92 inch screen. There is a noticeable decline in image quality when you go down to LP/EP. You cannot transfer a recorded program from a DVD onto any other device (SD card or USB). It is noteworthy to mention that many of the really cool features of this DVD recorder (and similar ones) are only available when using a DVD-RAM disc. That is not because of a failing in the recorder, but rather it is because a DVD-RAM is essentially a disc version of a hard drive that allows for more hard drive like freedom in recording. This is standard for all DVD recorders.VIERALink:
My Panasonic PT-AX 200U projector’s display is not VIERALink compatible, so I was not able to test this feature.CONCLUSION:
This is essentially an updated version of the Panasonic DMR-EZ27 with primarly superficial changes. The most noticable of which is a USB port. Honestly, I am not really sure why they added the USB port to this model because it’s features are redundant with the SD card and the DVD recording capacilities. There is a small percentage of people out there who have a portable USB device, but have neither a DVD burner nor a SD card for their PC/MAC. It is a nice extra feature to have, but I would have much preferred improved image processing/quality or an integrated programming guide over a redundant data port. I believe that image quality is the single feature that will allow one of these competitive DVD recorders to stand out above the rest, and I am surprised that this year’s Panny model has not sought more market share via that route. Based on my experience with the DMR-EZ27 and now the DMR-EZ28, I believe they use the same image processor. There are some subtle intermittent problems with image proccesssing when the recorder tries to process very busy scenes, but this may not be noticable on average sized displays. It would also have boosted their market share if they had added a Program Guide, but it is not a standard feature in DVD recorders, so I am probably just nitpicking. There is of course no recording in high definition, but that is hardly worth mentioning as noone has this feature (yet). In any event, this recorder has a MSRP of $20 less than last year’s model and it does have more features (however superficial they may be). The price alone is reason enough to choose the Panasonic DMR-EZ28 over the Panasonic DMR-EZ27, but we will have to wait for Sony, Toshiba, Samsung, LG and the others to come out with their '08 models before a final comparative recommendation can be made.
If you have a feature or flaw you would like me to include here, message me or add it to the thread to let me know.UPDATE:
My DMR-EZ28K recently died!! I have owned it for about 11 weeks and was not using it very frequently for anything besides the tuner and occasionally watching movies or recirding a show. During the 11 week period, I used the tuner for several hours daily, used the DVD player about once every other day and used the DVD recorder about once a week.
On week 11, while I was changing channels, the recirder froze. I was unable to get it to turn off or on and after trying myltuple means of resetting the device, I ended up unplugging it in order to get it to turn off. I spent at least an hour trying to get it to turn back on, but it simply would not. Resetting (with the reset button and with the on//off button) for extended durations of time, unplugging, waiting and even yelling did not work. I managed to get the "HELLO" message to appear on the LCD display after resetting it with the on/off button at just the right time, but was unable to get further than that. It never displayed any image and I was unablet o eject the DVD tray to extract my disc.
The Panasonic support rep was no help as he simply had me repeat the steps I had done on my own to no avail, then said "you're right, it won't turn on". He offered to send me a box with instructions to ship it back to them so they can service it, but I refused as I had purchased the Besy Buy service plan when I originally purchased the device and this plan allowed me to take it directly to them, get my DVD out and have them service it without having to wait for the mailing system to transport my DVD recorder back and forth to Panasonic.
As of this update, I have retrieved my DVD and Best Buy is working on the recorder - I'll keep you updated.