Pros: Price, features, picture and sound quality, responsiveness, DVD upconversion, HDMI
Cons: I wish it had a USB port or/and DVD-Audio playback
Blu-Ray players are getting progressively cheaper and some are now selling for under $200. And the Panasonic DMP-BD60K is one of the newer players that are this inexpensive. Although I bought my Sherwood BDP-5003 BluRay player for$65 as a result of a price mistake, I still wanted to see how the new Panasonic stacks up. And it turns out that it works pretty well and better than the Sherwood in some respects.
Originally, I jumped on the HD bandwagon a while ago and have used the Toshiba HD-A3 for a while. Since HD DVD lost (and therefore the Blu-Ray won), I have been looking at the newer Blu-Ray players. Even though I currently have the aforementioned Sherwood, I have some reservations about it. And since I had good experience with Panasonic DVD players as well as other A/V gear (I am currently using the Panasonic SA-XR57 receiver), I decided to check out the new DMP-BD60K.
A quick remark on the model numbering convention used by many Japanese electronics manufacturers: "K" at the end of the model number (as in DMP-BD60K) means black and "S" means silver (would have been DMP-BD60S). SO, obviously, the BD60K is black in color.
Currently, I do not have a 7.1 setup, so even though the Panasonic SA-XR57 class-D receiver I am using would have issues decoding new 7.1 audio formats from Blu-Ray, I am not very concerned about it. In any case, I am using the HDMI connection to pass audio as PCM to the receiver.
The BD60K is a clear indication that newer Blu-Ray players, no longer extremely expensive, that conform to BD profile 2.0, are also faster in operation than the previous models. Having experienced HD DVD and Blu-Ray before, I did not expect anything less than stunning image quality, but hoped for better load times than the earlier models' as well as better usability and better standard DVD playback (although I can use my Toshiba HD-A3 for that). One of the concerns I have about the Sherwood BDP-5003 is its standard DVD playback and upconversion: very good but not excellent.
About the Panasonic DMP-BD60K
The Panasonic DMP-BD60K is a high-definition Blu-Ray and DVD-Video player with HDMI (up to 1080p resolution, including 24 fps), component video outs (up to 720p/1080i), standard-resolution DVD upconversion through HDMI 1.3 (720p/1080i/1080p), S-Video, stereo analog audio as well as an optical digital audio out and an Ethernet LAN jack. The player is black in color.
The player plays Blu-Ray DVD, DVD-Video, CD-Audio, MP3 CD, JPEG Photo CD and DVD-Audio. It plays CD, CD-R, CD-RW, DVD-Video, DVD-R, DVD+R, DVD-RW, DVD+RW and DVD-RAM. It also decodes Dolby Digital, DTS and Dolby Digital Plus.
The BD60K also supports Deep Color and x.v.Color, features onboard decoding for the Dolby True HD and DTS-HD Master Audio. It has an SD slot for using SD cards for onboard storage for BD-Live content.
I used the following connections: the player is connected to the Panasonic SA-XR57 class-D receiver using an HDMI connection (through an auto-sensing Philips HDMI switch, along with the Toshiba HD-A3 and the Pioneer Elite DV-48AV, since the receiver only has one HDMI input). The HDMI out of the receiver is connected to my TV. Both high-def players output PCM over HDMI. Pioneer can output DD/DTS and DVD-Audio over HDMI (up to 192 KHz).
The BD60K is rather light, at least comparing to earlier designs and to my Toshiba HD-A3 HD DVD player. The build quality is pretty solid. The player also looks quite stylish. I put a 1GB SD card in the slot, connected the player through its HDMI to my Panasonic SA-XR57 receiver (through a newly-acquired auto-sensing Philips HDMI switch) and the receiver to Hitachi P50H401 50-inch plasma TV (also using HDMI) and watched "W." on Blu-Ray.
Fortunately, the load time is short, both comparing to earlier BR players and my Toshiba A3. In about 20 seconds the disc is playing. The image quality was excellent and there were no hiccups or freezing.
Standard DVDs are as fast as in a regular DVD player, which is also a welcome improvement, especially over the Toshiba HD-A3.
The player supports playback at the material's (BR DVD) native resolution through either component video out (up to 1080i) or the HDMI out (in other words, 1080p is only available through HDMI). The player supports all the latest features, including 24 fps video output and Dolby True HD as well as DTS-HD, Deep Color and x.v.Color.
I discovered that if you have an HDMI-equipped player that cannot decode newer audio standard, you have to use "PCM" output option of the player, so that it converts the new formats into PCM and passes them to the receiver over HDMI. Make sure you experiment and get the best possible option that your receiver supports. The newer audio formats sound better over HDMI converted to PCM than do regular DD or DTS material.
You can use the front SD slot for viewing HD JPEG photos or videos in AVCHD format.
Performance and Image Quality
Expectedly, the image quality when watching Blu-Ray discs is excellent. I cannot see much difference in playback quality of the BD35 and my Toshiba HD-A3 HD DVD player when both are running at 1080i. And the BD60 can do 1080p.
The images are three-dimensional, comparing to DVDs that look somewhat flat (even upconverted in any of my players). Also, there are details you would never see on standard-resolution DVD. The colors are great and the sound is better than what I get from regular DVDs as well.
Unlike the earlier Samsung BR player I tried a while ago (Samsung DB-P1000 Blu-Ray High-Definition DVD player ), and the recent Sherwood, this Panasonic excels at standard DVD playback. The standard DVD playback (over HDMI) is simply excellent. Although no match for true high-definition DVD playback, the player produces excellent detail level, which is as good as with better standard DVD players I have seen and as my Toshiba HD-A3 (known for its excellent upconversion). Sherwood's standard DVD playback and upscaling results in somewhat duller/flatter images.
The player performs a layer change pretty fast as well. Overall, the player is very impressive in terms of both its features and performance.
The remote control is very good (although not backlit or of the "glow in the dark" type). It is similar in button shape and color to other recent Panasonic remotes, including the remote of Viera TVs and my Panasonic SA-XR57 receiver. The buttons are large and well-labeled. And although the remote is not backlit, the button layout is very intuitive and the buttons are large and easy to find in darkness. And the remote has buttons to control some TV functions (including volume) and even volume of a receiver.
The Panasonic DMP-BD60K is an inexpensive and excellent Blu-Ray and DVD player. In addition to solid performance it is also easy to use, loads discs fast and has a good remote control.