Friday, June 28, 2013

Panasonic DMP-BDT220 Blu-Ray Player with 3D, Skype, Built-In WiFi, Amazon Streaming and Netflix

Panasonic DMP-BDT220 Blu-Ray Player Reviewed by Dmiko on .

Since I both watch BluRay and DVD movies as well as use Netflix and Amazon Prime video streaming, I use BluRay players that have built streaming and WiFi. I previously had both an Insignia NS-WBRDVD BluRay/DVD player with built-in WiFi and Netflix streaming and a Panasonic DMP-BDT210 BluRay/DVD player with built-in WiFi and Netflix streaming. This DMP-BDT220 is the newer version of the aforementioned Panasonic, which I bought recently for less than $100. 

The first attempt at greatness was the Insignia NS-WBRDVD, which looked good on paper, but in practice was quite a disappointment. It did play BluRay discs and DVD well, albeit while making annoying scraping sounds. It played MKV/AVI/MP3 files of all kinds. But its WiFi connection was very unstable, it would freeze in the middle of playing a Netflix movie or a MKV file and its remote had to be pointed directly at it. 

The Insignia was for Best Buy made by Funai. It had the good specs and an attractive price. This is what happens when companies resort to outsourcing. The numbers appear to be hit and the price is low, then nothing quite works as expected and you are either stuck or have to redo the work. But I digress. The playback of Netflix movies over WiFi was so unstable, I had to resort to using my Nintendo Wii for that purpose (using its built-in WiFi component cable connection to my Hitachi P50H401 1080p 50-inch Plasma HDTV). The Wii took up space, its remote's batteries required frequent recharging, the picture quality was only 480p (if that).

I could probably manage (albeit compromising video quality), but then I got the Amazon Kindle Fire tablet and Amazon Prime membership with it, which allowed be free access to some movies and TV shows. Some of which were not available on Netflix streaming. Although watching them on the Kindle Fire tablet was a good experience overall, it is better to do so on a large screen. The Kindle Fire has no video outputs of any kind. 

After finding out that Panasonic DMP-BDT210 has a built-in WiFi, Netlfix streaming and access to Amazon videos (among other things, like BluRay playback, DVD Video playback, mkv/avi playback, a from USB port and an SD card slot, 3D support, etc.) and hoping for better WiFi performance and overall stability from a well-known brand, I ordered it and was generally satisfied, but recently replaced it with the updated BDT220. 

What is Panasonic DMP-BDT220?

In addition to BluRay (regular and 3D) playback, the Panasonic DMP-BDT220 Integrated Wi-Fi 3D Blu-ray DVD Player can play regular DVD-Video discs (and upconvert them up to 1080p), CD-Audio, DVD /-R, DVD /-RW, MKV/AVI/AVCHD/etc. The Panasonic DMP-BDT220 has a USB port and an SD card slot in front. It has built-in WiFi (wireless network/Internet access) as well as an Ethernet port (wired network/Internet access) and can stream Netflix video, Amazon video, access internet, show you weather forecasts, etc. 

The player can output lossless audio from Dolby and DTS through its HDMI out. The player has an optical (Toslink) digital audio out as well as an analog stereo audio out and a composite video out. It does not have a component video out, but not many people need it now with proliferation of HDMI.

The Panasonic DMP-BDT220 also supports Skype (with an optional camera). It comes with a power cable, remote control and batteries and manuals.

First Impressions

The player is very compact, not only smaller than my previous BluRay players, but even smaller than my Pioneer Elite DV-48AV DVD player. Small in both depth and height, it is also relatively light, but appears well-built. 

The front panel is covered by a lid that you can flip down. The power and disc tray open/close buttons are on the top panel. As soon as I connected the player to the power outlet and to my TV (using HDMI) and powered it on, it went through an easy setup process, asking me to specify my language preferences, TV aspect ratio, internet settings, WiFi password, etc. 

The remote control is sturdy and has good tactile response, but the arrow buttons and other frequently-used buttons are closer to the bottom, whereas they should be closer to top or center, in my opinion. 

In Use 

The player is connected to a mechanical HDI switch, then to my Panasonic SA- XR57 receiver with an HDMI cable. The receiver is connected to my Panasonic Viera TC-L32C3 32" IPS LCD TV with an HDMI cable. The speakers are Athena AS-F1 towers in front left and right positions, Athena C.5 in center and Athena S.5 as left/right surrounds. The subwoofer is Athena AS-P400.

The player is very easy to use, including its WiFi and Netflix streaming features. The menus are self-explanatory. The menu response speed is good. They look good, are easy to understand, feature fast navigation and provide basic adjustment functionality. 

The Blu-Ray playback was excellent and the startup and disc load times were noticeably shorter than with the Insignia NS-WBRDVD. With Blu-ray playback, the images and sound were excellent. The video was sharp and detailed, the motion was fluid.

DVD Upconversion and MKV/AVI 

The DVD upconversion of this model is surprisingly good, seemingly better than my Pioneer Elite DV-48AV Universal Upconverting DVD Player's. Some MKV files as well as AVI played well, including HD content. Some clips that stuttered on my computer and/or on Philips DVP642, Philips DVP5990 DVD Player and Pioneer Elite DV-48AV Universal Upconverting DVD Player played perfectly on this player. But it only played about 25% of files that Insignia played; the other 75% didn't play, including some standard-definition content.

AVCHD Playback

The player played AVCHD discs (discs made using ImgBurn from folders muxed with tsMuxeR) from 1080p HD footage from my camcorder well.

USB and SD Card Ports 

The front-located USB port and a front SD card port are provided for viewing photos and videos. 
WiFi Performance 
The Panasonic is located in the same entertainment center as the Insignia, which has issues with WiFi connectivity. The latter would frequently “rebuffer” or completely stopped playing or refused to go to the first Netflix screen at all. Fortunately the WiFi connection was much more stable with the Panasonic BDT220. 

Although the connection drops sometimes, it drops on my laptop and the Amazon Kindle Fire  at the same time so the issue is router-specific. 
Skype is available, but requires an optional camera. I haven’t used it.

Netflix Streaming

The Netflix streaming works well. Unlike my other devices, which required interaction with the Netflix web site to enter a code generated by the device, this player simply lets you enter your Netflix user name (email address) and password. The quality is noticeably better than Nintendo Wii's and the interface is similar to Insignia’s. 

The stability of connection is very good with virtually no rebuffering. But similar to the previous model, the sluggishness in navigating menus in Netflix is still present. After you hit a button to move the selection, e.g. to move between titles or between available actions, there is a significant delay before anything happens. 

Amazon Video Streaming

The Amazon video streaming works quite well. I experienced some rebuffering and some freezing, but the picture quality was great. Unlike Netflix credentials entry, Amazon video registration required interaction with the Amazon web site to enter a code shown on the TV screen. The Amazon interface is slow when connection quality is suspect. 

Other Web 

There is additional network and Internet connectivity options this player provides. Apparently you can access your media from Windows 7 servers, see weather forecasts and more. Thinks Pandora, Cinema Now, YouTube, Facebook, etc. Fortunately I don’t have to fire up the player, the receiver and the TV and endure delays for this anymore as I simply use my Amazon Kindle Fire .


The player produced excellent sound quality (output through HDMI as PCM since my receiver doesn't decode most advanced HD audio formats). It refused to play DVD-Audio discs, as was expected. I wish it did though, but this is what I have my Pioneer Elite DV-48AV for. And having an optical digital outs is a plus for those who intend to use a digital audio connection (I use HDMI and therefore don't care). 


I don’t have a 3D-capable TV and don’t care for 3D in general so I haven’t tried it. 

Pros: 3D, BluRay, stable WiFi, Netflix and Amazon video, USB and SD card, compact, well-built.
Cons: Sluggish navigation in Netflix, not all MKV/AVI files play.

Bottom Line

With the built-in WiFi that simply works, Ethernet, Netflix and Amazon streaming, MKV and AVI playback of up to 1080p and good DVD upconversion (up to 1080p), USB and SD Card connectivity the Panasonic DMP-BDT220 is excellent. The only issue I see is slow menu navigation in the online content. Otherwise, it is an excellent player.

Rating: 5 stars out of 5.

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