Panasonic DMP-BD80 Blu-ray Player Reviewed
Panasonic’s 2009 Blu-ray line includes two standalone players: the entry-level DMP-BD60 and step-up DMP-BD80. (The line also includes a Blu-ray/VHS combination player, the DMP-BD70V.) The more expensive DMP-BD80 has all the features found in the DMP-BD60 and adds Divx playback and a more comprehensive set of audio connections. We have not performed a hands-on review of the DMP-BD80, but here is an overview of the player’s features. This Profile 2.0 player supports BonusView/picture-in-picture playback and BD-Live Web functionality, and it offers both onboard decoding and bitstream output of Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio, plus 7.1-channel analog audio outputs. The big addition to this year’s Blu-ray line is Panasonic’s Viera Cast Web platform that first appeared in some of the company’s plasma HDTVs last year. Viera Cast allows you to stream Amazon video-on-demand content (including HD titles), access YouTube, view Picasa Web albums, and more.
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In terms of video connections, the DMP-BD80 offers HDMI, component video, and composite video outputs. For HDMI, the output-resolution options are Auto, 480p, 720p, 1080i, 1080p/60, and 1080p/24. The setup menu includes an option to enable 1080p/24 output if your TV accepts this signal type; once you enable the feature, the player will always output 1080p/24 when it is available on Blu-ray discs. For component video, the output-resolution options are 480i, 480p, 720p, and 1080i. If your TV’s picture adjustments are limited, the DMP-BD80 offers five picture modes, including a user mode in which you can adjust contrast, brightness, sharpness, color, gamma, and 3D/integrated noise reduction.
The DMP-BD80 has the full suite of audio outputs: HDMI, optical and coaxial digital, and both 2- and 7.1-channel analog. (The less expensive BD60 model omits the coaxial digital and 7.1-channel analog audio outputs.) The inclusion of multichannel analog audio outputs makes this model a good choice if you own an older, non-HDMI A/V receiver. As I mentioned, the DMP-BD80 has onboard Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio decoding, and it also passes these high-resolution audio formats in their native bitstream form over HDMI, for your A/V receiver to decode. The player offers a few specialized audio controls, such as Virtual Surround, Night Surround, and Dialogue Enhancer.
The DMP-BD80’s disc drive supports BD, DVD, CD audio, AVCHD, Divx, MP3, and JPEG playback. The back panel features an Ethernet port for BD-Live and Viera Cast Web features, as well as quick firmware updates. The DMP-BD80 has no internal memory, so the addition of an external storage device is required to download BD-Live features; an SD card slot is provided for this purpose, but Panasonic does not include an SD card in the package. The SD card slot also supports playback of JPEGs and MPEG-2/AVCHD video. This year’s Blu-ray models also have a USB port, but it is not an option for BD-Live storage; rather, it only allows for playback of MP3, JPEG, and Divx files. The DMP-BD80 lacks advanced control ports, such as RS-232 or IR.
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• The DMP-BD80 supports 1080p/24 playback of Blu-ray discs.
• The player has internal Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio decoding and can pass these formats in bitstream form over HDMI. It has multichannel analog audio outputs for use with older A/V receivers.
• It supports BD-Live Web content and can play picture-in-picture bonus content.
• The addition of Viera Cast allows you to stream movies and TV shows (including HD titles) using Amazon’s video-on-demand service. You can also access YouTube and Picasa Web albums.
• The SD card slot and USB port allow for easy playback of digital music, movies, and photos.
• The player lacks internal memory, and Panasonic does not supply an SD card for storage of downloadable BD-Live content.
• The player does not support wireless connectivity to your home network.
The DMP-BD80 is a full-featured Profile 2.0 Blu-ray player that adds Viera Cast to view streamed movie/TV content. This model is competitively priced with other players that offer some type of streaming VOD function, but it lacks the wireless network connectivity and onboard memory found in similarly priced models from Samsung and LG.