Sometimes an excellent operating system can be made even better
Panasonic DMP-BD60 Blu-ray player
The Panasonic DMP-BD60K might cost a bit more than the other top-tier Blu-ray disc players on the market, but in our opinion it's worth it.
- Excellent image quality, sleek and attractive design, lots of useful inbuilt features
- Unhelpful on-screen displays
On all counts, the Panasonic DMP-BD60 is a well-made Blu-ray player, and it ranks among the best Blu-ray players you can buy today. Highly recommended.
Price$ 389.00 (AUD)
The Panasonic DMP-BD60 might cost a bit more than the other top-tier Blu-ray Disc players on the market, but in our opinion it's worth it. The BD-Live-capable DMP-BD60 delivers terrific design, a plethora of features, and stellar image quality.
In our image-quality tests, the Panasonic DMP-BD60 handled everything well, from bright colours in Pixar animations to subtle shades of grey in black-and-white cinematography. The opening racing scene from Cars had a superb dimensionality that wasn't there when we viewed it on our reference player; a Sony PlayStation 3. Reds looked very red, and wheel treads stood out.
Similar details stood out in all of our tests. We noted lovely detail in the Vatican architecture in a Mission: Impossible III scene (chapter 7), and excellent detail in napkins, clothes, and hair in a dinner scene from The Searchers (chapter 4). In another Searchers scene (chapter 20), the night setting looked believably dark, yet the level of detail was so great that we could study John Wayne's bad teeth. The black-and-white opening scene of Good Night and Good Luck showed fine detail in its shades of grey, though one judge felt that the blacks could be better.
The DMP-BD60 even did a good job of upscaling regular DVDs, although of course no one would mistake them for Blu-ray discs. Colours were well-balanced, and we could see a fair amount of detail, including individual beard hairs during a close-up from The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (chapter 22). There's a limit to what upscaling a DVD can do, of course; in The Phantom of the Opera (chapter 3), the faces of people far from the camera tended to show some pixelation.
Panasonic's designers made the DMP-BD60 shallow, sleek, and attractive to look at. Thanks to its compact size, the player will fit wherever you want to put it. The Power and Eject buttons are large and well-placed, making it easy to hit the two buttons on the player itself (as opposed to the remote) that you're most likely to use.
Clearly some thought went into designing the programmable remote, as well. The buttons are big, and the ones you're most likely to use are positioned where your thumb can easily find them. The remote isn't backlit, but the playback buttons (Play, Stop, Pause, Skip, and so on) are blue and thus stand out visually.
The on-screen displays seem reasonable at first glance, but become annoying to work with as you go deeper into them. The set-up menu explains many of its options, but for such opaque choices as Still Mode (with its Auto, Field, and Frame selections) you must consult the manual. When you press the remote's Display button to obtain information on what you're watching, you get an impressive menu that offers such options as signal information a subtitle toggle — but not elapsed or remaining time, or the current chapter.
The DMP-BD60K required just over a minute of prep time before it began playing a disc. Once the disc was playing, skipping chapters produced a noticeable but not objectionable lag. Pausing seemed immediate.
Many new Blu-ray players come with JPEG and MP3 playback capabilities, and either a USB 2.0 port or an SD Card slot to move those files to the player. But the DMP-BD60K is the first player we've seen that has both a USB port and an SD Card slot. The card slot handles AVCHD video and photos, while the USB port can receive photos and music. The only supported formats are JPEG and MP3.
If you plug into your Internet connection via the player's Ethernet port, you can upgrade the player's firmware and access BD-Live content on discs that offer it (the player has no built-in memory, so you'll have to supply at least 1GB of storage). You can use Panasonic's VieraCast Web portal to access select Web content sites, including YouTube and Picasa.
The DMP-BD60 closely resembles the more expensive DMP-BD80. Panasonic says that both models have the same audio and video-processing chips inside. Both models also support Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby TrueHD, and DTS-HD Master audio on-board decoding. (The BD80 adds DivX playback and multichannel analog audio outputs.)
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