We liked Panasonic’s original Blu-Ray player, the DMP-BD10, but found it hard to love. While it showed hints of the format’s remarkable visual and aural talents, its DVD playback was disappointing and the wallet-pounding £1200 price tag was way too much.
But now the player has slicked its hair, cleaned up its act and returned as the DMP-BD10A. The price tag has been slashed to £700 and, while it hasn’t plugged all the functionality gaps, it gets close.
Try, try again
No one’s going to pretend that the BD10A’s new price point makes this neat, button-less black player a bargain but it’s definitely a more comfortable fit for its capabilities.
Blu-ray picture performance is still a bit of a mixed bag. On the plus side there’s great depth of field, detail and brilliant colours.
Unfortunately, a lack of support for the optimum 24fps speed leads to noticeable judder when the camera pans.
That’s not to say that Blu-ray performance is anything but solid, just that there’s a general lack of sparkle when compared to the best players on offer (at the time of review Pioneer’s BDP-LX70 and Sony’s BDP-S1E).
The BD10A still doesn’t have an HDMI 1.3a digital output but the already impressive sonic performance has been further sweetened by support fro DTS-HD and Dolby Digital TrueHD.
The Panasonic is also one of the few Blu-ray players to sport 7.1 analogue outputs and overall it offers an open, dynamic and detailed sound that can compete with the best.
The real problem – and the one that prevents the BD10A from competing on an even footing with its star rivals – is the below-par DVD playback. When upscaled to 1080p, there is noticeable grain and a lack of detail.
Even at £700, those in the market for a Blu-ray player will almost certainly want to be able to view their existing DVD collections in top quality as well. But the BD10A will leave you in the position of having to buy – and find room for – a decent upscaling DVD player as well.