Friday, July 5, 2013

Panasonic DMP-BDT210 Blu-Ray Player with 3D, Skype, Built-In WiFi, Netflix and Amazon Streaming

I had an Insignia NS-WBRDVD BluRay/DVD player with built-in WiFi and Netflix streaming. But I bought this Panasonic DMP-BDT210 BluRay/DVD player with built-in WiFi and Netflix streaming. The reason is rather simple.

Although the Insignia NS-WBRDVD looked good on paper, in practice it 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.

So unstable was its playback of Netflix movies over WiFi, 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)..

So 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.

What is Panasonic DMP-BDT210?

In addition to BluRay (regular and 3D) playback, the Panasonic DMP-BDT210 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-BDT210 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-BDT210 also supports Skype (with an optional camera) and can convert regular video to 3D. The player comes with a power cable, remote control and batteries, manuals and a rebate form for Avatar 3D BluRay disc.

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, along with a centrally-located sensor that allows you to open/close the disc tray by swiping your hand over it. That is a feature I disabled in the menu.

Speaking of menus, 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.

Once connected to the Internet (using my wireless network), it asked be if I wanted to update the firmware from the version 1.68 to 1.70. The first updated failed at 15% (my WiFi router sometimes looses connectivity), but the second attempt succeeded, although it took at least 5 minutes.

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 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 Hitachi P50H401 50-inch plasma 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 (which I cannot say about my TV's menus) 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 supports USB drives of up to 2 TB. There is a front SD card port as well.
WiFi Performance
The Panasonic is located in the same entertainment center as the Insignia and the Nintendo Wii, both of which had issues with WiFi connectivity, especially the Insignia. The latter would frequently “rebuffer” or completely stopped playing or refused to go to the first Netflix screen at all. So I was concerned that the location is going to cause problems for the Panasonic as well. Fortunately the WiFi connection was much more stable with the Panasonic.

Although the connection dropped a couple of times, it dropped on my laptop at the same time so the issue was router-specific. And I was able to watch Amazon Video’s last hour of “District 13 Ultimatum” (from the point where I left of on my Amazon Kindle Fire) with no hiccups or rebuffering whatsoever.
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 was very good with virtually no rebuffering, but there is an issue that is still not fixed, even in the latest firmware update. The image goes blank momentarily several times within a span of a few seconds and it happened quite frequently when watching “Expendables”. It is like if you blinked several times every now and then. It is quite annoying, especially in a fast-action movie like the one above.

Another annoyance is the sluggishness in navigating menus in Netflix. 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. I am quite disappointed that a brand like Panasonic, previously known for goor interfaces and menus, is selling such an unpolished (when it comes to Netflix) product.

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. Since I can now view both Amazon and Netflix content, I am going to cancel Netflix DVD mailing service and pay for Amazon Prime instead.

Other Web

I am still exploring all the network and Internet connectivity options this player provides. Apparently you can access your media from Windows 7 servers and more. But one feature that is immediately on the VIERA CAST screen is the weather forecast, which is useful for me since I like to see that before I start driving to work in the morning without having to turn the computer on. Also available are Pandora, Cinema Now, YouTube, Facebook, etc.


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.

Skype is available, but requires an optional camera. I haven’t used it.

Also See

For a wired version of this player (WiFi-ready), check out Panasonic DMP-BDT110.

Pros: Compact, build quality, 3D, BluRay, stable WiFi, Netflix and Amazon video, USB and SD card.
Cons: Flickering in Netflix playback, sluggish navigation in Netflix, not many MKV/AVI files play.

Bottom Line

With the built-in stable WiFi, 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-BDT210 Integrated-Wi-Fi 3D Blu-ray DVD Player is excellent. The only issue I have is the flickering in Netflix playback (momentarily blank screen). I hope Panasonic fixes this with a firmware update.

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