Panasonic DMP-BD30 review

4 stars
Panasonic's budget Blu-ray player delivers the latest hi-def spec for a reasonable price. Is it a better buy than the PS3?

Now that HD-DVD has gone the way of the dodo, it's time for the real format war to begin: Blu-ray versus DVD. We've long lauded hi-def's retina-scorching visuals but Panasonic's first Blu-ray player, the BDP-10A, was a big disappointment – and, at £700, far too expensive to consider trading in our upscaling DVD player.

The DMP-BD30 is the next instalment in Panny's Blu-ray assault and, at half the price of its predecessor, is immediately more appealing. It also looks a lot better. While most Blu-ray players have all the subtlety of a double-decker bus, this is shorter and more compact than most. We like the greeny-blue light on the front too.

You're the 1.1 we want

Where the BD30 really lights our hi-def fire, though, is on the tech front – it's the first standalone player we've seen to conform to the new 1.1 specification. The Blu-ray format is still in development, but this latest update gives you access to some of the extras studios are packing onto discs, such as having a video commentary appear in a pop-up window while you watch the film.

Admittedly, you also get access to some woeful extras – such as the 'Car Finder' game in Cars where you're sentenced to scouring the film and 'catching' vehicles – but in general the BD30's support for the new profile adds a tasty pinch of extra value to your flicks.

The same applies to audio – the BD30 streams all known incarnations of high-definition audio. You'll need a pretty new AV receiver to take advantage of this, but it makes it more talented than many of the current crop of hi-def spinners.

Special pictures

Most importantly, though, the BD30 is highly capable on the picture front. Its black levels are seriously impressive and in 24fps mode – the rate most films are screened at the cinema – it's excellent, with no visible motion blur and the kind of smooth, glitch-free performance that's still beyond most players.

The BD30 is exactly the kind of Blu-ray belter that Panny should have kicked off its HD campaign with. It still struggles to compete with the PS3 for performance-per-pound but, if you want a serious Blu-ray spinner that's got the latest spec and doesn't say 'I still play Pro Evo in my pants', this is as good as they come.  


More after the break...


Panasonic DMP-BD30

A highly capable performer and the best-value Blu-ray player so far
Panasonic DMP-BD30 review
4 stars
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