If you’ve got your heart set on one of the new 3D HDTV flat panels, or perhaps are waiting for the imminent release of (relatively) affordable 3D front projectors, consider the Panasonic BMP-BDT100 to go with it. At a suggested retail of $249.95, it won’t break the bank, and it has a fairly extensive feature package, including of course 3D Full 1080p playback. While the two other Panasonic 3D Blu-ray players currently offered are more extensively equipped in the features department, the BMP-BDT100 still offers a pretty useful feature set for a reasonable price, and delivers solid 2D and 3D video quality.
Consider this Blu-ray player if: You’re looking for an affordable Blu-ray player that comes with 3D Full HD capability, along with internet connectivity and a choice of two streaming pay TV/movie providers.
Look further if: You need additional features, such as twin HDMI outputs which the BMP-BDT100 doesn’t have (which the other two Panasonic 3D Blu-ray players provide), or built-in Wi-Fi wireless network capability.
Video Quality (DVD): 8
Video Quality (Blu-ray): 9
User Interface: 8
Value: 8 ( "Infinity" if you buy a Panasonic 3D TV during the current promotional period—see the Bottom Line section for details).
The principle reason why one might retire (or shift to somewhere else in the home) an otherwise perfectly good Blu-ray player is the need for 3D Blu-ray playback capability, as earlier non-3D players will simply refuse to play the discs. This Panasonic played all of the 3D demo Blu-ray discs and 3D Blu-ray movies on hand here without a hiccup. The player features wired LAN connectivity for hookup to the home network, and Panasonic offers a wireless LAN adapter (but there are numerous, perhaps less costly alternatives out there).
The downside to using a wireless LAN adapter with this player is the lack of a USB port on the rear panel—there’s just a single USB port behind the flip-down door up front. Connecting and leaving connected a wireless LAN adapter will sully the front panel’s otherwise trim cosmetics, and might cause disc loading and unloading difficulties if the player is mounted in an A/V cabinet with tight confines.
The VIERA Cast Internet apps package supplied with the player is on the skimpy side choice-wise, with a similarly limited assortment of apps that the Panasonic TC-P50GT25 3D plasma TV provides. There’s YouTube, Pandora Internet radio, Picassa photo viewer, Bloomberg index quotes and market highlights (but no live video), weather, with two icons showing Twitter and Fox Sports apps soon to appear. Netflix and Amazon on Demand are the two main apps of interest, featuring pay TV/movie streaming with both vendors offering standard and high definition fare. For some odd reason, the player also provides an app named “tagusshau”, which is a German TV news clip service. I suppose that might be of interest to the German-American community looking for news from the home country, but why it’s offered on a US market model instead of, say, CNN, MSNBC or any other mainstream US-originated news clip service is mysterious to say the least.
The player is said to include detail-enhancing SD-to-HD upconversion with DVDs. To test this, I connected the player’s HDMI output to a Panasonic GT25 3D 1080p plasma set, and connected a Samsung Blu-ray player’s analog video output to the TV’s component video input, and set the Samsung to output 480i (standard definition interlaced). Using the Windows Hardware Quality Labs (WHQL) test DVD, I chose the highest video bitrate selection of vertically scrolling text (white text on a black background, named Title Roll on the disc). Switching between the two inputs proved that there was a noticeable sharpening effect via the HDMI input, indicating that the player is indeed providing SD-HD detail enhancement as part of the upconversion process.
Up close, there was also noticeable edge noise along the top ridges of the characters from the Panasonics’s HDMI high def output, with some occasional vertical instability where characters would jump up and down just a tad. That’s the whole point of the Title Roll test, which is to thoroughly exercise whatever video processing functionality exists further down the chain. At a normal viewing distance, the detail enhancement effect provided by the Panasonic player was still discernable, and the amount of visible edge noise diminished to the point where it wasn’t bothersome at all.