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9/10

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Panasonic DMP-BD30 Blu-ray Player - Panasonic DMP-BD30

The DMP-BD30's operating system is pure class. It's very rare to find a menu system that has been designed with this level of simplicity and intuitiveness - the layout of submenus is logical and the deck's software responds rapidly as you're cruising through the options - although there is a pause when you press search or first call up the setup menu. Panasonic has also grouped the key features into mini-menus that can be called up during playback, and controlling these with the remote is a complete breeze thanks to its extremely clear button layout and labelling. It also sports dedicated buttons for turning PIP and secondary audio on and off.
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Also pleasing is that the start up time is a lot quicker than the other Blu-ray players we've tested (apart from the Sharp BD-HP20H in Quick Start mode, but that's cheating) and it has absolutely no trouble digesting tricky BD-J menus. The only operational blot on the copybook is its inability to resume playback after you've pressed stop (perhaps to access the setup menu), which is down to the disc rather than the player but it's still annoying. Why would studios deny us this basic human right?

Anyway, back to business. In performance terms the DMP-BD30 delivers phenomenal 1080p picture quality, which shows off the Blu-ray format in the best way possible. The Spider-Man 3 disc looks fantastic, with vivid colours and some of the sharpest looking detail this side of reality.
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We also tried out a copy of Resident Evil: Extinction (purely for reviewing purposes you understand) and although it doesn't boast the most jaw-dropping picture quality Blu-ray has ever seen, it's good enough to give us an impression of the Panasonic's picture prowess - and as one of only a few Profile 1.1 discs out there, we thought we'd give it a shot.

The movie's barren desert landscapes look highly detailed, with the deck picking out the stones and sand patterns in a sharp and focused manner, giving the image a pleasing three-dimensionality. The aerial shot showing hundreds of zombies in their compound is reproduced with impressive clarity, while close ups of the snarling undead are as grotesque as you'd imagine in hi-def, revealing every last blemish and rotten tooth.

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