We give up. Just how does Panasonic squeeze heavyweight picture processing, 3D compatibility, a VIERA Connect net portal and integrated Wi-Fi into one wafer-thin Blu-ray player?
The Panasonic DMP-BDT220 is actually one of four new 3D compatible, network-savvy BD players from the brand. It's positioned below the DMP-BDT500 flagship and its DMP-BDT320 apprentice, but ahead of the entry-level DMP-BDT120. With a formidable feature list, we reckon it's a strong alternative to the Sony BDP-S490 and Samsung BD-D5500.
Panasonic DMP-BDT220: Features
The Panasonic DMP-BDT220 is likely to appeal equally to Blu-ray newbies and long time supporters of the format looking for a reason to upgrade. With access to Panasonic's VIERA Connect streaming video portal, there's plenty of fun to be had without even spinning a disc.
BBC iPlayer, Netflix, YouTube, Dailymotion and Acetrax head up the IPTV choices, and there's Facebook and Twitter clients should you need to tweet and FB when you drop your phone down the loo. Other diversions can be found in Panasonic's VIERA market apps online store. Netflix even gets its own hot button on the remote zapper.
This model significantly improves on its forebears when it comes to media streaming. From USB, you can play all key formats, including MKV for video and FLAC for audio. Across a network though, things get unnecessarily complicated. If you store content on a NAS you have to manually map the device to the player.
This entails inputting the IP address, shared folder name and any relevant login details for each device. Quite why the deck can't locate and access network storage devices automatically is baffling. Once done though, network playback offers identical file support to the USB reader.
Panasonic DMP-BDT220: Connectivity
Standing just 38mm tall, the deck barely has enough room for a single HDMI, let alone phono AV and optical digital audio outputs, Ethernet LAN and a USB, intended for a Skype camera. A second media-friendly USB can be found beneath the wispy plastic fascia, alongside an SD card reader.
Panasonic DMP-BDT220: Usability
If this player was a car it would be sports coupe (probably a Nissan). The GUI can be navigated on two wheels and Blu-rays load at speed. A Java heavy copy of Goldfinger goes from tray-in to 007 menu in just 50 seconds, while a Java-light concert disc was ready to roll in just 30s.
The compass-style interface first seen last year is back with refinements. North, south,east or west, getting to your media is a snap. Although why is the button that takes you online to the VIERA Connect portal, labelled Network Services? A bit of a branding fail there. Once again you can customise the home menu background with your own wallpaper.
Panasonic DMP-BDT220: Performance
Panasonic has long led the field when it comes to raw picture performance, and once again this model outperforms its price tag. Capable of phenomenal detail, with excellent colour depth and low noise, this deck can comfortably slug it out with more specialised hardware, and it also does a sterling job with 3D.
Panasonic DMP-BDT220: Verdict
With its slick user interface, improved multimedia file support and internet streaming functionality, Panasonic has managed to make the modest DMP-BDT220 worthy of serious investigation. Image quality from Blu-ray discs is outstanding, both in 2D and 3D, and it's a fast loader, delivering even complicated Java heavy discs to screen in no time at all.
For the most part it's extremely easy to use. The user interface is fresh and innovative. However quite why Panasonic requires users to manually map NAS devices to the player just to play video files and high resolution audio is baffling. It's not a comfortable user experience. We suspect average users will be flummoxed by requests for IP addresses and the like.
But don't let that foible put you off. This talented performer is definitely one to shortlist – if you can't stretch to the more ambitious DMP-BDT320.
Panasonic DMP-BDT220 availability: Available Now
Panasonic DMP-BDT220 price: £179