Panasonic DMP-BDT500 review
When putting together a home cinema system, it’s all too easy to overlook the Blu-ray player. After all, isn’t picture quality mostly dictated by your TV and sound quality by your amplifier? Contrary to popular belief, a high-quality Blu-ray player can make all the difference to both image and sound quality, which is why Panasonic has developed the DMP-BDT500. It’s a premium Blu-ray player with high-quality audio components and image processing.
The BDT500 is built from a combination of glossy mirror-finish plastic and brushed aluminium, and is one of the best looking Blu-ray players we’ve seen – it’s a massive improvement over some of Panasonic’s less expensive systems, and you already feel you’re getting a premium product before you even take a look at the specification.
The disc tray, LCD display and front connections are all hidden behind a flip-down panel, which helps maintain the player's clean lines, and the touch-sensitive power and playback buttons are recessed into the roof of the unit. An SDXC card reader and single USB port are easily accessible from the front of the player.
The DMP-BDT500 is the first Blu-ray player we’ve seen with two HDMI outputs – Panasonic suggests dedicating the second output purely to audio, which seems like overkill. The HDMI specification was designed to take audio bandwidth considerations into account, and as a digital signal it won’t degrade in the same way it might over analogue cables, but some audio fanatics may consider it a welcome inclusion.
The same can be said of the analogue 5.1 and 7.1 phono speaker outputs, which you can use to connect to your surround sound amplifier if you’d rather the BWT-DM500 took care of your surround sound decoding. This can be useful if your amplifier doesn’t support the latest surround sound audio formats. There are also coaxial and digital optical audio inputs, plus Ethernet, a single USB port and a composite video output, making the DMP-BDT500 a seriously well-equipped player.
In practice, the DMP-BDT500 produced some stunning Full HD video from our reference Blu-ray discs, helped by the detailed settings menus that let you tweak picture quality to suit your TV or projector. Noise reduction, edge-smoothing and standard definition up-scaling, as well as brightness, colour and contrast settings are all available for tweaking, but even out of the box pictures were detailed and vibrant. Even darker scenes preserved plenty of detail, with clear shadow tones.