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Panasonic DMP-BD30 review/impressions


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#1 of 32 OFFLINE   Southpaw

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Posted November 13 2007 - 04:44 AM

This is my 2nd BD player. I owned a DMP-BD10 for 9 months. The unit was absolutely flawless. Never had a problem with it. I wanted to upgrade to a 1.3 HDMI unit for HBR capability into my new Pio Elite 92TXH. In addition, early reviews mentioned improved PQ, perhaps the best PQ of all the stand alone BD players.
My display only accepts 1080i but will output 1080p. So I can't comment on 1080/24. Eventually I will get a display that will do it but for now, I have the BD player outputting 1080i
First off, DTS-HD master audio is such a revelation, it is hard to put into words. I have a DTS-HD MA sampler in both BD and HD DVD. I used the HD DVD one to test out MA out of my A35 (mentioned in my review of the A35) and the BD version was just as good. Actually it is better because the BD version also has movies such as FF and Ice Age 2. They are 3-5 minute action scenes that show you how good MA audio is.
Next I popped in Kingdom of Heaven. PQ was just as good as the BD10...didn't really notice any difference but I kind of expected that since I can only output 1080i out of the player. But the MA track is so good, it didn't really matter. I heard things in the movie I hadn't heard before. Background sound effects such as leaves rustling, swords clanging, birds, and a crackling fire I had never heard before. Not to mention the overall sound field just being more expansive and enveloping. It just felt like I was right in the middle of a circle of sound. During the first action scene where Liam Neeson and Orlando Bloom are attacked, arrows zing through the air at such an audible level, it really feels like they were coming through the living room.
Next I tried out Ratatouille...loaded in about half the time of the BD10. Java stuff flowed seamlessly. I did about half of the Cin-explore feature in the BD10 and there was about a 2 second pause in between the movie and the branching features (such as an animation briefing or deleted scene). On the BD30, I did the 2nd half of the movie in Cin-expore mode, it was about a second at the most to go back and forth between the movie and the features. Almost instant. Very nice upgrade. Now on this movie, the PQ did seem a bit sharper than the BD10. I didn't think it could get any better than when I watched the movie for the first time on the BD10, but it just seemed a tad sharper. As opposed to KoH, I did notice a slight upgrade in PQ on the BD30. A good example of this is the scene where Remy reads the will and letters in the chef's office and realizes that Linguini is Gusteau's son. The writing on the letters was just a tad blurry on the BD10. Still readable but just a slight blur. The same scene on the BD30, the words are crystal clear...no blur at all. Again, not much of a difference but when you look for it, it is there.
Next I tried out an SD DVD for upconverting review: Robocop 20th anniversary edition. Picture looked great. I would say right there with the A35. I wouldn't be disappointed playing an SD disc in either player.

So overall, I am very satisified with the upgrade right now. HBR audio is terrific and things like load times and functionality are so much better now. I can't wait to try out a 1.1 disc like Sunshine or War that will be coming out early next year.

#2 of 32 OFFLINE   ErichH

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Posted November 13 2007 - 12:41 PM

Thanks - your report seems in line with the string at AVS.
MA, and the step up in load performance were expected on the 30, but I think the 10 & 10A will hold ground for some time given the limited amount of new Pre/Receivers with new audio processing and owners of the same.
The Panys continue to be a great choice for BD.

#3 of 32 OFFLINE   Richard Ringenbach

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Posted November 13 2007 - 02:03 PM

Jason,
Does the BD30k give you 7.1 channel surround though the HDMI output? The reason I ask is that it only gives you 5 channel analog out.

Thanks!
Richard Ringenbach

#4 of 32 OFFLINE   Southpaw

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Posted November 14 2007 - 02:48 AM

If the disc is encoded with it. I only have a 5.1 setup. But the Panny does support up to 7.1 via HDMI.

#5 of 32 OFFLINE   Dave H

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Posted November 14 2007 - 03:12 AM

I picked up the BD30 over the weekend. Previously, I was using the the PS3. My display and receiver is an ISF'd 60" Sony SXRD A3000 and Pioneer Elite 91.

The 1080/24p output of the BD30 without question exceeds the PS3. The image is slightly sharper, more detailed, and a bit better contrast. I'm not saying this difference is day and night, but is worthwhile in my opinion - so much so that I'm selling my PS3.

#6 of 32 OFFLINE   Michael Boyd

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Posted November 14 2007 - 01:07 PM

I am going purple with this player.
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Currently enjoying movies in China via itunes on a 13 inch Macbook.

#7 of 32 OFFLINE   Felix Martinez

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Posted November 14 2007 - 11:50 PM

I'm happy with the player, but was quite frustrated with the default settings. I mean: the component outs were set to 480i! On a Blu-ray player! Then the "secondary audio" was set to ON, and I was wondering why I wasn't getting DTS showing up in my receiver for CE3K. I was damn near pulling my hair out until I turned that option OFF.

And CE3K still took some time to load - longer than any HD-DVD title on my measly $98 A2. Can't imagine the load time on a non-1.1 player...

#8 of 32 OFFLINE   Southpaw

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Posted November 15 2007 - 12:45 AM

Yeah, that secondary audio setting has frustrated many of the ones that want to bitstream their audio.
What will also be frustrating is having to go into this setting when we want to hear the PiP commentary on a 1.1 disc. It is my understanding that we won't be able to hear this "secondary audio" unless this is turned back on.

#9 of 32 OFFLINE   Sam Davatchi

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Posted April 23 2008 - 10:19 PM

I'm very close to get a BD30. However one thing is very important to me. To see the remaining time on TV. Could you please tell me if you can do this and if yes on pressing what buttons and how many times?

#10 of 32 OFFLINE   Chuck King

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Posted April 24 2008 - 12:43 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sam Davatchi
I'm very close to get a BD30. However one thing is very important to me. To see the remaining time on TV. Could you please tell me if you can do this and if yes on pressing what buttons and how many times?

I believe the button on the remote is labeled "STATUS". You push it twice to see the remaining time.

#11 of 32 OFFLINE   Sam Davatchi

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Posted April 24 2008 - 06:11 AM

Thanks. I'm one step away from getting this. What's the talk about bad upconvertion? Is it really bad? How does it play DVDs in 1080i? What is the best upconverting BD player for DVDs?

#12 of 32 OFFLINE   TonyTone

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Posted April 24 2008 - 06:17 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chuck King
I believe the button on the remote is labeled "STATUS". You push it twice to see the remaining time.
Are you sure it shows "remaining" time? When I press Status twice to see the time, it displays a bar along with current/elapsed time and total time...but no remaining time figure. Then again I could be wrong about the elapsed time part...

#13 of 32 OFFLINE   TonyTone

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Posted April 24 2008 - 06:28 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sam Davatchi
Thanks. I'm one step away from getting this. What's the talk about bad upconvertion? Is it really bad? How does it play DVDs in 1080i? What is the best upconverting BD player for DVDs?
It's not that it's bad at upconverting SD DVDs...it's just that--depending on who you talk to--it's not as good when compared to say, an Oppo SD DVD player.

FWIW--I have a BD30 and a Toshiba XA2 (HD DVD player w/ Reon chip)...to my own eyes, the XA2 does anywhere between a slightly-better to a much-better job of upconverting SD DVD (depending on which DVD is being played) compared to the BD30, as far as PQ is concerned. Note--the BD30's SD DVD upconversion is (arguably) acceptable, but if you're looking for Oppo-like PQ then the BD30 is not the best choice.

As far as the best upconverting BD player for SD DVDs--the Denon 3800BDCI is a good one (uses Realta HQV chip--slightly-better than the Reon IIRC), but at an MSRP of $1999 may not be the most practical choice; that would (arguably) go to the PS3 (w/ latest 2.3x firmware), depending on whose eyes you choose to believe.

#14 of 32 OFFLINE   Chuck King

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Posted April 24 2008 - 07:17 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by TonyTone
Are you sure it shows "remaining" time? When I press Status twice to see the time, it displays a bar along with current/elapsed time and total time...but no remaining time figure. Then again I could be wrong about the elapsed time part...

Whoops, you are correct!

#15 of 32 OFFLINE   Sam Davatchi

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Posted April 24 2008 - 07:40 AM

That's ok, if it shows the total time that is good enough for me too. So it shows [elapsed/total], correct?

#16 of 32 OFFLINE   TheBat

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Posted April 24 2008 - 07:46 AM

I have to say that the panasonic 30 is a better bluray/ upconversion player then both the ps3 and oppo.. that is the way I see it.

its a very impressive picture for both.

Jacob

#17 of 32 OFFLINE   Chuck King

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Posted April 24 2008 - 09:31 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sam Davatchi
That's ok, if it shows the total time that is good enough for me too. So it shows [elapsed/total], correct?

Yes

#18 of 32 OFFLINE   Sam Davatchi

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Posted May 10 2008 - 07:05 AM

I finally received this player today. Overall I’m “happy” with the quality of the player. It’s a great player for playing BDs. Here are some thoughts:

- As people have said, this player has serious deinterlacing issues with DVD materials. Things get bad when you have 4:3 interlaced materials like sitcoms. I have a lot of sitcoms and for example I tried "That 70’s Show" and it is unwatchable. It just can’t deinterlace it. Posted Image The only solution is to put the “Transfer” option from “Auto” to “Video”. However I don’t know if it’s good to use it. I don’t know if it has a negative effect on a film source playback.


- I can’t believe this player has no subtitle button on the remote Posted Image , it has an audio button. Major problem. Not for a second I thought I should be careful about this. Frankly how many times do you have to change the audio on the fly? Never! How many times do you need to turn the subtitles on and off on the fly? Many times. At least me. Many times I need to turn it on and off to see a particular dialog.

- So what’s the latest and best method to multi-region this player? From where I got it, they were selling a multi-region version for the DVD part only. That's what I got but It doesn’t work for BDs.





#19 of 32 OFFLINE   TonyTone

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Posted May 12 2008 - 04:15 AM

Sam--agreed w/ your observations; many others (like myself) have noted many of the same faults you've commented on. Dunno if you own an R1 copy of Star Wars Ep. 4 (A New Hope) but on the R1 version, if you watch the first small planet that appears after the opening prologue scrolls off the screen, you'll see that it doesn't scroll up smoothly...almost as if it's skipping a few frames. I reckon most folks could care less since they probably don't use their BD30 players for SD DVD viewing, but that doesn't hide the fact that the BD30 has at best, average SD DVD playback performance.

I also notice you're from Paris, so I'm guessing you bought the Euro-spec version of the BD30...no? Given your comment that you have the multi-region DVD playback version of it...do all BD30s sold in Europe have that capability, or did you have to purchase a "special" version that had that capability? Just curious, as the ones sold here in the U.S. can do only R1 unless you do the remote hack to enable multi-region SD DVD playback...even then we're limited to NTSC only, so no PAL non-R1 DVDs for us. As far as whether there's a BD multi-region hack for it--I thought I read somewhere that someone came out w/ a hardware hack (i.e., you have to open the player and do some h/w mods) for it.

#20 of 32 OFFLINE   andrew markworthy

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Posted May 12 2008 - 05:09 AM

Quote:
What's the talk about bad upconvertion? Is it really bad?
This is difficult to answer. IF you do some of the standard benchmark tests, the BD30 does not perform very well. BUT in playing 'real' discs it's a different case entirely. Okay, once in a while it does something bad - a case in point is lettering (e.g. subtitles) which sometimes can have rather more jaggies than are desirable. But against this, the BD30 has a different type of upscaled picture from most I've seen. I can't really explain this very well, but here goes. With supposedly good upscaling on other machines, I nearly always have the feeling that the picture looks like someone turned the sharpness control up to just below the threshold of 'plain wrong'. With the BD30, it just looks like a good clear SD picture, and unless you're especially looking for it, or your viewing consists entirely of panoramic shots of cityscapes, all you're going to notice is a nice picture. I've had my BD30 for a month or so and to be honest, I've stopped noticing any upscaling issues. I can just sit back and enjoy the movies.

Quote:
do all BD30s sold in Europe have that capability, or did you have to purchase a "special" version that had that capability?
Nope, we're the same as you guys - you need a remote hack. Or rather, you need a special set of instructions sent via a remote control device:
Panasonic S42 / S52 / S49 / S295 Info site The way I did it was to buy a special remote off ebay that did the trick.

As for picture and sound quality in high def - yes, better than the PS3 which I think most folks are taking as the benchmark in this instance. Worth upgrading if you already have a PS3? Probably not. Choose a BD30 over a PS3? In a heartbeat if you have no interest in games and don't mind about connectivity.


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