We'll come on to the DMP-BD65's silky pictures in a moment, but it's worth first considering the sheer speed of its loading of Blu-ray discs.
In further proof that Panasonic has concentrated on hi-def disc handling to the exclusion of almost all other facets, in our tests the DMP-BD65 was playing a Blu-ray disc in 12-17 seconds after being switched on. If the machine is already on, it takes only five seconds after closing the tray.
To achieve this, the player must be in Quick Load mode – and is consuming more power while in standby mode (you can hear it audibly hum). That Quick Load mode can be switched-off in the player's on-screen menus; it then takes around 21 seconds to load discs.
Oddly, the Viera Cast interface now includes a central icon for Blu-ray – presumably to mask the lack of actual extra content – but if you select the icon with the remote, it simply takes you to a screensaver, and doesn't automatically play the disc, as we'd hoped.
The DMP-BD65, however, is worth its quirks. Hurt Locker on Blu-ray is studded with delicate scenes of the bright desert surroundings, with contrast-heavy murkier passages receiving almost as much fine detail. That the machine's PHL Reference Chroma Processor Plus is working overtime is confirmed by the realistic though vivid and clean colours with no hint of banding or picture noise.
There are plenty of deep blacks present in night scenes, with impressive detail in shadowed areas of the image and excellent contrast during scenes featuring night time explosions.
Better still, close-ups have as much detail as we've seen on any Blu-ray player, while fast motion doesn't present the DMP-BD65 with any major problems, though there's a bit more work for Panasonic's engineers to accomplish here.
Overall it's a great performance with Blu-ray, and crucially it carries on the good work with DVD. A disc of Star Trek scrubs up well, with the slightly softer picture otherwise almost as involving as Blu-ray. Motion is handled well and edges keep their continuity; what's not to like?