Panasonic DMP-BD50 Blu-ray Player - Panasonic DMP-BD50

By Riyad Emeran


  • Recommended by TR
Panasonic DMP-BD50 Blu-ray Player


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Things are no less impressive at the rear, with a full complement of gold plated analogue AV connectors. There's component video out, S-Video, composite, left and right analogue audio, and a full set of 6-channel surround sound outputs. You also get both coaxial and optical digital audio connectors for outputting digital bit streams to an external amplifier or decoder. It's the final two connectors that are the most interesting though. There's an HDMI 1.3 port, which will obviously be the connection option of choice, providing digital audio and video, for the best possible experience. You'll also be able to make use of Deep Color software, if any of the studios ever release any. Finally there's an Ethernet port, one of the major omissions from early Blu-ray players and the key to getting online with the BD50.

When it comes to audio the BD50 covers pretty much all the bases. There's lossless compression formats in the shape of Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio, along with Dolby Digital Plus and DTS-HD High Resolution Audio. All those codecs can be mixed into a 5.1-channel PCM output.

It's the six-channel analogue audio outputs that will be a real bonus to anyone that doesn't want to upgrade their surround sound amplifier. Since the BD50 can process these codecs internally, anyone with an amplifier/receiver that has six-channel analogue audio inputs, will be able to sample the delights of the latest lossless formats.

You can, of course, also output uncompressed PCM audio in up to 7.1-channels - this type of audio is quite common on Blu-ray movies, and the results can be incredibly good. In order to playback these codecs and 7.1-channel PCM audio, you'll have to connect the BD50 to your amp/processor using HDMI.

The aforementioned SD Card slot brings potentially extensive persistent storage to the party. It's SDHC compatible, which means that you could plug a 32GB card in there, if you had enough spare cash to buy one. But considering that you can buy a 16GB card for under £30 these days, you're going to be able to download a lot of extra content over BD Live - or at least you will be able to when more discs support the service.

Talking of BD Live, disc support is pretty thin on the ground at the moment, but there is a lot of content scheduled for release in the coming months. In fact, Disney will be launching some of its classics on Blu-ray, complete with BD Live features soon, how many of these features you'll want to use is debatable though. Stuff like blogging to a website for the disc or instant messaging friends while watching a film have limited appeal if you ask me, not least because you'll be writing said text using the remote control!

The other great thing about the SD Card slot, is that it works beautifully with the latest generation of SD based AVCHD high definition camcorders. So, if you happen to be shooting with something like the Panasonic HDC-SD9, you could simply eject your SD card, slap it into the BD50 and watch your home movies in glorious Full HD.

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Chris Beach

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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