High-end everything, including the price...
What is the Panasonic DMP-BDT700?The DMP-BDT700 is Panasonic’s flagship Blu-ray player for 2014 which boasts a high level of build quality and high performance features. The picture and sound quality is certified by THX, which is a rare sight these days and it also offers 4K Ultra HD resolution scaling of Blu-ray disc. If you are still interested in 3D playback then the BDT700 can also playback those discs and if you are a fan of analogue audio the player also offers high quality outputs for up to 7.1 channels. However, unlike competing products at this price point, the BDT700 is not a universal player and doesn't play SACD or DVD-A discs.
As you would imagine for a flagship unit the DMP-BDT700 is not a budget player and at RRP will set you back £549. However, with a little bit of internet shop searching we managed to find it for £440 at the time of writing (December 2014).
DesignLook at the Panasonic DMP-BDT700 and it screams high-end. With a shiny, almost glass like top plate and brushed metal, minimalist face, it sets itself apart from the usual Panasonic Blu-ray player line-up. The build quality is sturdy, but not overly heavy, with the lack of buttons and logos on display helping the sleek look.
The front face only displays the Panasonic logo in chrome with a window above which the small display shines through. The front facia folds down to reveal the disc tray, USB and SD card slots and moving to the top right hand side of the top plate, we have touch sensitive eject and playback buttons. The disc eject motion is smooth and almost whisper quiet with an elegant movement of the front flap adding to the high-end feel of the product. The chassis looks sturdy and sits on large feet which reminds us of old school high-end players from analogue days gone by, which we imagine will appeal to the enthusiast market.
The remote control is also finished in a similar gloss brushed metal design with all the main buttons laid out in a logical manner. It follows the majority of Panasonic remote designs with the fast TV control buttons to the top followed by the usual 0-9 numbered buttons and then the control buttons below that. A nice touch is a back light with an on/off button at the bottom of the remote along with quick access buttons for the picture and set up menus. If Netflix is your thing, and why wouldn’t it be, you have a direct access button on the controller.
Connections and SpecsAs with many of Panasonic’s previous higher-end 3D Blu-ray players the BDT700 has two HDMI outputs which will help users with AVRs or other video switching devices that don’t support 3D or 4K pass-thru. It allows users to use the HDMI(Sub) to send audio only to the AV Receiver and then the other HDMI output to the display directly. This is an approach we have to take in our test system which uses an older Onkyo AVR with no 3D pass-thru.
When it comes to connecting the BDT700 to your network you can do this with the LAN connector or the built-in Wi-Fi. Set-up was pretty painless with the usual network settings entered in no time and the player showing as online within 5 minutes.
If analogue audio is still your thing you can use the 7.1 connectors which make use of four 192kHz/32bit DACs. This is also useful again if you have an older AVR or similar with no HDMI inputs. There are also digital Toslink and Coax outputs.
To the front of the player are USB and SD Card slots. The USB slot is playback only and accepts FLAC/WAV/WMA/MP3/Xvid/MKV/MP4/Mpeg2/Jpeg and MPO files. The SD Card slot is compatible with SD/SDHC/SDXC cards and JPEG/MPO/AVCHD and MP4 files.
Features and Smart TVThe BDT700 is a flagship product and as such it has some unique features in the Panasonic line-up. The first is the 7 channel analogue audio outputs which will hearten some enthusiasts and also allows connection to older kit. Is there an audio advantage? To be honest in the limited testing we did, we didn’t notice any difference in audio quality compared to using just HDMI. It does however offer more connection possibilities and that should always be welcomed.
Next up is the THX certification. This, according to Panasonic, is for the audio and video signals. We are assuming that because there is no THX picture mode and the ‘Normal’ out-of-the-box picture doesn’t do anything but pass what’s on the Blu-ray out of the player untouched, there was no need for a separate THX setting. There are other picture presets available on the BDT700 and each of them add different settings for gamma, colour and so on. If you want just what is on the disc sent to your display unaltered in anyway, then just leave it in the ‘Normal’ out-of-the-box preset. Audio wise there is no publicly available information relating to what THX test and score, so we can only assume that the player passes and/or surpasses these (protected) tests.
We also have to assume that it also covers the 4K Chroma up-sampling technology and scaling performance. It is good to see Panasonic having faith to send the player for testing and certification and that they still very much believe in providing the best audio and video levels in their equipment. It would be even better if THX could publish their results, but they have always been protective of these for commercial reasons.
As we mentioned the BDT700 will upscale Blu-ray to 4K ultra HD resolution and the Uniphier LSI chip used helps with this and the Direct Chroma Up-sampling technology that Panasonic like to promote, but are vague in what it actually does. The upscale tech does work but we were on this occasion restricted to using the 4K output with a JVC DLA-X700 projector, which accepts 4K signals, but is not a native 4K display. As 4K content will continue to remain scarce for some years to come, upscaling Blu-ray is one solution and depending on the display you have will determine if you use the players scaling or that built in to the display. From what we could test and view, it appeared to do a very good job with no obvious issues visible.
If you are looking to display content from your mobile or tablet on the big screen and your TV or Projector doesn’t allow this, you can still manage it with the BDT700’s Miracast function.
Moving on to the internet and network capable functions for streaming content and the BDT700 has a nice accompaniment of features. The most obvious is the big red Netflix button on the remote control and we actually spent the first two days with the player sampling its streaming quality. With an average broadband speed and allowing the stream to buffer for a few minutes, we were very happy with the quality of Netflix and BBC iPlayer images produced by the BDT700. Even on a 10ft scope screen the likes of ‘The Hobbit’ looked very detailed and very watchable. Only very busy or mixed contrast scenes showed up any compression. So, streaming is a viable way to use and enjoy the BDT700.
There are also other smart features and apps available to use with the BDT700 but in those instances we felt it lacked choice over today’s mega smart TVs and their app line-ups.
Panasonic DMP-BDT700 Video Review
Panasonic DMP-BDT700 Picture QualityAs we say in every Blu-ray player review, what is on the disc must make it to the display with nothing added and nothing taken away. In the case of the DMP-BDT700 that is exactly what you get in the out-of-the-box settings.
You can mess about with other picture settings and presets if your heart so desires, but all we want to know for review assessment is that player can send what is on the disc. The BDT700 does this perfectly well. This does then start to make issues like value for money a little more difficult to assess and score because in theory a £90 Blu-ray player will match Blu-ray picture quality with this £550 machine if both work correctly as they should.
DVD & SD
Where we will get differences is with Standard Definition upscaling, especially DVD. The Panasonic manages to upscale and playback DVDs in perfect quality with no added artefacts or other visible issues. As we also mentioned the video output from smart Apps were also very good in quality terms.
We were not able to fully test the 4K upscaling due to the display used for the review not being a native 4K device, but what we did see didn’t give us any reasons to doubt the quality of the scaling or playback. However, we would suggest that if this functionality is going to be important for your needs, you should demo the player with a 4K UHD TV to make sure it suits you.
If you are still interested in 3D playback in the home then the BDT700 handles 3D Blu-ray without any issues. It will also do 2D to 3D conversion.
Because of the high level of build quality we also found that the BDT700 was very quiet when playing discs and even when ejecting it remained very slick and looked high-end. Disc loading was also very good with most menu screens showing up within 20 seconds or so. With such a small display on the front of the player we also found no issues with light polution.
Audio wise we did test the 7.1 outputs and the HDMI with no apparent differences standing out during our short testing period. The analogue outputs will allow more connection opportunities as does having two HDMI outputs.
The Panasonic DMP-BDT700 is a classy, luxury Blu-ray player with good features and solid build quality.
- Perfect Blu-ray playback out of the box
- No backdoor picture processing or noise reduction processing
- Excellent audio performance
- Excellent DVD and SD video processing
- Superb build quality
- Good choice of connection possibilities
- Unnecessary picture modes
- Smart TV not as up to date as competition with limited choice at the time of review
Panasonic DMP-BDT700 Blu-ray Player ReviewSo, if the picture quality with Blu-ray discs is the same from a £90 player and this £550 machine, why is there such a difference in the price?
There is value in a player that has solid build quality with a very nice design and finish. There is value in good quality scaling for DVD and SD along with added connection possibilities and arguably better audio choices. There are also the special features, 4K upscaling with Chroma technology, THX certification, Miracast and more. So, it is up to you when it comes to what is valuable in the system you have.
However, I keep asking myself if I would buy one and keep coming to the same conclusion, I would at half the price but I don’t see the value for me at the RRP. So, I guess that has to be the final line, but if price is the only real niggle, that shows you how good this player is. Recommended.
Ease Of Use8
Value For Money6
Our Review Ethos
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