I picked this player up yesterday at Sears. My main intent was getting a rather cheap Netflix streaming device, like Ruko. Then I saw that BB had the Insignia wi-fi player 50 off at 129. So I figured what the heck, that's almost the price of the roku player. I checked sears on line. They had the Panny 55 off at 194 and in addition the on line add said they provided a 20 dollar gift card, putting it at 174. I've got a Panasonic DVD recorder that works great so I figured I'd spring for the 85 instead of the Insignia. Well the gift card from sears turned out to be 40 instead of twenty putting the effective cost of the player at 154. (That gift card feature is not online today so may be over.) I figured less than 30 bucks over the insignia, a no brainer.
Brought it home and hooked it up. Internet connection was a little troublesome to get it started, mostly because I didn't recognize that my connection was WPA and not WPA2. I kept trying WPA2. I don't know why but when I first connected my iphone and ipad both those devices recognized my network when I selected WPA2. A fairly knowledgeable guy at Panny CS walked me through getting into my router settings and getting it sorted out. Mostly my problem is that I don't use wireless that much at home, just the iphone and ipad, computer being hardwired. Once that was sorted out the player connected easily and prompted me for a firmware update. It was a pleasant surprise that even after the firmware update I didn't need to reenter my router information, it remembered. (I don't broadcast SSID so its a pain to reenter.) On another note the panny recognized about 3 neighbors unprotected wireless routers so it does a good job of seeing networks!!
Netflix set up was a breeze and within a couple of minutes after the FW update I could see my instant view que. A good signal connection was established with my wireless-G router. Not sure if I need to spring for an upgrade to N. Some reviewers have commented that they don't like the wireless adapter not being built into the player. I actually prefer it this way with the supplied USB extension. My player sits in a furntiture type tv cabinet and I like the idea of having the extension. I just ran the extension and the dongle sits out in the open on top of the player in front instead of buried deep in the cabinet. It would be nice to browse from the player, but I actually prefer using my computer or ipad to browse the instant que. Usually I know what I'm looking for and just use the search. Watched a half hour TV show on netflix and it came in good. I haven't yet tried anything HD quality.
As far as performance I tried a couple of BD discs. Dirty Harry a non java disc loaded and played in a few seconds. Star Trek 2009 was a little slow compared to my Oppo BDP-83, but nothing to get upset about. I was pleasantly surprised by the DVD upconversion. Reviewers, like cnet note some discrepancies compared to the oppo on certain tests, but in real world material on my LG47LH90, I think the Panny does a great job. I compared a a couple of DVDs in the panny and oppo and didn't see much if any difference. bigpicturesounds review was more glowing on the 85's dvd upconversion capability than cnet.
One review at bigpicturesound notes some impressive audio capabilities, which I may never explore. Currently the Oppo gets the job of being hooked to the Denon and Paradigm Studio 10s). The Oppo gets the job of the saturday night movie and music playback (CD and SACD). The panny occupys the role of netflix streaming and occasional movies where the reciever and speakers aren't used (late night movies or older movies with little or no need for high fidelity audio). I like the high clarity audio setting designed for those with direct tv hookups like I use with the panny. I had no complaints with the audio feed to my TV, sounding crisp and clear. 'Digital tube sound effects'
is a capability I'd like to perhaps explore in the future. IF that and the jitter purifier work as stated, I could see using this player as a dedicated cd player. For years I used a panny dvd player as a dedicated cd player.
All in all considering what I paid for it I'm pleasantly surprised by the capabilites of the Panny, some I'll never explore like advanced audio capabilites. Some reviews lament the archaic menu navigation of the panny and I guess if it were your main player you might lament a little at that. I don't. I have a Panny DVD recorder and upconverting player (EZ-27) and I guess I've gotten used to panny and how they lay out their menus as I find it intuitive.
One thing I'd like to fix I don't know how. On the network menu, I'd like to get rid of NY as the default top of the list on weather. I deleted the other cities and put in mine and others I have an interest in, but don't see anyway to get NY off the top and have mine be the top. Any ideas??
Lastly one complaint. Now I have another forum topic to check daily aside from the Oppo BDP-83 thread.