Jamie Carter meets Panasonic’s twin-tuner TV
Smart TVs that can record Freeview HD programmes to a USB thumbdrive or hard disk have been around for a couple of years, but they’ve lacked the all-important flexibility to record one channel while watching another.
That all changes with the arrival of twin HD tuner TVs from Panasonic, though the Japanese manufacturer’s latest smart sets for Europe are even more well-endowed than the UK versions.
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Spread across its mid-to-high-end LED and plasma TVs, a total of six tuners sit inside Panasonic TVs bound for the continent, with two each of terrestrial, cable and satellite free-to-air tuners.
Only two can be used at any one time, but it brings some unique flexibility. As well as recording one channel while another is being watched live, the birth of dual-tuner TVs has also given rise to a mouth-watering second-screen app for tablets and smartphones.
As well as acting as a TV remote and enabling ‘swipe ‘n’ share’ push of photos from an iPad or iPhone to a TV, the newly updated app will also allow ‘watch and share’; the viewing on one channel on the iPad while another plays on the TV – and that’s all down to dual tuners.
Another possibility is use the ‘spare’ tuner to help-out another Panasonic smart TV in the house, perhaps one situated in a room where the TV signal is too weak. This simple multi-room set-up requires both TVs to be on the same network, and is available merely by selecting the master TV as source through the TV’s Media Player software.
A less appealing possibility is ‘double watching’ – side-by-side pictures from two separate channels. Which one would you listen to?
UK-specific sets technically have four tuners – though only two of each TV’s dual Freeview HD and dual Freesat HD tuners can be utilised at the same time.
It’s all very easy to use and definitely Panasonic’s best effort yet at genuinely smart TVs, but for the majority of UK consumers it’s something of a missed opportunity to create quad HD tuners to serve a mass market that’s primarily concerned with Freeview HD.
Now that really would redefine the market and give a real reason to go out and spend big money on the latest smart TVs.
Due for launch in March, dual tuners will feature on Panasonic’s DT60 and WT60 range of LED TVs as well as its VT60 and ZT60 plasmas.