Panasonic’s DMP-BDT230 Blu-ray player packs a lot of compelling features into an inexpensive package. It’s quick, full of useful features (including built-in Miracast support), and handles video processing with ease, all with a $129.99 (direct) price tag. Its only issue is a menu system that, while completely functional, is a bit sluggish and uninspiring. All considered, if you want a Blu-ray player with 3D, Wi-Fi, and all the trimmings short of the additional HDMI and analog surround output advantages of very high-end Blu-ray players like the Oppo BDP-103 and the Samsung BD-F7500, this is a deck to really consider, and our new Editors’ Choice for budget-priced Blu-ray players.
The BDT230 looks like an inverted trapezoid from the front, measuring 1.5 by 16.9 by 7.1 inches (HWD) and weighing 3.1 pounds, with a glossy plastic face with all doors and displays completely flush. Besides the disc tray, the flat face hides a flip-down door that covers an SD card slot and a USB port. An alphanumeric blue LED display sits on the right side of the face, showing information such as disc status and track time. On the top edge of the player, over the display, small buttons for Power, Eject, Play/Pause, and Stop provide basic playback controls. The back of the player holds an HDMI output, an optical audio output, and an Ethernet port if you don’t want to use the built-in Wi-Fi.
The 6.6-inch remote is black, plain, and not backlit. The navigation pad is small but circular and easy to find under the thumb, and the large blue playback controls are comfortable to manage. Dedicated Netflix, Internet, and Miracast buttons make accessing the player’s various networked features simple.
The interface is functional, intuitive, and slightly unwieldy. The limited menus are laid out in a simple plus-shaped pattern that lets you switch between them by pressing a direction button. But the BDT230 feels sluggish to respond, and the interface isn’t nearly as polished or information-rich as Samsung’s Blu-ray players or even Panasonic’s connected HDTVs. You can access plenty of apps through Panasonic’s Viera Connect system, which is buried in the Network menu and lacks a direct access button on the remote. Besides Netflix, you can fire up Hulu Plus, YouTube, Amazon Instant Video, and Vudu, and even access a Web browser (but you’ll have to deal with using a remote to browse the Web, like most non-Google TV home entertainment devices with Web browsers). The features are there, but the Home menu makes it seem like the player was designed for little more than playing Blu-ray discs because of the menu’s simplicity and how Panasonic hides the Viera Connect menu.
Besides the online features, the BDT230 also supports Miracast, a wireless display standard that lets users of supported mobile devices mirror their screens to a display. I had no problem connecting a Google Nexus 4 to the BDT230 wirelessly and sharing its screen on the connected HDTV.
We test Blu-ray player video processing with the HQV Benchmark 2.0 Blu-ray disc, and the BDT230 performed very well. It handled every test we threw at it, and showed only slight choppiness when processing lateral motion, the most common video issue we’ve seen with Blu-ray players.
We evaluate Blu-ray player speed using several Blu-ray discs, loading each multiple times. The BDP230 is fairly fast in our tests, taking an average of 17.3 seconds to load a Blu-ray disc from closing the disc tray to displaying a message on the screen. This is very quick, edging out the Samsung BD-F7500 by four seconds on average.
The Panasonic DMP-BDT230 is a speedy, great-performing Blu-ray player that’s only hampered by a slightly awkward and sluggish menu system. More high-end (and much more expensive) Blu-ray players offer more options for complicated home theater systems. But even so, if you just have an HDTV and, perhaps, a soundbar, this $130 deck is really all you need. Its excellent feature set and strong performance earn it our Editors’ Choice, replacing last year’s LG BP620 by shaving a few dollars off the price and a few seconds off the average disc loading time. With Wi-Fi, multiple apps and online services, and 3D support you’ll probably find whatever you’re looking for in a Blu-ray player in the BDT230.
|Online Content Services||Viera Connect Apps|
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc