Pros: Pre-dates Cinavia... rarely needs F/W update... plays burned media... 1080/24p output... playback of pictures, audio, and video via SD/SDHC slot
Cons: Slow load times on most BDs... lacks 3D... lacks Wi-Fi... 10/100 LAN port only for BD-Live and F/W updates, no web functions or network streaming
The BD35 is literally my first, not to mention my "one-and-only" stand alone Blu-ray player unit. It is the player that brought the wonderful HD video experience into my home.
For reference, here are my A/V equipment specs:
HDTV: Pioneer 50" Kuro Elite Plasma (PRO-111FD)
Audio: Logitech THX-certified 5.1 Speaker System (Z-5450)
LAN Network: Accessed via Netgear 10/100/1000 unmanaged switch (GS105)
I'll now touch on the basics to form this product review.
Installation was painless. HDMI cable out of the BD35 and into HDMI-1 port of the Pioneer plasma. Optical digital cable out of the BD35 and into optical port of the Logitech system's control pod. Ethernet patch cable from the BD35's RJ45 port to Netgear switch. Done.
FIRST-TIME USE AND CONFIGURATION:
Nothing difficult here either, just your basic on-screen menu system. Navigating to SETUP via the MENU button on the remote gives access to basic options to configure the BD35 for use with other components. I've only set up VIDEO (1080p over HDMI), AUDIO (data bitstream over optical, HDMI audio disable), and NETWORK (10/100 LAN configuration for online access via wired ethernet). After saving and exiting from SETUP, I was ready to go.
GENERAL IMPRESSIONS OF QUALITY AND EASE OF USE:
As mentioned in the list of "Cons" above, this player is nothing more than a basic player. It does not bring Netflix, YouTube, Skype, nor any other web-based "widget" to your TV as most entry-level standalones of today do. It does not support 3D Blu-ray playback either, as this unit was produced before 3D became mainstream. But for me (who does not have a 3D television, and who can access the internet stuff on the TV via my HTPC), the BD35 met my needs perfectly. All I needed was to upgrade from standard definition DVD to hi-def Blu-ray, while maintaining backward compatibility to DVD, plus the ability to upscale SD content to 1080p. So suffice it to say, I am satisfied... even to this day.
PQ is excellent, and with the state of the Blu-ray industry today there is a wide variety of reference quality content out there. When viewed on the Pioneer Kuro Elite in 1080/24p playback mode, the visuals are outstanding.
AQ on my setup is decent but my Logitech sound system has no HD/lossless audio capability, so movie soundtracks are limited to compressed Dolby Digital 5.1 or DTS 5.1. Of course the Panasonic BD35 can deliver the higher quality audio data found on Blu-ray discs to any compatible audio component (receiver or pre-amp) via HDMI audio. My A/V system can definitely use an upgrade in the sound department... but I can rest assured that whenever I get around to doing it, the BD35 is fully "future-proofed" for said upgrade
The BD35's remote is what I would consider average for ease of use. It, along with the BD35's on-screen menu system, are fairly intuitive and I rarely have to consult the User Manual.
And just a couple caveats of the negative variety (trying to be objective here)...
One irritation with this unit is that it typically takes a while to start most Blu-ray discs. Some titles take almost a minute from disc insertion to seeing the disc's Main Menu or whatever "first play" item is authored onto the disc. Disc load times have definitely improved since 2009
Also, although it rarely occurs, sometimes a newer Blu-ray title is incompatible with the BD35 until a firmware update is installed. In four years of ownership, this has only happened once that I can recall, and I own around 500 Blu-ray discs
And finally, one odd quirk of note. One of my Blu-rays would not play on the BD35 unless there was an SD card present in the SD slot. The Blu-ray which had this issue was "Starship Troopers", a US-distributed Sony title. Apparently, this became a known issue and has been observed with several other Sony Blu-ray titles of the same vintage. I do not know if it has ever been resolved. I just keep an SD card inserted at all times, and have never had a problem since.
As I write this, it seems that the Panasonic DMP-BD35AK is quite antiquated in comparison to current BD players. This is especially clear in light of the new functionality that comes standard in basic player models sold today. However, if all one needs is to replace a DVD standalone player with a high-definition equivalent that maintains backward compatibility to the DVD format, then the Pansonic DMP-BD35AK is definitely worth considering.