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Panasonic DMP-BD50 Blu-ray Player review




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Panasonic DMP-BD50 Blu-ray Player
  • Panasonic DMP-BD50 Blu-ray Player
  • Panasonic DMP-BD50 Blu-ray Player
  • Panasonic DMP-BD50 Blu-ray Player
  • Panasonic DMP-BD50 Blu-ray Player
  • Panasonic DMP-BD50 Blu-ray Player
  • Panasonic DMP-BD50 Blu-ray Player
  • DMP-BD50 Blu-ray Disc Player (BD-RE, DVD-RAM, DVD-RW, DVD-R, DVD+RW, DVD+R, CD-RW, Secure Digital SD - BD Video, DVD Video, JPEG, DivX, CD-DA, MP3, AVCHD Playback - Progressive Scan - Black)


Our Score:


It's no secret that for a long time I considered HD DVD to be the better high definition format. The reason for that belief was that two years ago, when HD DVD and Blu-ray both launched, the former actually provided all the features that the next generation formats had promised, while the latter did not. Even the earliest HD DVD players offered features like an Ethernet port, dual decoders for picture-in-picture, downloadable firmware updates, persistent storage for downloadable content and the ability to access online features, none of which were available on early Blu-ray players. But as Bob Dylan said, the times they are a changin'.

It may have taken a little while, but Blu-ray players have now caught up to where HD DVD was two years ago. The so called "final profile" for Blu-ray players brought with it mandatory dual decoders and Ethernet connectivity, but recently there has been an update to the Final Profile - am I the only one the sees that as something of a misnomer? Anyway, semantics aside, the latest Blu-ray profile takes the format to where it always promised to be, by finally adding BD Live!

The DMP-BD50 is the latest Blu-ray player from Panasonic, and the first to feature the full complement of features that the format always promised it would have. So, for the first time you can buy a stand alone Blu-ray player, safe in the knowledge that it won't be out of date in a few months. And that will instantly make it pretty damn attractive to consumers, especially consumers who have been too scared to invest in a new high definition optical format, for fear of making the wrong decision or buying something that lacks the full feature set.

Just like Panasonic's latest generation of Viera TVs, the DMP-BD50 looks very sleek and stylish. The gloss black fascia is split into two halves, with the left half hiding the disc tray and the right side incorporating the display and a fold down flap behind which lies playback controls and an SD card slot - more about the latter later.

At the centre of the top edge of the fascia is a blue light - obviously any entertainment product has to have a blue light, or at least that's what the majority of manufacturers would have us believe. In fact this particular blue light is relating to the SD card slot and can be set to only illuminate when a card is inserted. The BD50 is also a very slim player, which belies its high-end aspirations - there was a time when size and weight did dictate quality in AV kit, but not so much these days.


July 24, 2008, 4:36 pm

what about speed? how long from closing the tray to playback? how smooth are the menu's?

This was the biggest disappointment with my tosh ep30, it was too damn slow.

The PS3 is soo much quicker (and still cheaper!)

Matthew Bunton

July 24, 2008, 5:17 pm

I cannot wait until we start seeing some region free players fingers crossed.


July 24, 2008, 6:51 pm

it's got he features I want (no Sony badge, 7.1 LPCM over HDMI, ethernet, profile2.0 but would like region free) but still not at the right price.

I wont consider getting one until they knock at least 𧷆 off the price (so I can afford 2 or 3).... Will probably go down the upgrade the htpc route though...

A lot of buyers will still consider the ps3 to be a better value purchase....but companies like Panny are all in the same boat....they supported Sony with promises of pricefixing to re-invigorate their revenues...only to have Sony scr*w them all via the ps3 leaving every other OEM scratching their head....

oh to be in one of those boardrooms...."our AV divisions have gone down the drain....we don't make money on dvd players, sony pulled our trousers down and everyone else is talking about downloads.....time to shut up shop.."


July 24, 2008, 10:01 pm

Yes, still too expensive for me. I remember my first DVD player was 𧷤. I'd be looking at Blu-ray players to reach a similar price or maybe slightly less before I consider buying one. And it's still a long way off being accepted by the mainstream who are used to paying around fifty quid for DVD players.

I'd also be interested (as the first poster was) in how long the Panasonic takes from insert disc to playback, as I know the first and second generation Blu-Ray players took an age and a half to warm up.

The Pope

July 25, 2008, 2:22 am

I'm with you, Pbryanw. Sadly, the guts of many of these players are essentially Linux-based mini PCs (I believe) and thus are subject to boot times. I find it REALLY annoying.

Plus, not only is Average Joe buying DVD players for cheap (like the Toshiba (!) Divx-enabled DVD player I saw in Tesco the other day for 㿇!!) but frankly, he's also used to paying under 㾶 for his DVDs; Play has decent flicks down to like ٠.99 ffs

So just how motivated am I to go and spend 㾽.99 on a Blu-ray? I tell ya - I'd go to, say, 㾸.99 if it had decent extras and DTS HD Master Audio. Too many of these Blu-rays just feature the regular DD5.1 as the DVD :(


July 25, 2008, 2:42 am

All valid comments, which is why I said that you're going to have to be serious about your AV kit to consider this player. That said, if you're planning on investing in a Kuro or similarly high-end screen, the superiority of the DMP-BD50 will make itself evident.

You're right, I forgot to mention operation times, but luckily I can confirm that this is the fastest stand alone HD player of any format that I have used. The menues are well laid out and presented too. I don't think it's quite as speedy as a PS3, but it's not alarmingly slower either.

The lack of Region Free content is anoying, especially since HD DVD discs were all region free.

If your first DVD player cost you 𧷤, you must have bought into the format quite late. First generation players cost around ٟ,500 and were useless, while the second generation players were around the 𧿘 mark and generally very good.

I think the last DVD player I bought was my Pioneer DV-737, which cost me around 𧽴 back in 1999. It was the first UK player to support component video with a progressive output - I've still got it now and have yet to find a modern player that comes close to it in terms of build quality.

And Mr Pope - shame on you Geoff. For someone who was so obsessive about the superior quality of DTS over AC3, you should be first in line to extol the virtues of a high definition format. Also, which Blu-ray discs are you referring to that only have 5.1-channel AC3 soundtracks? Even relatively early discs like Casino Royale feature uncompressed 5.1-channel PCM, so there's no need to employ a lossless codec of any kind.


July 25, 2008, 5:51 am

Actually, thinking about it, I bought my first DVD player in 2001. It was a Samsung - a great, big thing it was too. I was in my first job earning a minimum wage and I spent three weeks of my earnings on that. I probably wasn't among the very earliest adopters but I do remember that my local Choices (now out of business) had just started selling DVD's so it felt like I was one of the first. It was still early enough that VHS tapes took up most of the rental space in Choices.

Taxi Driver was my very first DVD and I was astounded at how good the picture was. In 2006, I sold that DVD payer for 1p, and I had a lot of memories wrapped up in that thing - it had accompanied me to University and back. Anyway, sorry for going off-topic but thinking about it just triggered a bout of nostalgia off in me.


August 7, 2008, 9:02 pm

Riyad, you can't really be serious to suggest that HD DVD was better than Blu-ray *just* because HD DVD had internet connection from day one? The picture in picture feature has been incorporated into Blu-ray Discs and works successfully without a Profile 1.1 player! With 50GB to play with, the studios have a lot more flexibility with the Blu-ray system!

If so, you're on pretty thin ground! At best, internet interactivity is a gimmick, a sideshow from the real important issues of picture and sound quality. I wouldn't suggest all Blu-ray discs so far have been excellent quality, far from it, but I have seen many HD DVD discs that we nothing more than upscaled DVDs. Thankfully, the main culprit, Universal appears to *respect* Blu-ray better and is making a fine job in it's Blu-ray productions. Long may it continue.

All the Blu-ray players from approx late 2007, when prices also came down, have been excellent machines in terms of image and sound quality, although start up times have been an issue.

Both the DMP-BD30 and DMP-BD50 Blu-ray players have redefined the market. As their availability increases their prices will come down further. Sony is also releasing it's direct competition, so the market is hotting up!

On the issue over internet interactivity, I think as well as a gimmick, it's actually a bad thing on a number of counts.

Firstly, it won't be too long, when the studios realise that they can charge for the *extra* content. How long will it be before extras that we take for granted (on our special or standard editions) start to be available through download only? For a fee obviously!

Secondly, there is the issue over the studios prying eyes on our viewing habits! Frankly, I view that as an invasion of privacy - just like spyware on our PCs!

There is also the issue over security. Blu-ray (and HD DVD) players probably have no security. It is possible that players connected to home networks could pick up viruses which by-pass security systems!

As you can gather, my family and I will not be connecting any Blu-ray player to the 'net for the above reasons (and more - I've said enough already)!!


September 17, 2008, 3:38 pm

Power on to visible GUI...PS3 10s

BD50 25s

From disc inserted to video on display...PS3 35s

BD50 43s

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