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So what does it offer features-wise? Not loads, but more than you might expect at this price. The most appealing feature is ‘Media Server’ DLNA networking, which allows you to stream music, video and photos from Windows 7 PCs on your home network, or you can access recordings stored on a Panasonic DIGA recorder from this player in another room. The Ethernet-only connection method makes it more cumbersome to set up than it could be, but once connected the feature works well and the BD75 makes it easy to find content.
That USB port lets you play a decent array of file formats from flash drives and external FAT32 HDDs, most significantly MKV and DivX HD but also MP3 and JPEG. It refused our AAC, WMA and WMV files though, so if your library contains a lot of those then perhaps look to Samsung or LG.
That’s pretty much it on the features front, apart from the usuals like Dolby True HD/DTS HD Master Audio decoding and bitstream output, 1080/24p support, Deep Colour, x.v.Colour and Viera Link HDMI CEC. You can also make basic image tweaks using the special picture menu. Players further up the range can access Panasonic’s new Viera Connect cloud Internet service, make Skype calls and enjoy 3D functionality, including 2D to 3D conversion.
It may be light on flashy tricks but Panasonic’s newly revamped onscreen interface is like a feature in itself. The company has clearly worked hard to improve the user-friendliness of the new players and it’s really paid dividends. The new ‘Home’ menu now resembles a cross (sound familiar?), and a simple tap of a direction key or enter takes you straight to the required menu. There’s no wading through pages of submenus or entering a separate menu just to access Setup like on last year’s decks. Each arm of the cross contains a different icon, and the whole thing is decorated in bright, fluffy colours that help make operation an effortless experience. The Setup menu uses the same list layout as before, but Panasonic has jazzed up its appearance with some new fonts.
The remote stays the same however, which is a good decision as we’ve always liked Panasonic’s use of large chunky keys and clear, plain-English labelling. There’s a dedicated button for the Media Server feature and the menu controls are as intuitively placed as ever.
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