Panasonic DMP-BD50 Blu-ray Player Reviewed

Panasonic DMP-BD50 Blu-ray Player Reviewed

Panasonic is often one step ahead in the Blu-ray realm, and the new DMP-BD50 ($599.95) is one of the first Profile 2.0 players on the market. That means it offers network connectivity to access the BD-Live Web features that appear on some Blu-ray discs.

panasonic_dmp_bd50.gifThe Panasonic DMP-BD50 ($599.95) is one of the first Profile 2.0 players to hit the market. The Profile 2.0 designation means it contains the secondary audio and video decoders needed for picture-in-picture playback, and it supports the BD-Live feature that allows you to view Web bonus content on applicable Blu-ray discs. This is Panasonic's third-generation player; the step-down DMP-BD30, which is priced at $399.95, is a Profile 1.1 player that offers many of the same audio and video specs but lacks the BD-Live functionality found in this newer model.

Additional Resources
• Learn more about Sony and Sony products.
• Read dozens of Blu-ray reviews from HomeTheaterReview.com.
• Read reviews of Blu-ray movies on hometheaterequipment.com.

 

In terms of video connections, the player offers HDMI, component video, S-video, and composite video outputs. For HDMI, the output-resolution options are Auto, 480p, 720p, 1080i, 1080p/60, and 1080p/24. This model does not have a dedicated Source Direct mode to view 1080p/24; you must enable 1080p/24 output in the setup menu, after which all 24p Blu-ray films will be output at 1080p/24 instead of 1080p/60. For component video, the output-resolution options are 480i, 480p, 720p, and 1080i; 1080i the maximum output resolution for Blu-ray, and 480p is the maximum output resolution for standard-def DVDs. In the audio realm, the DMP-BD50 offers HDMI, coaxial and optical digital audio, and two- and 5.1-channel analog audio outputs. You can bridge the analog outs to create a 7.1-channel setup. The DMP-BD50 has onboard Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD decoding, and it also passes these high-resolution audio formats in their native bitstream form over HDMI, for your A/V receiver to decode. In this respect, the DMP-BD50 has more flexibility than the less-expensive DMP-BD30, which will pass the high-resolution audio bitstream over HDMI but does not have onboard decoders.

The DMP-BD50 supports BD, DVD, CD, MP3, and JPEG playback through its disc drive, and this year's model adds Divx playback, as well. There's also an SD card slot through which you can view JPEGs and AVCHD high-def video. The fact that it's a BD-Live/Profile 2.0 player mandates the inclusion of an Ethernet port on the back panel; through this port, you can not only access Web features on Blu-ray discs, but you can perform quick firmware updates.

Read The High Points, Low Points and Conclusion on Page 2

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High Points
• Blu-ray movies look very good when output at 1080p/24 fps.
• The player offers onboard high-resolution audio decoding and bitstream output over HDMI.
• It supports BD-Live Web content and can play picture-in-picture bonus content, such as video commentaries and making-of featurettes.
• This player has quick start-up, load times, and navigation compared to other Blu-ray players both current and historically.
• The SD card slot allows for easy viewing of digital movies and photos.

Low Points
• The DMP-BD50's video processing is below average. With the player set to output 1080p/60, we saw clear digital artifacts in various test scenes, with both high- and standard-def content. 
• Setup can be a little confusing, as some menu items to default to settings that most people would not choose.

Conclusion
The Panasonic DMP-BD50 has the all of the features a Blu-ray fan could want in a reasonably priced package: BD-Live, PIP ability, 1080p/24 video output, and both onboard decoding and bitstream output of high-resolution audio. We should point out that the Playstation 3 offers the same features for less money, and the DMP-BD50's video performance isn't as good as that of other players on the market, especially with SD DVDs. This isn't the best choice for the person who still plans to watch a lot of standard DVDs, and we recommend you mate the DMP-BD50 with a TV that accepts 1080p/24 to ensure the best Blu-ray quality.

Additional Resources
• Learn more about Sony and Sony products.
• Read dozens of Blu-ray reviews from HomeTheaterReview.com.
• Read reviews of Blu-ray movies on hometheaterequipment.com.

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