Panasonic's first 3D-capable Blu-ray players have arrived. The 3D lineup includes two models: the DMP-BDT350 ($429.95) and the DMP-BDT300 ($399.95, sold exclusively through Best Buy). We have not performed a hands-on review of the DMP-BDT350, but here is an overview of its features. This Profile 2.0 player supports BD-Live Web functionality and BonusView/picture-in-picture playback, and it offers both onboard decoding and bitstream output of Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio. Panasonic incorporates its new PHL Reference Chroma Processor Plus and its P4HD technology designed to produce a more detailed image with standard-def DVDs, as well as Adaptive Precision 4:4:4 color reproduction and an HDMI Jitter Purifier to reduce jitter in HDMI audio. The DMP-BDT350 comes with an 802.11n adapter for a wireless network connection; you can stream content from a PC or DLNA-compliant server, and the player supports Panasonic's VIERA Cast Web platform, which includes access to Netflix and Amazon video-on-demand, Pandora, YouTube, Picasa and more. (The DMP-BDT300 omits the DLNA media streaming.)
In terms of video connections, the DMP-BDT350 offers two HDMI outputs, allowing you to send the 3D video signal directly to your 3D-capable display via an HDMI 1.4 output and still send HDMI audio to your A/V receiver via HDMI 1.3 (so you do not have to upgrade to a 3D-compatible receiver). The back panel also has component and composite video outputs (no S-video). This player supports both 1080p/60 and 1080p/24 output resolutions via HDMI. Picture adjustments include the ability to choose between preset picture modes or go with a user mode in which you can adjust contrast, brightness, sharpness, color, gamma, and noise reduction. The setup menu also includes options for chroma process, detail clarity, and super resolution.
On the audio side, outputs include HDMI, optical and coaxial digital, and 7.1-channel analog. The DMP-BDT350 has onboard Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio decoding, and it also passes these high-resolution audio formats in their native bitstream form over HDMI, for your A/V receiver to decode. You can set speaker size, level, and delay for the multichannel analog audio outputs. The player also allows you to choose between different sound-effect modes (Digital Tube Sound, Re-master, and Night Surround), and there are settings for dialog enhancement, high clarity sound, and audio delay.
The DMP-BDT350 supports BD, DVD, CD audio, AVCHD, Divx, MP3, and JPEG playback. You can add the player to your home network either by using the back-panel Ethernet port or by attaching the supplied wireless LAN adapter to the back-panel USB port. The DMP-BDT350 lacks internal memory to store BD-Live content, but an SD card slot is provided for this purpose. The SD card reader also supports music, photo and movie playback, as does the second, front-panel USB port. The player lacks advanced control ports, such as RS-232 or IR.
Competition and Comparison
To compare Panasonic's DMP-BDT350 Blu-ray player against its competition, read our reviews for the Samsung BD-C7900 Blu-ray player and the LG BX580 3D Blu-ray player. Another resource for information is our All Things Blu-ray Player section, as well as the Panasonic brand page.
• The DMP-BDT350 supports 3D playback, when mated with other 3D-capable components. It includes dual HDMI outputs to send separate signals to your 3D TV and A/V receiver.
• The player supports 1080p/24 playback of Blu-ray discs.
• It has internal decoding and bitstream output of high-resolution audio sources, and it has multichannel analog audio outputs for use with older A/V receivers.
• It supports BD-Live Web content and can play picture-in-picture bonus content.
• VIERA Cast allows for Netflix and Amazon video-on-demand streaming, as well as access to YouTube, Picasa and more.
• You can wirelessly connect the DMP-BDT350 to your network.
• The SD card slot and USB port allow for easy playback of digital media.
• The player lacks internal memory, and Panasonic does not supply an SD card for this purpose.
• The DMP-BDT350 lacks an advanced control port like RS-232.
Along with Samsung's BD-C6900, the DMP-BDT350 and BDT300 are the first standalone 3D players to hit the market, and your interest in 3D will ultimately dictate whether or not you purchase this player. The Samsung and Panasonic MSRPs are close, but Panasonic includes the dual HDMI outputs to improve compatibility with your existing A/V setup--a nice perk. (Sony offers new 3D-ready models that cost less but require a future firmware update to enable 3D.) The DMP-BDT350 is also loaded with worthwhile Blu-ray features, like multichannel outputs, a WiFi adaptor, DLNA media streaming, and video-on-demand; however, you can find these features in players that cost less (Panasonic's new $250 DMP-BD85 is basically identical to this model, but it omits 3D capability). So, the question here is the same one we asked in our writeup of the BD-C6900: Is it worth the extra money to get 3D capability right now, even though 3D content is sparse at best? For the enthusiast who enjoys being an early adopter, the answer may be yes. Keep in mind that you will also have to purchase a 3D-capable TV and active-shutter 3D glasses, which will run you $149.95 per pair (one set comes with your purchase of a Panasonic 3D TV).