Panasonic DMP-BDT220 Blu-ray 3D Player Page 2
The DMP-BDT220 passed all of our Video Test Bench tests with flying colors on the HDMI connection. Out of curiosity, I even tried some of my more advanced deinterlacing tests that I typically reserve for scalers, and the DMP-BDT220 passed nearly every one of them with ease. It wasn’t quite as quick to lock onto some of the more difficult video cadences I threw at it, but I doubt you’ll find any material that the player won’t play back exceptionally well.
My experience with this year’s model was largely the same as last year’s. The onscreen display is very clean and easy to navigate, and I was impressed by how many options the player let me control while I watched a movie. Even the network streaming features seemed to be a bit more responsive than last year’s model. The DMP-BDT220 is a pretty zippy player, though it’s not the fastest I’ve used. There’s a quick-start feature that works pretty well, but load times on some titles were slower than my PS3 and Oppo BDP-95. This was a problem mainly with some of the newer Fox titles that seem to give most players issues.
The included remote is the same as any other Panasonic remote I’ve used. It has a decent layout, but it can be hard to navigate in the dark. The keys are different in size and shape, but with no backlighting, I had some trouble at times in my bat cave of a room. I also thought some of the keys were a little too close together.
Panasonic has always delivered a solid Blu-ray playback experience that I would be happy to recommend to even the most discerning videophile. The DMP-BDT220 lacks some of the more advanced features of my reference Oppo BDP-95 Blu-ray player, but for standard Blu-ray playback, it’s every bit as good. I spent a couple of weeks using the DMP-BDT220 in my reference home theater connected to my JVC DLA-RS35 1080p projector and a BenQ W7000 1080p 3D projector (Home Theater, August 2012). No matter what I threw at it, the player delivered.
3D playback was a delight. I never had any issues with playback, and the DMP-BDT220 provided a few custom touches for 3D material. Most of them didn’t seem to enhance the experience, but you can fine-tune the image to your liking, including depth. As I mentioned earlier, the player can convert 2D material to 3D, but most of what I saw still looked a little flat compared with true 3D material, with only a minor amount of depth added to the image.
Streaming services such as Netflix and Vudu were better than I expected for what they are. Vudu was definitely the standout. The HDX 1080p video service delivered images that weren’t quite as good as what I get from Blu-ray but not that far behind. With a smaller screen, I wouldn’t be surprised if you got into splitting-hairs differences. Not surprisingly, Netflix wasn’t as good, with obvious compression artifacts and mixed detail/resolution performance, but it was better than the performance I get when I stream it from my Oppo player. I didn’t take a look at Hulu as I don’t have an account, but I did check out Amazon’s service. This gave me immediate access to a lot of content in both standard and high definition. Movies and TV programming looked about the same as the quality I saw from Netflix or slightly better. In the end, it was obvious that the playback quality was really at the mercy of the streaming content’s compression quality. But with some minor tweaks in the player’s picture settings, I could get a solid picture from almost anything.
What’s not to love here? The Panasonic DMP-BDT220 player delivers 2D and 3D Blu-ray images that rival even the heavyweights. Sure, it doesn’t have some of the bells and whistles found on my reference Oppo BDP-95, but it does what it’s designed to do flawlessly and at a price point that almost feels like they’re giving it away. If all you want is a great Blu-ray player for Blu-ray and DVD playback along with a host of streaming services, you just can’t go wrong here. Like last year’s model, this one goes straight to the top of my budget player recommendations and delivers the Blu-ray experience in spades.