Panasonic DMP-BD30

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Panasonic DMP-BD30
  • Panasonic DMP-BD30
  • Panasonic DMP-BD30
  • Panasonic DMP-BD30

Pros

  • Great picture quality, DVD up-conversion to 1080p

Cons

  • No Ethernet, no built-in high-quality audio decoding

Bottom Line

Panasonic's DMP-BD30 entry-level Blu-ray player offers fantastic video quality, but isn't able to decode high-resolution audio without a dedicated AV receiver.

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Panasonic's DMP-BD30 Blu-ray disc player is a budget model that offers Blu-ray 1.1 compliance and great picture quality, but lacks features, such as high-resolution audio decoding, that appeal to enthusiast users.

Stylistically, the DMP-BD30 subtly differs from its predecessor, the DMP-BD10. The controls on the front of the unit are hidden behind a flip-down panel. An LCD on the front shows all necessary information and is easily visible from across a large room. Compared to earlier models, this player is reasonably fast when starting up and playing back discs, though the eject function sometimes takes several seconds to register the command.

The Profile 1.1 Blu-ray features are easily accessible; the source input and the picture-in-picture commentary selection are accessed from the base of the remote. Although Blu-ray Profile 1.1 doesn't support an Internet connection for online functionality, it does mandate secondary audio and video decoders for picture-in-picture display. The DMP-BD30 is the first player from Panasonic to include Profile 1.1, which is set to become the standard profile that all new players must support. In the future, Profile 2.0 will become more common, offering Internet access and interactivity, but this will likely be restricted to top-of-the-range models.

On the audio side it was evident that the DMP-BD30 is a budget model, as it lacks the ability to internally decode Dolby Digital Plus, DTS-HD or newer formats like Dolby TrueHD. On the plus side, it has the ability to output the latest formats of Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio in a bitstream format, which allows newer audio receivers to play back audio that is identical to the movie's original copy. Additionally, it internally decoded standard formats including DTS and Dolby Digital without any problems in our tests.

The player has plenty of connections, providing HDMI, component, composite and S-Video outputs, as well as separate 2-channel and 5.1 audio outputs. It also has an SDHC card slot, from which you can play back many file formats, including AVCHD video from high-definition video cameras that use SD cards.

The picture quality displayed from the unit is crystal clear. Running it through a series of scenes from The Guardian and Pearl Harbour, we were impressed by the high quality of the visuals. Fast-motion playback was seamless, with no visible jaggedness or artefacts. Small details such as facial hair and grains in wood were easily visible throughout the test viewing, giving a sense of immersion. Colours were also natural and un-tinted. Like other recent Blu-ray players, it has no problems de-interlacing 1080i video into a progressive format.

Up-scaling from DVD was seamless, offering a far superior picture quality compared to a standard DVD player. As with most Blu-ray players, the DMP-BD30 allows for DVDs to be converted to 1080p when the HDMI cable is used. The well-known lobby scene in The Matrix looked great when fully up-scaled into high definition, with details — that would be missed at lower resolutions — clearly visible. While up-scaling doesn't offer the same native picture quality as Blu-ray, the player's conversion feature means you'll be able to enjoy your older DVD purchases on any new HDTV.

With its great quality video playback from both Blu-ray and DVD, the player's overall test performance is only slightly hampered by its inability to internally decode the latest audio formats. We think it's still a good choice for any consumer looking for a standalone Blu-ray player.

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