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Official Panasonic DMP-BD10 Blu-Ray player thread


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#1 of 666 OFFLINE   Ben_Williams

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Posted October 10 2006 - 02:36 AM

Panasonic DMP-BD10 Blu-Ray Player

For the last several months I’ve been eagerly awaiting the arrival of this new Blu-Ray offering from Panasonic. Past Panasonic DVD players have, at times, been some of the finest on the market. Even Denon has made a habit of rebranding Panasonic products for their own use. My reference Denon DVD-1600 is actually a Panasonic player in a gussied up Denon shell. So, with this rich history of producing fine DVD hardware, I was very hopeful that Panasonic would deliver the goods again with their first Blu-Ray player.


Build Quality:

Right out of the box, this is a noticeably well-built player. While not as heavy as the Toshiba HD-A1 HD DVD player, it is still a very solid and seemingly sturdy. The design is very sleek with an all gloss-black appearance and a very clean, modern look. I much prefer the look of this player to the relatively clunky look of the HD-A1. On the front of the player, there is a large door that folds down to reveal the main controls of the unit as well as the Blu-Ray drive itself. This door is not motorized and needs to be manually lowered before ejecting the disc. While it may seem like a hassle to not have an automated door mechanism, I believe this is a better configuration for the long term. It's just one less mechanical thing to go wrong on the player. The one not-so-solid element of the player is the actual disc tray itself. It seems pretty flimsy in construction and rockets out of the player when opened with an audible thud. We’ll have to wait and see if this flimsy disc tray is up to the task of heavy usage. Only time will tell. Strangely, the disc tray is light grey in color - - an odd choice considering the all-black appearance of the player. Weight on the DMP-BD10 is 9.9 pounds according to the manual. This seems pretty accurate to me.

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Setup:

When first powered on, the DMP-BD10 leads the user immediately to a setup menu. There is an “Easy” mode that automatically selects the most common settings and an “advanced” mode that allows you to select your preferred configuration. I set the player up using the HDMI output at 1080i, the optical digital output for DTS and DD and the player’s 7.1 outputs for uncompressed PCM audio. The menu system is fairly intuitive and easy to navigate. It won’t win any awards for GUI design, but it gets the job done. The menu also allows you to disable the annoying bright blue light that shines out of the front of the player whenever a blu-ray disc is played. I also disabled the status updates (“movie loading”, “reading disc”) that normally appear when playing a blu-ray disc. Overall, setup was quick and easy. The Panasonic starts up quickly. I measured 4 seconds from power on to the disc tray opening and a grand total of 20 seconds from the disc tray closing to the content starting up. Pretty fast! Once a film starts, the player allows control over DNR, 3-D NR, color, sharpness, contrast and brightness settings. Initially, I left all of these in their default modes and made sure that any type of noise reduction was disabled. I've since used the calibration test patterns provided on many Sony Blu-Ray releases to adjust these picture settings very slightly. As before, I left all noise reduction circuits disabled but did slightly lower the contrast output on the Panasonic.

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Remote:

Unlike the player itself, the remote is light grey in color. Frankly, it’s not very well laid out. It features a clunky door mechanism that conceals advanced picture setting controls underneath the main player controls. The remote also has the standard directional menu controls combined with a pseudo jog wheel control. This jog wheel is very sensitive and I found myself accidentally hitting it and moving into menus I didn’t intend to enter whenever I tried to use the direction control. Fortunately, the jog control can be disabled from the main menu. Big thumbs down for the
remote.

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Picture Quality:

So, here’s the big question: Does the Panny deliver the goods in picture quality? Quite simply, it certainly does. I decided to start my viewing on a down note with “The Fifth Element”. The Panasonic proves that the majority of the problem with this disc was the transfer and not Blu-Ray technology provided by the Samsung Blu-Ray player. All the same source problems that were detected on the Samsung player were present on the Panasonic. However, colors seemed to be better represented on the Panasonic and there was a definite increase in sharpness without adding any artificial edge enhancement. The high definition 3D effect that distinguishes most HD material was much more apparent on the Panasonic as opposed to the very flat feel of the Samsung. Overall, the picture had a greater richness to it. I also didn’t really notice too much macroblocking. As a matter of fact, I only detected it once during the course of the move during the very frenetic fight scene on Floston Paradise. On the Samsung, I noticed macroblocking much more frequently. Of course, all the dirt and grime on the print is still there on the Panasonic. It is still a very imperfect transfer and a sub-par entry for Blu-Ray, but the Panasonic did a nice job of making the good parts look even better.

I moved on from there to “Eight Below” which is included with the player. Now, this is what HD is all about! From moment one the Panasonic really impressed me. Colors were spot on without a hint of oversaturation. Whites never bloomed and blacks were rock solid. I noticed a small amount of film grain that was consistent with how a filmed piece is supposed to look. It was never distracting and very naturally presented. Fine details (The fur on the dogs) were immaculately rendered.

I also watched bits and pieces of “Stargate”, “The Terminator”, "Kiss, Kiss, Bang, Bang", "Tears of the Sun" and “Ultraviolet”. All showed greater color reproduction and detail over the Samsung. “Good Night and Good Luck” was also exceptional and showed excellent black levels and shadow detail. It is important, however, to reiterate that sub-par transfers made with dirty, grimy prints are not suddenly made clean on the Panasonic. The most important thing I can point out is that I noticed considerably less macroblocking, greater color fidelity, blacker blacks, whiter whites and more picture depth on the Panasonic than the Samsung. I couldn’t technically tell you why this is the case, but it was very apparent.

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Audio:

The DMP-BD10 is capable, out of the box, of passing Dolby Digital and DTS through its HDMI, Coaxial and Optical ports. The 7.1 analog output on the player passes uncompressed multi-channel PCM audio as well as DVD-A sound content. Internal Dolby Digital and DTS decoders are also included. The box comes packed with a mail-in card that will allow the user to receive a free firmware update in the mail when Dolby Digital True HD and DTS HD are made available on the player.

First of all, uncompressed PCM audio is a fantastic thing. The Panasonic puts out a very impressive sound field in this configuration. Without a doubt, this is some of the best film sound I’ve ever experienced in my home theater. I also made several comparisons of the Panasonic's audio capabilities using DVDs, CDs and DVD-A discs as compared to the audio processing capabilities of my Rotel RSX-1056 and my Denon DVD-2910. The Panasonic fared favorably to each of these units in the audio department. Sound was very warmly presented and never overly harsh. High Frequency sounds were pin-point accurate and bass was smooth across the entire lower register of the frequency range. Dolby Digital and DTS sound are passed at higher bitrates and also deliver quite a punch. As soon as the other lossless audio formats are made available on the Panasonic, it should be the only 1st generation player on the market capable of passing all current sound formats. Panasonic has done its homework in the audio department with the DMP-BD10 and I’m extremely impressed with the results.

Upconversion:

Many users are really going to place a lot of importance in the Panasonic’s ability to upconvert standard DVD material. I decided that the best way I could judge this player was to do some A/B comparisons between it and my Denon DVD-2910. I played selections from “Finding Nemo”, “Star Wars Episode III”, “Batman Begins” and “Star Trek: Insurrection”. I was looking specifically for too many jaggies, badly handled flags and picture accuracy. For the most part, I thought the Panasonic did a very nice job of matching my Denon in almost every area. The Denon is by no means perfect, and I did see some improvements with the Panasonic in color and black levels. Jagged edges and digital noise were very minimal on the Panasonic. Overall, I would rate it as a very good unpconverting DVD player. So much so, that I will now be using my Denon exclusively with SACD material.

Final Thoughts:

The new HD disc formats are a scary proposition for many enthusiasts because of the lack of certainty as to which format will prevail. At $1299 the Panasonic is a pricey entry into a format that might not even exist in a year or two. While it is still far too early to declare a winner in this format war, I do believe that quality products like the Panasonic DMP-BD10 do go a long way in showing the high quality and potential of the Blu-Ray format. Picture quality is excellent, Audio is outstanding and the player has enough room for future updating that it is a formidable product for the long term (assuming Blu-Ray survives). If one were to compare this Panasonic player to the offerings in the HD DVD arena from Toshiba, it would be very safe to say that the picture equals the Toshiba player's on material that is available on both formats. It will probably take dual layer Blu-Ray releases with potentially higher bitrates to really see if the Blu-Ray format is capable of producing a better image than HD DVD. Since the current crop of releases that are available on both formats make use of the same transfers, it is going to be impossible to distinguish between the two. I'll take a look at the Paramount releases this week and follow up on any advances in picture quality that there might be. Until then, I can wholeheartedly recommend the Panasonic DMP-BD10 to those who are willing and ready to make the jump into HD.

Equipment used in review:
Pioneer Elite PRO-1130HD Plasma (ISF Calibrated)
Rotel RSX-1056 Receiver
Rotel RB-1080 Amplifier
B&W N805S Speakers (x2)
B&W HTM4S Center Channel
B&W SCMS Rear & center-rear channels (x4)
M&K MX-125 Subwoofer
Denon DVD-2910 DVD Player
Cat Cables Interconnects

[pge]Panasonic DMP-BD10 High Definition Blu-Ray DVD Player [/pge]

#2 of 666 OFFLINE   Ben_Williams

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Posted October 10 2006 - 04:52 AM

If anyone has any questions or comments regarding this review or the Panasonic, please fire away!

#3 of 666 OFFLINE   Harminder

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Posted October 10 2006 - 05:14 AM

Excellent review Ben. You just decided for me to have these stocked in my store.

One question though, does it have an ethernet/LAN port for firmware upgrades? Or is it via mail-in CD only?

#4 of 666 OFFLINE   Ben_Williams

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Posted October 10 2006 - 05:30 AM

Thanks! Unfortunately, there is no LAN port on the Panasonic. From what I gather, all updates will have to be done via disc.

#5 of 666 OFFLINE   Larry Sutliff

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Posted October 10 2006 - 05:44 AM

Great review, Ben!

P.S. Your system rocks! I love those B&W Nautilus speakers.

#6 of 666 OFFLINE   Ben_Williams

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Posted October 10 2006 - 05:57 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Larry Sutliff
Great review, Ben!

P.S. Your system rocks! I love those B&W Nautilus speakers.

Thanks, Larry! I love the Nautilus series... They are *almost* upgradeitis-proof. At least until the next Nautilus series is released, that is!

#7 of 666 OFFLINE   Chris Beveridge

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Posted October 10 2006 - 06:50 AM

Ben,

If the Panasonic GUI is the same as most of their decks have been for the past few years, when in display mode does it have either:

Codec listing?

Bitrate listing?

#8 of 666 OFFLINE   Ben_Williams

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Posted October 10 2006 - 06:56 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Beveridge
Ben,

If the Panasonic GUI is the same as most of their decks have been for the past few years, when in display mode does it have either:

Codec listing?

Bitrate listing?

Chris,

I've not been able to find any listing in the menus for codec or bitrate. Kind of a disappointment, actually. However, there may be some super secret button combination that will give up this information. I just haven't found it yet if it exists.

#9 of 666 OFFLINE   JediFonger

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Posted October 10 2006 - 06:56 AM

there's only been 1 nautilus series so far, yes (see my avatar)?

ok. and you have THOSE? weren't those like $20k+ a pair or somn ridiculous like that? your speakers alone cost more than the rest of your system?

anyway, regarding the HD player. does it officially output 1080p/60 in the manuals... how about 1080p/24?

#10 of 666 OFFLINE   Dave_P.

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Posted October 10 2006 - 06:58 AM

Wow, I'm actually pretty happy with my Samsung, but it looks like I should've waited for something like this. Do you happen to have Total Recall? I was curious if it has the DTS stutter problem that my Sammy has (which is going to be fixed with a FW update apparently).

#11 of 666 OFFLINE   Ben_Williams

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Posted October 10 2006 - 07:00 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by JediFonger
there's only been 1 nautilus series so far, yes (see my avatar)?

ok. and you have THOSE? weren't those like $20k+ a pair or somn ridiculous like that? your speakers alone cost more than the rest of your system?

I WISH I had those! Unfortunately, the fact that my wife would kill me in my sleep if I spent that kind of money on speakers - - and the fact that I can't afford 'em means that I've been using Nautilus 805s speakers for my front channels.

I should probably clarify that, eh?

#12 of 666 OFFLINE   Ben_Williams

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Posted October 10 2006 - 07:02 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave_P.
Wow, I'm actually pretty happy with my Samsung, but it looks like I should've waited for something like this. Do you happen to have Total Recall? I was curious if it has the DTS stutter problem that my Sammy has (which is going to be fixed with a FW update apparently).

I'll pick up Total Recall today... however, the DTS stutter issue was also present on Lord of War with the Sammy. I didn't have that problem on the Panasonic. So, it's a pretty safe bet that the Panny doesn't suffer from that problem.

#13 of 666 OFFLINE   Chris Beveridge

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Posted October 10 2006 - 07:02 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave_P.
Wow, I'm actually pretty happy with my Samsung, but it looks like I should've waited for something like this. Do you happen to have Total Recall? I was curious if it has the DTS stutter problem that my Sammy has (which is going to be fixed with a FW update apparently).

I've read posts elsewhere that indicate that the DTS stutter problem does not occur with the Panasonic. The Samsung has a single major firmware upgrade at the end of the month that will fix this but you can order that disc now by calling Samsung support (and escalating to level 2 to request DTS stutter resolution disc).

#14 of 666 OFFLINE   Dave_P.

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Posted October 10 2006 - 07:13 AM

OK, thanks for the info guys. I'm looking forward to the FW upgrade then.

I have the newer build Sammy with the colored dots indicator and I found it to boot up and get going pretty fast, but the Panny sounds like it's even a lot quicker.

#15 of 666 OFFLINE   Chris Beveridge

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Posted October 10 2006 - 07:26 AM

Ben,

As a follow-up question, how responsive do the discs menus seem? Each company's authoring has been a bit different in how fluid and smooth they seem (none of them come across as smooth as HD DVD to me though they are getting better) but I wonder how much of that is authoring vs. what the machine is capable of. For example, the Warner menus seem to be a bit more clunky in this respect while some of the Paramount and Sony ones have been smoother in how they expand from one area to the next. Stealth would be an example where one is a bit slower and not quite as fluid.

#16 of 666 OFFLINE   Ben_Williams

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Posted October 10 2006 - 08:01 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Beveridge
Ben,

As a follow-up question, how responsive do the discs menus seem? Each company's authoring has been a bit different in how fluid and smooth they seem (none of them come across as smooth as HD DVD to me though they are getting better) but I wonder how much of that is authoring vs. what the machine is capable of. For example, the Warner menus seem to be a bit more clunky in this respect while some of the Paramount and Sony ones have been smoother in how they expand from one area to the next. Stealth would be an example where one is a bit slower and not quite as fluid.

Hey Chris,

As you mentioned, some menus are obviously better designed than others. With that being said, I experienced virtually no delay in getting the pop up menus to ... uh, pop up. All were easily navigated and I didn't notice any real lag on any of the discs I tested regardless of studio. This might be a case of better processing power in the Panny. I do agree with you... the Toshiba is a bit clunky in the menu department.

#17 of 666 OFFLINE   GoldenRedux

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Posted October 10 2006 - 08:12 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ben_Williams
If anyone has any questions or comments regarding this review or the Panasonic, please fire away!


Hello Ben, and everyone. I do have a question. I understand the Panasonic has a card in the box for a future firmware upgrade to allow for in the box decoding of Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD. When they say DTS-HD are they referring to the lossless DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) codec as well, or just the lossy DTS-HD?
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Cheers

#18 of 666 OFFLINE   Jeff(R)

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Posted October 10 2006 - 08:19 AM

Thank you Ben.

#19 of 666 OFFLINE   Ben_Williams

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Posted October 10 2006 - 08:29 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by GoldenRedux
Hello Ben, and everyone. I do have a question. I understand the Panasonic has a card in the box for a future firmware upgrade to allow for in the box decoding of Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD. When they say DTS-HD are they referring to the lossless DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) codec as well, or just the lossy DTS-HD?

Hi Anthony,

That's a very good question. I can only assume that Master Audio is what they are referencing. There is a DTS HD track on the "Stargate" disc that played without problem on my system last night. I'll double check the mail-in firmware card tonight when I get home to make sure...

EDIT: The mail-in card only designates DTS HD. I'll see if I can get some clarification on that.

#20 of 666 OFFLINE   GoldenRedux

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Posted October 10 2006 - 09:14 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ben_Williams
Hi Anthony,

That's a very good question. I can only assume that Master Audio is what they are referencing. There is a DTS HD track on the "Stargate" disc that played without problem on my system last night. I'll double check the mail-in firmware card tonight when I get home to make sure...


Thanks Ben. Posted Image
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Cheers


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