As for features, let’s tackle the deck’s Profile 1.1 capabilities first. The main advantage is that you can watch picture-in-picture features found on a handful of Blu-ray discs, for instance video commentaries that appear in a sub-screen as the movie plays on the main screen. This also means that there are two audio tracks playing at the same time, which the DMP-BD30 mixes together, but you can turn the secondary audio off if you want. The downside of this secondary audio feature is that when you’re playing any of the hi-res audio formats via HDMI, the unit reverts to Dolby Digital when it is activated.
Some other feature lists would end there, but the DMP-BD30 has plenty more up its sleeve. It’s compatible with a wide range of formats, including AVCHD, MP3, DivX and JPEG, and it’ll play every type of recordable DVD and CD going, plus BD-RE and BD-R discs. What’s more, you can play AVCHD and JPEG files stored on an SD (or SDHC) card by sticking it in the front-mounted slot. Panasonic also reckons this could be used to download bonus content from a movie website onto SD card and playing it in tandem with a Blu-ray disc.
There’s also a vast array of advanced processing technology on board, including the UniPhier; a video processor that combines Pixel Precision Progressive Processing for HD (P4HD) – to boost picture sharpness – with a PHL Reference Chroma Processor that up-samples colour information, while at the same time boosting sound using Audio Re-Master technology (which is said to retrieve sonic data lost during the compression process used in disc authoring). This AV wizardry was developed by Panasonic Hollywood Laboratory (PHL) in collaboration with film industry professionals, which can only mean good things when it comes to picture and sound quality.
Elsewhere, you can set delay and channel levels for the speakers, plus a range of picture presets and adjustments lets you tweak the image in great detail, using the contrast, brightness, sharpness, colour, gamma and noise reduction settings. Virtual Surround and Dialog Enhancer complete a very satisfying selection of features, though DVD-Audio playback would have been the icing on the cake.
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