To control the DMP-BBT01, Panasonic has supplied one of its new touchpad remotes, the same one that accompanies the DMP-BDT320. This is designed to make controlling the player feel all modern and iPhone-esque, allowing you to navigate menus by swiping and tapping. But by introducing this remote Panasonic has broken one of life’s cardinal rules – if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. Panasonic’s remotes were always super-simple to use, yet this new zapper feels like a bit of a step backwards.
While it’s not a complete disaster, it certainly has its idiosyncrasies. For example, it very often mistakes a swipe for a tap, which means you have to be very careful and definite about how you swipe. That can get frustrating, particularly when entering text into a box – I ended up with something like ‘danntyphillkips’ as the first part of my e-mail address on more than one occasion.
Also, the system relies on onscreen keypad menus to access Blu-ray playback controls (pause, scan, stop etc) which feels more long-winded than having them physically on the remote. You may have more luck with it, but if not then the easy-to-use (and very cool) iPad remote app could be the way to go.
On a more positive note, the onscreen displays are simply brilliant. The Home menu, with its gorgeous-looking graphics, uses a one-touch (or one-swipe) navigation system, which rules out the need to hit ‘OK’ for every selection. All of the setup menus are easy to follow – aided by helpful wizards here and there – plus the Multi-User mode lets different people customise the layout to their needs.
In general the DLNA feature works well, finding our laptop immediately and playing tracks without problems, although scrolling through 17,000 songs to find the one we wanted got a bit difficult with no search tool to help us, plus the blocky grey/yellow menu layout could do with a revamp next year.
However there are absolutely no complaints with the deck’s performance, which is every bit as assured as the DMP-BDT320. Whether you’re watching 2D or 3D discs, the images it conjures up are clean as a whistle, and packed from corner to corner with razor-sharp detail. Panasonic’s PHL-powered picture tech guards against nasty artefacts, while Adaptive Chroma Processing helps keep colours looking eminently natural and subtle, yet vivid and powerful when they need to be.
A run-through of the Batman Begins Blu-ray demonstrates these strengths and more – the image is effortlessly cinematic, with deep yet nuanced blacks within Batman’s suit and smooth judder-free movement on a 24Hz TV. Skin tones are natural, edges are crisp and the scary features of Scarecrow’s mask look more lucid than ever.
There’s nothing to dislike about its sound quality via HDMI either. Upbeat tracks have an fast, snappy sound with a nice balance across the frequency range, clear vocal reproduction and solid detail handling. Digital Tube Sound is an acquired taste but the results are more enjoyable than many so-called sound ‘enhancements’.
Finally, disc loading is fairly fast, with Terminator Salvation firing up 43 seconds after slipping it into the slot.
If you’re looking for a quirky, stylish Blu-ray player that takes up a lot less room than the usual black boxes, then the DMP-BBT01 is a top choice. Its design will certainly turn heads, particularly with four installation options to show it off. The best part is that you don’t have to compromise on features to get a player this small and chic – it’s packed with all the stuff that makes its range-topping full-size players so impressive, including built-in Wi-Fi, Viera Connect, DLNA support, 3D, USB media playback and more.
If Panasonic had kept faith with its original button-based zapper, then this cute little player’s copybook would be blot-free, yet the often inaccurate touchpad makes certain functions feel clumsy and long-winded. Our advice? Download the iPad remote app.
It’s also fairly expensive compared with full-size decks like the Samsung BD-E6100 or Panasonic’s own DMP-BDT220, but if you have the cash then the BBT01’s cute design and impressive picture quality just about make it worth the expense.