Panasonic DMP-BDT370 review

Netflix, Amazon Instant and 4K upscaling star on this 3D deck that's all about picture quality

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Our Verdict

An accomplished Blu-ray player with impressive 4K upscaling and 3D support, this range-topper nevertheless feels slightly unnecessary. With the same basic smart TV platform as the more affordable DMP-BDT270, it does offer Netflix and Amazon Instant, but and remains a rather basic deck that struggles to make the case for basic Blu-ray in the run-up to the arrival of Ultra HD machines.

For

  • 4K upscaling
  • 2D & 3D Blu-ray images
  • Netflix & Amazon Instant
  • Simple to operate

Against

  • Doesn't play 4K files
  • Dated OS
  • Lacks catch-up TV apps
  • Loud operation

All hail the Netflix button. Is there a smart TV or a smart Blu-ray player on sale in 2015 that doesn't have a big white-and-red button with the streaming service's logo emblazoned upon its remote control?

That's exactly what the Panasonic DMP-BDT370 has, and much more besides.

Though its latest TVs are graced with an all-new Firefox OS that stars Netflix, Amazon Instant et al, the DMP-BDT370 gets a much more basic smart TV platform, but it retains those essentials.

Panasonic DMP BDT370

What the DMP-BDT370 is really all about though is 4K.

In the gap between 4K TVs becoming ubiquitous in stores and the availability towards the end of 2015 of Ultra HD Blu-ray players, the DMP-BDT370 has only a narrow window to impress us with its soon-to-be-surpassed 4K upscaling capabilities.

However, this top-of-the-range 3D Blu-ray player also dishes out some features for photographers, including support for 4K photo display and for 3D photos.

Performance

Selling for £130 at launch - but spotted online for as little as £85 - the DMP-BDT370 is far bigger than the step-down DMP-BDT270 model it's an upgrade on. Measuring 415 x43x182mm, its mirrored front flap hides a couple of USB slots, while on the rear is a digital optical audio output alongside a HDMI output and an Ethernet LAN slot, though there's also a Wi-Fi module on board.

Panasonic DMP BDT370

Aside from apps, wireless goodies include networking and, for Android users, Miracast for screen mirroring.

The DMP-BDT370 supports Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD soundtracks, though if you're after analogue audio outputs, you'll have to head for Panasonic's flagship Blu-ray player from 2014, the DMP-BDT7000, though Panasonic is also still selling the DMP-BDT460, which has an SD Card slot and dual HDMI outputs.

The basic OS (and it is really basic) is structured around choosing between Video, Photos, Music and Network, which is a novel way of doing things. It's only on the next page that you choose between USB or Blu-ray as the source.

Network is code for 'smart stuff', and takes you to another screen with a choice between Home Network and Network Service, which is clunky language indeed. Choose the former and there's a three-way between Media Renderer, Miracast and the DLNA Client.

Network Services is Panasonic's name for the DMP-BDT370's rather dated-looking smart TV pages.

The DMP-BDT370 hosts plenty of must-have apps. Aside from the trailed Netflix app, the bright, colourful grid-like pages of what used to be called VieraCast play host to the likes of the BBC iPlayer, Amazon Instant, BBC News, Netflix, BBC Sport and YouTube. All are ranged around a Blu-ray window at the centre.

Panasonic DMP BDT370

A second and third pane holds CNBC Real-Time, PlayJam Games, Dailymotion, euronews, Twitter, Facebook, Aupeo personal radio, SHOUTcast Radio and a web browser. All of those pages also include a link to the Panasonic Market, which holds various other apps.

The web browser is nothing to get excited about, though it has been streamlined. It's split into three areas – History, Tabs and Bookmarks – though entering search terms is via a pop-up virtual keyboard, and moving around pages, requires hitting the remote's navigation buttons about fifty times just to move an inch or two. There is some attempt at speeding things up using the fastext colour-coded keys, but otherwise it just underlines how poor a match web browsers and TVs are.

Picture quality

Judged purely on disc-spinning and upscaling Blu-ray discs to fit a 4K TV, the DMP-BDT370 is hard to fault.

It's important to understand that 4K upscaling isn't something the user has to activate; if the DMP-BDT370 detects that it's being hooked-up to a 4K TV, it will upscale automatically. For the most part this works really well, with my Gravity test disc looking far sharper when viewed on a 55-inch 4K TV than TV channels broadcast in HD.

The opening sequence of Gravity, with Earth as a backdrop, looks softer than native 4K, which does tend to excel with wide-open vistas and nuanced colours. However, at no point during the rest of Gravity was I desperate for a native 4K version, which suggests that the DMP-BDT370 is doing a good job.

Jagged edges were rare, and though there is the occasional judder, the DMP-BDT370 always provided exceptional contrast and colour. The story continued with a DVD; though the softness becomes very noticeable, it was displayed with impressive clarity.

3D playback is a little more disappointing. Viewed on a 55-inch 4K TV supporting the passive 3D system, images were clean but appeared to break-up a little, exposing its (relative) low-resolution origins.

If the DMP-BDT370 upscales 2D Blu-ray spotlessly, it does less well with 3D Blu-ray.

Meanwhile, 2D-3D conversion, a feature unique to the DMP-BDT370 in Panasonic's crop of Blu-ray players for 2015, is the usual mix of unwanted and ineffective. The effect the DMP-BDT370 creates from standard 2D Blu-ray discs does, at times, look like native 3D, though just as often the parallax is all over the place and there's depth visible where there shouldn't be.

It's not perfect, but the DMP-BDT370 is a fine Blu-ray disc spinner, and delivers on its 4K upscaling promise.