Panasonic DMP-BDT220 Blu-Ray Player Review and Tips

March 19, 2012
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Panasonic DMP-BDT220 Blu-ray Player

Panasonic DMP-BDT220 Blu-ray Player

While the new 2012 Panasonic DMP-BDT220 is an entry level 3D Blu-ray player, don’t lower your expectations. This model packs in an impressive set of features at a $150 suggested retail price ($135 at Amazon). It also shares the same internals for audio and video processing as the more expensive DMP-BDT320 and DMP-BDT500. However, if you have a HDMI-equipped receiver with support for the latest audio codecs (Dolby Digtal Plus, TrueHD and DTS Master Audio), the Panasonic DMP-BDT220 is a great choice.

Early Release?

To start, consider this an early acces review. Yes, anyone can go out and buy the unit today. However, I get the feeling the BDT220 was released before it was supposed to. The promised iOS and Android remotes featured on the packaging are not available yet (iOS remote is now available). According to Panasonic, they will be released this spring. Some of the default settings on the unit also need some tweaking. Most of the other 2012 Panasonic Blu-ray players have just started shipping as well. As a side note, I did not test any of the 3D features of this player.

Hardware and Remote Control

The BDT220 is a fairly compact Blu-ray player. While it measures almost 17 inches across like many home theater components, it only measures about 7 inches in depth and 1.5 inches in height. On the top of the unit are buttons for power and opening and closing the disc tray. If you press the “open/close” button, the disc tray cleverly flips open the front-panel revealing a number of ports and controls including a USB 2.0 port, SD memory card slot, and playback controls.

On the back of the unit is an HDMI connector, digital optical out, RCA connectors for audio and video as well as an ethernet port. The unit also supports 802.11b, g and n wireless as well as Wi-Fi Direct. There’s also a port to attach a video camera. The video camera is used for the included Skype app as well as facial recognition for user profiles. The higher end BTD500 adds 7.1 analog audio outputs and a second HDMI port. At the bottom of the post is an unboxing video.

The remote control is very similar to the unit that shipped with last year’s units. Its compact form factor makes it easy to handle. There’s also a dedicated button for Netflix. The BDT320 and BDT500 include upgraded versions of the remote with a touchpad.

Panasonic DMP-BDT220 Rear panel

Panasonic DMP-BDT220 connectors

Menus and VieraCast

The user interface is a bit more refined and colorful versus the 2011 models. It’s still easy to use and fairly intuitive. One new feature is support for user profiles. Each user can have their own specific audio and video settings. What’s cool is that user profiles are activated by using the smart phone remote or facial recognition if you attach a supported video camera. If you don’t have either one of those, you can simply press one of the color coded buttons on the remote to access your profile.

Blu-ray

Overall, I was pretty impressed with its Blu-ray performance. Blu-ray discs loaded FAST! (especially compared to my Pioneer BDP-320)

Disc Load Times:

  • 2009 Star Trek 22 sec to first screen (and then an endless stream of previews!)
  • X-Men: First Class: 22 seconds to first screen, 43 seconds to start first preview
  • The Dark Knight: 13 seconds to first screen / 1:04 movie starts playing

As with many Blu-ray players, there’s no resume function. However, if you hit the STOP or HOME button on the remote, it requires you to reload the title. So, be careful! The exception being X-Men: First Class which supports a resume-like function.

For BD-Live, there’s no on-board storage. Instead, you’ll have to buy a SD memory card. Given the price of memory, it’s silly they couldn’t include some on-board. On the other hand, while an SD card only costs a few dollars, there’s no BD-Live content I’ve seen where I would run out and buy the memory card.

To evaluate picture quality, I originally spent some time using the Spears & Munsil Blu-ray calibration disc. While I did run some tests from that disc, it’s the first time I’m using it so I don’t know if I’m interpreting the results correctly. For this review I’m going to just rely on my own two eyes. Using that standard, the picture quality from Blu-rays was incredible. This was without doing any calibration of the player. Colors were brilliant, video was smooth. I didn’t notice any artifacts in the picture. DVD quality was superb. The player had no problem upscaling content. Even my old copy of The Fifth Element looked good.

Blu-ray Audio

As I ran through my set of Blu-ray discs, I noticed the audio lacked some of the punch and dynamic range of other Blu-ray players. According to my Onkyo receiver, the BDT-220 was outputing regular Dolby Digital or DTS. For some reason, even if I manually selected the Dolby TrueHD or DTS Master Audio audio track, it wouldn’t output it. It turns out there’s a problem with the unit’s default settings that’s easily fixed. I’m sure we’ll see a firmare update addressing this. Go to Setup-> Audio.  Turn off “BD Secondary Audio”. Tada! Exprience the glory of lossless audio that is Dolby TrueHD or DTS Master Audio.

Panasonic BDT220 Audio Settings

Panasonic BDT220 Audio Settings Set Properly for Dolby TrueHD and DTS Master Audio

 

Netflix and Streaming Services

The 2012 Panasonic 3D players offer a wide selection of streaming services including: Netflix (with 1080P and Dolby Digital Plus support), Amazon Instant Video, Hulu Plus, VUDU, Pandora, WSJ Live and You Tube among others. I’ve already written an in-depth review of the player’s Netflix and Amazon Instant Video capabilities. I’ve also been told by my sources that an update to the Amazon Instant Video player is in the works but no specific timing was given.

The VieraCast main menu also got a small facelift. This version also gives you the ability to customize the placement of icons on the screen. I like Panasonic’s Vieracast interface versus the other TV app interfaces on the market. To me, the VieraCast inteface is simple and easy to navigate.

VieraCast has its own settings menu separate from the unit’s main set up. The one setting that you should check is “Adjust Screen Size”. I had to reduce the image size on my Samsung HDTV.

DLNA client and local playback

It’s actually one of the nicer DLNA user interfaces I’ve seen. In particular, it’s the only one I’ve encountered that provides direct access to the file shares on my DLNA server. However, it doesn’t have as wide a range of video codec support like other streaming players out there. Furthermore, the unit had problems playing files from Handbrake that have played without a problem on the Roku and other devices (another firmware fix?).

In addition to DLNA support, this Blu-ray player can also directly connect to file shares on the network. Unfortunately, its challenging to use since you have to supply the IP address of the file share you’re connecting to.

You can also play media either via the SD card slot or through USB attached storage.  From attached storage, the player supports AVHCD, MP4, MPEG and MKV video files.  This year’s unit also adds the ability to play FLAC audio files in addition to MP3 and WAV files.

Conclusion

Panasonic has put together a fairly impressive Blu-ray player. While it’s a little disappointing that Panasonic would release the unit with a few unfinished touches, it’s still a great unit overall. Not only does is it a great job with Blu-rays and DVDs, it’s also a fully-loaded streaming device. Given it’s price, it’s a great value for your living room.

Update: Here’s an update on the latest firmware for the 2012 Panasonic Blu-ray players.

Tags: Blu-ray, Netflix, Panasonic, VUDU

35 Responses to Panasonic DMP-BDT220 Blu-Ray Player Review and Tips

  1. Ben Drawbaugh on March 20, 2012 at 1:51 pm

    The audio problem isn’t really a problem, in fact there isn’t a Blu-ray player that can decode two audio codecs and re-encode them in real time and most users expect the secondary audio to work out of the box. The alternative is to let the Blu-ray player decode the audio, mix them and send the audio as PCM to the AVR.

    • Gabe Gagliano on March 20, 2012 at 9:09 pm

      Ben,

      I understand what you’re saying. However, if I select the Dolby TrueHD or DTS Master Audio track on a disc, that’s what the Blu-ray player should send to the receiver. On this Panny it always outputs regular DD or DTS unless you change the BD secondary audio setting. On Pioneer BDP-320 I don’t have this problem.

      • Ben Drawbaugh on March 20, 2012 at 9:23 pm

        The disc menus cannot override the player’s settings. What is odd is why the player outputs DD/DTS instead of PCM.

        • Gabe Gagliano on March 21, 2012 at 8:55 am

          I added a screen shot above of what the configuration screen looks like above. I had it set for “Bitstream” since I want the receiver to do the decoding and be able to do its post processing. Reading the screen it seems like it was a conscious decision for them to downmix and keep the secondary audio active. My gut would be that the default should be the oppositie.

  2. Kyle32 on March 20, 2012 at 3:30 pm

    Does this player allow video brightness adjustments? Panasonic’s old dvd recorders had the ability to set 3 different levels of brightness, so I was wondering if their BR Players had this feature as well.

  3. jim on March 31, 2012 at 7:26 pm

    No Pal to NTSC conversion correct? DVD upscale is a huge issue for me and I have alot of UK discs, my old $40 Toshiba DVD player from 6 years ago converted Pal, every Blu-Ray player should be able to convert in 2012. I guess It’s the OPPO BDP 93 for me with region hack. Also what’s up with displays and receivers ditching S-Video?

    • Gabe Gagliano on April 9, 2012 at 4:05 pm

      Correct. NTSC only.

      Manufacturers have eliminated connectors like S-Video to cut costs. Also, all of the consumer electronics manufacturers have standardized on HDMI as the preferred way to get audio and video between components. HDMI is going to let you take advantage of the 1080P video and high resolution audio that Blu-ray offers. S-Video on the other hand is limited to 480i.

  4. Castel on April 4, 2012 at 7:41 pm

    Thanks for the great review! Is there a way to change the time display for DVD’s? I like to see the time remaining, or chapter time remaining, rather then elapsed time. Also, is there a way to pair the included remote so it can control the volume on my LG TV?

  5. Keith on April 6, 2012 at 1:22 pm

    Very good review! In your article, you mention that the DMP-BDT220 shares the same internals for audio and video as the DMP-BDT320 and 500. The information that I found on Panasonic’s website and other sites mention that the 320 has High Clarity Sound Plus and Digital Tube Sound while the 220 does not. Also, the 500 is supposed to have multiple Burr Brown DACs. The only way to determine if there is an actual sonic difference is to run comparison tests on these units. I am also considering the 320, but the negative reviews regarding the touch screen remote make me wonder.
    Again, thanks for a great review, Gabe!

  6. Ye.S. Print on May 7, 2012 at 9:41 am

    Great review.
    I bought one of this.
    Like it, but unfortunately the unit I have:
    1. doesn’t see (play) an AVI files at all.
    2. some of MKV files can not be read too
    3. On the Netflix sometimes an image goes ahead of a sound and subtitles. (1-2 sec)
    4. And the biggest issue – Network connection.
    Auto setting didn’t go trough with my Lyncsys from the beginning. I had to do it manually. Both computers started to see BDT 220, stream files, etc. Worked fine for 3 days, but suddenly the connection disappeared. I checked all setting, I reset everything 100 times and checked again. Home Network shows, sees and works with all of my wireless toys, but not the BDT 220.
    I’m about to return it to Amazon.com.

  7. Allen Hurst on May 20, 2012 at 6:06 pm

    The audio sync issue with Netflix on this player can be solved by turning off Quick Start. You can’t use your iPad as a remote when you do this, but it does fix the sync issue with Netflix.

  8. Greg on May 21, 2012 at 4:13 pm

    I purchased a Samsung BD-D5700 a couple of weeks ago and had lots of issues with it. Constantly wanting to update firmware and getting stuck in a download/install loop where the only solution was to do a hard reboot. This prevented access to Netflix, Pandora, etc. Customer service was no help, so after the sixth hard reboot I gave up and returned it for this player.

    The Panasonic is much less cranky, but I do have some issues with the DLNA connection. I can connect, but it doesn’t acknowledge the same files the Samsung played with ease. I have found a workaround by installing a trial of a program called Mezzmo. I was able to view the files I could not access before, but still unable to play the MP3 files that are now visible. There were some video files I could play through the Panasonic that are also still visible through Mezzmo. I am no longer able to fast forward these files using Mezzmo like I was able to strictly through the Panasonic.

    They really need a better manual. Many things were much too vague.

  9. Allen Hurst on May 21, 2012 at 7:27 pm

    One disappointment – did you check if you could stream Amazon in 5.1? I am only getting stereo on the BDT220 and I know Amazon does stream in 5.1

  10. Vianca on May 24, 2012 at 4:18 pm

    We have the above panasonic Blu Ray Surround. deverything works great with it except for the Netflix. It has no sound to it. Whats wrong??

    • Gabe Gagliano on May 25, 2012 at 7:33 am

      In Netflix, try selecting a different audio track under “Audio and Subtitles” when looking at a particular title. If you are outputting Dolby Digital Plus and your receiver doesn’t know how to handle it, you will have an issue.

  11. yoga on June 5, 2012 at 12:07 pm

    Gabe, thank you for the great review. You mention ‘this Blu-ray player can also directly connect to file shares on the network. Unfortunately, its challenging to use since you have to supply the IP address of the file share you’re connecting to’ …. where can i found this setting (since I cannot find it)? Can you kindly guide step by step? I tried to find it at Setting and network is not there… I also look under menu network near DLNA and media render is also not there…. Thanks

  12. Daniel on June 17, 2012 at 8:54 pm

    I can’t believe you didn’t mention that after the latest firmware update 2 weeks ago NETFLIX doesn’t work. Takes forever to load, starts movie, 30 seconds in, takes 2 min to buffer, 30 seconds of movie, all the way through. It is not the WIFI, my laptop in the same room doesn’t do it, and it shows 3 MB/sec speed. This problem has been noted on other review sites…DON’T BUY!!!

    • Gabe Gagliano on June 17, 2012 at 9:56 pm

      Hi Daniel,

      I do have a post coming up soon that covers the newest firmware as well as the new remote app. I’ve been busy with some other stuff lately so I’m not posting as much. Stay tuned.

      I also had the issue you describe with Netflix. To fix it, you need to return to the factory presets. On page 31 of the manual, the process is described. I agree its a pain to have to deal with it since you will have to redo all of your settings.

  13. Shiva on June 24, 2012 at 9:23 pm

    I have this player, and overall it was very easy to set up. A question about playing You Tube: is there a way to enlarge the You Tube screen to fill the TV screen? I have the YOU TUBE MENU on one half of my TV screen; and the Video screen itself plays only in one half. I have not been able to figure out how to enlarge that portion so it can play on my entire TV screen. Hope my question makes sense.

    • Gabe Gagliano on June 25, 2012 at 11:27 pm

      Shiva

      It makes sense. You can make YouTube play full screen with the Panasonic BDT-220. While in YouTube, using the arrow keys on the remote, move till you have selected the box around the playing video. Press the button in the middle of the cursor keys and it will go full-screen.

      • Jose on September 20, 2012 at 10:23 am

        THANKS A LOT……

        I HAD ALSO DOUBT THIS …. YOUR TIP RESOLVED THE PROBLEM ….

        REGARDS….

        JOSE….FROM BRAZIL….

  14. Xavier on August 3, 2012 at 1:49 am

    Do not buy this . Mine will not play MP4 or anything through DLNA or its USB port except WMA and that poorly with no lip sync. The generic Best Buy brand blue ray plays everything at half the price!

    • Larry on November 4, 2012 at 11:57 pm

      I have the same problem with the MP4 video files. I have tried running the files from SD, USB, and a network drive but to no avail. Through DLNA, it doesn’t even display on the screen.

      I bought this unit a week ago and I am struggling to find a solution.

      Does anyone have an opinion about this or some advice you can offer?

      I am running version 1.49 of the firmware.

      Thank you, Larry.

      • Larry on November 10, 2012 at 12:28 am

        Hi there,

        Found the problem. My sony camera produces MP4 files compliant with MPEG-4 Part2, while the Panasonic supports MP4 files compliant with MPEG-4 Part10 (same as H.264).

        Just got to convert the files.

        Regards,
        Larry

  15. mark sg on August 10, 2012 at 8:39 am

    While very very satisfied with this blu-ray player ,I wonder if there’s a solid and reliable hack for watching Region A (or 1) blu-ray movies ? There’re unfortunately better versions of many movies available in Region A than B. Thank you for your help, Mark.

  16. Joe Halwax on October 15, 2012 at 8:44 pm

    I cannot get this blue ray to recognize my youtube account. It works fine on laptops and ipads but not this blue ray. Keep getting login failed.

  17. Julie on December 1, 2012 at 1:47 pm

    Is it possible to disable open close button on best dmp220 remote

    • Gabe Gagliano on December 3, 2012 at 11:02 pm

      Sorry Julie, don’t think there’s a way to do that short of physically removing the button from the remote.

  18. Rob on December 4, 2012 at 11:43 am

    Hi Gabe – stumbled on your website and hope you can help. I had bought the Panasonic skype camera (TY-CC20W) and went through 2 returns with Amazon and, at my wit’s end, am sending it back for a refund. I have a dmp220, with the most recent firmware (updated a month ago), I have a strong wifi connection and have no issues using Skype on my laptop via wireless (including using the panasonic skype camera with my laptop).

    My issue is, every single time i skype on the dmp220, the camera repeatedly will go dark/black, and it will take a while, sometimes up to 30 seconds before i can get picture back. at times, the picture/outbound video is slow and crawls like i’m on a dialup connection, even though the inbound video from skype is still fine. At times, the skype camera will turn into wide-screen mode, which i have no idea why or how. All of this makes for an extremely frustrating and disappointing/infuriating experience. There is no doubt that it is a panasonic issue, whether it’s the blu-ray or camera. Per an amazon review of the product, i tried to make the “exposure” to auto, but that doesn’t do a thing.

    Any advice? I feel defrauded from nearly $100 for a stupid camera, and while I will return/receive a refund, the point was to be able to skype on a big screen, not a laptop screen. Anybody’s help, anybody’s input, anybody with similar issues would be greatly appreciated since apparently, nearly everybody on amazon enjoys flawless experiences. Thanks.

    • Gabe Gagliano on December 5, 2012 at 8:21 am

      I’ll send a message out to the Twitter-verse to see if anyone has ideas. The only other thing I can think of is the cable between the camera and the TV.

  19. Mo on December 26, 2012 at 8:35 pm

    I just got this blu ray for Christmas. It’s decent so far but I get no sound from YouTube, Pandora or music streamed from DLNA. Netflix has sound however. Please help!

  20. joel agular on December 27, 2012 at 12:13 am

    I can’t log in on you tube.it will not take my password

  21. Jose Ramirez on April 16, 2013 at 12:40 pm

    Hello, I just bought the BDT220, but it seems it is not multi-region. all blogs I’ve found says that it is needed an All for One remote, which I do not have. How we it be unlocked with the factory remote? or any other advice? I would truly appreciate it before I return to the store. Thanks.

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