Panasonic DMP-BDT220

The DMP-BDT220 works with a wide variety of discs. In addition to regular 2D and Full HD 3D Blu-ray, it's also compatible with recordable BD media, both rewritable BD-RE and BD-Rs, plus DVDs (upscaled to 1080p). If you're into home brew, this deck recognises DVD-R and DVD-R DL, DVD+R and DVD+R DL discs, plus –RW and +RW rewritables. CD and CD-R/RWs also play.

It will not play ball with DVD Audio or SACD though. Or vinyl.

Panasonic may have made massive strides in improving its multimedia file support, but the DMP-BDT220 still offers some usability challenges.

The good news is that from local USB (or any of the aforementioned blank disc formats), it does a fine job. We successfully played AVI, MKV, MOV and MP4 video files. Audio support is equally comprehensive, covering MP3, FLAC and WAV. It should be noted though that there's no album art support forthcoming.

However, when it comes to network playback you'll need to get your hands dirty. While the player can see DLNA devices on a LAN, all attempts to play our test files met with failure.

The solution is to map any network drives manually to the player. This is done by digging deep into the menus and then adding each NAS device by IP address, shared folder name and requisite logins.

Quite how Panasonic thinks the average user is going to cope with this routine is beyond us. As it happens, once done the player has no trouble streaming exactly those same file extensions playable from USB. Even subtitles on AVIs are supported. But as a user experience, it sucks. Network streaming should be automatic and seamless.

Viera Connect

The deck offers full access to the VIERA Connect online portal. Panasonic has invested a good deal of effort into making this a worthwhile online destination, with plenty of streaming IPTV on tap.

In addition to heavyweight attractions such as BBC iPlayer and YouTube, there's also Dailymotion, Acetrax, Euronews, CNBC, Ustream, Aupeo!, Shoutcast and Netflix. Indeed, Netflix is deemed so important it even gets a dedicated button on the remote control.

For socialites, there are also Facebook, Skype and Twitter clients, plus image browsing via Picasa. More free content sources can be added from the connected VIERA Market (CineTrailers is well worth grabbing).