Panasonic DMP-BDT210 Blu-ray 3D Player Page 2
Panasonic has refreshed its graphic user interface for this new generation of players. The new design is slick, and the menus have a higher resolution than the previous players, which gives the interface a nice polish on high-resolution displays. I noticed the biggest improvement with the Viera Cast Internet portal. I wasn’t a big fan of the previous players, as they were a bit sluggish in selecting streaming services and updating their apps. The new design loaded very quickly, and there wasn’t any annoying delay in populating the app gateway. Panasonic has also improved the ability of some of its apps, most notably Netflix. Previous players would let you access your instant online queue but not add any new content to it or search for movies and shows. The new interface allows for all of this, as well as giving you recommendations on material Netflix has for you.
The new interfaces for Vudu and Pandora were also refreshing and allowed for easy access to your account options and the current content offerings.
Panasonic has long been one of the only manufacturers that handles all its own video processing. While many of the big brands implement high-end third-party video processing solutions like Qdeo and HQV, Panasonic does its work in house and delivers some of the best Blu-ray video performance out there. The DMP-BDT210 uses the latest version of Panasonic’s chroma processing, which delivers outstanding color resolution and flawless decoding of both Bluray and DVD content.
The DMP-BDT210 breezed through all of our video processing tests and turned in excellent Video Test Bench results all around. The player passed all of our deinterlacing tests for both HD and SD content in its default auto setting. Panasonic continues to lead the way in color resolution, showing not even a hint of rolloff with even the most demanding resolution tests. Essentially, if you have a shiny video disc to play, whether it’s a Blu-ray or DVD, this player will deliver an image that’s second to none.
This was the first Panasonic player I’ve used that converts 2D sources to full 3D for playback on a 3D-capable display. I recently reviewed the Samsung BD-D6700 that also offers this feature (HT, July 2011), and the results were largely the same. I’m not a big fan of 3D in general, and Panasonic’s realization didn’t do anything to change my mind. While the 2D-to-3D conversion mode does add a noticeable amount of depth to the converted content, it lacks the more realistic dimensionality of prerecorded 3D. You can adjust how aggressive the conversion is, but the harder you push it, the more subtle artifacts start to creep in and cause distraction. As with the Samsung, I would only recommend this if you’re really hurting for more of a 3D fix than you’re getting from the dearth of prerecorded Blu-ray 3D titles available.
Cream of the Crop
Like most of the Panasonic players I’ve used, the DMP-BDT210 was everything I’ve come to expect from a top-flight Blu-ray player. If the connection limitations don’t cause you any issues when it comes to getting the most out of this player’s video and audio capabilities, the Panasonic throws a beautiful image that’s among the best the format can offer. 3D playback is one of the biggest features you get, and to help entice you to the format, Panasonic includes a voucher for a free copy of the biggest film in 3D, Avatar. Make no mistake, Avatar is by far the best example of 3D on the market today, and seeing it delivered in the home is every bit as satisfying as when I saw it in the theater. Unfortunately, like so many of the other top-tier 3D titles, it remains stuck in an exclusive deal, making it an elusive title. But the DMP-BDT210 provides access to the title through a mail-in, and that’s a step up from last year, when you had to buy one of Panasonic’s 3D HDTVs to gain access.
The DMP-BDT210 also shined with traditional 2D titles. I used the player for my online software review duties for several weeks and watched quite an assortment of Blu-ray Discs. One of the highlights was the BBC’s recent release of Human Planet. This is an interesting title since it was encoded as a 1080i highdefinition presentation. I used the DMP-BDT210 to do the high-definition deinterlacing to 1080p and didn’t see any artifacts. Human Planet served up some extremely rich color and breathtaking detail with no signs of loss in resolution from the interlaced to progressive conversion.
Another standout was Disney’s recent Blu-ray release of the Pixar classic The Incredibles. This feature-rich release offers one of the best A/V presentations I’ve seen on Blu-ray. Disney Blu-ray releases are typically chock-full of interactive features that tend to bog down loading times and trip up general operability. The DMP-BDT210 had no such issues. Loading times were zippy, and the player never had any problems with the disc’s advanced features or menus. Color rendition was sublime throughout the film, and the DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack was mesmerizing with its deep bass extension and incredible use of the surround soundstage.
While the lack of connectivity options may be a problem for some, the DMP-BDT210 delivered the rest of the Blu-ray experience in spades. Panasonic still manages to deliver some of the best video and audio performance on the market at a price point that’s generally lower than the competition.
You get all the big contenders for streaming services plus some cool innovation with its touch-free sensor and Skype calling. This one definitely makes the Home Theater Top Picks list, and provided your system can make the most out of this player’s limited connection options, you should also consider it for yours.