Join Date: Sep 2001
Location: Portland, OR, USA
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Deep Color could, in theory, help with banding on certain gradients. However, you'd also need to then have a complete device chain that works with Deep Color perfectly, and doesn't introduce any other issues at all. Given that most devices out there have issues with truncating off some fine chroma detail, which is exactly where Deep Color could make a difference in theory, it would offer up no gain there. You can also get similar results by doing some dithering on those gradients, which some players do on solid blocks of color already (the PS3 stands out in this regard). In this case you are technically getting a small error in the decoding, but you're exchanging that error (which is a dE of 0.1 or so, perfectly acceptable IMO) for a possible reduction in posterization, which many people will take.
As far as which player looks better, with Blu-ray content they all (other than the 570) look the same. The 570 might be updated to have correct firmware now, but since it's used for my son to watch Disney films every day, I'm not too concerned with it. The others, with progressive Blu-ray content, are identical. I can use any of them for reference and they work fine. I choose to use the Oppo players as they also offer Source Direct modes (which I need for processor and device testing), they are very responsive, and I get complete control over colorspace and everything else.
My advice last year was if you want the best, get the Oppo. If you want to spend less and/or need streaming content, get the Panasonic 210. I need to test the Panasonic 220 and others this year to form an opinion still.