Category: Home Theater
Great Blu Ray for less than $200?
Seeking another BR for a replacement to the Oppo BDP 83 for a second system arrangement I began looking and asking here for advice. I got some too!
That thread was deleted for whatever reason… but for the sake of closure, as so very many threads here go without any finalization or completion, I like to provide for those interested parties “…the rest of the story” as it were, uh, was, er, is! Barring incident or outright failure I’m impressed sufficiently so far as to make this latest unit a keeper for my Private HT outfit.
I sold my Oppo 83 due to the current economic crunch with hopes of acquiring the Oppo BDP 93 or 95 at some future date. In the interim another at least agreeable unit seemed a need, though at far less expense. I posted the Any BR players worth having under $200? Or some such question.
Every account there was aimed from previous exp with previous models, some laudable ones, and some less known, but apparently quite viable alternatives according to their owners. Yamaha, Denon, Panasonic, Sony, Toshiba, etc.
I first bought a Sony BDP s 570 from my local Sony outlet. Disc playback was very good w/BR. Pretty good. When up sampling SD DVD. But there were some issues using its menu structure, and I/we never connected up wirelessly. There were also issues with scaling discs and web content similarly. Get Discs to scale right, the web was off some, and vice versa.
So I left it there… returning the Sony and waiting…. And waiting… Audio nuts or just ‘nuts’ like me hate to wait on acquiring their next box of goodies. And how!!
So I left off saying I would prefer to try the LG players next as they seemed to have a better handle on the DLNA facet I was attracted to then, but a curious thing happened. As they got longer in the tooth and the new models were rolling out, the prices of the older series, oddly enough, began to rise!?
AS we all know now, or should know by now, new is not always the word which means ‘better’. It merely means new. However, it’s a good bet in the ‘digital dimension’ it very well may translate to uh, maybe better.
Seeing new models at the same MSRP as older versions, I opted to go for a Panny unit instead of the LG. Despite the overwhelming positive reviews online of the LG lineup being quite the visionary with its leading edge web content, and great imaging abilities rivaling many higher costing units. Again, just because I like the word ‘new’ a lot I suppose.
Patience is a virtue. The older Panasonic models simply did nothing to catch my attention. Larger, less featured internet content streaming options and I felt they weren’t quite the value laden player in that $100 – $200, range.
Enter the DMP BDT210
First impressions? Very nice. Smooth. Sleek and uber high tech appearance. Nifty OPEN/CLOSE by Light Sensor… no buttons to find in the dark… merely wave your hand across the top of the unit and a little beep will sound and the tray will either extend or retract. It’s quite an innocuous sound and engaging a machine by waving one’s hand is very high on the cool meter.
A migratory two wire mini plug (cable box, boom box) AC cord accompanies the machine. No HDMI cable though. The Remote did come with Batteries, which puts it a couple steps up on the Sony BDP s 570 which came without a pr of A.A.s, and has a fixed PC.
The menus are sleek… quick… eye catching… easy to operate and more intuitive than the Sony’s menus by far. You get a list and as you select an item another set of choices show up off to the right, and more selections are then possible by going up or down and hitting the enter/select key on the remote. Some of the choices one can make are even further explained if you are in doubt, which I find very cool!
Wireless connectivity was a breeze to setup, configure, and thereafter, download the new firmware update that was available online.
The Panasonic DMP BDT 210 did not care much for the ‘G’ router it discovered and actually asked via insinuation and a brief guilt trip, that I upgrade as soon as is possible to a ‘N’ class unit for better performance…. AND SECURITY! Call it charming or even insolent; it’s cool to have a device which can determine such things automatically.
Setup was about as intuitive overall as one could ask for… only getting sticky during some translations of the OEM verbiage being used now and then. It does help to figure out where Panasonic is coming from with these new terms and the Help info in the screens menu is greatly appreciated... Keeping one from grabbing up the owners manual.
I can say so far, to get use of everything but LAN network and file playback, no menus were consorted with, opened up, or read at any time! Well, so far anyhow.
Affix the HDMI cable…. Plug in the PC. Setup your internet accessibility and do the firmware update. Pick out a BR or SD disc. Wave your hand over the top of the player and you are in business! Right out of the box it’ll work well, and only if wireless connectivity is desired will you have tthe need to alter things some. A couple other settings will tailor it better to your own individual concerns of course...
Resolution & Scaling
Adjusting the resolution of the image is simple as can be. However, the default setting is at AUTO. I reset mine to 1080P for all content. Once reset it is forgotten. Online content, DVD and Blue ray video scaled as right as several sets of eyes could detect. There is a separate option for actual Scaling to the display too. It shows an oval and you simply adjust up or down, accordingly, to fit the oval to the screen! Easy peasy. Mine resides at #4 of 6 on a 50 inch 16:9 screen.
There are many default selections throughout the array of settings & options set to AUTO. Not too many of them were altered in my situation. They also make for ‘getting up and running quickly’, easy and painlessly.
Repeatedly or until you opt out of it, you will get a message as you initiate any journey into the internet about unwelcome content. Apparently there are settings which automatically prevent some types of content… Parental Controls? It can be dismissed by a couple key strokes on the remote. I had all such constraints disabled on my player.
I did no configuration of the Skype functionality… that may come later. Yep, your BRP is headed for center stage for ALL your video needs, and now for your telephone needs too! I hope so. I’d love to see one interface which enables me to have every media content, scenic vistas, and disc and file playback displayed on an entire wall of my house, as it was displayed in the movie “Total Recall”.
Wave your hand… speak your commands… well, actually I can do that already when I choose to… save for the Alpine vistas and Mountain views Arnie had on his display, and probably could do that too with some effort, though not with as clean an esthetic… his images seemed to be displayed just in front of the real wall itself. But then Arnie can afford to employ ILM, and I can’t.
…offers an initial FREE RENTAL once you have signed up for the likely, ‘pay per view’ service. So there’s $5 you hadn’t counted on!
The BDT 210 suggests you input a specific activation code on a specific web address the machine promotes on the screen as you navigate to it using the BDT 210 remote control. This makes for a clunky sign up arrangement but overall, it was done in mere moments using an adjacent laptop to handle the signing up duties... yeah… since the Dec 2010 mfg date of the BDT210, some things have changed online… go figure. It was a minor nuisance.
I don’t have an account just yet but will, by months end.
…was flawless I streamed some YouTube vids, and some online music streams via Pandora without any hiccups at all. Seamless, fluid, and top notch on the video and audio fronts!
Having scaled the image correctly for my display, only one or two more OPTIONAL settings were rearranged…. Image resolution. The Default is set to ‘AUTO’. I had mine reset to 1080P. Using the FULL image setting on my 50 inch Panny plasma which allows images to be displayed in an unadulterated fashion.
The second changed setting was in the audio area… I disabled the additional audio ch. to be simultaneously played during the actual film soundtrack. There must be a reason someone would want this to work, but I can’t see why. It plays the alternative audio from the disc in addition to… oil well. Mine is OFF.
I soon began flipping discs into the BDT 210 machine. Oppos 24/96 HD music audio configuration disc, then Avatar Blu Ray, Watchmen Blu Ray, and then some AC/DC, POC At World’s End, Batman: The Dark Knight, Diana Krall Live in Paris and Star Trek “The Undiscovered Country” DVDs.
Image resolution and details were displayed as finely, and without artifacts as I and a couple other sets of mature eyes could determine.
While watching the SD DVD version of ‘ST Undiscovered Country’ we saw no zaggies during motion scenes, and no screen doors elsewhere. Getting right up as close up as a nose to screen can provide for, with the images and looking at the Head dress on the Chancellors Daughter was presented sharp [and well defined.
The images, be they BR or SD when seen at 1080P were clean, concise, sharp, and OK… really cool looking! Across the screen side to side, top to bottom.
Disney’s POC, At World’s End’ was simply a wonder to watch. Colorful and striking in SD DVD! Picturesque! Plenty of eye candy colors start to finish.
BTW… regardless the disc, web image, or visual format displayed, the images were smooth, clean, clear colorful, and articulate. Be they BW, 4:3, 16:9, letter box, 2.35:1, 1.78 or 1.83:1, HD or SD, it is a real delight to watch the BDT210 on the Panasonic TC-P50C2 Plasma screen. When the TV is on it’s FULL setting.
Dipping still deeper into the library, I took out some old BW videos, “To Have & Have Not”, ‘The Hustler’, Invasion of The Body Snatchers, King Kong (1935), and all of them being up sampled looked great.
With SD DVD being resampled, there is of course some dithering taking place. Filling in the holes so to speak between the SD Discs 480 res and the requested 1080P output. Consequently there is the ever so slight softening of the images but just slightly. So take your pick… use the AUTO and let the machine choose or you make the call… I’m sure either pick will be quite adequate and satisfying.
Better eyes than my own, and those present during installation might find some finer points of difference from the BDT210 to these other units from Sony & Oppo, though we were unable to and/or simply did not attempt any A/B events.
Everyone was grinning too broadly, too often to consider delaying the watching and listening rewards the Panasonic BDT210 was supplying.
With HD discs, from memory, the Oppo BDP 83 was as quick to load as is this BDT210. Truthfully, I got to give the nod in a photo finish to the BDT210. It is indeed about as easy to operate and is on par with much of what this Panny BRP does. Naturally, it had no streaming content abilities, and the 3D IMO is a moot point for me.
Without them sitting side by side, I can easily see where a person could be quite happy with either unit. IF money is an obstacle at all, the Panny BDT210 should not disappoint.
Compared to the Oppo DV 980H with SD DVD up sampled, I’ll give the edge to the Panny BDT210, Despite the fact, the 980 I have is scarcely used, it’s almost 3 years old, and is showing it’s aging technology, or synergy, ever so slightly.
Here again, and as credit to Oppo, the diffs are meager and quite minor.
The Panny just in flexibility is miles ahead of the Oppo DV 980H. Image wise, though, still quite close. Audio wise, the Panny came off slightly less aggressive using exactly the same setup. AS no adjustments to the Oppo display color, contrast, brightness, sharpness, white balance, etc were ever done, nor were they with the B DT 210, dark scenes were displayed better with the Panny, saying something quite positive about the video chip set or processing, probably.
One feature I found very accommodating in the OPPO line up was/is the Zoom bit. It came in very handy to fill out a screen with differing formatted videos. Very handy indeed!
Oppo PLACES MORE THAN A FEW options ON THE REMOTE so delving into the menu for adjusting things here and there is not required.
I’ve always found that a real plus with any maker who thinks ahead and allows such convenience items at the fingertips of its consumer base. On the fly fixes are nice!
Vs The Sony BDP s570, I feel the setup and menus were hands down simpler to endure with the Panny. Imaging and audio were respectively, visibly more vibrant and audibly better refined in the Panny BDT210, as well. That said I did like the depth of field the Sony presented with BR and the Panny is right there in that respect!
What’s not so hot??
I got to say I’m picking nits trying to find those things Panasonic could better provide to the consumer. Really.
The ultra cool Wave of the Hand to open/close the disc tray might be problematical depending upon the installation. Fear not the remote opens and closes the tray too.
The Panny was a bit squeamish about on board memory… inferring I add a little bit. It said 2 MB but it must have meant 2GB. I could have misread it. It has two USB ports, or one and a media stick port.
I did not add any… and everything worked just fine! Even with a “G” wireless router, being occupied at the same time by a laptop, two rooms and forty feet away from the router.
True too… I streamed NO multi ch audio or HD films thru it yet. If that is even possible, nor will 3D streaming flow thru this unit anytime soon.
Although, it can down sample 3D discs to 2D, for what ever reason… and up sample 2D to emulate 3D if a compatible 3D display is connected. Again, why?
Another curious item I’ve seen with both the Sony 570 and now with this BDT210 is the option for music playback channels, either you select 2 ch, or Surround. Period. That is just so weak. It would seem a no brainer to allow for the option of toggling between them both as desired.
My work around there was to use my Onkyo 805 receiver to accomplish that task, leaving the Panny BRP in surround, and setting the Onkyo to Stereo, as desired.
The other side of that coin does show itself nicely though, the expansion of 2 ch content was very nicely done. BTW, the audio in most cases was not further affected than how it came out of the player and sounded just great for a well run in unit, let alone one right from the box...
The Panasonic 210 language was much easier to deal with than with some other makers verbiage I’ve ran across. Perhaps I am getting used to it, or they are getting more used to me. Plain simple language would certainly help as is always the case.
Another one would be to install twin HDMI output ports, as its pricier upscale sibling coming out late April or May will possess.
Also at $200 why there are no 7 ch analog outputs remains a mystery.
So far, that is it. Those are the ‘so so’ items that come to mind as distractions or areas where it could be improved.
There are feature sets on this player which are indeed overkill for the purposes it is intentioned for in my home, but I felt there were a few I wanted that the BDT 110 & LG likewise units, did not have. Namely some audio connections, settings, other options, and built in Wy-Fy.
Whether it is same brand synergy (Disc player and display are both Viera afflicted models From Panasonic) or the later more current models are doing far better with video and audio, I’m not sure. This new Panasonic DMP-BDT210 seems right off to have the right stuff. Easy to setup. Operate. Displays a more than attractive image in SD, HD, or web streaming. No jumpiness, hesitations, artifacts, etc. Nada. Sound is certainly on par with the video images. Clean. Robust. Distinctive. Easily enough captivating and loaded with plenty of jump factor attack…. Yet in all, not strident, etched, grainy, brittle or bright sounding. Very nice indeed.
For all intents and purposes, for $200 or less, I’m finding myself having no issues enjoying this player so far, and it’s only out of the box a few hours!
….and that’s coming from a previous owner of an Oppo BDP 83.
I will look closer at some functions I’ve not addressed just yet, and have a look see at the “LAN of DLNA” over the next few days. Given what this player is doing so far, I believe Panasonic is onto something with its latest release. In fact if it was not 3D capable, or DLNA associated, and came sans Skype, I’d be just fine with it as is!
It has begged me to order more Blu Ray discs. Streaming music without any of the personal confusers being online is a plus too.
Have a peek for yourself, it’s a very nice player that doesn’t hurt to acquire for a primary or a secondary system IMHO.Associated gear Click to view my Virtual SystemSimilar products
OPPO BDP 83; DV 980H; SONY BDP S570