Like most Panasonic products, the DMP-BD65 is a solid machine. It doesn't have as many features as some rivals, especially LG and Samsung machines, which have a seemingly endless supply of bells and whistles, but it will put a great-quality image on your TV, and a smile on your face.
One of the features we really like about the DMP-BD65 is its ability to enhance movie dialogue, which is especially handy if you're listening to a film via your TV's speakers. Giving the soundtrack's dialogue channel a boost won't be necessary on a 5.1- or 7.1-channel home-cinema system, but it's essential for plain old stereo TVs.
Unlike many Blu-ray players, the DMP-BD65 loads discs at a decent speed, so you won't have to wait around for very long before the movie springs into life. Navigating around the disc menus is a snappy experience too. Press the directional control button and the right things happen on the screen quickly enough. Machines of old took their sweet time with this sort of thing, so the DMP-BD65 is a breath of fresh air.
We quite like the idea of streaming video to your Blu-ray player, and Panasonic's Viera Cast service offers a 'walled garden' approach to doing so on the DMP-BD65. Essentially, the DMP-BD65 has a portal that gives you access to a limited number of sites -- for example, you can view YouTube and Picasa photos online.
Typing in the name of the YouTube video you want to watch is rather tricky, but, because the DMP-BD65 supports user sign-in, your favourite videos will be available for you to watch. Blowing a video up to full-screen size is no problem, and most clips are watchable in this mode. Naturally, the final image quality depends on the clip you're watching.
As with the rest of the machine, the Viera Cast functionality is snappy, and we experienced no long waits while pages loaded. Our machine complained about the connection sometimes, but it worked just fine overall.
We like the Panasonic DMP-BD65. Its picture and sound quality are great, it's well designed, and it's speedy. If YouTube access appeals, then the DMP-BD65 offers another good reason to select it over rivals. That said, we have to give a nod to the cheaper LG BD370, which offers YouTube access and manages to play back high-definition video in the MKV format too. If you opt for the DMP-BD65, though, you'll have our blessing -- it's a terrific piece of kit.
Edited by Charles Kloet