- ShowStopper pauses live TV and resumes play at your convenience
- 30-hour hard drive digitally stores programming, eliminates need for videotapes
- QuickSkip feature jumps ahead 30 seconds
- Instant replay allows you to rewind in 7-second increments
- Free programming guide with no monthly service fees
Panasonic's PV-HS2000 ShowStopper allows you to store up to 30 hours of TV programming while eliminating the need for videotapes. The PV-HS2000 incorporates Replay's TV server technology and free onscreen program guide. The ShowStopper offers an assortment of special features, including an advanced programmable remote control with a Replay Zones button that makes it very easy to find the shows you want to record.
For those unfamiliar with the concept of television servers, the ShowStopper records programs digitally and stores the information on a hard disk drive, so you can watch them at your convenience.
Panasonic offers four choices for recording quality, enabling you to manage storage space more efficiently. The lowest setting, extended, rivals VHS in terms of picture resolution, while freeing up the full 30 hours of hard disk space. The medium setting improves picture quality to better-than-VHS quality, but decreases storage space to 15 hours. The high-quality setting approaches 500 lines of resolution (depending on the source), but further reduces storage capacity to 10 hours.
One of the coolest features on the ShowStopper is the ability to pause a live broadcast and resume watching it if you're interrupted. When you utilize this feature the hard drive acts as a buffer by storing the show in memory so you can pick up the program where you left off. A return to live button on the remote allows you to skip forward to real time, which is great if you're watching a sporting event and you wish to catch up to the live action.
There's also an instant replay button on the remote that allows you to review portions of a show or sporting event in seven- second increments, so you're not limited to reviewing only a brief segment. We loved Replay's QuickSkip feature, which allows you to instantly jump ahead 30 seconds, so you can skip through TV commercials on prerecorded programs.
Replay's onscreen guide, which is downloaded nightly while you're asleep, appears with a blue background and white characters that are very readable. We also like the Replay Zones, which make it very easy to find programs that suit your tastes by searching according to genre. Replay separates programming into a wide variety of categories, from action and romance movies to cooking and home improvement shows. Replay also offers a Search Zone that allows you to input keywords and search terms, such as "Mr. Smith," using the remote control and an onscreen keypad.
If you wish to save a particular prerecorded show, you can record it onto a VCR using the back-panel outputs. We were impressed by Panasonic's inclusion of two sets of audio-video inputs and outputs, as well an S-Video input and output. This enables users to hook up a DSS or other direct-broadcast satellite receiver to the ShowStopper, along with a VCR as an output device.
One neat feature we really like is the ability to place the ShowStopper in quiet mode simply by turning it off. This keeps the server from automatically recording shows to the hard drive, conserves power, and keeps the hard disc from spinning, thereby keeping the recorder cool and noise free. If you happen to be recording a show when you turn the PV-HS2000 off, it will continue to record, then shut down once the show is finished and stored in the hard drive.
Connecting the ShowStopper to our home theater system took less than 15 minutes. Panasonic thoughtfully provides a poster-size chart to guide users through setup without opening the manual. If you have an open phone jack, we recommend using it. Otherwise, you can use the supplied splitter to connect the recorder to an existing line. (You do not need a dedicated phone line, since Replay's programming updates take place in the early morning hours, for only a few minutes each night.)
Dialing into Replay to download the free programming guide was much easier than we expected; one major advantage to Replay is that it doesn't charge any monthly service fee for downloading the program guide.
We like the fact that Replay's service is nonintrusive. After all, the whole concept of personal TV servers is intended to liberate viewers so they can watch the programs they prefer, whenever they feel like it. Panasonic's PV-HS2000 ShowStopper is designed to make it as easy as possible for customers to find the programs they like and to record them for future enjoyment. --Eric Gill
- 30-hour hard drive capacity
- Easy to navigate onscreen guide
- Intuitive remote control
- Free programming guide
- No internal fan to cool unit