Like its more expensive stable mate, the Pansonic DMP-BDT220 conjures up superlative pictures, rendering the 1080p detail of Super 8 on Blu-ray with exceptional clarity. The image is so sharp and glossy that even mundane shots of 70s suburbia look spectacular. It takes fine textures and details in its stride, particularly strands of hair and clothing fibres. And even during dark scenes its detail reproduction is effortless – in the aftermath of the movie’s pivotal train crash, the scattered rubble and wreckage punch through the gloom. Edges are free from noise and jaggies, while camera pans and moving objects are smooth.
What consistently impresses us about Panasonic’s players is the depth and accuracy of their colours and the DMP-BDT220 continues the good work thanks to its improved Adaptive Chroma Processing technology. Skin tones look realistic and bright shades blaze from the screen. There’s remarkable subtlety too, with smooth tonal gradation making the image look natural.
These qualities permeate 3D pictures too, resulting in a wonderfully absorbing and atmospheric viewing experience. Layered objects are poised and pristine, with no motion blur to sully the clarity, while the deep blacks and radiant colours give the image cinematic solidity. Converted 2D discs are still hit and miss though, with only certain scenes looking convincing.
We ran the Silicon Optix HQV Blu-ray and, much like the Panasonic BDT320, it handles the torture tests without batting an eyelid. Flawlessly smooth diagonal edges earn a pass in the Diagonal Filter (jaggies) test, while the Film and Video Resolution Loss tests are free from strobing. We also timed the deck’s disc loading speeds with Terminator Salvation and Super 8, and it clocked in at 43 and 23 seconds respectively – not bad at all.
Despite the lack of Digital Tube Sound and High Clarity Sound, the DMP-BDT220 does a fine job with CDs, giving music a sense of balance and openness. It won’t give Marantz or Denon sleepless nights but for everyday listening it’s just the ticket.
With its more ‘sensible’ design and fewer features, the Panasonic DMP-BDT220 unsurprisingly doesn’t scale the same heights as the BDT320. But thankfully the important stuff is all present and correct, such as built-in Wi-Fi, Viera Connect, network streaming from DLNA and non-DLNA devices, Skype and 3D Blu-ray compatibility, which means you don’t have to compromise on the good stuff if the BDT320 is just out of your financial reach.
What’s more, the operating system is fantastic, using a super-intuitive onscreen layout and a remote that’s ironically easier to use than the BDT320’s new touchpad zapper. It’s also a talented picture purveyor with 2D and 3D discs, all of which maintains Panasonic's position as a formidable force in the Blu-ray market.