The BD45 delivers excellent picture quality, particularly for a player at this price point. With a decent 1080p transfer like Inglourious Basterds, it reproduces images with lucidity and subtlety such that you'd swear you were watching it on a more expensive player. Check the scene where Col. Landa pulls up outside Monsieur LaPadite’s house. Colours are truly radiant yet natural, while the detail that defines shadows within the bushes and trees is superbly drawn, giving the image plenty of punch and depth.
The subsequent scenes inside the dimly-lit house reveal more of the deck’s excellent contrast balance and shadow detail. We’ve viewed these scenes on several players recently, including the Philips BDP7500 and Sony BDP-S760, but the BD45’s treatment boasts a touch of extra sharpness and insight, which we can only attribute to the processing effects of P4HD.
We couldn’t stump the BD45 with the Silicon Optix HQV disc either. Its handling of every test is flawless – particularly impressive is the level of focus it brings to the edges of the rotating bars on the jaggies tests, and its ability to lock down the Video and Film Resolution cadences without so much as a single twitch or flicker. DVDs obviously lack the pizzazz of hi-def but look great, upscaled with smooth edges, terrific detail rendering and convincing colours.
Sonically the BD45 does a workmanlike job, tackling Corinne Bailey Rae’s The Sea on CD with plenty of verve and top-end detail, and it just about nails the fragility of her vocals, but we’ve heard better. No problems with HD audio tracks though – the sound is as explosive as you’d expect.
Anyone who dreamed of owning a Panasonic Blu-ray deck but found their prices too prohibitive can now get themselves one, albeit a vanilla version. Thanks to Panasonic’s ever-reliable, PHL-developed processing, the DMP-BD45’s picture quality is exceptionally good for a sub-£200 model, and if crisp hi-def pictures is the only thing you want from your Blu-ray experience then the BD45 might be worth a punt.
However, the curious lack of BD Live functionality proves to be the BD45’s biggest obstacle. While we appreciate Panasonic’s attempts to cater for budget buyers, getting rid of BD Live altogether isn’t a wise move, even on an entry-level deck like this. Even if your feelings towards BD Live are ones of overwhelming indifference, buying a player without it is like cutting off your nose to spite your face. Our advice? Save up an extra £30 and bag yourself the DMP-BD65…