Unsurprisingly for a flagship player, the Panasonic DMP-BDT500 is packed with features. In terms of web content and network tricks it’s basically the same as the DMP-BDT320, but the BDT500’s main advantage is its superior audio circuitry.
This ‘high grade audio design’ includes a Quad Burr Brown 192kHz/32-bit DAC arrangement for the 7.1-channel outputs, with twin power regulators supplying digital and analogue power separately. It also boasts audiophile grade capacitors.
Another feature unique to the DMP-BDT500 is High Clarity Sound Plus, which is designed to eliminate detrimental interference. The Uniphier chip inside the BDT500 combines several circuit blocks into a single chip, which already eliminates noise by reducing the connections between chips on the circuit board.
But in the past, Panasonic found there was still some noise within the Uniphier chip that affected sound quality, so it has introduced power management technology to shut down blocks that aren’t being used, according to the content being played. So when playing a CD, for example, the digital and analogue video blocks are shut down.
Elsewhere, the Jitter Purifier aims to improve audio playback through the HDMI output, while Digital Tube Sound mimics the characteristics of vacuum tube amplifiers in six different settings.
On the video side, the DMP-BDT500 once again uses Panasonic’s PHL Reference Chroma Processor Plus, which aims to cleanly and accurately reproduce colours, plus the Motion Adaptive Chroma Upsampling feature has been redesigned to improve the quality of 3D pictures.
And talking of 3D, the built-in 2D-to-3D conversion can now be applied to Viera Connect content, so those skateboarding ducks on YouTube will zoom right out of the screen towards you. There’s improved P4HD upscaling onboard too, plus DVDs and web content can be played at 24fps, which gives a filmic, judder-free picture on a compatible TV with any content.
Media playback and streaming
As mentioned, the Panasonic DMP-BDT500 boasts Viera Connect, which means you can access BBC iPlayer, Netflix, YouTube, Skype and many more sites using the built-in Wi-Fi connection. You can also stream your own movies, music and photos from networked PCs and NAS drives. Supported formats include FLAC (lossless), MP3, DivX HD, MKV, MP4, JPEG, WAV and MPO.
Alternatively you can hook up an external HDD (NTFS or FAT32 up to 2TB) or flash drive to the USB port and play files that way. Via SD card you can play AVC HD, MP4, MPEG-2, JPEG and MPO.
The DMP-BDT500 can also be controlled with a smartphone or tablet using the dedicated app for iPhone, iPad or Android. Rounding-off the feature list is a range of picture adjustments (including user-specified settings), manual 3D image adjustments and Re-master sound modes improve the perceived crispness of the sound. Our wish list would have included DVD-Audio and SACD playback too, but sadly that’s not on Panasonic’s agenda.