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The DMP-BDT260 is all about value for money, with quick-loading discs and immaculate playback, but a couple of omissions and inconveniences – not least a very basic arsenal of apps – prevent it from taking top honours.
Blu-ray discs load in a stunning four seconds in Quick Start mode; if only it wasn't for those pesky adverts plaguing discs. Elsewhere the DMP-BDT260 behaves fairly speedily, though it's the quality of up-scaled and natively Full HD images that impress most of all. Clean, detailed and with natural colours throughout, the DMP-BDT260's images are truly excellent.
Digital file playback is one of the highlights on the DMP-BDT260. Using a myriad files on a USB stick, I managed to watch video files in flavours including MKV, AVI, MOV, AVC HD, MPEG and MP4, though photos must be in JPEG format. Music support is impressive, with WAV and FLAC files supported as well as WMA and MP3.
It's obviously great to have the presence of Netflix and the BBC iPlayer, too.
Where are apps for Amazon Instant, 4OD and the ITV Player? What headline apps there are – notably Netflix and the BBC iPlayer – are slow to load, while using either demands insertion of a 1GB USB stick in to the front of the deck to store data. That's an ugly solution.
The remote control, meanwhile, is the traditionally small affair whose most notable feature is a big red Netflix button. Such a thing is highly fashionable among Blu-ray manufacturers, but I'm a little concerned about the popularity of Netflix as a dedicated shortcut when apps like Amazon Instant Video are gaining traction. However, since there's relatively little else for the DMP-BDT260 to shout about, I guess it works well here.
Although it's hardly an essential feature, it's a bit odd that the DMP-BDT260 lacks a 2D-3D conversion mode. Shouldn't Panasonic be trying to encourage the use of 3D as much as possible?
There's a lot to like about this compact and Wi-Fi-fuelled 3D Blu-ray deck, which has to be considered one of the best value decks around if you're only after the Blu-ray basics. However, the DMP-BDT260 is not the smartest, with the slow-to-load Netflix, YouTube and BBC iPlayer as the must-have apps on what is a very limited smart TV platform. If you're after Amazon Instant, ITV Player or 4OD, you've come to the wrong place.
If apps are sparse and slow to load, discs are very quick to process, while playback of all kinds of video is excellent. Digital file playback offers some extra versatility and so does DLNA networking and DLNA server functions, though despite its all-round prowess there are a few things missing, such as 2D-3D conversion.
No matter though, because the DMP-BDT260 is Panasonic's best value Blu-ray deck for anyone after just the essentials.
Jamie is a freelance tech, travel and space journalist based in the UK. He’s been writing regularly for Techradar since it was launched in 2008 and also writes regularly for Forbes, The Telegraph, the South China Morning Post, Sky & Telescope and the Sky At Night magazine as well as other Future titles T3, Digital Camera World, All About Space and Space.com. He also edits two of his own websites, TravGear.com and WhenIsTheNextEclipse.com that reflect his obsession with travel gear and solar eclipse travel. He is the author of A Stargazing Program For Beginners (Springer, 2015),