Panasonic DMP-MS10 review
The Panasonic DMP-MS10 is a media streaming device that turns a standard TV into a smart TV, providing access to online catch-up TV, on-demand movie services such as Netflix and social networking sites such as Twitter. It can also stream media from network-attached storage (NAS) and lets you mirror a Miracast-compatible tablet’s display on your TV. Even better, it’s a discreet, compact box and although it isn’t particularly attractive it won’t look out of place by your TV.
It has few connection ports, but it does have a HDMI output, a USB port to which you can attach USB drives and an Ethernet port. It also comes with a great remote control that has large buttons with large legends describing their purpose.
BATTLE OF THE BANDS
To get the most out of the DMP-MS10 you must connect it to your network and the internet, and the DMP-MS10 lets you do that wirelessly or via Ethernet. However, unlike many media streamers we’ve seen, the Panasonic DMP-MS10 supports dual-band WI-Fi, which means you’ll be able to connect to your router on either the 2.4GHz or 5GHz band.
Although the 2.4GHz band is theoretically able to provide faster wireless data transfer, many routers and wireless devices operate on the 2.4GHz band, causing much congestion and slower transfer speeds. As the 5GHz band is less congested you’re more likely to see faster Wi-Fi performance on it, making it perfect for devices such as the DMP-MS10 that stream video and other media. Your router will need to support connections on the 5GHz band, but these are increasingly common so even if your present router doesn’t your next one probably will.
Whichever band you choose, connecting the DMP-MS10 to your router wirelessly is the work of moments. You can either let the DMP-MS10 search for your router and then enter its Wi-Fi password or you can manually input the network settings for your router. You can even use wireless protected setup (WPS) to connect your router with the push of a button if your router supports WPS.
The DMP-MS10 has a simple interface, with functions mirroring the direction pad of the remote control, so you have, for example, online services to the right and network settings to the left. Pressing the left or right directional buttons on the remote control then accesses those functions. The DMP-MS10’s interface is quicker and more responsive than some media streamers we’ve used, but not as quick as the Roku 2 XS.
The DMP-MS10 only has seven online services, including Twitter, Facebook, BBC iPlayer, Netflix, YouTube and Picasa. It also has a portal for the defunct Acetrax service, which predictably does nothing. The iPlayer app is the familiar browser seen on other media streamers and smart TVs, and lets you choose between standard definition and high definition playback. Other than Netflix, this is the best service on the DMP-MS10.
We’re also impressed with the YouTube browser, which lets you choose from categories such as Music, Trends and Sport to help you find new videos, as well as search for them. However, we did find the YouTube browser a little slow to respond to our commands.
We tried to use the Facebook and Twitter portals but found entering usernames and passwords much too cumbersome. We couldn’t even log in to the Facebook browser because it recognised the OK and Cancel buttons on the permission screen as a single button, which meant we were sent back to the log-in screen when we pressed it. We did like the Picasa browser, though.
Netflix, YouTube and BBC iPlayer are great, and will cover some users needs, but it’s a relatively small selection and unlike the Roku 2 XS there’s no way of adding new services, even niche services addressing alien abduction and cake making. We’d also welcome some audio only services such as Spotify and Last.fm.
Although its online services are limited, the DMP-MS10 is fantastic if you want to stream media from your NAS device or a drive attached to its USB port. We had no trouble streaming Full HD video from our Synology NAS and no problem playing H.264, MPEG4 and XVID HD files. We could also play AAC, WMA, FLAC and MP3 audio files, so you should have no problem playing music, but we could only see JPG images.
Whether we played media from a USB drive or NAS, the DMP-MS10 was responsive and quickly changed tracks and images. It doesn’t have an audio output, but the DMP-MS10 is great if you want a media streamer primarily to play music and videos through your TV.
One really neat feature is Miracast, which lets you display the contents of a Miracast-compatible tablet, such as the Asus Memopad HD 7 on your TV wirelessly. You simply pair the two devices and then whatever is shown on your tablet is then mirrored on the TV screen. There’s a slight delay between what’s shown on the tablet and the TV, and video looked jerky, but it’s great if you want to show photos to a wider audience or want to browse Facebook and Twitter on a big screen. Indeed, we’d prefer to do so using Miracast than the DMP-MS10’s built-in Facebook and Twitter apps.
We like the DMP-MS10, but it has too few catch-up TV and online services to love it. However, it’s great if you want a means of playing media from network-attached storage and attached USB drives on your TV. It’s much better than the Roku 2 XS in this respect, but the Roku is better for online TV.