Blu-ray is a hot gift, but the key for this year is that the players themselves are now actually affordable.
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While renting and watching movies is not strictly a geek activity, it is one of those common activities just about everyone, geek or not, spends a great deal of time doing during the course of a year. And one of the hottest gifts this season is going to be a Blu-ray disc player.
With the battle for high-definition format supremacy all but over, the winning Blu-ray format discs and a device to play them on is what every movie buff wants. The key for this gift giving season is that the Blu-ray player is finally affordable.
Our review unit is the Panasonic DMP-BD60 Blu-ray Disc Player, which sells on Amazon for a mere $168. That price is pretty much the same cost as a typical DVD player, which makes the few extra bucks for Blu-ray capability quite appealing to say the least.
- Format: BD-ROM Playback, BD-RE / BD-RE DL, DVD-RAM Playback, DVD-ROM, DVD-R/-RW/-R(DL) 2 Playback, +R/+R(DL)/+RW Playback, CD, CD-R/-RW 3 Playback
- Video: i/p Conversion for 1080p 4 Playback, Up-conversion to 1080p 5 Playback
- Audio: Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby TrueHD, DTS-HD
- Input/Output: HDMI, Component Video Out (Y, PB, PR), Video Out, 2ch Audio Out, Digital Audio Out, SD Memory Card Slot, Ethernet for Network
- Physical characteristics:
- Power source: AC 120V, 60Hz
- Power consumption: 22W (Approx.)
- Dimensions (H x W x D): 1.94'' x 16.94'' x 9.81''
- Weight: 8.6 lbs
What I like
The Panasonic DMP-BD060 Blu-ray Disc Player is very easy to setup, especially if you have a television with HDMI input. One cable between the two devices is all you need for both digital video and audio.
If you have to use a different cabling system, you have several choices, the best of which is the component system. The Operating Instruction manual that comes with the player is actually quite good and more than adequate to walk you through whatever connections you need to make.
Once you are connected, the Blu-ray player acts just like a DVD player -- push play it plays, push stop it stops. However, the video and audio quality, even on this relatively inexpensive device, is very good. There is a noticeable difference in overall video quality on the step up from DVDs to Blu-ray discs.
The remote that ships with the DMP-BD060 is pretty standard, which means it is adequate but not sensational. It quickly picked up the code to work with my TV which meant I could use one remote most of the time I was watching a movie. Presumably, since the DMP-BD060 is from Panasonic, a common name brand, a universal remote should be able to mimic the factory remote.
What I don't like
The Panasonic DMP-BD060 is slow to load. And I don't mean a few seconds, I mean several minutes. I am not sure why it took so long to load a Blu-ray disc, but it was noticeably annoying.
The other thing I don't like is not the fault of the DMP-BD060, it is a problem with Blu-ray discs in general. While the video quality is superior to DVDs, there are no other real enhancements to the experience, at least not to the degree I was lead to believe there would be. The special features on most of the Blu-ray discs were the same as the DVD special features. I was expecting more. The only movie I saw that took full advantage of Blu-ray features was the Bourne Ultimatum.
Geek bottom line
From the geek gift perspective, if you have a family member or friend that is a movie fan, especially if their tastes gravitate toward science fiction and/or fantasy, then a Blu-ray disc player is a must. Now that the cost of the players has reached affordable levels, there is really no reason not to at the very least consider purchasing one. With its low price but decent video quality, the Panasonic DMP-BD60 Blu-ray Disc Player is a good solid choice.
There is one very important caveat - for the Blu-ray experience to be truly effective it must be connected to a television capable of 1080p resolution. If the TV connected to your new player is only capable of 720p, you will not see much, if any, benefit at all.
Geek gift score (out of 5)
- Fun factor: ***
- Geek factor: ****
- Value: ****
- Overall: ****