Weird Panasonic DVD recorder resolution

I’ve been doing a bunch of DVD recorder reviews lately and, just now, have noticed something decidedly odd about Panasonic DVD recorders. First you should understand that the native resolution for DVD Video is 720 pixels wide by 576 pixels tall (for PAL, 480 for NTSC). When displayed, the device scales the horizontal resolution to 768 for a 4:3 aspect ratio, or 1,024 for a 16:9 aspect. But this makes no difference to the resolution of the picture as actually laid down on the DVD.

Now I normally use Cyberlink PowerDVD for a close examination of certain aspects of DVD, and when you do a still capture using this program, it saves a bitmap file at the native resolution of the video, as encoded on the DVD. Many DVD recorders lower the resolution to half when in super long recording mode, first in the horizontal direction, then in the vertical direction. So a picture I capture might be, say, 350-ish pixels horizontal. But, basically, it captures images at 720 by 576.

Except when I looked at a DVD produced by the Panasonic DMR-E100H DVD recorder. The captured image for this one (even at the one-hour XP recording quality) was not 720 pixels across, but 704 pixels. Intrigued, I checked out DVDs I recorded using DVD recorders from LG, Sony, Pioneer, Toshiba and Philips. All were 720 pixels across.

So I drilled down a bit into recordings I’ve done on previous Panasonic models, including the first one on the Australian market. All were 704×576 rather than 720×576.

The practical implications are virtually nil. It is a mere two per cent loss of resolution. But I wonder why Panasonic has done this?

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