I am not a Panny shill or anything...
Glad to hear it.
FOR INFORMATION ONLY: This is an early reveiw I wote in May 04:
My interest in the Panasonic E80 and E85 is mostly for VCR replacement, rather than as an editing deck, meaning I'm typically using the hard drive only. Currently, I use an old Sony Beta VCR (SL- HF900) and TiVo. My main reason for considering the two Panasonics is the Quick View function (X1.3), which would replace the worn out Sony, which has a X1.5 viewing speed.
I've been testing both the E80 and E85 and have found major shortcomings in both of them for VCR usage. Panasonic, and other companies, make a big mistake when functions are automated, without giving the user the option of changing or canceling the automation. Examples: 1) When returning to a recorded program saved in Direct Navigator, that was partially viewed, rather than beginning from the last point watched, the units return to the beginning of the program - it would be like having a VCR that rewinds the tape to the beginning every time the VCR was powered-up or a tape inserted. 2) When viewing in X1.3 mode, any action, such as using Pause, Fast Forward or CM, automatically resumes Play in standard play - meaning more button pushing to return to the viewing speed originally chosen - wasting time, while using X1.3 is supposedly to save time. These two items alone make for an annoying, constant button pushing/correcting viewing experience. While the E80 has a Memory Position and Marker function, these items mostly are useful if only one recording has been saved to Direct Navigator. Although the E80 Marker function has 999 positions, the positions are automatically identified with numbers only, which change if any previous marker (number) is deleted.
Also: The machines essentially lock up when in TV recording mode - simple functions can't be performed, so I usually switch to TiVo which doesn't share that shortcoming.
Positives about the units - for TV recording/playback:
1) Excellent picture - I'm using component out and LP recording speed
2) E85 TV Guide is much more useful than E80 manual scheduling,
although the E80 has the best manual scheduling interface I've used
3) E80 Time Slip function - quickly advances to a location by time
Suggestion: For the TV interface function, Panasonic should follow the TiVo example - I'm just referring to the basic playback functions of TiVo, not the programming capabilities, which is the costly, proprietary component of TiVo - or incorporate TiVo while RETAINING the X1.3 function.
Bottom Line: Since the Panasonics are the only DVD/PVR recorders with faster than normal playback speed I'll reluctantly be keeping the E80. I've returned the E85 and will be waiting for a user-friendlier interface or a combination DMR/TiVo unit.