In the furore about whether streaming is taking over from optical discs, Panasonic's mid-range Blu-ray player makes a strong case for the survival of hard media.

We liked

Excellent digital media handling and a fairly wide suite of smart TV apps impress, but it's some excellent 2D, 3D and upscaled DVD images that make this Blu-ray player a standout option for even a high-end home cinema environment. Few decks can match it for pure image quality, and it's also one of the easiest 'smart' devices to use. It's also great to see Netflix here, complete with a dedicated button on the small, old-fashioned, but easy to understand remote control.

We disliked

Easy to use it might be, but the language in its otherwise simple, polished (though unusually structured) user interface is sometimes a little odd; should the rather hidden Network Services tab really hide the DMP-BDT230's entire suite of smart TV apps? While we're talking about apps, the DMP-BDT230 doesn't really have enough of the big ones, notably Lovefilm and the catch-up services of UK broadcasters, save for the BBC. It's also rather odd not to find any free, downloadable apps for smartphones and tablets that ape the remote control. If nothing else their omission makes the provision on the DMP-BDT230 of a web browser rather pointless.

Final verdict

Viewers after the latest and greatest collection of apps should look beyond the DMP-BDT230 and head for a Samsung deck. However, if you're after the very finest picture quality not only from 2D and 3D Blu-ray, but from upscaled DVDs, too, the low-priced DMP-BDT230 is dead centre of the sweet-spot.

Rather like its plasma TVs – far and away the finest TVs currently being manufactured – Panasonic's DMP-BDT230 delivers on quality, no question, but what it's surrounded with in terms of user interface design and smart TV apps means that it may be passed over in favour of ultimately less capable decks. That would be a shame since the DMP-BDT230 is a remarkably capable Blu-ray player, and great value, too.

Also consider

The DMP-BDT230 doesn't get much competition from the Toshiba BDX2400, but when judged purely on its selection of apps might not fare so well against the Samsung BD-F6500, which favours smart TV.