Blu-ray Player Showdown

Panasonic DMP-BD60

The Remote

The remote for the BD60 is an example of great industrial design, with the most important buttons big and easy to find. However, it's a shame that none of the buttons are backlit.

The absence of backlighting/glow in the dark labels is all the more disappointing given that this is an otherwise excellent model.

According to Panasonic, the DMP-BD60 can play DVD and Blu-ray discs, DivX and AVCHD files, decode any and all audio formats, and access content on the Internet. Will it keep all its promises?

Features and design

This player has just about all the connectors you could want for everyday use, including HDMI and optical. When it comes to playing media files that aren’t on a disc (DivX, JPEG, MPEG-2, MP3 and AVCHD), The BD-60 comes with a Secure Digital (SD) card slot and USB ports for playing off of a thumb drive.

There are a couple of things you should know, though – DivX files can only be read via the USB port and will play in Standard Definition only, not in HD. Subtitles are supported, but it’s not possible to re-synch them. Also, MPEG-2 and AVCHD files can only be read from an SD card. The AVCHD reading capability is mostly for movies shot with camcorders. Our movies ripped from Blu-ray discs wouldn’t play, whereas they will play on a multimedia HD.

There’s an Ethernet connector for connecting the DMP-BD60 to the Internet. This has several advantages, starting with the fact that it makes it easy to update the firmware. We did that as soon as we connected the player, and after the update we were able to enable the Viera Cast function, that lets you access online content like weather reports, stock info, and YouTube videos).

The menus are extensive and give you control over everything, including the backlighting on the front display, the type of video output, and even complete video adjustments. Video adjustments include contrast, brightness, sharpness, color, gamma, noise reduction, and 3D noise reduction.

Startup is a little long, however, as it took 45 seconds for the player to start up, open the tray, initialize our test disc and play it. That’s slow, but unfortunately it’s about average for this kind of player. The startup time does vary from one disc to another, though, and you can shorten it if you start up with the disc already in the player, or by using Quick Start mode, which you can enable in the menu. You should know, however, that using Quick Start increases power consumption in standby from under 1W to 4W. Power consumption in operation is less than 14W.

Image quality

Not surprisingly, HD movies were perfect, and the wide range of available adjustments lets you tweak every detail of the image. Only the upscaling of SD, and in particular DVDs, seems not to have been given an extraordinary amount of care. Of course it’s still as good as on other Panasonic players, which is to say very good. DVDs looked as good as with any other player.

Some of you might be asking the eternal question: “How does it handle DVD compared to the PS3?” whose DVD upscaling, as you may know, is excellent. Well, the difference is infinitesimal, if not imperceptible. So the PS3 argument won’t hold up when you’re talking about the BD-60, even if it might for other players where the differences are a lot more obvious. A dedicated player is more affordable, quieter, and generates less heat. Those are the things you need to keep in mind when making the choice.

Audio formats

The DMP-BD60 is fairly well equipped, handling all current audio formats (Dolby Digital, Dolby TrueHD, DTS, DTS HD, DTS HD-MA), and it can even output them in bitstream (non-decoded stream) and PCM (decoded stream). Only the lack of 7.1 analog outputs might be a problem if you have an audio amp with no HDMI connector.

Panasonic DMP-BD60
Pros
Cons
  • Decodes all audio formats
  • Plays DivX files (SD only, not HD)
  • Image quality
  • No 7.1 analog output
  • No DivX subtitle synchronization
  • The DMP-BD60 is undeniably an excellent choice if you’re looking for a Blu-ray player. You can’t go wrong!