Blu-ray players were conceived to do a simple job but over the years they’ve morphed into much more than mere disc spinners. Now they’re sophisticated entertainment hubs, able to interact with tablets and smartphones, access internet services, play multimedia formats and stream content from networked computers. And just when you thought they couldn’t get any smarter, companies like Panasonic keep adding little innovations that make them more and more advanced – and the DMP-BDT320 is a fine example.
It’s one of four dedicated Blu-ray players in Panasonic’s 2012 range, joining a bunch of Blu-ray/HDD recorders, PVR combis and all-in-one systems. It’s also the successor to last year’s DMP-BDT310, but no longer heads the range due to the introduction of a new flagship deck, the DMP-BDT500.
The first thing to notice about the DMP-BDT320 is the revamped design. Panasonic’s players have never been the prettiest but this year they look gorgeous, due largely to the addition of inward-sloping edges on the slim bodywork. And we really do mean slim – the BDT320 measures just 27mm from bottom to top, which will slide under your TV pretty much unnoticed. Like the BDT310 the dappled top panel has a row of touch sensitive buttons embedded into it, but the Touch-Free Sensor (which opened the tray with a wave of the hand) has gone.
The fascia sports a glamorous mirrored panel, with an LED display on the left and a glowing white light above the central disc slot (another welcome addition). Under a flap on the right hand side you’ll find an SD card slot and USB port, which allow you to play back digital files from SD, SDXC and SDHC cards up to 64GB (as well as providing the storage memory for BD Live), and memory devices up to 2TB.
On the back, the DMP-BDT320 does away with the second HDMI output (which is now reserved for the DMP-BDT500), but given the wide availability of HDMI v1.4-compatible receivers it’s no great loss. What’s left is a fairly simple line-up of sockets, including HDMI, optical digital, analogue stereo and composite video outputs, an Ethernet port and a second USB port.