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This is my first review in quite some time so I'll be as good as I can at reviewing this little number for you all. I've had the opportunity to give this product a test-run at a friend's shop and I just had to write a review on it ....
First of all what is it? It's a High Definition Blu-ray player. Blu-Ray is one of the two formats that are currently battling it out for supremacy as the successor to DVD. The thing is, there are some film studios producing discs for Blu-Ray, and some for the rival HD-DVD. This poses a problem and an interesting one for disc fans everywhere - which do they choose to support and which type of player do they invest in ?? The advantage that Blu-Ray currently has is that it is the standard format that the Playstation 3 video-games console supports, and so with that product helping sales there is a possibility that in the long-term the Blu-Ray side will see more big-name releases. Then again - possibly not. Confused yet??
This Panasonic DMP-BD 10 has a very classy appearance, with the front being quite free of clutter, buttons and other things that can sometimes clutter up a standard player. This helps you to believe that you've purchased a worthy addition to your living room. It also looks quite solid and meaty which again would make a buyer feel that they've had something worthy of their money I would imagine. The LCD display is glorious. Large, very viewable and great if you're looking at it in a darkened room. There is also a blue light on the top of the player (for blu-ray get it?) but thankfully you can actually tone the brightness of that down so it does not become too distracting.
The remote control that comes packaged with the product has an interesting design in itself. There's a directional wheel pad to navigate around the menus. It's very easy to use for most, but if you are new to that type of function then be aware that it'll probably take a little getting used to. The I-Pod generation should lap it up in a flash though. There's also an area on the remote which you can flip up in order to access even more advanced features. This is vital in order to select and set-up certain options. The only gripe I've heard about this being that ideally you would want some of those options on the main surface of the remote, and not hidden from view by a shutter. I didn't find that an issue myself but some people obviously do.
In terms of the practical use of the player, the picture quality is superb when played through a high-definition TV. It can also support the full 1080p display quality which is the maximum that most commercially available High-Definition TV's can currently output., and even they are few and far between in most places. Be aware though that you can still use your normal TV with tis product and the picture does still look very good, albeit without the High-Definition sparkle. You should find that when playing standard DVD's through this player (no you don't need to sell your DVD's just yet!), the picture quality is enhanced via it's 'upscaling' feature, making all your old favourites look significantly better than they did before. Colours, clarity and the boldness of certain scenes seem to be noticeably improved. Standard Audio cd's can also be played through this player, making it a DVD, Blu-Ray and Audio player in one. The High-Definition Audio support also makes the sounds much sweeter. You can use DTS, Dolby Digital etc to your heart's content.
When testing this product I came across just a few things that could be a bit irritating for some. The loading times are longer than you would ideally like, especially if you're just bunging in a DVD to play one or two scenes for friends. This is noticeable when turning on the DMP-BD 10. It also becomes an irritant when trying to skip chapters, leaving you wondering whether you've pressed the button correctly. For those of you technically minded there is apparently not compatability with the HDMI 1.3 connection. I haven't confirmed this in honesty so it would be worth checking it out if you're wanting to know for sure. This would be a shame, but wont bother most as the sheer depth of qualities that the player has can outweigh negatives.
The LG name is rapidly growing in respect throughout many industries, for their popular TV, DVD and phone products creating excitement amongst the techno-minded youth of today. I think that this product will only add to that excitement, but I feel that the price (varies wildly between around £550 and £750) is going to reduce the potential sales for a while. If you are willing to spend the money on this then I think it would be a worthy addition to someone's life and would truly enhance their viewing experience overall. Just be aware of the ongoing battle between the formats, and understand that when spending this sort of money on a player supporting one of the two potential format winners - there is a risk involved. An advantage to having a Blu-Ray player separate to a video-games console for anyone out there lucky enough to have the two (while the rest of us turn green with envy!), is that you could have the console plugged in to one area and the Panasonic DMP-BD 10 somewhere else. And at least if for some unlikely reason a fault developed on one, you'd be left with a Blu-Ray player still to use.
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