capsule review

Panasonic DMP-BD10

At a Glance
  • Panasonic DMP-BD10

    TechHive Rating

This expensive Blu-ray Disc player looks pretty on the surface, but it has a mediocre functional design and middling image quality.

Panasonic's pricey DMP-BD10 ($1300 (as of 2/20/07) is the second most expensive model we've tested. And for its above-average cost, you don't get anything extra, as you do with the $1500 Pioneer Elite BDP-HD1, one of the top-performing players in our "High-Def Video Superguide" (that model streams media across a home network).

Overall, our PC World Test Center evaluation found the DMP-BD10 to be a capable player, producing sharp detail and depth. Its color rendering, however, was iffy: In some test scenes, images appeared fine; in others, Caucasian skin tones had a decidedly red tint (using default settings). The skin tone issue was less apparent in The Phantom of the Opera than it was in scenes from Rumor Has It, where we felt that Jennifer Aniston and Kevin Costner both needed to stay out of the sun.

Image quality wasn't the only issue I had with this player. Though it looks sleek, and a flap on the front panel hides unsightly buttons, Panasonic took this flap idea too far, concealing everything but the power button. Even the tray and eject button are concealed; you must lower the flap every time you want to use the machine.

The remote control is a mixed bag. Among its strengths: It has an easy-to-use, unusual combination navigation pad and dial; and the buttons are large and easy to see. Unfortunately, many of the remote's buttons are concealed under--you guessed it--a flap. Even something as basic as selecting a number requires opening the flap. The remote feels cheaply made, as if you could squash it in your hand. Plus, it lacks an eject button.

The DMP-BD10 does have some noteworthy attributes. Our test unit was reasonably responsive: It took just under 16 seconds to power it up and open its tray. By comparison, some of its competitors took over a minute.

Panasonic also did a good job with its Easy Setup on-screen menus and its thorough documentation. The accompanying instruction is clear, well-organized, and thorough.

The player's built-in audio decoding is a step above that of some of the other Blu-ray players: The unit can decode Dolby Digital Plus 5.1-channel audio--the only Blu-ray player in our roundup to do so. Panasonic says it intends to release a firmware update so that the player can decode Dolby TrueHD 7.1 and DTS-HD Audio as well (the player should output those formats as uncompressed PCM). In our audio tests, the player was average: It fell somewhere in between the top performers--the Sony BDP-S1 and the Pioneer Elite BDP-HD1--and the Samsung BD-P1000 and the Philips BDP9000, whose audio was rather cloudy.

To perform a firmware upgrade, you'll need to get a disc from Panasonic, or download the firmware from Panasonic's Web site and burn it to CD-R.

Unfortunately, the DMP-BD10's steep price outweighs its abilities. You shouldn't have to pay $1300--$411 above the average price of players we've tested--just to get good documentation and Dolby Digital Plus 5.1-channel audio.

Lincoln Spector

This story, "Panasonic DMP-BD10" was originally published by PCWorld.

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At a Glance
  • TechHive Rating

    Pros

    • Great documentation
    • Superior response times

    Cons

    • Impractical front-flap design
    • Skin tones often had a reddish cast
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