Another aspect Panasonic has worked hard to improve upon is disc-loading speed, and the results of this were evident when we loaded up Terminator Salvation. It chops the DMP-BD85’s sluggish time of one minute 22 seconds down to 40 seconds, with other discs like Avatar taking only 30 seconds to load. OK, so it’s not lightning quick but we’re nudging ever closer to those hallowed DVD loading times.
And in terms of picture quality, the DMP-BD75 is a great advert for budget Blu-ray players, mustering images that certainly don’t look like they’ve been compromised by corner cutting. It appears to retrieve every last scrap of detail from the disc and displays it without any errors or artefacts. The image is as clear and crisp as we’d hope, with a really canny ability to render rich, radiant colours without losing its way with shading and tonal blends, which look wonderfully smooth.
Of course, discs like Avatar are the best way to show off the BD75’s expertise. The Na’vi’s blue skin and their kaleidoscopic forest surroundings enjoy wonderful vibrancy and never look dull or garish. Textures like skin and tiny details on the forest floor during Jake’s first sojourn are easily visible. We also tried out more ‘realistic’ looking discs like Inception and The Dark Knight, and the images on show are deep and solid, exactly what true movie lovers are looking for. It also pulls it out of the bag with DVD discs, delivering clean, watchable pictures that might just save your SD discs the ignominy of the car boot sale for a little longer.
But for a more objective insight into the deck’s video processing chops, try an evaluation disc like Silicon Optix’s HQV. The DMP-BD75 passes its stern tests with flying colours, making the Film and Video Resolution loss tests look completely stable, rendering diagonals without any stepping whatsoever and handling the stadium camera pan with the suave assurance of a more expensive player.
Sonically the player is unremarkable, handling CDs and compressed music through the analogue outs with a lively and generally well-balanced sound without ever doing anything to prick up the ears of any audiophiles in the vicinity.
If you honestly don’t have the funds to plough into one of Panasonic’s forthcoming higher-end players, or you’re simply not bothered about 3D or any of the other bells and whistles finding their way onto many players in the budget-to-midrange market, then the Panasonic might be worth investigating by virtue of its wonderful picture quality and excellent new operating system – plus you get DLNA networking functionality as a tasty little bonus.
However, anyone looking for an exciting, sexy, multifaceted and media savvy Blu-ray player with Web access, 3D support and Wi-Fi functionality might do well to seek out a discounted Sony BDP-S570 or keep saving and wait to see what Panasonic’s better-specced players have to offer.