Performance and picture quality
The Panasonic DMP-BDT120 is as quick to load discs as its BDT-series stablemates, firing up Terminator Salvation in 41 seconds and Thor in half the time. That’s great news, as you get to revel in the deck’s delicious pictures as quickly as possible. With the 2D Rise of the Planet of the Apes, images are staggeringly detailed, rendering the impressive ape CG with pleasing clarity, but not neglecting the finer details of the human faces on show.
It also reproduces tricky colours in a life-like manner, subtly teasing out the layers of shading around cheek bones and on clothing with no banding or bleeding. Edges are razor sharp and shadow detail, such as folds and creases on black suit jackets, is clear as day. The 1080/24p output ensures judder free movement when used with a compatible TV.
With the more demanding Silicon Optix HQV disc the DMP-BDT120 delivers an assured performance, reproducing the Video Resolution, Jaggies and Film Resolution tests with only some minor flicker on the latter to report. Tricky camera movements over detail don’t faze the deck in the slightest, likewise the array of exotic video cadences thrown its way.
The DMP-BDT120 is also a fine purveyor of 3D pictures. Once again Avatar found its way into the disc slot and while viewing the First Sortie chapter the image quality hit us for six, with amazing depth and clarity that draws you deep into the action. As the helicopter touches down in the forest the experience is mesmerising – the layers of tree trunks, branches and sunlight streaming in through the gaps seem to stretch back for miles, with skipping animals and flapping ferns crisply resolved in the foreground.
And even without the advanced audio modes found in the DMP-BDT320 (High Clarity Sound, Digital Tube Sound) the BDT120 still plays music with a well-balanced and open feel.
There’s absolutely no question that the DMP-BDT120 is a top quality Blu-ray player. Its 2D and 3D pictures look stunning, there’s a bevy of useful features on board including Viera Connect and DLNA networking, and its operating system is one of the best we’ve seen on any Blu-ray player.
The only issue is that you need to buy the optional dongle to access the deck’s web features wirelessly, which is pointless when the step-up DMP-BDT220 with built-in Wi-Fi sells for around the same price. Therefore the only people likely to be interested are those with wired web routers who don’t want to pay a premium for Wi-Fi, or those with no real interest in online features at present. If that’s you, then enjoy your new DMP-BDT120. Everyone else should head straight for the superior DMP-BDT220 or DMP-BDT320.