“Appearance can be deceptive” is how we would like to describe Panasonic’s new 3D range-topping Blu-ray disc spinner. It is kind of difficult not to be impressed with what the player has on offer. Well, it might not be the cheapest player that you can lay your hands on and some might even find it fairly pricey at a £200, if anything more, especially when there are a whole array of options below £100. But we have to admit that with such lengthy feature list, it sure does justify the cost and proves to be worth every penny. Well, for starters, how about just waving your hands in front of the player and lo behold, it is at your service to take in a disc. Doesn’t that make for an interesting start? The Japanese manufacturer has also done some nice tweaks to their GUI menu trying to be a little innovative from their monotonous previous generation players. Again, Viera Cast is still there and is relatively easy to navigate.
Now coming to the killer aspect of the Panasonic DMP-BDT310 Blu Ray player, the Skype feature! The player also records your Skype video mail regardless of your presence. Neat huh? Again, your iPhone takes the shape of a remote control here. Let us not forget the High Digital Clarity Sound – it does exactly what it promises to do. Last but not least, the 3D Effect Controller, 2D to 3D conversion feature and the Wi-Fi on-board. Well, if you are wondering with all of the above, the image quality must be a compromise, uh-huh not here!
- Dual HDMi
- Significant improvement in playback speed in comparison to its predecessors.
- Full Hi-Def 3D Blu-ray playback.
- Converts 2D DVDs/Blu-ray discs to 3D.
- No more cluttering with adapters/wires – thanks to the built-in Wi-Fi.
- The 3D Effect Controller comes in handy at controlling the leaping 3D effects thus helping you to moderate the depth as per your discretion.
- The Vertical Colour Preference process is now one and a half times better in an effort to maximize details – thanks to the Adaptive Chroma Processing.
- The killer Skype feature is a showstopper in the BMP-BDT310 bringing your dear ones near you, and is just a button push away on the remote.
- “Go Green” with the UniPhier Chip in the player that not just fortifies a sharp and clear picture quality, but also keeps a tab on your power consumption.
- DLNA certification makes it easy for streaming of content from DLNA-compatible devices.
- Witness your iPhone, iPod or iPad take the form of a remote.
- Looking for a more personalized feel – a home wallpaper/screensaver does the trick.
- Panasonic has taken care of noise reduction via the HDMI Pure Audio even as it reproduces a natural sound quality.
- VIERA CAST allows access to a whole host of info and multimedia content from online sources like Twitter, YouTube, Bloomberg, NetFlix and few other popular sites.
Design/Slots and Controls
Aside from the revamped pile of features for 2011, Panasonic has managed to conjure an innovative and fresh look for the DMP-BDT310 with an amazing slim casing and a beautiful black glossy chassis. The slim profile has more to it than just being skin deep. Yeah! It helps to a great extent in reducing CO2 emissions thus facilitating a 48% cost cutting on your energy consumption. Isn’t it high time we do some justice to the environment by using minimal resources aside from worrying just about our monthly utility bills? Yet another interesting inclusion in the BDT310 would be the Touch-Free Sensor, a funky cosmetic highlight that lets you open and close the disc tray with a simple wave of your hand over the top-mounted sensor. While it may look more of a gimmick than a must have feature, it sure does keep grotty fingerprints at bay and is irrefutably a cool thing. This sleek deck sports a bizarre diagonally dappled pattern surrounding the sensor panel on the top and shimmers with light. There is a remarkable compact frame measuring 35 x 430 x 179 (h x w x d). Meaning, aside from the fact that the deck prove to be a perfect fit to any AV cabinet, the carbon footprint on the environment is also eventually lesser due to smaller boxes used for packaging; Neat huh?
Coming to the player’s front panel, it has been kept uncluttered – thanks to the flap that extends all the way across the fascia. Following this is the disc tray, couple of buttons, an LED display along with a USB port that supports MP3, WMV, DivX HD, MKV and JPEG formats. Again, there is a SD card slot that is designed to support BD Live storage and JPEG, MPEG-2, MPO and AVCHD playback.
Talking about the rear panel, we get to the admirable part of this flagship model, the inclusion of two HDMI outputs, both of which are v.14. This is something that was appreciated on the BDT300 and we are happy to have it back on the BDT310. This means you can stream 3D pictures straight into your TV via the main output, while the sub port comes in handy to import HD audio to your receiver. So now you can enjoy both 3D pictures and audio soundtracks in HD concurrently. Then again, it is a different story if your AV receiver boasts of a HDMI v1.4 input, making the second output of minimal significance.
Also on the rear you get to find a second USB port. Guess we would no longer have to witness the battle between Skype camera and the wireless USB dongle for the rear port as was the case in the DMP-BDT110. The built-in Wi-Fi in the BDT310 allows the TY-CC10W communication camera to enjoy the rear USB port all to itself, making the front port available for digital media playback. The connectivity gets complete with the Ethernet port (that takes care of wired net connections), Optical digital audio and analogue stereo/composite stereo outs. The BDT310 lacks component video outs along with Multichannel analogue, but that is not a big loss really.
While many of the DMP-BDT110 features have been replicated in the BDT310, let us explore the several other features that are included that could probably justify the £70 premium, because the Touch-Free sensor, dual HDMI, and built-in Wi-Fi looks to be just starters.
For instance, let us explore this peculiar feature of Digital Tube Sound that primarily aims at replicating the kind of warmth brought about by vacuum tube amplifiers, largely deliberated for music playback. This is further accentuated by High Clarity Sound that literally shuts off any analogue video circuitry in an effort to reduce intrusion thereby bringing about cleaner and clearer sound. Last but not least would be an onscreen display – the Playback Information Window that manages to provide you with the very last detail pertaining to the disc currently being watched along with the current settings.
Again, the DMP-BDT310 is DLNA certified and is capable of streaming music, videos and photos from a Windows 7 PC/NAS drives on home network along with streaming stored programmes in Panasonic DIGA recorders with parallel streaming in other rooms too. Well, let us also not forget the Viera Cast, a whole host of websites that goes on to include Bloomberg, YouTube, Twitter and Picasa along with few other European sites. Though it cannot be really compared to Samsung’s Smart Hub or Sony’s Bravia (as it has a lot more catching up to do), particularly with the new Viera Connect still not having made its way to the 2011 Blu-ray decks, it is kind of disappointing!
On the flip side, Skype is beyond doubts a canny inclusion to the Viera Cast roster that gives you the pleasure of having video calls with your loved ones in any corner of the world, all within the comforts of your recliner, right there in your living room. With the growing demand for this VoIP service, this beyond doubt is a welcome addition and works seamlessly. Thanks to the breezy interface and ingenious features, namely the auto-answering message and the facility for callers to leave video messages while you are away. Likewise, with an incoming call during a movie, the front panel lights up with a “Call” sign along with an audible ringtone. The auto-answering message takes over (an update promised by Panasonic) with you being away recording the caller’s video message on the SD card. An awesome, but a pricey feature as you might have to shell out an extra £120 for the TY-CC10W camera – Nothing comes for free guys!
So having seen enough of downsides, now for some treat for iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad owners. There a free downloadable app that turns your devices into the BDT310’s remote giving you access to some extra functions that even the default remote lacks. This works with Scrub and Gesture and also gives you an added bonus of accessing content from networked devices through your Apple device.
Next up would be the 3D features, mainly the 2D-to-3D conversion attribute that adds that extra tinge of perception to 2D DVDs and Blu-ray discs. Cartoon and animated titles look absolutely neat. It definitely looks worth the price, particularly with kids around or if you own a large collection of Disney titles. There is yet another functionality, the 3D Effect controls that allows you to play around with the depth of images along with the screen type to Round/Flat thereby eliminating the hindrance caused at the sides of the screen meeting the bezel. The most berserk setting would be the Screen Frame that is intended to add a diffuse border that goes all the way round the image, which is supposed to make it comfy to watch, but on the contrary users find it more distracting than being helpful.
Coming to the brilliant innovative OS, one of the most intuitive seen till date, the icons of the main menu are neatly laid out with corresponding right, left, up and down controls in the remote. All it requires is a single button press to guide you to the relevant option.
Moving next to the remote control, guess there is room for improvement. We would have appreciated if Panasonic had a backlighting on the remote, particularly for this flagship model. But then, with many using a universal remote like Harmony, it really doesn’t matter. Still, the short and stubby remote has neatly embedded, easy to memorise buttons with unique buttons for Viera Cast, Netflix and 3D effects. Well, the other conventional buttons go on to include Home, Setup, Display and Status and Popup Menu. Overall, no great shakes about it, but as mentioned could have been better. A word of caution though, beware of the Home key that is parked right next to the menu control key, if you want to avoid frequent visits to the main menu.
In terms of performance, the picture quality is rated as awe-inspiring, especially if you choose to pair it up with the Panasonic plasma. The 2D image’s depth and density screams rich and cinematic at you cramming the images to display the sharpest detail possible.
Switching to 3D increases the WOW factor – you cannot help but praise the gorgeousness with which the BDT310 handles the clarity and smoothness of Full HD images mesmerizing you with the achingly beautiful image quality and detailed backgrounds. You would hardly find any issues when it comes to blurring or crosstalk with stunning colours and sizzling details punching right through your retina. Thanks to the Adaptive Chroma Processing ticking inside the deck that is responsible for up-sampling colour detail from 4:2:0 to 4:2:2 giving colours a more cleaner and staunch appearance as against other conventional Blu-ray spinners, eventually bringing about a more authentic and jaw-dropping 3D effect. The player seems to blend with the TV reproducing fast-moving objects in a perfect effortless composure. The deep punchy blacks together with vivid colours and meticulously rendered detail turns just about everything from delicate textures of plant life and close-up human shots scintillatingly sharp.
Sonically-speaking, the Panasonic DMP-BDT310 Blu Ray Disc Player is remarkably good in terms of Blu-ray standards with music sounding perfectly open and crisp, and doesn’t really lean too much towards top-end frequencies, yet retaining that perfect amount of bottom end punch. This gets further accentuated by Digital Tube Sound, a welcome feature as mentioned above, giving that additional layer of depth, though it doesn’t really impress a few. Last but not least, disc loading times have definitely gotten faster in comparison to the predecessor DMP-BDT300. Again, you might have to use 1GB SD card, as the player lacks built-in memory for BD Live downloads.
- Full Hi-Def 3D Blu-ray playback
- Intuitive OS
- Twin HDMI outs
- Skype Video calls
- DLNA certified
- Touch-free Sensor
- Pricey Skype camera
- Viera Cast could do with some improvement.
- 2D conversion, a mixed bag
The BDT310 proves “Good things come wrapped in small packages.” True, to that saying it crams a lot of stuff even as we endorse the fact that it is kind of pricey in comparison to its rival flagship players, especially the cost of the Skype camera. Well it does have its own downsides like the 2D conversion not being a killer feature and Viera Connect still not finding its way to the Panasonic decks. But guess such molehill of negatives gets dwarfed by the avalanche of features on offer in the BDT310 and sure does deserve a thumbs-up.
Panasonic DMP-BDT310 3D Blu-ray Player – Technical Specification Table
|Model Name||Panasonic DMP-BDT310|
|Dimensions (W x H x D)||430 x 35 x 179 mm|
|BD-ROM||Full HD 3D
|BD-R/BD-R DL||DivX/DivX HD/MKV|
|Audio System||Dolby Digital Plus/Dolby TrueHD: Decode and Bitstream Output
DTS-HD Master Audio Essential/DTS Hi-Res Audio: Decode
and Bitstream output
|USB Slot||Standard: USB 2.0 high speed
Slot: 2 – Front for playback/Rear for Skype Camera
Playback: JPEG/MPO/MP4/DivX/Divx HD/MKV
|SD Memory Card Slot||Compatible Media: SD/SDHC/SDXC
|High Quality Picture||Adaptive Chroma Processing
Full HD Up sampling (New P4HD)
3D Effect Controller
2D to 3D conversion
Digital Noise Reduction
|High Quality Sound||High Clarity Sound
96kHz Surround Re-master
Pure Audio on HDMI
Digital Tube Sound
Audio D/A converter
|Easy to use||VIERA link
New Stylish GUI
|Networking||VIERA CAST/BD Live/DLNA|
|Power Supply||AC 220-240V, 50Hz
Normal use 13W
Standby-Quick Start off 0.2W
Standby-Quick Start on 4.3W
|Warranty||1 Year Parts and 90-day Labour Warranty|