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Panasonic DMP-BDT230 review

Awesome 2D, 3D and upscaling – and a Netflix shortcut – in a quirky yet speedy user interface

Our Verdict

In the world of Blu-ray players you get what you pay for, and if you're after the very best in Full HD detail, Panasonic is definitely the brand to head for. In terms of picture quality from all sources, there are no better choices than the DMP-BDT230.

For

  • Excellent 2D & 3D images
  • Great value price
  • Rich colours
  • SD Card slot
  • Netflix shortcut button

Against

  • Uses 2012 smart TV GUI
  • No Lovefilm app
  • Lacks MyHomeScreen
  • No virtual remote apps

In the world of Blu-ray players, you get what you pay for, and if you're after the very best in Full HD detail, Panasonic is definitely the brand to head for.

As such, the Japanese manufacturer's mid-range DMP-BDT230 could be star of the show this year. It lacks the second HDMI input, the (frankly pointless, for most of us) Ultra HD 4k upscaling of DVDs, and the dedicated analogue outputs that the step-up DMP-BDT330 includes.

Ratings in depth
Panasonic DMP BDT230
Panasonic DMP BDT230
Panasonic DMP BDT230
Panasonic DMP BDT230
Panasonic DMP BDT230

In the world of Blu-ray players, you get what you pay for, and if you're after the very best in Full HD detail, Panasonic is definitely the brand to head for.

As such, the Japanese manufacturer's mid-range DMP-BDT230 could be star of the show this year. It lacks the second HDMI input, the (frankly pointless, for most of us) Ultra HD 4k upscaling of DVDs, and the dedicated analogue outputs that the step-up DMP-BDT330 includes.

But what it lacks in dedicated and future-proof home cinema features, it makes up for in an otherwise generous feature count and its cutting-edge hi-def images.

Panasonic DMP BDT230
The tapered sides accentuate its slimness

We've been impressed by the company's My Home Screen innovations in 2013 on its TVs that make smart apps more personal and customisable, but there's a no-show for all that on the DMP-BDT230.

Sadly, in their place come last year's VIERA Connect screens, a collection of apps presented in a seriously outmoded fashion. Accessed via the oddly-named Network Services tab (sounds like a call centre to us), VIERA Connect includes everything from BBC iPlayer, YouTube and Netflix to iConcerts, CNBC Real-Time, Euronews, Daily Motion, Aupeo, PlayJam Games, Twitter and Facebook. There's also a link to a Marketplace where even more apps can be downloaded.

There's no Lovefilm app, but the headline is Netflix, which is underlined by the presence on the DMP-BDT230's remote control of a dedicated big red button for the online streaming service. That we like, though the DMP-BDT230 could soon look a little silly if the wind blows in another direction and Lovefilm, or something else, becomes dominant.

None more black

In terms of looks and physical features, the DMP-BDT230 sticks with the traditional gloss black, though it's extraordinarily slim (just 38mm tall) and should fit snugly into any AV rack already groaning with gear. It's angled inwards at the sides, too, adding to the slimline appearance.

Around the back it's all pretty simple, with a single HDMI output accompanied by a digital optical audio output (the DMP-BDT230 deals in PCM or bitstream, and supports all Blu-ray surround sound formats, such as DTS Neo:6, DTS HD Master Audio and Dolby Digital True HD) and a wired LAN port, though the DMP-BDT230 does have a WiFi module. We're so glad that the dreadful days of the dongle are (almost) over.

Panasonic DMP BDT230
A simple array of ports

The front contains the most excitement in the form of an SDHC Card slot. Panasonic Blu-ray players, DVD decks and TVs have long featured one, but we're glad to see it continuing even if it only supports playback of music and photos. No matter, because the DMP-BDT230's two USB 2.0 slots are nestled-up next to it, all under a kick-down flap.

Performance

There are a few changes from last year's almost-identical crop of Panasonic Blu-ray players. The DMP-BDT230 doesn't have a touchpad remote, as its forbears of 2012 did, but the same simple directional user interface remains. It's actually very, very easy to use – it's just a case of relying on the excellent, simple remote control's arrow keys – not even the OK button is needed – but what's happened to Panasonic's awesome new smart TV pages for 2013?

Panasonic DMP BDT230
The simple user interface

The built-in web browser isn't worth bothering with, largely because the DMP-BDT230 comes with a rather basic TV remote – welcome though it is – that makes navigation of web pages, and text entry, painfully slow. Use a smartphone instead; after all, the DMP-BDT230 also comes equipped with Miracast for linking directly to Android devices.

Aside from its simplicity, where the DMP-BDT230 does impress is with its support for digital media. In our test we managed to get the DMP-BDT230 to display AVI, MP4, MPEG-4 and AVC HD video files, JPEG photos and MP3, WAV, AAC, FLAC and WMA music files.

Disc loading times are fair; the DMP-BDT230 managed 12 seconds in Quick Start mode, with both DVDs and CDs clocking-in at less than 15 seconds.

Picture quality

Picture quality is where the DMP-BDT230 really excels. You should stick with the hassle-free Normal, Soft or Fine picture presets, though there's little need to move away from the default Normal; pictures from our 2D test disc Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close were pin-sharp and fluid, with zero video nasties and very little judder. In fact, its 24p images are smoother than we've ever seen.

Panasonic DMP BDT230
Picture preset selection

Switch to a 3D run-through of Hugo and the DMP-BDT230 copes just as well, delivering depth-filled images with no crosstalk or image echoes to frustrate us. Colour and contrast in both 2D and 3D impress, as they do in some remarkably well upscaled fare from our test DVDs. In terms of picture quality from all sources, there are no better choices than the DMP-BDT230.

Tech Specs

Product TypeBlu-ray Disc Player
Scan Format1080p
EthernetYes
Wireless LANYes
USBYes
HDMIYes
DLNA CertifiedYes
Media FormatsBD-RE, DVD+RW, DVD-RW, CD-RW
Digital Audio Optical OutYes
3D Type3D
Sound SystemDolby Digital Plus, Dolby TrueHD, DTS-HD Master Audio Essential, DTS-HD High Resolution Audio
Number of Discs1
Brand NamePanasonic
Audio FormatsCD-DA, FLAC, WAV, WMA, MP3, AAC, M4A
Video FormatsBD Video, DVD Video, MKV, AVCHD, MP4
Scanning ModesProgressive Scan
Dual-Layer Media SupportedYes
Wireless LAN StandardIEEE 802.11a/b/g/n
Ethernet TechnologyFast Ethernet
Operating Power Consumption14 W
Standby Power Consumption5.50 W
Video Signal FormatNTSC
Memory Card SupportedSecure Digital (SD), Secure Digital Extended Capacity (SDXC), Secure Digital High Capacity (SDHC)
Height38.1 mm
Width430.2 mm
Depth433.4 mm
Image FormatsJPEG, MPO
FeaturesInternet Streaming, 2D-3D Conversion, BD Live
ManufacturerPanasonic
Product ModelDMP-BDT230
Product NameSmart Network 3D Blu-Ray Disc Player
Manufacturer Part NumberDMP-BDT230
Manufacturer Website Addresshttp://www.panasonic.co.uk
Marketing Information

View palm-sized content on your big screen TV with Miracast™

Now you can stream movies, TV shows, music, videos, photos and more from your Android 4.2-or-higher-enabled mobile device directly to your TV. Panasonic's new DMP-BDT230 Smart Network 3D Blu-Ray Disc™ Player is equipped with Miracast, which makes it possible to play mobile content on the big screen. No more crowding around a tiny phone to share your favorite content. Miracast makes exploring and enjoying the Internet-including popular streaming Apps-easy and fun.

Remote ControlYes
Weight (Approximate)1.40 kg