If it ain’t broke don’t fix it, so they say, which would explain why the BD60’s user interface is identical to previous Panasonic players. The use of bold colours and large text gives the menus a warm, welcoming feel that won’t intimidate Blu-ray first timers or patronise experienced users. All of the options are laid out in a clear logical fashion, and the cursor is slick and speedy.
Sensibly, Panasonic has also left the remote well alone, keeping the same intuitive layout, big buttons and exceptionally clear labelling found on the BD35 and 55’s zappers. Of course the main change is the addition of a Viera Cast button, which is neatly integrated towards the top, but there is one small gripe – when using Viera Cast, you have to press the left direction key to go back to the previous menu, but it’s too easy to hit the Top Menu button instead and accidentally switch to a Blu-ray disc.
During playback you can hit the Option button on the remote and access a smaller group of setup functions, while the Display button brings up a menu containing picture presets (Normal, Soft, Fine, Cinema and User), sound modes and Dialogue Enhancer.
The BD60 also features a Quick Start mode, which eats up more power in standby than usual (5W as opposed to under 0.5W) but allows the player to boot up a lot faster. However, in terms of disc loading times the Panasonic falls a long way behind the latest players from Samsung and LG, taking a minute to start playing ”Spider-Man 3” after shutting the disc tray (twice as long as its Korean counterparts).
However, it’s certainly worth the wait, as the BD60 delivers sensational picture quality that puts similarly-priced players to shame. Using the Samsung BD-P4600 and LG BD370 for a direct comparison, we found that the Panasonic’s pictures look a touch sharper and smoother around the edges than its rivals, particularly with a pristine CGI movie like ”Wall-E”. Bright colours seem richer and more vibrant, and the punchier blacks give the overall image more depth, as well as an effortlessly cinematic feel.
The amount of detail packed into the picture is truly staggering too, with P4HD doing a marvellous job of emphasising fine patterns and textures without introducing any moiré noise or crawling. It resolves even the finest details during panoramic shots of the litter strewn landscape, giving it an astonishing clarity that epitomises what Blu-ray’s all about.
Edges are also clean as a whistle with not a jaggie in sight and fast moving objects are tracked smoothly, although when running at 24fps camera pans still aren’t completely judder-free on our 1080/24p compatible TV.