With the DMP-BDT100, Panasonic has extended its 3D Blu-ray proposition down to the mass market.
The brand's first 3D player, the DMP-BDT300, was a highly-polished performer; this model not so much cuts corners as neatly bevels them.
The deck has been designed to work solely in an HDMI v1.4 environment, there being no secondary HDMI output or analogue audio bank to deliver lossless audio into legacy equipment.
It's been targeted at those who simply want to connect directly to a 3DTV. If buyers hanker for lossless DTS-HD MA or Dolby TrueHD they'll need to spring for a new AV receiver with HDMI v1.4, or take advantage of an all-in-one system with Audio Return Channel.
The unit itself is smart enough. A flap lowers to reveal an SD card slot and USB port. The latter can be used with Panasonic's DY-WL10 Wi-Fi adaptor (sold as an optional extra), if you don't want to use a wired network connection.
With its DLNA branding you might expect the BDT100 to smugly play all media across your network, but you'd be wrong. If you have one of this season's Panasonic Blu-ray recorders on your network, this deck can access and play content from that machine.
However, it cannot play media across a network (even though it lets you browse to UPnP devices). File playback only extends as far as an attached USB device. My assortment of AVIs and MKVs could only be played from a USB flash drive.
While supporting BD-Live, the player has no internal memory onboard (so you'll have to add your own). It can also access the Blu-ray version of Viera Cast (which does not have identical content to the brand's TVs). Pickings are still relatively slim, and include YouTube, Bloomberg, Daily Motion, Weather and Picasa.
Hey good lookin'
It may not deliver the same video performance as the BDT300 (measurable characteristics are quite different), but I would nevertheless regard video quality as excellent.
A combination of extreme sharpness and stability with nuanced colour ensures both 2D and 3D Blu-rays look pristine. Kudos goes to the PHL Reference Chroma Processor Plus and Adaptive High Precision 4:4:4 signal processing.
The player is also refined as a CD spinner, and while it may not be audiophile grade (dynamic range peaks at 91.7dB), imaging is spacious and enjoyable.
Tweakers should investigate the 96kHz Re-Master modes (accessed from the handset) that fine-tune frequency response. Panasonic has yet confirmed a price point for the BDT100, but we expect it to be around £250.
Even if it's lower than that (and despite its top-notch AV performance), I expect it could struggle against its better specified competition: the DLNA function is limited and online content via VieraCast lags behind the portals of rival brands Sony and Samsung.
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