The entry-level range for Blu-ray players, which would be under the10 grand mark, wasn’t even around three years ago. Today, thanks to the reduction of Blu-ray components across the globe, manufacturers can safely lower their price and offer a buyer a range in this entry-level segment.
At the same time, they haven’t forgotten about the mid-segment, which is now dedicated to 3D capable Blu-ray players. So while a company like Panasonic can cater to the 3D Blu-ray player segment, they can also offer an entry-level DMP-BD75, with limited features and functionality but keeping things under 10k.
Out of the Box
I remember the first Blu-ray player I ever saw, which was by Samsung. It was thick, bulky, black and not very efficient. The DMP-BD75 is thin and sleek, with enough real estate on its front panel to safely accommodate a disc tray, a USB uncovered port, a small LED and just a couple of buttons next to it. Even the eject button had to be transferred to the right-top edge of the front and top panel, which does lend this player a slight aesthetic edge over its competitors. This player has a very to-the-point design and even its back panel resonates with this idea. All of its connectivity options have been squeezed into a space that’s not much bigger than a 1”x2” box. They could’ve definitely spread this stuff out but I guess Panasonic is illustrating their ability to make the best out of space. The DMPBD75 will comfortably fit into the tightest slot you give it on your entertainment shelf and that’s really how a Blu-ray player should be designed.
Super slim design
I would imagine that it was the coming of 3D Blu-ray players and 3D flat-panels that made the price of conventional 2D Blu-ray players drop. It helped simple players like this get off the shelves and into homes. This is why the DMP-BD75 does only a handful of things, all of which can be found on any of its competitors.
To start with, it plays back DVDs and Blu-rays, even BD-R, which is a very tough nut to crack when dealing with a PS3 because of the firmware upgrade that told all PlayStations to discontinue reading these home-burnt Blu-rays. At the same time, the USB port on the front allows for a HDD or a pen drive to be connected for DivX, MKV, MP3 and JPEG files.
However, it doesn’t read AAC, WMA or WMV files, all of which have become as important as MP3s now. The player has an Ethernet port on its back panel that gives the player network capabilities. By network I mean the DLNA network that allows the player to act as a media server and access the data on Windows 7-running PCs or even Panasonic’s DIGA* recorders. There’s no compatibility for Wi-Fi so the Ethernet cable will need to be connected for any of these features to work. The player uses its rather colorful on-screen display to give you navigation control. From its home screen, you can play the Blu-ray disc, go to setup menu, photos, network, videos etc. It’s been arranged in a cross-fashion and is very easy to understand. The setup allows for some basic tweaks, none of which are new, so there are no surprises there.
I like this controller primarily because it’s so sturdy to hold. At first glance, the amount of buttons spread to every corner of its body may seem a bit overwhelming, but upon closer look, they are extremely easy to understand. The transport buttons have been colour coded to a light blue that stands out from the rest of the black buttons. The buttons themselves are easy to press and the remote’s response is immediate. What more could we ask for?
Easy to use remote
Hooking the DMP-BD75 via its HDMI port to our flat panel was as easy a task as any. We were set to roll almost immediately after we dropped our Blu-ray of ‘Gulliver’s Travels’ because the player just took 15 seconds to recognize the disc and have it ready for playback. Once we were on the title sequence of the film, we knew we were in for a 1080p experience that would be rich with colors. The control this player has on its color palette and the accuracy with which it depicts these colors on the screen is remarkable in this price range. It’s aesthetical simplicity makes perfect sense when you see the ease at which this player controls the image on the screen. With razor-like sharpness, every little hair on Jack Black’s head was seen crisp and clear. Take the scene when he washes up on the shore of the ‘little people’; there are so many characters on the screen that it would seem hard to distinguish their shape and size. But through the DMP-BD75, every little character was precisely defined.
Skin tones in the close-ups were extremely accurate, and even in the close-ups we couldn’t see patchiness, which tends to happen when a Blu-ray player doesn’t have a strong grip on things. At the same time, in the scene where Gulliver is throne in the dungeon, the black levels gave off enough detail for my eyes to make out the texture of the rocky interiors. Even the shot where Gulliver hears a little voice coming from the rocks and turns to it, I could make out the thumb-sized bars that held the little prisoner before Gulliver’s eyes could.
When we played DVDs, there were no compromises and the quality was as good as you expect from DVDs. The black levels persisted with exceptional quality though the skin tones took a beating with certain patches of blotchiness. It was difficult to make out the pixilation that usually accompanies DVDs when they are watched on big screen flat panels, which is a great thing. A DVD like ‘Shutter Island’ presented several challenges in all these departments and the DMP-BD75 seemed to pass them with vivid colors that did more than justice to the DVD.
When it came to audio, the player’s analogue out gave us enough information to make our amplifier happy. The soundstage was not the most well-defined we’ve heard but it certainly beat hearing MP3s off our laptop’s soundcard.
Verdict and Price in India
We know a good Blu-ray player when we see one, and Panasonic’s DMP-BD75 is just that. Yes, it has the bare minimum when it comes to features and yes, it looks far too simple to be anything more than a regular DVD player. But when you watch a Blu-ray, it gives you the visual details like any player priced three times as much. It has authority over its image in every department and it isn’t flimsy in its operation, which helps a great deal in setting it apart from its competitors. If you don’t have the money to go in for a hardcore Blu-ray player just yet but still want to see what that 1080p world looks and feels like, look no further. At the same time, this price still needs to get down further to make it truly worth it because we can name a Blu-ray player or two that can deliver more even in this price range.
Panasonic’s DMP-BD75 is available for the price of Rs. 6,699 (Best buy).
AV MAX is a special interest audiophile magazine that focuses on reviewing high-end AV equipment like amplifiers, stereos, floorstanding speakers and related news
Updated 23 May, 2013, 1:46 pm IST
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