Panasonic DMP-BD65 Review by Mike English - December 17th 2010
Verdict: BUY!!! The DMP-BD65 is an excellent entry level Blu-Ray / DVD player that forgets it’s an entry level unit. Incredibly fast loading with a strong menu system, the DMP-BD65 has enough features to satisfy most users, all at an incredibly low price. Say hello to your new BD player.
Panasonic DMP-BD65 By The Numbers:
1080P HD 60/24fps BD / DVD Player, Networking, SD / USB reader, 0.5 Second Boot Time, BD Live, 12-bit Video D/A converters, 4:4:4 Sub-Sampling (more below), DTS™-HD Master Audio Essential/ DTS, Dolby® Digital Plus, Dolby® TrueHD, Energy Star
Ultra-fast load time
Can be time consuming to set up if you – a) decide to set up the networking, and b) if you aren’t a networking type of person
Two button front panel – DON’T LOSE THE REMOTE!
Excellent overall performance
Thin, lean form factor
Reliable with a variety of material
SD and USB connectivity
Easy to use
Good remote layout – lots of buttons but not confusing
Supports a variety of playback formats
Internet connectivity, wireless or LAN
Full 1080P 24 / 60 frame playback
Wide angle remote field of view
Panasonic BMPBD65 Overview
Panasonic definitely knows what this whole high definition thing is all about and it shows with the DMP-BD65. The DMP-BD65 is a very good blu-ray player at a very low price. It’s light years ahead of earlier versions, in terms of compatibility with new BDs, as well as being among the first BD player that loads as fast, if not faster, than Sony’s PS3. Combine these blazing load speeds with excellent image playback and you have a serious contender.
Getting the DMP-BD65 set up is very straightforward, at least for normal playback functions. It’s more involved if you’re looking to get connected wirelessly to the internet, less so if you’re running a LAN cable from your router to the player.
And here’s the thing, if none of this makes sense to you, don’t worry. You don’t need to connect these devices to the internet if simple playback is what you’re looking for. However, having an internet connection to your blu-ray player keeps it updated with newest firmware. This means you’re pretty much guaranteed to playback even the newest blu-ray discs. New BDs can have newer software than older discs, causing some playback issues on older firmware versions. You don’t need an internet connection to update. It’s simply easier. You can also access special content like extended commentaries, documentaries, among other BD Live features. Even Netflix, which is not currently supported on BD players in Canada as it is in the US. So, if you’re north of the 49th, don’t buy one of these BD players assuming it will work with Netflix. It won’t.
The 1,2,3s of connecting the DMP-BD65 are quite simple. Plug in the AC, then run an HDMI from the back to your TV or receiver, and you’re done. If you have a router nearby, you can run a LAN cable from the DMP-BD65 right into the router. Wireless is more time consuming and requires the purchase of Panasonic’s wireless adaptor. However, given the sheer number of LAN ports on modern HT equipment, if you support the whole “connected devices” concept, include a router in your equipment rack.
I’ve spent a lot of time with this BD player. I use it as a reference for calibrating front projectors, as well as the occasional LCD or Plasma TV, because it’s quick to load, and has a great picture. It has a great picture because, well, I’m going to get a little nerdy for a paragraph. You can skip if you’d like.
All of Panasonic’s BD players support 4;4;4 sub-sampling. Cool. Now what is it? Very broad strokes here - 4:4:4 tells us that each part of the video information is sampled equally. This is important because other, more conventional formats, like 4:2:2 will actually lose some color information as a way to make the signal smaller. Once this color information is removed, it’s gone and can’t be brought back. The closer these numbers are to “4”, the better the picture on your swanky HDTV, because you’re seeing more of the original source detail, and less “fill” from your TV, Blu-Ray, etc. So you can see why 4:4:4 is important for maximum color detail.
It’s the color that amazes me with this BD Player. Also, it has an adjustable Black Level, which for HD displays should be set to “Darker”.
What the DMP-BD65 lacks over its more expensive brother, the DMP-BD85, are discrete 7.1 analog audio outputs and the chipsets to operate them. Some power users want to run discrete audio outputs because they feel it offers them better sound. With the BD65 you’re moving surround sound audio through the HDMI most often, and occasionally by an Optical connection, depending of your TV / receiver combo. Both options offer the immersive surround sound experience you expect, so don’t feel like you’re losing anything by staying digital.
You may have noticed that there’s no mention of standard def DVD playback qualities. I’m intentionally overlooking this because a) you should start buying blu-ray discs to feed your BD player b) SD playback on HD devices invariably looks awful anyway and c) while it’s nice to have the ability to play DVDs on a BD player, you certainly should avoid it. In my opinion.
The Bottom Line
As I mentioned, I use the DMP-BD65 a lot. I do so because it’s blazingly quick to load and feels very responsive as a result. This means next to no time waiting for a disc to load. The DMP-BD65 supports 4:4:4 sub-sampling, which is important for best image reproduction and it’s inexpensive. It’s small, smaller than your standard DVD player, and uses less electricity to boot.
The Panasonic DMP-BD65 is a surprising device. It offers a top of the line experience at a bargain price, all in a friendly, easy to use and understand package. I can think of many, many worse things to do with this kind of money. If you’re looking for one of the best overall values in the BD player market, you may have found your next Blu-Ray player.