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CNET First Look
CNET First Look
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>> Hi. I'm Matthew Moskovciak, Senior Associate Editor at CNET.com, and we're here with the Panasonic DMP-BD85K. This is Panasonic's midrange blu-ray player, and it's currently selling for about $250 online. As you can see, the styling isn't quite as sleek as some of the other players in this price range. It has a little bit of a boxy look, and it's a little bit thicker than some other players. If you flip down the panel on the front, you'll see there's a USB port, as well as an SD card slot and some basic front panel controls. If you turn on the Panasonic, you can check out the graphical user interface, which is a little outdated compared to some of its competitors. It lacks some of the high def graphics and eye candy that you see on other players. It's also not quite as easy to navigate, as it lacks big graphics for commonly used streaming services, such as Netflix. It gets a little better once you go into Viera Cast, as now you'll see the big icons, and you'll see the mainstreaming services such as Netflix, Amazon Video On Demand, and YouTube. Now, that's a little bit less than some other competitors offer, although we will note that Pandora is supposed to come later in the year via a firmware upgrade. If you look around back to check out the connectivity, it's mostly standard. There's an HDMI output, and there's both optical and coaxial digital audio outputs. The big step up on the Panasonic are the 7.1 analog outputs, which is nice if you have an older non-HDMI receiver because you're still going to be able to take advantage of the full resolution of soundtrack formats like Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio. You'll also notice there's an Ethernet port, the Panasonic does support Wi-Fi, but only using a USB Wi-Fi dongle. Now, that is a little bit of step down from most players this year, which have built-in Wi-Fi; although when you have the dongle behind your player, you really don't notice it anyway. In terms of image quality, the Panasonic was in the top tier of players that we've tested this year, as it passed all of the most important test patterns and all of the most important program material that we threw at it. Sure, it didn't pass quite as much program material as our reference Oppo BDP-83 blu-ray player; however, finding those differences in actual program material is really difficult, and you're likely not to notice a difference. In terms of operational speed, the DMP-BD85K is one of slower players that we tested this year. On the upside, it does have a quick-start mode, and it's one of the fastest blu-ray players going from off to loading a movie, especially for simple movies that don't have BD-Java menus. On the downside, it does take a long time to load some of those movies that have BD-Java menus, like ^ITSpider-Man 3^NO, or ^ITPirates of the Caribbean^NO, and it does have slower operational speeds. So if you're skipping chapters or navigating menus, it's going to feel a little more sluggish than some other players. Overall, while we did appreciate the excellent blu-ray image quality and the inclusion of the 7.1 analog outputs, competing players at the same price level generally offer more features or a little bit faster performance, so we had difficulty justifying why to pick the Panasonic over one of its competitors. I'm Matthew Moskovciak, Senior Associate Editor at CNET.com, and this is Panasonic DMP-BD85K.
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