Captioning capability of the Panasonic DMR-XW380 Hard Drive DVD Recorder

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In November 2010, Media Access Australia was loaned a Panasonic DMR-XW380 Hard Drive DVD Recorder to review. Chris Mikul and Ally Woodford reviewed the unit for its caption viewing and recording capabilities.

Set up

The Set Up was straightforward, relatively quick, presented no stumbling blocks and pre-empted the steps better than some other set ups we’ve experienced.

Once installed, we tested the caption font on a broadcast program. The captions were found via the STTL button and the font was acceptable; we’ve seen better but we’ve also seen worse.

Recording to hard drive

We recorded a captioned show by simply pressing record as we watched the show. On playback, via the Direct Navigator button, we were able to watch the captions and also turn the captions on and off as desired.

When recording via the electronic program guide (EPG), we found the process a little more drawn out than other models, in that a number of processes needed to be entered into the unit before it was set. Once programmed though, the captions again were recorded with the program and able to be turned on and off as desired.

We were also able to record two shows simultaneously, with both recordings allowing for captions.

To record two programs at once and watch a third, we needed to set the Panasonic remote control to be compatible with our Samsung TV, and connect a secondary audio/video cable between the units.  This is relatively standard and allows the user to use the one remote to control both the TV and recorder.

The key to any of the recordings was to ensure that the Record Mode was set to DR, which is the same mode as the digital broadcast. This mode seems to be the default mode.

Dubbing to DVD

We were unable to record directly to DVD and an Internet search to find if other people had this issue revealed that we weren’t alone. You can though record to the hard drive and transfer (dub) the program across to DVD.

By recording in DR mode, we were also able to transfer the programs saved on the hard drive to DVD with captions. To ensure the captions transferred, we needed to select the Subtitles option in the Other Settings for the transfer. Once transferred, the captions are permanently switched on for the DVD edition.

We found the instruction manual difficult to navigate when it came to learning about the caption facilities and did a lot of research by trial and error with the unit itself.

For ease of use, we have simplified the dubbing process below:

Instructions for dubbing to DVD

  1. Press the Direct Navigator button.
  2. Select the program(s) you wish to dub by pressing the yellow button and Up or Down arrows.
  3. Press the blue button to Copy.
  4. Key instruction: On the Copy menu, you must scroll up to the Other Settings with the Up arrow key, and scroll across to the Subtitles option to select them as Automatic.
  5. You can choose to finalise the DVD at this point also, which will mean you can watch the DVD on players other than the Panasonic DMR XW380. If you finalise the DVD now, you will not be able to add any further programs to it. You can finalise the DVD at any time after recording though.
  6. Use the Left arrow then the Down arrow to Start Copying. Press Okay.

Once we mastered the basic functions of the unit, it proved a very efficient piece of equipment for recording captioned programs on a hard drive and storing them on DVD, which provides playback on other devices and long-term storage.

The Panasonic DMR XW380 has a recommended retail price of $699.

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