Review: Panasonic DMP-BDT330 Blu-ray Player With UHD (4K) Upscaling

LSI processor for boosted upscaling capabilities

Our score: 4/5
Reviewed: September 23, 2013 2:04 PM
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Published: September 23, 2013 2:04 PM
By Pierre-Jean Alzieu
Translated by: Catherine Barraclough
With the first Ultra HD (4K) TVs now arriving on the market, manufacturers have started updating the upscaling functions in their top-end Blu-ray players to adapt to this new resolution. That's exactly what Panasonic has done with the DMP-BDT330, loading it with an LSI processor that's supposed to be one of the most high-performance models in the market. As well as UHD upscaling, the BDT330 gets Panasonic's usual range of Smart TV functions as well as connectivity for mobile devices. 

Hardware & Design

Review: Panasonic DMP-BDT330 front face, design and build

Panasonic's BDT330 has an attractively designed outer casing, with a brushed metal finish on top and a glossy plastic panel covering the front.

Review: Panasonic DMP-BDT330 back view sockets and connections

It doesn't have a whole load of connections, however. There are two HDMI ports, an optical audio out and an Ethernet port. Panasonic says that the two HDMI ports are for users with old-generation amps that aren't compatible with 3D and UHD (4K). The source image can therefore be sent to the Blu-ray player via one HDMI port and the amp can be hooked up to the other HDMI port for audio.

There are two USB ports and an SDXC memory card slot on the front of the BDT330 under its flip-down cover. You can therefore connect an external storage device, such as a USB stick, an external hard drive or a memory card, for access to videos, music (FLAC, WMA, MP3, M4A) and photos (JPEG). The BDT330 doesn't have the best built-in media player we've ever seen. Although it supports a large number of video containers (AVI, MP4, MKV, Mov, MTS and M2TS), the only codecs supported are AVC-HD, H.264 and X.264.

The BDT330 has onboard Wi-Fi plus Miracast connectivity for pushing photos and videos from a smartphone or tablet (Android 4.2 minimum) to the Blu-ray player to watch on your TV.

Review: Panasonic DMP-BDT330 smart tv interface

Once connected to the Internet, the DMP-BDT330 can be used to access Panasonic's Viera Cast Smart TV platform. However, it's a shame that this Blu-ray player is still using the interface from Panasonic's 2012 TVs. It lags way behind what's on offer in Samsung devices.

Review: Panasonic DMP-BDT330 web browser

A web browser is also on board, but, like the other connected services, it's quite laborious to use as entering text in the address bar is a long and painful experience.

Thankfully, the DMP-BDT330 is a more pleasant-to-use device when it comes to actually playing Blu-ray discs, which is, after all, its main function. The four-second start-up is fast and you only have to wait 16 seconds to see the first images from a disc appear onscreeen.

Picture Quality

As we've already explained elsewhere, picture quality doesn't really vary from one Blu-ray player to the next. The Panasonic DMP-BDT330 is no exception. Our test gear didn't detect any alteration to the original disc image when displayed via this device.

However, we'd still like to see upscaling functions improve for better-quality results when watching a DVD on a Full HD TV. As you can see from the sample images below, the Sony PlayStation 3 still does a better job of SD upscaling than this 2013 Blu-ray player, in spite of the fact that it's equipped with one of the top-performing processors. The BDT330 image is prone to aliasing effects. The PS3 makes the edges of objects look smoother and crisper while also keeping aliasing at bay.

Review: Panasonic DMP-BDT330 upscaling quality

Seeing as the BDT330 has UHD upscaling, we were hoping that the SD-to-HD upscaling function would in turn have improved. No such luck.

Note that like Full HD TVs (1920 x 1080 pixels), UHD TVs (3840 x 2160 pixels) are also equipped with their own built-in upscaling modes. We've even heard one tech manufacturer admit that UHD TVs will be better at UHD upscaling than pretty much any Blu-ray player. The "4K" upscaling modes in Blu-ray players like this are therefore more about marketing than anything else as far as we're concerned. You therefore shouldn't invest in this Blu-ray player primarily for that function.

Power Use

The Panasonic DMP-BDT330 is very efficient. It only requires 9 watts to run when playing a movie.
4/5 Panasonic DMP-BDT330 DigitalVersus 2013-09-23 15:04:00

Pros

  • Stylish design
  • 3D compatibility
  • Built-in Wi-Fi
  • Two HDMI ports

Cons

  • No 7.1 analogue audio output
  • Remote is showing its age
  • Smart TV is a bit glitchy and still uses the 2012 Viera Cast interface

Conclusion

The Panasonic DMP-BDT330 is a stylishly designed Blu-ray player that gets to work quickly and ensures picture quality that's perfectly on par with its competitors. However, the lack of 7.1 analogue audio out could be a problem for some, and it's a shame that the Smart TV interface is a little slow and out-dated.

OUR SCORE 4/5
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