Compared with other manufacturers, Panasonic's Viera Cast content portal has the fewest streaming-media services, but it includes all of the standard services (Netflix, Pandora, Vudu) and a few standouts, including Amazon Instant and Skype.
Amazon Instant Streaming is our favorite extra, especially for. While competing services like Vudu are a compelling alternative for video-on-demand movies, Amazon Instant offers by far the largest selection of TV shows for pay-per-view watching, including both network and cable shows. If you want Amazon Instant, we'd consider Panasonic's main competition to be LG's Smart TV. Sony offers Amazon, too, but its user interface isn't quite as good.
Our extensive review of Viera Cast includes a chart comparing the major manufacturers' services.
|HDMI outputs||Single||Analog outputs||Stereo|
|Component video output||No||Digital audio outputs||Optical|
|USB ports||1||SD card slot||Yes|
The DMP-BDT210 has the standard assortment of ports you find on most Blu-ray player. The major exception is the SD card slot, which Panasonic uses for BD-Live storage, but is also handy for popping in an SD card right from your camera and viewing photos.
Note that although the DMP-BDT210 lacks a component video output, we don't consider it a major missing feature since component video is now limited to 480i resolution, because of annoying AACS rules.
Blu-ray disc load times and player speed
|Blu-ray disc load times and player speed|
|Average seconds||Composite score|
|Disc loading||33.18||Disc loading||132|
|CNET speed rating||112|
|Higher composite scores indicate faster performance, with an average 2011 Blu-ray player having a composite score of 100. For more information, see our guide to how we test Blu-ray players.|
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
The Panasonic DMP-BDT210 has a CNET speed rating of 112, which means it's significantly faster than an average 2011 midrange Blu-ray player. This is largely because of blazing fast disc-loading speeds, loading movies like "Spider-Man 3" and "Pirates of the Caribbean" nearly 10 seconds faster than all its competitors.
The Panasonic is hands-down the speed champ so far this year for disc-loading, but it's surprisingly slow when actually navigating movies. Movies with complex menus like "Walk Hard" stutter along on the DMP-BDT210, while they zip by on competitors. It can be frustrating and make the player feel slow when you're actually using it. Still, we'd say the DMP-BDT210's quick load times make up for occasionally navigation sluggishness.
If you're interested in all the details about the Panasonic DMP-BDT210's speed compared with other 2011 players, check out our full 2011 Blu-ray player comparison chart and scroll down to the load times section.
We put the Panasonic DMP-BDT210 through our full battery of image quality tests, but before we get to the results, let's be perfectly clear: we don't think most buyers should worry about image quality when deciding which Blu-ray player to buy. The differences, especially on the Blu-ray side, range from minute to nonexistent, and even DVD performance is very close between players. The only exception is for people with home theater projectors, where you may actually see a difference on a 100-plus-inch screen. In that case, it may be worth shelling out for a reference-level Blu-ray player like the Oppo BDP-93.
If you're into the nitty-gritty image quality details, again, check out our full 2011 Blu-ray player comparison chart and scroll down to the performance section. For more information on our testing procedure, consult our guide to how we test Blu-ray players.
|Blu-ray image quality: Test patterns and program material|
|Film resolution||Pass||"Ghost Rider"||Pass|
|Video resolution||Pass||"Mission: Impossible III"||Pass|
|Text overlay on film||Fail||"Sunshine"||Pass|
|Cadence tests||1/8||"Tony Bennett: An American Classic"||Pass|
|Chroma zone plate||Pass||"NIN Live: Beside You In Time"||Pass|
If we were purely judging based on test patterns, the DMP-BDT210 would appear to be the worst performing Blu-ray player we've seen this year. It fails a surprisingly number of tests, including seven cadence tests and the 2:2 film resolution test. However, we wouldn't read too much into these failures. The main takeaway is that the DMP-BDT210 passed all our program material tests and we didn't see any difference in its image quality compared with other players outside of synthetic tests.
|Streaming-video image quality|
Though the image quality of Netflix streaming video varied a little bit last year between players, we haven't observed any differences so far this year. The DMP-BDT210 provides the same Netflix image quality as other players, but remember that streaming image quality varies a lot on a title-by-title basis, and also depends heavily on the quality of your broadband connection and home network.
|DVD image quality: Test patterns and program material|
|Video resolution||Fail||"Star Trek: Insurrection"||Pass|
|Text overlay on film||Pass||"Invite Them Up"||Pass|
Again, the DMP-BDT210 did not fare well with test patterns, but it passed all our actual program material tests. We wouldn't put much stock into this when choosing a player, although if you happen to watch a lot of rare DVD material, it could be a tie-breaking factor against the Panasonic.
The Panasonic DMP-BDT210's built-in Wi-Fi, simple user interface, Amazon Instant streaming, and blazing fast disc-loading speeds make it our favorite Blu-ray player of 2011 so far.