Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Dry Dry Desert, AZ
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I purchased a DMP-BD65 for the master bedroom. I had previously had the infamous Samsung BD-P1400 which I found so terrible that I had to give it away. Then I had connected my PS3 in the bedroom but it has become prone to overheating and seems to have damaged the HDMI chip as it now show "sparklies" on just about every connection.
I had a Sony BDP-N460 in my theater room that I was particularly fond of. However, I had read that the DMP-Bd65 is actually even quicker to load and had better quality upscaling. After receiving the DMP-BD65, I noted that it had one feature that is SORELY lacking from the Sony- an aspect ratio contol. Since my theater room is home to an Epson 8500UB which- despite being a fantastic budget projector- cannot "zoom" a 1080p source which leaves you helpless when watching non-anamorphic DVD on the Sony.
For the reasons, I actually decided to move the DMP-BD65 to theater room and move the Sony to the bedroom.
The unit is more attractive and the build quality is better than I expected from the photos I had seen (it looks very plasticy, almost "toylike" in most retailer photos but the actual unit seems to be have a fairly sturdy metal case with good ventilation and the plastic front fascia is of far more attractive material than actually appears in the photos.) However, the build quality is still slightly inferior to the Sony (sorry!)
While some of the menus are rather garish in appearance, the menu system is the best that I've seen on any optical disc player. It gives you easy, visual access to virtually every necessary picture and audio adjustment during playback while the "Viera Cast" and "Drive Select" buttons allow you switch playback modes on the fly without having to return the main menu. I especially like being able to map the "sub menu" button to the "Menu" button on my Harmony as it gives you easy access to both top- & popup-menus (plus screen aspect) without having to remember which one is mapped to the menu button and which one is buried in the custom buttons menu. I don't know how "user-friendly" this O/S is to Joe Six-Pack, but I know that it is far superior to anything I've tried before for the "power-user" or home theater buff. This also stands in stark contrast to the Sony which allows you little control overall and virtually none during playback- it is probably quite "user-friendly" but feels extremely limiting to those who are serious about their home theater experience.
As far as speed- there is no detectable difference in load-times for me between the Panasonic and the Sony. As such, I will take the word of Winston and others who have timed both players that the Panasonic is a decent bit faster, but must emphasis that both players seem fairly speedy in the course of normal operation. I do note that the Sony seems to "move" far smoother through its XMB interface than the Panasonic does in VieraCast (the VieraCast menus seem to studder a bit), however the VieraCast menus are more attractive and those with smaller displays may appreciate the larger icons (especially for Netflix where the Sony places 15+ icons per page- not an issue on a 10-foot projector screen but might strain the eyes on a 32" display at normal viewing distances.) I see no discernable difference in streaming picture quality aside from the fact that, for some inexplicable reason, I seem more prone to getting intermittent lower quality Netflix connections, even on my 14mbps line, with the Panasonic than I ever did with the Sony.
Now for my big concern- upscaling. I had read from multiple reviewers that then Panasonic's upscaling was superior to the Sony's. This excited me as I already found the Sony's upscaling to be quite good (in stark contrast to earlier Sony players) even on my 120" screen. As such, I was quite dissapointed when I found that, at least to my eyes, the Panasonic upscaling it not quite as good. Whereas the Sony seems almost overly sharp on many DVDs (possible a result of forced artifical edge enhancement and DNR?) the Panasonic looks comparably soft and sometimes even artificially noisy. Perhaps its just that I've grown used to the other, but I feel like upscaled DVDs on the Panasonic, upon close inspection, display an analog-like noise. Maybe this was grain that the Sony and the PS3 before it were artificially scrubbing away and, if so, I'll just have to grow used to the change... but maybe these are artifacts introduced by the Panasonic. This is not to say that it is a "bad" upscaler- the upscaling it better than the 2005-era Samsung & Sony upscaling DVD players that I own (which both produce very visible artifacts) or the extremely soft Samsung BD-P1400 (the first Samsung BD player without the famed Reon chip) and is definitely better, in my opinion, than my recent experience witht he Toshiba (Funai) BDX2000.
Overall, I am quite pleased with this player and its capabilities, especially for the true budget price it has sold for thanks to the recent Amazon promotion. But, Can anyone else comment on whether the upscaling lived up to the hype/their expectations?