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To test the B100’s performance we loaded up The Dark Knight (which only took 18 seconds to start playing) and were generally impressed by the picture quality on offer, although certain scenes convey the ‘hi-def difference’ better than others.
The opening zoom towards the skyscraper is particularly striking – the tiny windows and the detail on the rooftops are crisply rendered, while edges set against bright backgrounds look razor-sharp. And the aerial shot of Hong Kong is absolutely stunning, bursting with detail from every inch of the screen and leaving you in no doubt whatsoever that you’re watching a Blu-ray disc.
The texture and fibres in Scarecrow’s Hessian mask also boast the sort of definition that can only come from a hi-def source. Contrast is terrific, highlighted by the night time shots of Gotham where unfathomably deep blacks are peppered by intensely bright dots of light, and what’s also pleasing is the lack of chicken wire artefacts and block noise.
But it’s worth pointing out that the image doesn’t always look sharper than DVD, particularly during dimly-lit interior scenes. And some skin tones look a little too red, such as Harvey Dent’s face in the early courtroom scene – it’s worth reducing the saturation in the LCD setup User setting.
Sound-wise the unit’s speakers are too weak and flat to bother with, but through headphones the sound is rich and fulsome. That also lends itself well to music playback – our collection of MP3 files on DVD sounded punchy and dynamic.
Although not quite as feature-packed as the DMP-B15, the DMP-B100 is still an impressive portable player that musters striking picture quality, despite only being fitted with a 1024 x 600 pixel screen. With most scenes you can clearly see the step-up in quality from DVD and to most people that will be the key factor.
There are some tasty features on board too, such as DivX HD playback and an SD card slot. Although Wi-Fi enabled BD Live access would have turned a good portable player into a great one, and although the hefty price tag may put some people off, it’s worth remembering that you’re also getting a decent Blu-ray player for the home as well as for your travels.
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