That's a fairly minimal selection of controls on the player itself, so it would be best not to misplace the remote control. Speaking of which, just to the left of centre there is an IR senor and just to the left of that is Call LED which lights up when the player receives an incoming call via Skype. As we mentioned in the introduction, the dimensions of the BDT220 are svelte in the extreme and it seems incredible that Panasonic can include so many features and still find room for the disc tray. The actual dimensions are only 430 x 38 x 179mm and whilst the width of 430mm is typical of an AV product, a depth of 179mm is about half the average, so you might struggle to position the BDT220 between two other products on your equipment shelf. At only 1.6kg in weight, the BDT220 has a rather cheap and plastic feel to and it lacks the kind of solidity found on higher end players and as such it is a little noisy in operation. To be fair it is mainly the disc tray opening and closing that makes the most noise and when actually playing discs the BDT220 is reasonably quiet. However, some additional solidity would have been appreciated because frankly we own Blu-ray box sets that weigh more than the BDT220.
The connections are bundled together at the middle rear of the player and are fairly basic, consisting of a single HDMI output, along with a LAN socket, a composite video out using an RCA connector and stereo analogue out, also using RCA connectors. There is an optical digital output and a connection for a communication camera (TY-CC20W or TY-CC10W) for use with Skype. However you don't get component video outputs or 7.1 audio outputs. Finally, at the rear and to the left of the connections, is the two pin connector for the mains power lead.
The supplied remote control will be familiar to anyone who has owned a Panasonic Blu-ray player in the last few years and despite being made of black plastic, it does feel very solid and is comfortable to hold, making it very easy to operate with one hand. The buttons are sensibly laid out and include all the usual controls plus some dedicated ones such as 3D, Internet (VIERA Connect), Skype and Netflix, the latter one giving you a good idea of just how big that video on demand service is in the US. There are also some basic controls for your TV, which can be set up for your specific make and model by entering a unique code listed in the manual.
In Setup, there are the Player Settings submenus, the first of which contains all the Picture options, including the Picture Mode and the Picture Adjustment controls, although these can only be accessed in the User picture mode. We used the User mode with the Picture Adjustment settings left untouched, which appeared to be delivering a unmolested image, which is all we really want from a player. The controls available in Picture Adjustment are Contrast, Brightness, Sharpness, Colour, Gamma, 3D NR and Integrated NR. These are the same controls you'll find in your display, which is where you should be making any adjustments, so leave the controls on the BDT220 alone.
Other controls within the Picture submenu include Chroma Process, which delivers chroma upsampling to a compatible TV and whilst we couldn't see a huge difference there appeared to be slightly less colour banding in some scenes so we left it on. The Detail Clarity and Super Resolution controls are both essentially sharpness features which we left off because once again we want the player to output the 1080p signal from a Blu-ray without any unwanted processing. The HDMI Output option allows you to select the HDMI Video Format (resolution), the 24p Output, the HDMI Colour Mode, the Deep Colour Output and Contents Type Flag. There are also controls for NTSC Contents Output, Still Mode and Seamless Play.
The next submenu relates to Sound and includes options for setting the Sound Effects, Dialogue and Dynamic Range Compression, all of which are best left off. Then there is Digital Audio Output where you can select which audio signal to output, the BD-Video Secondary Audio and the HDMI Audio Output. You can choose to send your Dolby/DTS/MPEG audio as either Bitstream or PCM but note that setting BD-Video Secondary Audio to 'On' and sending your lossless audio bitstreamed will result in it being sent in its lossy format. Next we have the PCM Down Conversion, which allows you to output audio at 192kHz or 96kHz as 48kHz if necessary. Then there is Downmix for multi-channel to 2-channel stereo, Audio Delay and 7.1 Audio Reformatting which will play 6.1 and 5.1 surround encoded audio at 7.1 when set to auto. Finally there is High Clarity Sound, which is not normally available on the BDT220 but was enabled thanks to the TPS modifications. This feature is supposed to improve the sound quality over HDMI by turning off the video output during audio playback.
The 3D submenu allows the user to setup 3D BD-Video Playback, 3D AVCHD Output, the 3D Type (side by side, frame sequential etc.) and the 3D Playback Message (best left hidden or it gets annoying). There is also a control for manual settings such as Distance, Screen Type, Frame Width and Frame Colour, which shouldn't be used if the 3D content has been encoded correctly. Finally, there is a control called Graphic Display Level which adjusts the position of the Option menu etc. The Language submenu, as the name suggests, allows for the selection of the language used for Soundtrack Preference, Subtitle Preference, Menu Preference and the On-Screen Language.
The Network submenu includes an option for Easy Network Settings, which helps you set up the built-in WiFi but there is also a more detailed option called Network Settings. Setting up the wireless connection is very easy and the BDT220 includes WiFi Direct (WiDi) which means it can connect with similar devices without the need to go through a router. In here you can select between LAN or Wireless connections, set up the IP Address/DNS Settings, Proxy Server Settings, the Network Service Settings (VIERA Connect), Network Dive Connection (DLNA), Remote Device Operation (needs to be on for smartphone control) and BD-Live Internet Access.
After Network, there is another submenu called Ratings which given the limited number of options could probably have been included with the Network submenu. In the Ratings submenu there are options for setting the DVD and BD ratings, as well as the Network Service Lock. The final submenu is System which includes all the controls for Easy Settings (basic setup), TV Settings (Aspect Ratio, TV System, Screen Saver, On-Screen Messages, VIERA Link), Unit Settings (Front Panel Display can be set to Auto which dims the display during playback which is handy), Quick Start, Remote Control, Firmware Update, System Information, DivX Registration and Default Settings.
Besides having a wide choice of apps, the other important elements of an internet platform are that it is easy to access and responsive. In this sense VIERA Connect was a success because it was simple to launch, you just press the Internet button on the remote, and whilst it was reasonably responsive, it isn't as fast as Panasonic's latest TVs. Our only complaint about Panasonic's internet platform is that in order to move from one page to the next, you have to select MORE or BACK, rather than just going directly to the next page but this is a minor quibble. We downloaded the BD Remote app and found it was easy to connect and simple to use, providing an effective way of controlling and communicating with the BDT220. Certainly if your current TV doesn't have any smart features, the BDT220 is an effective way of upping its IQ without the expense of a new TV.
As far as connectivity goes, the BDT220 is fully DLNA certified which means it can connect with other such devices and stream content over your home network and you can also access content via disc, USB or SD card. In terms of file support the BDT220 is a big improvement on last year and can handle a greater range, including AVCHD, MPEG, DivX HD, MKV, MOV, MP3, MP4, AVI, FLAC, JPEG and MPO. We had no problems playing back any of the above files using a USB drive, SD card or disc media (CD, DVD, BD), as well as AVC HD, MOV, MP3 and FLAC files wirelessly over our network.
As we mentioned previously, the BDT220 provided for review by TPS had been modified and as a result it was capable of multi-region playback. The default setting is Region B for Blu-ray and Region 2 for DVD but it is easy to change it by entering a specific code on the remote. The mod allows you to mix and match, so for example you could have BD Region A and DVD Region 2 by pressing 1 and 2 after entering the code. If you want to go to BD Region B and DVD Region 3, you just enter the same code and then press 2 and 3. Although in reality the region code verification for DVDs has been disabled, so the BDT320 should play any region DVD regardless of what is set. It would be sensible to leave the DVD region set to 1, just in case you have ant RCE discs. We tested the BDT320 with Region A and B Blu-rays, as well as Region 1,2 and 3 DVDs and they all played without any problems. The modification also has other advantages, it deactivates the UOP (User Operation Prohibition) for DVDs to allow you to skip forced trailers etc. and it also deactivates PUO (Protected User Operation) on Blu-rays which also allows you to skip any forced content.
Subjective Audio Tests
Disc Load Times
- Impressive video playback
- Fast load times
- Built-in WiFi
- Viera Connect
- Extensive file support
- Good networking capabilities
- Responsive menus
- Excellent energy efficiency
- Multi-region modification
- Could be quieter in operation
- Build quality could be better
- Connections are quite basic
Panasonic DMP-BDT220 3D Blu-ray Player Review
Setup was relatively straight forward and the inclusion of built-in WiFi means that connecting the BDT220 to the internet and your home network is very easy. The BDT220 also includes WiFi Direct (WiDi) so that you can connect directly to similarly capable devices without going through your router. Unlike last year, the BDT220 includes VIERA Connect which allows access to a host of applications, including new additions like Netflix, as well as the VIERA Connect Market, where you can download additional apps and games. As far as connectivity goes, the BDT220 is fully DLNA certified which means it can connect with other such devices and stream content over your home network and you can also access content via disc, USB or SD card. In terms of file support the BDT220 is a big improvement on last year and can handle all the most common file types.
The BDT220 offered some fairly nifty load times, especially in Quick Start mode and the energy efficiency was excellent with the player only drawing 9W in playback. Actual playback over HDMI was excellent and with 2D high definition content the BDT220 delivered excellent images that remained free of any unwanted processing. The same was true of 3D content and the resulting images were equally as good and free of any noticeable artefacts. When it came to standard definition content the BDT220 was just as assured, delivering nicely scaled images without blurring or ringing. The audio performance over HDMI was also very good but anyone looking for an audiophile product should consider the BDT500 instead. Our review sample had been modified to play Blu-rays and DVDs from multiple regions and it was easy to change between regions by entering a simple code. We tested a number of Blu-rays and DVDs from different regions and the modification worked flawlessly.
The Panasonic DMP-BDT220 is a great all-round Blu-ray player that offers an accurate playback coupled with more features than a Swiss army knife. We would certainly recommend that you add it to your list if you're thinking of buying a Blu-ray player this year or want to put some Smart into your current TV.
Our Review Ethos
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