/> ED I T O R S C H O I C E IN N O V A T IO N A W A R D
X

Panasonic DMP-B15K photos

The Panasonic DMP-B15K is the world's first portable Blu-ray player and can function as a standalone player, too, but ultimately there are too many caveats and it costs too much to recommend.

Matthew_Moskovciak.jpg
Matthew Moskovciak
336766812440DT3.jpg
1 of 17 Sarah Tew/CNET

Panasonic DMP-B15K

The Panasonic DMP-BD15K is the first portable Blu-ray player, and at first it's easy to write it off as useless since much of Blu-ray's visual superiority doesn't translate on its 8.9-inch screen. But that's missing the point. If you're a home theater buff with a growing Blu-ray collection, you might be frustrated that you can't watch those movies on a plane or even in your bedroom.
The real niche of the DMP-B15K is allowing you to watch your high-definition discs in more locations (rather than making the immersive Blu-ray experience portable), and the DMP-B15K is well-suited to the task. It has a full suite of car accessories and an HDMI output that makes it easy to use as a standalone player, too.
However, like many first-generation devices, the DMP-B15K has plenty of caveats--a bulky design, short 2.5 hour battery-life, and less reliable playback than standalone players. Even more crippling is its sky-high $800 list price, making it only slightly cheaper than entry-level Blu-ray-equipped laptops.
Ultimately, we're onboard with the idea that there's a need for a portable Blu-ray player, but, unfortunately, the DMP-B15K's price and shortcomings make it difficult to recommend to all but the most well-off Blu-ray fans.
2 of 17 Sarah Tew/CNET

Bigger than you'd think

Yes, it's the first portable Blu-ray player, but our first reaction after taking it out of the box was "Wow, that's big." The DMP-B15K feels sizable mostly because of its built-in stand, which is actually required because of the DMP-B15's unusual design.
336766812440DT2.jpg
3 of 17 Sarah Tew/CNET

Unique design

While most portable DVD players sport a clamshell design--just open it up and start watching--the DMP-B15K's screen is actually upside down when you first open the unit. To get the screen right-side-up, you twist it around and lay it flat, then prop the unit up.
336766812440FT.jpg
4 of 17 Sarah Tew/CNET

Straight on

Even when folded up, the Panasonic is considerably thick, and it will take up plenty of room in your carry-on bag.
336766812440BK.jpg
5 of 17 Sarah Tew/CNET

Playback controls

To control the DMP-B15K, you can either use the controls on the top of the unit or the included remote. The top location of the controls allows the front the DMP-B15K to have a sleeker look, but you'll have to lean over the unit to see what you're doing.
336766812440DT6.jpg
6 of 17 Sarah Tew/CNET

Small joystick

We were happy to see a variety of controls available, including a small joystick so you can navigate menus without the remote. One click "up" with the joystick brings up the pop-up menu and a click down makes it go away.
336766812440DT7.jpg
7 of 17 Sarah Tew/CNET

Standard playback controls

The DMP-B15K also has standard playback controls, including chapter forward/backward buttons.
336766812440DT1.jpg
8 of 17 Sarah Tew/CNET

Display

The DMP-B15K's built-in LCD is surrounded by a mirror-like blue bezel, with the speakers running along the bottom. The display is 8.9 inches (measured diagonally) and has a native resolution of 1,024x600 pixels; that's not enough for the full resolution of Blu-ray (1,920x1,080). We appreciated that the screen features a matte finish, unlike the glossy screens that have become common on laptops, so you won't get as much glare in bright environments.
336766812440SD.jpg
9 of 17 Sarah Tew/CNET

Side view

336766812440DT5.jpg
10 of 17 Sarah Tew/CNET

Side view, with stand extended

336766812440DT4.jpg
11 of 17 Sarah Tew/CNET

Connectivity

The main reason the DMP-B15K works as a standalone player is its HDMI output. Connect the DMP-B15K to an HDTV and it's capable of outputting high-definition video and high-resolution audio, just like larger units. For older TVs, there's also a composite AV output to be used with the included breakout cable. An SD slot is included and you'll need to insert a card (not included) to use BD-Live features. Rounding out the connectivity is a headphone jack and an Ethernet port. Just like the DMP-BD60, the DMP-B15K can access Panasonic's proprietary Internet content portal, VieraCast, which includes YouTube and Picasa, with Amazon Video On Demand coming sometime this summer, according to Panasonic.
336766812440DT12.jpg
12 of 17 Sarah Tew/CNET

Battery

Panasonic rates the battery life at 3 hours, but in our tests, we got 2 hours and 28 minutes--enough time to get through "Batman Begins" but not "The Dark Knight." It's definitely on the short side and as the battery ages you'll probably have difficulty even making it through a standard 2-hour long movie. On the other hand, more flights are offering power outlets these days, so battery life may be less of a concern than it has been in the past. The included cigarette lighter power adapter also mitigates the issue somewhat for in-car use, although we'd prefer to not have the cable clutter. According to Panasonic, it will offer a 6-hour battery later this year, but no details on pricing or if it will add to the already bulky design.
336766812440DT8.jpg
13 of 17 Sarah Tew/CNET

AC adapter

With the relatively short battery life, plan to carry the DMP-B15K's AC adapter with you on all but the shortest trips.
336766812440DT9.jpg
14 of 17 Sarah Tew/CNET

Headrest adapter

The DMP-B15K is also designed for in-car use, and a headrest adapter is included.
336766812440DT10.jpg
15 of 17 Sarah Tew/CNET

Cigarette lighter adapter

Also mitigating the battery life issue is the included cigarette lighter adapter.
336766812440DT11.jpg
16 of 17 Sarah Tew/CNET

Standard-definition breakout cable included

The DMP-B15K comes with a standard-definition breakout cable; you'll have to spring for an HDMI cable on your own.
336766812440RMT.jpg
17 of 17 Sarah Tew/CNET

Remote

The included remote is just a slight step up from the cheap credit-card-style remotes included on many inexpensive products. It's usable, but at this price we expected a little more.

More Galleries

The best games on Nintendo Switch

More Galleries

The best games on Nintendo Switch

41 Photos
The best Christmas movies and where to watch them

More Galleries

The best Christmas movies and where to watch them

18 Photos
Spooky space shots show creepy side of the cosmos

More Galleries

Spooky space shots show creepy side of the cosmos

29 Photos
Movies coming in 2021 and 2022 from Netflix, Marvel, HBO and more

More Galleries

Movies coming in 2021 and 2022 from Netflix, Marvel, HBO and more

67 Photos
2021 best new TV shows to watch, stream, obsess about

More Galleries

2021 best new TV shows to watch, stream, obsess about

65 Photos
The 51 best VR games

More Galleries

The 51 best VR games

53 Photos
Best dating apps of 2021

More Galleries

Best dating apps of 2021

13 Photos