Panasonic's DMP-BD30 was one of the first Blu-ray Disc players to support BonusView, the Blu-ray specification for watching picture-in-picture content.

Unfortunately, the Panasonic DMP-BD30 displayed washed-out images on our 50in Pioneer plasma television. One of our jurors noted a tendency to "lose detail" in chapter 3 of the Blu-ray Disc version of 'Phantom of the Opera'; another juror noted that John Wayne's shirt and suspenders lost their three-dimensionality in a day-for-night scene from 'The Searchers' (chapter 20).

The Panasonic DMP-BD30 received a poor overall rating from our jurors in video performance scores; it fared little better in colour quality, audio, and brightness and contrast.

That said, the Panasonic DMP-BD30 doesn't look or sound bad when viewed in a vacuum. In fact, our jurors tended to rate it Good in one test after another, with the occasional Very Good and Fair ratings. But other players garnered higher marks; you don't buy a Blu-ray player for an image that merely looks good.

A big plus about the Panasonic DMP-BD30 is its speedy response times. The Panasonic powered on in a respectable (by Blu-ray standards) 23 seconds, and started playing a disc an additional 26 seconds later. While playing a disc, we noticed a very slight lag in the menus and when skipping chapters.

Another point in the Panasonic DMP-BD30's favour: we didn't have any trouble using the player, because menu navigation was clearly designed. The programmable remote has big, easy-to-read buttons and a curved back that fits nicely in the hand. The remote lacks a backlight, however, which makes those buttons less easy to read in the dark. The manual doesn't make for easy reading, either: its small text is densely packed into just 33 pages on cheap paper.

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Panasonic's DMP-BD30 was one of the first Blu-ray Disc players to support BonusView, the Blu-ray specification for watching picture-in-picture content.

One nice design touch: a panel on the front hides the basic controls, giving the DMP-BD30 a sleek look. It also hides an SD Card slot - a rarity on Blu-ray Disc players. You can play music files, JPEGs, and AVCHD high-def camcorder video off of an SD Card in this slot.

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Panasonic DMP-BD30 : Specs

  • Blu-ray Disc player
  • supports: Audio CD, BD, BD-R, BD-RE, CD-R, CD-RW, DVD, DVD+R, DVD+R DL, DVD+RW, DVD-R, DVD-R DL, DVD-RAM, DVD-RW
  • SD Card card
  • interfaces: A/V (Composite), Audio - Digital Coaxial, Audio - Digital Optical, Component Video, HDMI, S-Video
  • 12-bit video DAC
  • Video Upconversion: 1080p (HDTV)
  • 24-bit audio DAC
  • On-board Decoders: Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby TrueHD, DTS-HD
  • 3.3kg
  • 320x430x59mm
  • Blu-ray Disc player
  • supports: Audio CD, BD, BD-R, BD-RE, CD-R, CD-RW, DVD, DVD+R, DVD+R DL, DVD+RW, DVD-R, DVD-R DL, DVD-RAM, DVD-RW
  • SD Card card
  • interfaces: A/V (Composite), Audio - Digital Coaxial, Audio - Digital Optical, Component Video, HDMI, S-Video
  • 12-bit video DAC
  • Video Upconversion: 1080p (HDTV)
  • 24-bit audio DAC
  • On-board Decoders: Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby TrueHD, DTS-HD
  • 3.3kg
  • 320x430x59mm

OUR VERDICT

Sadly, the plethora of extras can't make up for the Panasonic DMP-BD30's relatively lacklustre image and sound quality.

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