The Panasonic DMP-BDT120 lacks built in Wi-Fi, which is the only difference between it and the BDT220. That means you’ll need to fork out for the DY-WL10 dongle (below) to go wireless with its alluring range of network and internet features, which will set you back around £80. But we find it hard to understand why anyone would rather buy this deck and a dongle for around £220 when the Wi-Fi equipped DMP-BDT220 only costs £180 and the DMP-BDT320 costs £230.
It also causes a minor dilemma if you want to use Skype. The feature will only work with the LAN adapter connected, which takes up the rear USB port. That means you have to connect the camera to the front USB port, so there’ll be some chopping and changing every time you want to play media from a USB flash device. Not a great hardship perhaps, but another little niggle that may push you towards the BDT220.
Smart TV – Viera Connect
But, if you invest in the Wi-Fi dongle, you’re in for a treat. First up you can explore Viera Connect, Panasonic’s internet content portal. This version is new to the company’s Blu-ray players this year, but it’s basically the same as Viera Cast with a better choice of content and a Market where you can add any new third-party apps that become available.
The selection is decent enough, with highlights including BBC iPlayer, Netflix, Acetrax, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and of course Skype, but you’ll still find a better range of services on Sony and Samsung’s Blu-ray players. The Viera Connect interface is a tad clunky with its various pages of apps, but we’re being picky here – it’s a fun feature that adds plenty of value to the overall package.
And just like its more expensive siblings, the Panasonic DMP-BDT120 is DLNA certified and can stream media content from PCs, smartphones and Panasonic recorders on a home network. You can also pull content onto your smartphone from PCs, using the DMP-BDT120 as a renderer. The deck supports MP3, WMA, FLAC, DivX, MKV, WAV, JPEG and MPO and you can play these from USB flash devices too. AVCHD, MP4, MPEG-2, JPEG and MPO can be played from SD cards.
The BDT120 even lets you pull content from non-DLNA devices using the Network Drive feature, and when doing so it supports an even wider range of formats. The network-related goodies continue with the 2012 iPad remote app, which went live in the last couple of weeks and provides a nice modern way of controlling the player in place of the regular remote. The app is packed with options, including support for Gesture, a menu graphic that apes the look of the real remote and a key pad that makes it a breeze to fill out onscreen dialogue boxes.
Away from all the snazzy network stuff, the DMP-BDT120 is a high-spec Blu-ray player, despite its entry-level billing. As well as spinning 3D platters it converts 2D discs to 3D and decodes HD audio formats. DVDs can be upscaled to 1080p too.
Using the DMP-BDT120 is a joy. Right from the off it helps you out with a step-by-step guide for all the basic settings, and then launches into the fantastic menu system, which takes intuitiveness to a whole new level. Icons are arranged into a cross that corresponds with the multi-direction pad on the remote, and a single press in the right direction takes you to that option – the OK key is virtually redundant. What’s more it’s incredibly attractive to look at with its crisp full-colour graphics.
Apart from the Viera Connect interface, which all of the menus share this straightforward, user-friendly ethos. One particularly neat feature is the Multi-User Mode, which allows different people to customise wallpaper and icons to their taste, and if you have the camera connected there’s a facial recognition mode. Superfluous but clever stuff.
The remote is the same one supplied with last year’s players and not the new-fangled touch pad version that comes with the DMP-BDT320. It’s easy to use, with a thoughtful button layout and foolproof labelling. A row of keys on the right gives direct access to Skype, PIP, Viera Connect and the 3D settings, while the disc playback keys are highlighted in blue.