This year Panasonic has introduced a wealth of new features, all of which have thankfully filtered down from the BDT310 despite the BDT210’s lower price tag. Chief among these is Skype video calling, which lets you see and speak to other users anywhere in the world from the comfort of your sofa. You’ll need to fork out over £100 for the communication camera mind you, but if you have enough fellow Skype users it’s well worth it. The bright, bubbly menu system makes it easy and a lot of fun to use. There’s an auto answering feature, plus callers can record messages for you onto SD card if you’re out (thanks to a software update available this month).
Another new feature is the ability to control the BDT210 with an iPod, iPad or iPhone by downloading the free app. This essentially lets you sling out the supplied remote in favour of your Apple device – the interface on your device mimics the remote and even carries out a couple of tricks that the real remote can’t. What’s more you can use apps like Gesture and Scrub to control the functions.
The other significant addition to the feature list is 2D-to-3D conversion and a range of 3D effect adjustments, which help you find the most comfortable image possible. They allow you to tweak the depth of the layering and the way the left- and right-eye images are displayed. You can also add a diffused border around the sides of the image, which can be distracting but some people might prefer the less abrupt way in which the picture meets the screen bezel.
Elsewhere you’ll find other eye-catching features like built-in Wi-Fi and DLNA networking, which allows you to stream movies, music and photos from Windows 7 PCs. And if you own one of Panasonic’s DLNA-certified DIGA recorders you can use this deck to stream recordings from it, all without a wire in sight.
The only real disappointment features-wise is that Panasonic hasn’t replaced Viera Cast with the new Viera Connect web portal. Sure, Viera Cast is fairly cool, with YouTube and Twitter providing some entertainment value, but with Sony and Samsung’s systems boasting richer and more diverse content – including BBC iPlayer and other catch-up TV services – Panasonic’s players are in dire need of an update.