Panasonic DMP-BDT210 Blu-ray 3D Player


Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $200 At A Glance: Skype video calling • Reference-quality Blu-ray playback • Limited HDMI options

Building Blu-ray Bridges

Since the beginning of the Blu-ray format, Panasonic has been a leader in the price/performance segment of the market and my go-to recommendation for anyone who’s looking for excellence on a budget. From the top to the bottom of Panasonic’s line, you always seem to get stellar video with both Blu-ray and DVD playback—and typically a host of other great features as well.

The DMP-BDT210, a new $200 player from Panasonic’s 2011 lineup, once again proves the case. Not only does it deliver a superb picture, but it’s loaded with more cool features than a player at this price point has a right to lay claim to, including 2D-to-3D conversion, Skype video calling, a nice complement of online streaming services, built-in Wi-Fi connectivity, and even a touch-free sensor to open and close the tray.

Wave Hello
It’s interesting to see the lengths companies will go to to separate themselves from the pack with Blu-ray players. Lately we’ve seen a lot of new streaming media support from all the big contenders, but it’s pretty much become an even keel with streaming options across the brands. Netflix, Pandora, Vudu, and others have become the staple services you see in every player.

Facing this challenge, Panasonic has added some interesting bells and whistles to help make this player a standout. The new slim design has a faux carbon fiber body that gives it a very appealing look. The first thing you’re likely to notice, though, is the large sensor on top of the player. This touch-free sensor lets you wave your hand over the player to power it on and open the tray. This is a bit puzzling for me, since I never thought the buttons on a player’s front panel were that much of a hassle, and a lot of people use a remote to power on the player anyway. But, hey, whatever floats your boat. It might come in handy in a dark room.

I imagine this is the first step toward an eventual interface similar to Microsoft’s Kinect sensor for the Xbox that turns you into the remote and lets you operate the player without ever touching it or picking up a wand. For now, just be happy that you can wave at it and amaze your friends.

Another key feature is Skype video calling from the Blu-ray player with the addition of an optional camera. Several compatible cameras are available; Panasonic sent me the Freetalk 7181 ($130). Panasonic introduced Skype in some of its high-end HDTVs last year, but this is the first Blu-ray player I’ve seen from any manufacturer with this capability. I’m sure it will be a popular feature for Skype users and newcomers since the service is free and provides a great way to communicate with friends and family with full video. You can initiate calls right from the remote, record a video message for when you’re not around, or even answer calls from the device as long as you’re not watching a Blu-ray when it comes in.

Beyond these new features, the DMP-BDT210 is pretty much identical to Panasonic’s other recent smaller-profile players. The small form factor makes the rear jack panel a bit sparse; it lacks some of the connections that some other devices in this price range offer. You’ll only find one HDMI output (1.4a). If your A/V receiver doesn’t have HDMI 1.4 and you plan to use the player’s 3D capability, this could be a challenge. I would have preferred dual HDMI outputs to help integrate the player into a home entertainment system that lacks 1.4 switching so the video could go straight to the display and the advanced audio could go to the surround processor or AVR. The player also lacks a multichannel analog audio output, so you won’t have that option for hookup as a work-around. All you get is a stereo analog option or a TosLink digital output that’s limited to legacy audio formats.

The back panel has an Ethernet port if you don’t want to use the Wi-Fi connection; it also features dual USB 2.0 inputs, one on the front and one on the back. The player doesn’t have any built-in memory for BD-Live applications or for Skype messages, so you’ll have to rely on an SD card (not included) for those applications. This is another small disappointment considering how many players include at least 1 gigabyte of internal memory these days.

It Just Keeps Getting Easier
It was a breeze to get the DMP-BDT210 up and running. The player features a quick setup feature that gets the job mostly done with only a few tweaks needed in the full setup menus. As always, I disabled the player’s BD-Live capabilities to speed up performance with disc loading and enabled Panasonic’s quick start feature, which speeds up initial power-ups at the expense of adding power consumption.

Like all of the Panasonic Blu-ray players I’ve used, the DMP-BDT210 offers the standard complement of setup options for video and audio.

You can select output resolutions up to 1080p/24, and you can perform audio decoding for the latest formats in either the player (for output as multichannel PCM) or in your A/V receiver or processor via a bitstream output. The DMP-BDT210 can also re-encode the output audio to any of the legacy Dolby Digital or DTS formats if you have an older AVR that doesn’t support high-resolution PCM soundtracks or the latest HD formats.

COMPANY INFO
Panasonic
(800) 211-PANA
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COMMENTS
T_Tomlinson's picture

I hooked it up and got it going easily. Blu-Ray picture on The Last Emperor was impressive and I watched the entire 2h45m without problem. However, other times it will flash white over the entire display or just the bottom 1/2 to 1/3 every minute or so. This happened on Blu-Ray disc, DVD, Netflix, even on the Panasonic home screen. Intermittent, unpredictable, and thoroughly irritating. An email to Panasonic product support suggested doing a hard reset, which had no effect on the problem. They had no further suggestion on a user-applied fix.

This WHITE FLASH seems to be a common problem reported across the Internet about machines from various vendors. (Search using Google on +Panasonic +"blu ray" +"white flash" and get 20,000+ hits.)

I suggest anyone buying this machine or one of the other related models may want to make sure that the seller has a fair returns policy in case they run into the same problem. Glad I bought local and isolated the issue within 14 days.

Kitchen GasRanges's picture

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juanseva_2's picture

Hello.
Excelent review.
I have the possibility of renewing my little SONY bluray player BDP S-350, and here where I live, I have the opportunity to purchase two Panasonic players, which in some reviews both have good reviews within the price range (200 U $).
I seek to improve the performance of audio and video quality. I've certainly heard that Panasonic has good relevant concepts in the video, thanks to PHL Reference Chroma Processor Plus and P4HD. The Panasonic BDT-300 has some nice features, including dual HDMI and 7.1 analog output, among others. The second player option, the new BDT-110 (not the BDT-210) has other features of most current software, 2D to 3D conversion, DLNA certification, etc, but I am more interested in quality audio and video that I can get. (the BDT-300 apparently would be more high level of construction, although the previous year)
BDT-110 have similar performance in audio and video that BDT-210 of this article?
In my country, now both have similar prices. What do you recomend between these two options?. I want to buy a player with the best quality for audio and video
Thank you very much for your kind response.

juanseva_2's picture

I'll use this player to upgrade my old Sony BDP-350 and improve performance in audio and video, keeping for a while my old Sony STR-DE695 amplifier ( without HDMI, but with 5.1 analog input). The BDP-350 don't have 5.1 or 7.1 analog outputs, so that is currently connected by coaxial analog output. The sound is not really HD, isn´t it?

Thank you.

reggie2012's picture

Hi,

I read your review on the Panasonic ST30 vs S30. If I get the non-3D S30, do you have a recommendation for a blu-ray player. I was looking at the Panasonic BD210 which is 3D capable. But since I'm not getting a 3D TV, do you have an alternative that's comparable to the BD210?

Thanks.

juanseva_2's picture

Thanks for your valuable comments. A few months ago I upgraded my home theater and bought the Panasonic DMP-BDT220, TV Viera 50GT50 and RX-V673 Yamaha amplifier. It's been a big change and I really enjoyed it.
Again thank you very much to all the team Hometheatre.com.
Juan Valencia

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