The competition amongst mid-level Blu-ray Disc Players is fierce. Most of them offer us the basic features we come to except such as Built-in Wi-Fi, 3D capability, Netflix streaming and of course excellent picture and sound quality. However, the Panasonic DMP-BDT210, even though it does not have any major distinguishing features from other Blu-ray Players, has managed to stand out from the crowd by doing just about everything right. The new features it has added to the 2011 model include a Touch Free Sensor for opening the disc tray and Skype capability. But it is the DMP-BDT210 very fast disc-loading speeds, simple and easy user interface and a great set of Online Streaming Services which makes it one of the best Blu-ray Disc Players for 2011.
Panasonic has designed the DMP-BDT210 with a normal glossy black front panel. To load a disc the front panel opens up, revealing the disc loading tray, some basic control buttons and a SD Card Slot and USB Port. The front panel closes once a disc has been loading, giving the DMP-BDT210 a clean modern look. However, if you are using a USB device, the front panel will have to stay open and you are forced to look at the unappealing interior. One unique feature of the DMP-BDT210 is the Touch Free Sensor which opens the disc loading tray by simply moving your hand over the top of the player. This innovative feature might just be a gimmick, but may come in useful in a darken room or if your hands are full.
VIDEO QUALITY: The image quality on the DMP-BDT210, like most Blu-ray Disc Players, is excellent when playing back blu-rays and DVDs. You get Full HD 1080p/24 video resolution on blu-rays and it up-scales DVDs to near HD levels. Panasonic has equipped their player with a new 3D Enhancer and Depth Controller and the latest UniPhier chip to improve 3D effects (you can control the depth of 3D images and covert 2D images to 3D) and produced a clear, sharper High-Definition pictures. And Panasonic has increased the vertical color data by 1.5 times compared to its 2010 players. Video connections for the DMP-BDT210 include HDMI Output and Composite Video Outputs. Component Outputs are missing. Which is not really a major problem, since component video is now regulated to only 480i resolution due to AACS rules.
AUDIO QUALITY: The DMP-BDT210 is capable to decode and bit-stream output the latest high-resolution audio formats – Dolby® TrueHD, DTS™-HD Master Audio Essential. It also has a new HDMI Jitter Purifier to improve the sound quality. The audio connections include HDMI Output, 2.0-ch Analog Outputs and a Digital Optical Output.
The simple lay-out of the user interface is different from other Blu-ray DVD Players, but to is easy and fast to use since there are less buttons to push. And the remote, has an efficient lay-out as well, with quick and direct access to both Viera Cast and Netflix. You can download a free app to let your iPhone control the player, but unfortunately you are unable to use a keyboard to input text commands.
Viera Cast provides access to Panasonic’s online streaming features. They include Netflix, Amazon Instant, CinemaNow and Vudu. You get access to social networking sites such as Twitter, as well as other popular sites like YouTube, Pandora and Picasa. Missing are Hulu Plus and MLB.tv; which are two of the major streaming-media services. However, it does have Amazon Instant, which is not available on some of its competitors (Samsung BD6500, PS3 Slim). Amazon Instant offers you the most comprehensive array of TV shows (both Network and Cable Shows). Also, Panasonic has added Skype to Viera Cast.
Other features of the DMP-BDT2100 are built-in Wi-Fi, 3D Blu-ray playback, DLNA capability (Streaming digital media over your Home Network), and USB playback. The DMP-BDT210 supported media files include DivX, MP3, MKV and JPEG. The player does not have any internal storage memory available for downloading BD-Live content. But it does provide a SD Card Slot if you want to take advantage of this feature found on certain blu-ray discs.
THE PROS: The Panasonic DMP-BDT210 may be this years “Best Budget Buy Player”. The picture quality is excellent and is helped by the new UniPhier chip. Beside being able to display images at 1080p on both blu-ray and 3D blu-ray (for both eyes), it is loaded with great extra features. Including Skype Video Calls, Wi-Fi Built-In, DLNA Certified, a Touch Free Sensor that will open the disc tray by just a wave of your hand and Viera Cast (online streaming such as Netflix, VUDU, Pandora, CinemaNow, YouTube, Twitter, Amazon and many more). It also has innovative 3D features such as 2D-3D Conversion and 3D Effect Controller.
THE CONS: The player is lacking any Component Video Outputs. This can be a problem for those with an older HDTV with limited or no HDMI inputs. No internal memory is present for BD-Live features. You will need a USB memory dive of at least 1 GB. Most 3D HDTVs offer 2D-3D conversion, so this feature on a blu-ray player maybe redundant. The DMP-BDT210 is missing some high-profile online streaming services such as Hulu Plus and MLB.tv.
THE FINAL WORD: Purchasing the DMP-BDT210 you will surely get the most for your buck. It has many video and audio features that will bring you the best possible HD images and sound, in both 2D and 3D. Filled with features such as Skype, Online Streaming, DLNA and BD-Live it will provide you with many hours of entertainment beyond watching Blu-ray Discs. Add to this its eco-friendly design, easy user interface, faster load times and you have one of the best Blu-ray Players of 2011. – Price you should look for when buying Blu-ray Player – Under $200.00