Smart stuff with Ultra HD scaling for well under £200
What is it?It’s a plain and simple Blu-ray player, well if you consider 4K Ultra HD upscaling, 3D playback and smart network features to be fairly standard these days. It’s positioned firmly in the mid-tier of Panasonic’s 2014 Blu-ray player range, one rung below the impressive BDT460 and at the time of publishing (October 2014), is available for £149.00, online.
DesignWhat’s a designer supposed to do? A Blu-ray player generally has to conform to a certain shape and size to fit in with the average setup and the BDT360 adheres to that plain, black box design. It’s actually quite a dainty thing, in the flesh, particularly in terms of its 182mm depth and its low-slung, too, with a height of just 43mm.
Plain, simple and unobtrusive – how we like ‘em!
The facia features a small, but clear, display panel offset to the right and it drops down automatically when the tray loading mechanism pops in or out. There are a set of basic control buttons on the top surface of the unit, too, and other than the manufacturer's and Blu-ray Disc logos and the printed model number, that’s all there is to look at.
Connecting the DMP-BDT360EBYou will, hopefully, have bought this player with the intention of matching it with your HD Television; if you haven’t got one of those, you have basically wasted your money as the DMP-BDT360 has only an HDMI output to transport the video to the display.
It will also take audio signals, too, but if you’re hooking it up to something like a soundbar or older AV Receiver, you may need the Toslink digital output to take the sound. Other than that, there’s a LAN port but the BDT360 does feature WiFi built-in, for those not locating it near their internet connection.
OperationThe player is supplied with a good quality remote control which matches its simple design. It’s about two-thirds the size of a standard TV remote control, with all the transport (Play/REW etc) buttons placed bang in the centre. We would probably have elected to have the not-often-used numerical buttons at the bottom, rather than the top, and in their stead put the menu navigation and shortcut buttons.
Netflix users are well catered for, however, with the largest and easiest button on the remote dedicated to automatically launching the world’s favourite internet TV service. The menu system is modern looking, although some might find the tile based approach initially unfamiliar but it’s easy enough once you have acclimatised.
Netflix, iPlayer and YouTube but it could do with a few more big-hitting video services
Panasonic Smart TV AppsCompared with Panasonic’s connected platform built in to their Smart TVs, what you get with the BDT360 is far more limited but decent nonetheless. As well as the previously mentioned Netflix, you also get YouTube and BBC iPlayer plus BBC Sport and News apps. That will be enough for most but if you want more expansive video services, there are other players which do it better. There’s also a media player which can be accessed over your network or through USB ports, that are placed beneath the front flap. File support is very solid with most popular formats of video, photo and music able to be played back. There’s also the possibility of mirroring the screen of your capable Android smartphone or tablet, with Miracast functionality built-in.
Is it quiet in operation?
Whilst the disc mechanism sounds quite clunky when springing into life from behind the flap, it’s pretty quiet when a disc is playing. Obviously a lot will depend on how close you’re sitting and if you have it tucked away in a unit, but we were generally unaware of its presence when watching a movie, save for the very quietest scenes when the was just a slight hum. But that was at a distance of 5 feet with the player completely out in the open, so it’s not going to be any issue for most.
Does it load discs quickly?
We’ve seen faster but we have no complaints here either. A typical Blu-ray disc would load up to the Menu page in under 30 seconds, whilst ye olde DVDs are ready to go anywhere between 15 and 25 seconds. So, by the time you’re settled and ready to watch, the BDT360 should be ready for action.
Panasonic DMP-BDT360 Picture Quality
Standard definition & DVD Playback
Like just about every Panasonic disc player we can remember from recent history, the DMP-BDT360 will treat your dusty old standard definition material with a high degree of reverence. Scaling is excellent and the player is fully able to detect the necessary film cadences and is equally fine at deinterlacing any video material you send its way. We can’t imagine many interested in this product will want to predominantly feed it standard definition but, if anyone does so, they shouldn’t be disappointed.
2D & 3D Blu-ray Playback
There is simply no excuse, in this day and age, for a Blu-ray player not to be blessed with perfect playback of high definition 1080p material, in its correct film cadence of twenty-four frames per second. Fortunately, the BDT-360 has no cause for issuing any apologies in this department either. We went through an assortment of our usual test discs for both 2D and 3D Blu-ray (Hobbit/Avatar/Lego Movie/Dredd), with each looking just as splendid as they should on a couple of calibrated TVs (Samsung H7000 and Panasonic AX630) and there were no compatibility issues or unexpected problems either.
As we would expect, flawless disc playback
The aforementioned Panasonic AX630 gave us the opportunity to check out how well the BDT360 could scale up lesser resolution content to a 3840 x 2160 pixel count. We’ll be honest and say that we couldn’t really see any tangible difference in the ‘up-resing’ of 1080p Blu-ray between the player and the TV but the DMP-BDT360 did seem to have the edge with DVD. Now, that’s not to say a DVD could ever look spectacular on an Ultra HD panel but some of the better transfers will come out remarkably well.
Panasonic DMP-BDT360 Video Review
- Perfect Disc Playback
- Good Smart TV features
- 4K scaling
- Nice Price
- Lacks some video services, compared with some
Panasonic BDT360 (DMP-BDT360EB) Blu-ray Player Review
Should I buy one?
You could certainly do worse but the competition in this area is fierce. There is certainly no good reason not to buy one, the BDT360 provides a compelling cocktail of great picture performance, easy operation and a decent set of Smart TV apps at a price that won’t break the bank. It’s also a good choice for early 4K TV adopters, with some excellent Ultra HD scaling and it plays discs promptly and with relative quietness.
What alternatives are there?
As a like-for-like player, i.e. one with the same set of features, including 4K scaling, we’re big fans of the Samsung BD-H6500 which is ultra-slick and chockfull of excellent Smart TV features. There’s also the similarly blessed LG BP740, although that costs a little more. Or, for real reference performance, there’s the upmarket OPPO 103D but that one is not far off four times the cost of the Panasonic.
Ease Of Use8
Value For Money8
Our Review Ethos
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