Panasonic DMP-BDT330 review: Panasonic DMP-BDT330

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MSRP: $199.99

Panasonic DMP-BDT330

(Part #: DMP-BDT330)
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4 stars

CNET Editors' Rating

The Good Blu-ray and DVD picture performance as good as it gets. Two HDMI outputs for support of older equipment. Excellent USB audio handling. Respectable start-up speeds.

The Bad Silly defaults on picture and audio output. Lacks computer keyboard interface available with some other brands. Physical design doesn't lend itself to USB usage.

The Bottom Line The DMP-BDT330 continues Panasonic's tradition of providing the best Australian DVD/Blu-ray performance from the big brands, while adding interesting network features.

8.2 Overall

System

The Panasonic DMP-BDT330 is the company's current top-of-the-line stand-alone Blu-ray player (it has more expensive units that double as digital TV receivers). It's an interesting-looking unit with wedge-shaped ends and a couple of control keys on top, so it isn't stackable.

Inside, it offers lots of features beyond core disc-playing capabilities, including access to Panasonic's latest set of internet features and wide media support from USB, SD and DLNA. It has built-in Wi-Fi (with support for the 5GHz band in addition to 2.4GHz) and supports Miracast, a way of wirelessly transmitting HD video from some recent Android phones.

Forget about analogue with this unit. It has two HDMI outputs and one optical digital audio one. No analogue sound. No analogue video. The main reason for the two HDMI outputs is so that you can feed video direct to your display and sound separately to a home-theatre receiver. If your receiver doesn't support, say, 3D or 4K video standards (both of which this player is capable of supplying), then it can still receive the highest audio quality from the second HDMI output.

Playing discs

When it comes to Blu-ray and DVD playback, Panasonic does a better job overall than most players on the market. The reason is simple: it allows you to control the progressive scan conversion process on interlaced discs (which some Australian Blu-ray discs are, and all Australian DVDs are). Instead of it having to try to work out the best technique from analysing the content (which it does quite competently, but, like all players, imperfectly), it can be set to "Film" mode, forcing it to stick with the best technique for most movies regardless of ambiguities in the picture content.

But you will need to make a couple of changes for best performance. After the auto set-up, the player still has 24p output switched off. The great majority of Blu-ray titles work best at this rate, but unless this is changed in the set-up menu, they'll typically be output at 60p, leading to jerky motion. Just about all TVs made in the last five years support 24p, and those that don't will lack the requisite entry in their HDMI EDID (Extended Display Identification Data) entries, anyway.

If you're using this player with a home-theatre receiver and HDMI, then you should also go into the "Sound" part of the settings menu, find "Digital Audio Output" and switch "BD-Video Secondary Audio" off. It defaults to "On", and in this state, the player rather than using that beautiful losslessly compressed Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio instead draws on the lossy Dolby Digital or DTS counterparts embedded within them. Switch it back on only when you're watching a disc with BonusView PIP sound that you want to hear.

The remote control is smallish and a little chunky, but worked well enough. The player was very responsive to it, acting fast on keystrokes. It started up at a reasonable clip and loaded discs fairly quickly. From standby, it could get a disc's content up on the screen in 25 seconds. There's a "Quick Start" mode that reduces this to 10 seconds, but it leaves big chunks of the unit still consuming power. In normal operation, the unit used 10 watts; in standby, just 0.2 watts. In standby with Quick Start enabled, it used 5.4 watts.

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