Panasonic DMP-BDT220 Blu-ray 3D Player


Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $150 At A Glance: Reference-quality Blu-ray playback • Full 3D support including 2D-to-3D conversion • Lots of streaming options

It will be interesting to see where the Blu-ray player market goes in the next few years. We reached a point of diminishing returns on the newer lines of players. The Bluray spec hasn’t changed since the adoption of 3D, so there’s nothing new to add, and just about every device out there has an insurmountable number of streaming features. But that could have been said about last year’s models. Prices continue to drop, along with the size of the players, yet there doesn’t seem to be anywhere to go if you want something truly different from a player going forward. Maybe this is where the rumored 4K Blu-ray will make its entrance and reinvigorate the market. Still, the quality of player you can now get for just over a hundred bucks is impressive, and Panasonic’s latest is about all you can ask for if you want reference-quality Blu-ray playback and cutting-edge streaming features.

If It Isn’t Broke…
For this review, Panasonic sent me the DMP-BDT220 Blu-ray 3D player. This is the follow-up to the DMP-BDT210 I reviewed last year (Home Theater, August 2011), which received our Top Pick recommendation. The two really aren’t that different. You still get built-in Wi-Fi connectivity, Skype video calling (with optional camera), and a host of streaming features. Just about every streaming service you might care about is included in Panasonic’s Viera Cast lineup: Netflix, Vudu, Amazon Video, Hulu Plus, CinemaNow, and YouTube. There’s even Pandora and other streaming services for sports and programming.

Panasonic has ditched the gesture-based opening sensor from last year’s player, but this year there’s a new SmartPhone app that you can use as a remote control. It works on both iPhone and Android devices, and you can download it free from the appropriate app store. The included remote sufficed just fine, but the app added some extra features, such as content information, and it lights up in the dark (see comments below). It will also control other Panasonic products that support the app.

The player itself is very slim and nearly weightless. It’s amazing how much manufacturers continue to trim Blu-ray player designs year after year. The front panel consists of a plastic door that covers the disc tray and limited control buttons. On top you’ll find the power and eject key, which lowers the front panel so the tray can come out. There’s also a slot for an SD card for BD-Live functions (not included).

The back panel doesn’t have a lot of options for connectivity, but it has it where it counts. The DMP-BDT220 features only one HDMI output (1.4a), and it’s 3D compliant. There’s also a composite video output but no component video or S-video options. For audio, there’s a two-channel analog option and an optical TosLink output. An Ethernet port is also available if you don’t want to use the builtin Wi-Fi. The DMP-BDT220 features Viera Link control to mate up with other Panasonic products for a more seamless experience if you have one of the company’s HDTVs or home theater systems. I don’t have any other Panasonic products at home, so I wasn’t able to test this out.

Small Package, Big Features
You may look at the rather small package the Panasonic comes in and think you’re getting an entry-level, bare-bones package, but you’d be mistaken. While the price tag and package are small, the feature set is pretty substantial. This player features all of Panasonic’s latest video processing features on top of full Blu-ray 3D support. I’ve tested plenty of the company’s players in the past, and its in-house-developed video processing is certainly nothing to scoff at.

The DMP-BDT220 features Panasonic’s latest P4HD color processing and has some of the best chroma resolution I’ve seen from a player. The Option menu gives you full access to a list of custom video modes you can use to fine-tune the image. Most of them are right where they need to be in their default state, but a few give a bit more polish to the image. The Advanced Color processing makes the most out of the P4HD processing and gives a boost to the chroma resolution without any objectionable artifacts, but the detail enhancers didn’t do much with the video I tried them out with.

If 3D is your thing, the DMP-BDT220 offers full Bluray 3D playback as well as full 2D-to-3D conversion with any source. I tried this out with a variety of material but didn’t find it that compelling. I’ve yet to see a conversion solution that compares to native 3D content. But I’m also not a big proponent of 3D, so it would have taken a lot to impress me.

COMPANY INFO
Panasonic
(800) 211-PANA
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COMMENTS
michaelalanlittrell@yahoo.com's picture

I have the last ES bluray player Sony made which is built like a tank and has a very good analog section, although I mainly use HDMI as my audio source. The video quality of the Sony ES blew me away when I got it, but I lamented the lack of SACD playback. I have been wanting an Oppo player because they play SACDs and can stream a native DSD stream which my receiver can decode, but could not justify the price just for SACD playback alone. I tried to justify the purchase of an Oppo by rationalizing that I would get start of the art bluray playback with SACD. Then I read your article about the Panasonic. You compare the Panasonic video quality to be on par with the Oppo. Putting aside the Panasonic does not play SACD and the audio capabilities of the Panasonic, is the video quality really the equal of the Oppo BDP95? Also nagging me is what improvements have been made to bluray playback since I bought my Sony BDP-S5000ES, which is the main motivation behind this email given the Panasonic's price.

StreamerFan's picture

This player is the only Blu-Ray player that streams Dolby Digital Plus from Netflix. That is a pretty important feature.
Since surround is one of the reasons for why we are all here, I guess I don't understand why not only isn't this mentioned, but highlighted to help increase awareness and drive competitiveness towards good 24p / DD+ surround in streaming.
One of the single biggest upgrades you can do for you streaming is add surround to it.

So few people are aware you can do it.

DD+ over Video ON Demand, (VOD) should be an important check list item on players.

This player with P4HD, DD+ and 24p over VOD is what we all want out of streaming isn't it?

David Vaughn's picture
The Oppo BDP-103 also can stream Netflix with Dolby Digital Plus 5.1.
lotusguy's picture

"Sure, it doesn’t have some of the bells and whistles found on my reference Oppo BDP-95...."

Can you list some of those bells and whistles?

HTNUT1975's picture

Is this bluray player any snappier when it comes to cruising the viera cast menus? I've owned several panasonic br players and have noticed that they always seem to be a bit clunky/slow/non-responsive in this department.

Stosh's picture

The Oppo players feature the following, which most cheaper players do not:

* faster disk loading than most other players

* SACD and DVD-Audio playback

* PAL playback (on any screen)

* Higher quality DAC and video processors than other players.

* Analog 5.1 (7.1 on newer models) outputs for highest quality audio playback.

The fact is that BD performance is pretty much the same on all players. But the Oppo products provide reference-quality audio. For people who care about audio performance, the Oppo products are the obvious choices.

I would also add that the Oppo players have better menu and navigation systems than cheaper players do.

There really is no comparison between the Oppo players and the cheaper ones from other vendors. The Oppo players are clearly superior.

That said,I am looking for a cheaper BD player for my bedroom (my Oppo is in my main home theater system), and this Panasonic player just might be what I am looking for, especially since it is available online for $100.

The only thing I don't like is that it has no build-in storage for BD-Live. I guess for $100 that is understandable. But it may hold me back from buying it

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kent harrison's picture

This Panasonic 220 is good players for 100.00 dollars this week on black friday week the sale probably last thru christmas,its much better player then samsung and sony590 players,i never bought a lg player,the sony player have more streaming then any player out there,now the good part Oppo and Denon players are built like tanks,these are the players for high and midgrade audio and video geeks like me.

bjrichardson's picture

What about durability - my attic is like a DVD player graveyard. I am not particularly hard on them either - they just seem to fail on a regular basis. Seems like every year or two they fail on me. I have tried many brands - Sony, Panasonic, LG. But they all fail within 2 years. Durability would be a major improvement that they could do with players.

kent harrison's picture

Sony players have longer warrantys,i think three or five years.

nay gar's picture

Hello,

I just bought this Bluray but I have a Phillips dvd hometheater and I dont really know if they will work out together, is there any accesory that I can use to get the sound working with the blu??

Thanks!!!

Nay

Kevin Newlove's picture

I've been searching around for a blu-ray player lately and came across this one. It's only $89.00 on Amazon now. That seems like an awesome deal for all of the features. I saw some other blu ray reviews at another site, but this in depth review really sold me. I only have one reservation about it though. It's obvious that this one is already going out of style from the significant price drop on amazon. Does anyone think it's a bad idea to pick this one up while it's cheap? I don't know what a newer player would be able to offer me. Something to do with 4K maybe? I'll take a pass on that. -Kevin

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