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Last year, my husband decided that he wanted to watch more films and requested a blu-ray player for his birthday. This was the first blu-ray player we had ever owned and I chose this Panasonic (DMP BD75) based on previous positive experiences with the Panasonic brand.
Despite being completely inexperienced with blu-ray technology, the initial set up process was fairly self explanatory and straightforward, with the player being pretty much ready to use as soon as it was connected to the tv. The player does not come supplied with an HDMI cable which is a little disappointing as it is not possible to use the appliance without one. A basic cable is pretty inexpensive, however, and I managed to purchase one as part of a deal at Argos at the point of purchase.
An ethernet cable is not supplied either but the player will function perfectly without one (certainly for the purposes of playing either blu-rays or DVD's.) We were a little confused initially as to what the benefits of having this player connected up to the internet actually were and did not find much clarity from either the instruction manual or the on screen menu system. From ongoing experience, the ethernet connection only seems to enable the player to perform a firmware update as and when it deems necessary. Fortunately, this is not a frequent occurrence and has only happened twice since we purchased this player.
Aesthetically, this is a really attractive looking device. I like the sleek black appearance and was surprised by how slimline it actually is. When connected to our previous tv, this player slotted easily on top of our Sky box to maximise the space available. It is currently connected to a Panasonic LCD screen and both appliances complement the other perfectly, although I think the simple black clutter-free design is neutral enough and slender enough to fit into most living rooms.
The basic controls can be accessed on the player itself, so it is possible to view blu rays and DVD's even if the remote control has gone astray! All of the menu features can be utilised on the slim black remote control. The keys are all clearly and logically labelled and of a decent size, making it very straightforward to use without becoming overly cluttered with function keys. The volume can also be adjusted via the blu ray remote control, without having to use the tv remote, as can the eject and off functions. The two AA batteries required have yet to need replacing.
Our film collection predominantly consists of DVDs rather than blu rays, mainly because of the higher costs of purchasing blu rays. We're also not generally interested in the special bonus features and extended elements included with many blu rays so can't justify the extra cost. It may seem a bit pointless purchasing a blu ray player with the intention of watching mainly DVDs, when a much cheaper appliance would have done the same job. The benefit here is that the clever machine 'upscales' the picture quality of DVDs, effectively converting a standard DVD image into a much sharper high definition image. The reported '1080p up-conversion function' doesn't mean a great deal to me as a layperson but the difference in reality is that the DVDs watched via this blu ray player are much clearer, brighter and sharper than when viewed on a basic DVD player.
The sound quality is, to some extent, dictated by the tv that this is connected to. We have used this with both our current Panasonic television as well as a Philips model and, in both cases, the sound quality of both DVDs and blu ray discs was excellent. We occasionally use this device to play CDs and audiobooks (when my youngest son wants to finish listening to a story after a car journey) and have had no issues with playback or sound quality.
I particularly like how responsive this machine is and how quick it is to start up and play a film. The disc tray opens and closes smoothly without fail and the player is exceptionally quiet during operation with a barely audible level of noise as it reads the disc and when skipping through functions. It has performed consistently over the last 18 months without any issues on either the playing performance or the durability of the actual device, despite my kids eagerly swapping discs over and randomly jabbing at keys.
I paid £74.99 for this player, back in July 2012. It is no longer for sale in Argos but is still available from play.com for £79.98 which seems a reasonable price for a reliable blu-ray player from an established brand, making this a purchase I am happy to recommend.