Pros: Build quality, size, 3D, BluRay, Netflix and Amazon video, USB and SD card, Skype
Cons: Not many AVI/MKV files can be played, WiFi dongle is expensive
Since the reception over WiFi is spotty in the room where I keep the Hitachi P50H401 1080p 50-inch Plasma HDTV, I decided to try the wired-LAN version of Panasonic BluRay player. A little bit of history: I used an Insignia NS-WBRDVD BluRay/DVD player with built-in WiFi and Netflix streaming in the past to watch Netflix as well as BluRay and MKV/QVI files. Then I bought the Panasonic DMP-BDT210 BluRay/DVD player with built-in WiFi and Netflix streaming. And since the reception was not great anyway, I am trying the Panasonic DMP-BDT110 BluRay/DVD player with Netflix and Amazon Prime streaming. The player has a LAN jack and is WiFi-ready.
On the importance of buying a good product: the Insignia NS-WBRDVD looked good on paper, but in practice it was a major disappointment. It did play BluRay discs and DVD somewhat well, while making annoying scraping sounds, but sometimes would freeze when playing DVD-R and DVD+R discs. It played MKV/AVI/MP3 files of all kinds. But its WiFi connection was very unstable, it would freeze in the middle of playing a Netflix movie or a MKV file. The “icing on the cake” was the fact that its remote had to be pointed directly at it.
Then I got the Amazon Kindle Fire tablet and Amazon Prime membership with it, which allowed be free access to some movies and TV shows. Some of which were not available on Netflix streaming. Although watching them on the Kindle Fire tablet was a good experience overall, it is better to do so on a large screen, without straining one’s eyesight. But the Kindle Fire has no video outputs of any kind. I am skipping here my experience with the Panasonic DMP-BDT210 with a built-in WiFi (which can be read about here) and proceeding to the Panasonic DMP-BDT110, which is very similar, sans the built-in WiFi.
The Panasonic DMP-BDT110 with, Netlfix streaming and access to Amazon videos (among other things, like BluRay playback, DVD Video playback, mkv/avi playback, a from USB port and an SD card slot, 3D support, etc.) turned out a pretty good product..
What is Panasonic DMP-BDT110?
The Panasonic DMP-BDT110 is a wired Internet-connected BluRay (regular and 3D) player. It also plays regular DVD-Video discs (and upconvert them up to 1080p), CD-Audio, DVD /-R, DVD /-RW, MKV/AVI/AVCHD/etc. It has a USB port and an SD card slot in front. It has an Ethernet port (wired network/Internet access) and can stream Netflix video, Amazon video, access internet, show you weather forecasts, and even access files stored on your home network.
The BDT110 can output lossless audio from Dolby and DTS through its HDMI out. The player has an optical (Toslink) digital audio out as well as an analog stereo audio out and a composite video out. It does not have a component video out, but not many people need it now with proliferation of HDMI.
The player also supports Skype (with an optional camera) and can convert regular video to 3D. The player comes with a power cable, remote control and batteries, manuals and a rebate form for Avatar 3D BluRay disc. Among the unusual features is the ability to open/close the disc tray by swiping your hand over the top panel of the unit.
The BDT110 is very compact, not only smaller than my previous BluRay players (Sherwood, Insignia, etc.), but even smaller than my Pioneer Elite DV-48AV DVD player. Small in both depth and height, it is also relatively light, but appears well-built.
The front panel is covered by a lid that you can flip down. The power and disc tray open/close buttons are on the top panel, along with a centrally-located sensor that allows you to open/close the disc tray by swiping your hand over it. Just as with the BDT210, I disabled this feature in the menu immediately (since the player sits in the entertainment center).
As soon as I connected the player to the power outlet and to my TV (using HDMI) and powered it on, it went through an easy setup process, asking me to specify my language preferences, TV aspect ratio, internet settings, WiFi password, and other options.
Once connected to the Internet (using my LAN), it asked be if I wanted to update the firmware and the process completed on first try, unlike the update process of the BDT210 over the WiFi.
The player comes with a remote control that is sturdy and has good tactile response, but the arrow buttons and other frequently-used buttons are closer to the bottom, whereas they should be closer to top or center. The remote is powered by 2 AA batteries that are included.
The DMP-BDT110 is connected to a mechanical HDI switch, then to my Panasonic SA- XR57 receiver with an HDMI cable. The receiver is connected to my Hitachi P50H401 50-inch plasma TV with an HDMI cable. The speakers are Athena AS-F1 towers in front left and right positions, Athena C.5 in center and Athena S.5 as left/right surrounds. The subwoofer is Athena AS-P400.
I immediately discovered that the player is very easy to use, including its Netflix and Amazon Prime streaming features. While the menus are self-explanatory, the menu response speed is excellent (with the exception of some Amazon Prime streaming menus). The menus look good, are easy to understand, feature fast navigation (which I cannot say about my TV's menus) and provide basic adjustment functionality as well.
The Blu-Ray playback was excellent and the startup and disc load times were noticeably shorter than with the Insignia NS-WBRDVD. With Blu-ray playback, the images and sound were excellent. The video was sharp and detailed, the motion was fluid.
The player played AVCHD discs (discs made using ImgBurn from folders muxed with tsMuxeR) from 1080p HD footage from my camcorder well.
DVD Upconversion and MKV/AVI
The DVD upconversion of this model is surprisingly good, seemingly better than my Pioneer Elite DV-48AV Universal Upconverting DVD Player's. Some MKV files as well as AVI played well, including HD content. Some clips that stuttered on my computer and/or on Philips DVP642, Philips DVP5990 DVD Player and Pioneer Elite DV-48AV Universal Upconverting DVD Player played perfectly on this player. But it only played about 25% of files that Insignia played; the other 75% didn't play, including some standard-definition content. I will have to keep using the Insignia for that purpose.
USB and SD Card Ports
The front-located USB port supports USB drives of up to 2 TB. There is a front SD card port as well.
The WiFi connection would cause issues for the previous players I used. With the wired Ethernet connection, this Panasonic had no issues with Internet connectivity.There was no “rebufferring” or freezing in either Netflix or Amazon Prime playback.
The player produced excellent sound quality (output through HDMI as PCM since my receiver doesn't decode most advanced HD audio formats). It refused to play DVD-Audio discs, as was expected. I wish it did though, but this is what I have my Pioneer Elite DV-48AV for. And having an optical digital outs is a plus for those who intend to use a digital audio connection (I use HDMI and therefore don't care).
I don’t have a 3D-capable TV and don’t care for 3D in general so I haven’t tried it. But it is there.
Skype is available, but requires an optional camera. I haven’t used it, but might in future.
The Netflix streaming works well. Unlike my other devices (Wi-Fi Panasonic model excluded), which required interaction with the Netflix web site to enter a code generated by the device, this player simply lets you enter your Netflix user name (email address) and password. The quality is noticeably better than Nintendo Wii's and the interface is similar to Insignia’s.
The stability of connection was great with no rebuffering. And the delays in navigating menus in Netflix are much less pronounced than in the WiFi player.
Amazon Video Streaming
Unlike wireless players, the Amazon video streaming works quite well. I experienced no rebuffering or freezing, and the picture quality was great. Unlike Netflix credentials entry, Amazon video registration required interaction with the Amazon web site to enter a code shown on the TV screen.
The Amazon interface was quite fast. Since I can now view both Amazon and Netflix content, I canceled Netflix DVD mailing service and pay for Amazon Prime instead. The Amazon Prime selection is not great, but it is free with the Prime membership and there are some movies on it that are not available on Netflix streaming.
Also, I have gotten a credit for buying this player and was able to use $10 or of it so far “renting” movies on Amazon. You get to watch the movie for 2 days once you commence the watching. This is a great way to watch a movie you really want (but the one that is not available on Netflix or Free Amazon Prime) without having to go anywhere or wait for the disc in the mail.
You can access weather forecasts from the VIERA CAST screen.Also available are Pandora, Cinema Now, YouTube, Facebook, etc. And you can access your media stored in Windows 7 servers, which sis something I haven’t tried yet.
I must admit that even though I was originally interested in checking the weather on this player, but never really turn it on just for that purpose. Most of the time it is for either Amazon on Netflix video playback.
With the stable Internet connection over Ethernet, Netflix and Amazon streaming, MKV and AVI playback of up to 1080p and good DVD upconversion (up to 1080p), USB and SD Card connectivity this player is an excellent choice. Although not cheap, the player is well-built and its Amazon Prime video streaming helps me fill the spaces where Netflix doesn’t have the titles I want.