3D technology is dividing home cinema fans into two camps – those who think it’s the best thing since sliced silicon and those who see it as nothing more than an expensive gimmick. But whatever your opinion, 3D is where it’s at and Panasonic is doing its utmost to make it a success. The company’s five-strong range of 3D plasmas and DMP-BDT300 Blu-ray player have gone down a storm with the critics (including us), and now Panasonic has expanded its 3D range with a new deck, the DMP-BDT100.
It’s a pared-down, cheaper version of the DMP-BDT300, designed to bring Panasonic’s patented brand of 3D Blu-ray playback to a wider audience. Inevitably, it lacks several of the BDT300’s frills, but if this version can retain decent performance and features at a lower price point it might be worth making a few sacrifices for.
The DMP-BDT100 looks like any of Panasonic’s regular Blu-ray players, aside from the big ‘3D Full HD’ logo slapped on the fascia. We wouldn’t call it eye candy as such, but its smart, sleek black finish and glinting silver stripe through the middle is a good look. It’s less showy and slightly slimmer than the DMP-BDT300, and unlike its bigger brother sibling the fascia isn’t completely covered by a flap – only the bottom half drops down, uncovering a USB port, SD card slot and a couple of buttons.
On the rear panel Panasonic has made the sort of cutbacks George Osborne would be proud of. There’s a single HDMI v1.4 output, as opposed to the twin outputs found on the DMP-BDT300, which means you can’t pipe 3D pictures to your TV and HD audio to a receiver independently. Anyone who wants to enjoy Dolby TrueHD or DTS HD Master Audio soundtracks alongside 3D pictures will need to upgrade to a HDMI v1.4 AV receiver (if you haven’t done so already).
Other sockets found on the DMP-BDT300 but missing here include a coaxial digital output, 7.1-channel analogue outputs and a second USB port – the last one is particularly problematic if you want to connect Panasonic’s optional wireless LAN adapter (the £80 DY-WL10). With this device hogging the front USB port, there’s nowhere to connect a USB storage device for digital media playback. What’s more, connecting the USB dongle to the front looks rather ungainly.
Completing the socketry line-up are analogue and optical digital audio outputs, component and composite video outputs and an Ethernet port. Connect to your router using Ethernet or the USB dongle and you can access a range of networking features. As ever, this includes the Viera Cast web portal, which currently comprises YouTube, Dailymotion, Bloomberg and Picasa, as well as Bild.de, Q Tom and Tagesschau for our German friends.
Although the range of content isn’t as broad as Sony’s Bravia Internet Video or Samsung’s Internet@TV portals, at least Panasonic is slowly adding content to the line-up, and in any case YouTube alone could be enough to keep most people entertained.