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Panasonic DMP-BDT110 - Picture Quality and Verdict

By Danny Phillips

Reviewed:

Awards

  • Recommended by TR
Panasonic DMP-BDT110

Summary

Our Score:

9

Once again, the DMP-BDT110 features the picture technology developed by Panasonic Hollywood Labs (PHL), including Adaptive Chroma Processing, which processes colour information for every pixel in the vertical and horizontal planes to achieve more faithful reproduction than previous players. The same wizardry has been applied to 3D pictures, and as demonstrated to us at a recent briefing at Panasonic HQ, this can actually help boost the overall clarity and believability of 3D images.

You can see that as soon as a 3D image pops up on screen. Using Panasonic’s TX-P46VT20 as a test TV, our 3D Avatar disc looks absolutely sensational, an explosion of dazzling colours, pin-sharp detail and crosstalk-free layering that adds up to an effortlessly immersive viewing experience.

The whole movie is a procession of ‘wow’ moments, but a stand-out scene is the ‘First Sortie’ chapter, which shows the team flying in a helicopter and touching down in the forest. The sense of depth and perspective of the various flocks of flying creatures, coupled with the crispness and lack of blur in the image, is highly impressive. Likewise the shot of the chopper landing – the forest really does appear to reach right back from the foliage in the foreground to the distant scenery peeking through gaps in the trees.

You may be surprised by the quality of the deck’s 2D-to-3D conversion, which isn’t quite a mesmerising as ‘real’ 3D but still conjures up a sense of depth. The 2D Avatar disc comes close to the 3D version’s magic, although the deck doesn’t really impress with movies like Inception and Iron Man 2, failing to ‘lift’ objects away from the background and suffering from ghosting along edges.

Next we tried out the screen frame feature. Now, the way a 3D picture meets the edge of the screen isn’t something we’d even considered until Panasonic pointed it out, making it feel like a solution to a problem that never existed. In fact, the frame actually seems a little intrusive, eating up precious screen space in a way that’ll give movie purists the shivers. But there’s no harm in the feature being there (you don’t have to use it after all) and we applaud Panasonic for at least trying to provide a bit of extra flexibility.

2D pictures are almost as spellbinding as 3D, with a pristine pixel transfer ensuring meticulous detail reproduction and smooth, natural colours. And with the Silicon Optix HQV disc, the DMP-BDT110 has absolutely no trouble with any of the key tests, displaying them with stability and minimal artefacts.

One last thing to report on picture quality – Panasonic has tried to improve the look of compressed video from YouTube, and after watching a few clips the pictures do look a little better than usual, but not much.

Verdict

What we have here is a first-rate Blu-ray deck from Panasonic, which combines a plethora of user-friendly features with a terrific new operating system and amazing picture quality.

The only things that rankle are the lack of built-in Wi-Fi, which would sort out the shared USB problem when adding a dongle and Skype camera; the lack of must-have sites on Viera Cast (too much useless European content for our liking); the fact that 2D-to-3D conversion isn’t particularly convincing with movies that weren’t shot in 3D in the first place; and the bizarre screen frame feature.

But none of these things is a deal-breaker, and with such a generous feature list you really are getting a lot for 150 quid – although bear in mind that the Skype camera and wireless adapter could add up to £200 more to the price, so you might want to weigh up whether it’s worth opting for the DMP-BDT310 instead.

Overall Score

9

Scores In Detail

  • Performance 9
  • Value 8
  • Features 9
  • Design 8

Jmac

March 14, 2011, 5:59 pm

2D to 3D conversion is never going to be particularly convincing, and is a gimmick that will remain determinedly turned off on my setup when I upgrade to 3D (after a quick test to make sure it actually is as bad as I expect it to be). Studios drop millions of dollars to get a 2D film painstakingly converted to 3D by expert visual effects specialists, and from what I understand of the process a lot of manual intervention is involved, and even then the results are sub-par (Clash of the Titans, anyone?) so automated conversion in a £150 Blu-Ray deck really isn't going to cut it. Like many AV effects widgets (bass boost; "concert hall"-type listening modes; pseudo-surround sound) this really isn't going to do your source material any favours.

Otherwise the deck looks good. No need for wifi or BD Live here, so glad the wifi dongle and local storage are optional extras. 2nd HDMI not an issue for anyone with a decent, recent AV amp with HDMI 1.4 (my Onkyo TX-SR-608 will happily pass the appropriate signals). All I'm waiting for is another generation or 2 of 3D TVs to iron out the crosstalk issue and a range of titles compelling enough to convince me to buy...

PoisonJam

March 15, 2011, 2:30 am

Guys, what would you say has the fastest load times of all the <£200 players you've reviewed?

My Sony BDP-S350 annoys me, though it is a fairly early player. The disc load times were excellent for the time, but I'm sure have been surpassed since. Another issue I find with it is that if you switch it on and hit eject it won't just give you the disc. No, it seems to read the entire disc first before it will spit it out...

RJM

October 22, 2011, 9:20 am

To get around the low number of USB ports, I connected this player (and a Panasonic Plasma) to the web via a Wi-Fi bridge, using the LAN port
So far I have found no problems connecting to the web, and the Panasonic iPhone apps all seem to work. Having already set up a Wi-Fi network, I had no problem installing a bridge.
I recall that the bridge cost about as much as the optional Wi-Fi dongle. A cheaper option (that I have not tried) may be a bridge that only has one Ethernet port.
I now have more free USB ports than I need.
As noted before I ignored any problems with 2D-3D conversion, I tired of this option on the first day and have not been back to it.
A good 3D Blu-ray movie is however a joy to watch. If you want to see the potential of 3D in a nature doco hire "Cousteau Presents Sharks 3D".

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