As John noted in his review of TX-P50VT20, the first thing that strikes us when watching Panasonic’s 3D system in action is how little crosstalk there is in backgrounds compared with Samsung’s BD-C6900 3D player/LED TV combo. The image seems more stable and well-defined, making onscreen activity much easier to follow and therefore more relaxing for the eyes. Objects in the foreground are still a little difficult for the brain to digest but don’t look as blurry as they do on Samsung’s system.
The DMP-BDT100 makes Coraline’s beautiful opening titles look utterly captivating. Everything from the doll maker’s needle jutting towards the camera to the falling cotton wool looks really convincing. Text sits forward from the background and perspectives shift with remarkable stability. And from then on, the film’s sumptuously detailed sets and weird, wonderful animated characters are rendered with mesmerising depth and layering, making us scan every inch of the image to fully appreciate the 3D effect. It’s a real feast for the eyes.
But it’s not just the 3D that holds your attention – it’s also the ferociously sharp detail reproduction that picks out every fibre of the doll in Coraline’s opening scenes, as well as the punchy, noise-free blacks and natural, nuanced colour reproduction. What’s more, the combination of the deck’s 1080/24p output and the TV’s flawless motion processing keeps moving objects looking smooth, even when the 3D processing is doing its thing.
We switched over to Panasonic’s 3D demo disc, which contains a segment called Rome The Eternal City. The DMP-BDT100’s reproduction of this showcase clip is impressive, rendering the panoramic shots of the city’s rooftops and coliseum with the same wow factor as the DMP-BDT300. Shots of the juggler throwing balls up towards the camera drew the most ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ from visiting viewers.
The main criticism of the 3D picture is that picture brightness is greatly reduced when viewed through the glasses. This has an impact on shadow detail and contrast, and we had to find a picture setting for 3D material that upped the brightness without losing black depth. This isn’t the fault of the player per se and not a deal-breaker, but it is something to bear in mind. Samsung’s 3D player and LED TV produce much brighter pictures through their glasses.
Of course, the DMP-BDT100 isn’t just about 3D pictures – its performance with 2D discs is also stunning. The Dark Knight on Blu-ray is handled with outstanding colour reproduction, cinematic solidity and subtlety, not to mention razor-sharp detail rendering. It also laps up the Silicon Optix HQV test disc, reproducing the jaggies tests without a single trace of stepping and keeping artefacts at bay during the Film/Video Resolution Loss tests.
This top-drawer picture performance is backed up by striking sound quality, both with Blu-ray soundtracks and CDs. Music played through the analogue outputs isn’t quite audiophile standard but sounds crisp and open, plus the Re-Master mode makes subtle improvements to high-frequency fidelity. The HDMI Jitter Purifier aims to clean up the digital signal when playing music through this connection.
If you’re already sold on the idea of 3D and have bought (or plan to buy) a 3D-ready TV, then it makes perfect sense to stick the DMP-BDT100 on your shortlist, particularly at this more affordable price point. Its 3D performance in tandem with a Panasonic plasma is fantastic, thanks to its entrancing depth and detail, plus it’s no slouch with 2D material. It’s just a shame that Panasonic couldn’t chuck proper DLNA networking into the mix and bulk out Viera Cast a bit , as these shortcomings make Sony, LG and Samsung’s 3D decks feel like better value for money. Other than that though, the DMP-BDT100 is an impressive Blu-ray proposition.