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451 of 459 people found the following review helpful
on October 29, 2008
I felt compelled posting a review of the BMP-BD55 after receiving the unit today. I'd been holding off buying a standalone Blu-Ray player given the dearth of Profile 2.0 machines and along with their crazy prices. For those who aren't familiar with the Blu-Ray format, there are many different versions of Blu-Ray players that have varying functionalities lingering in the market today. They are: Profile 1.0, Profile 1.1 (this seems to have become the standard for the new low-end models), and Profile 2.0 (finalized standard). I will keep this review/opinion piece as free of tech-babble as much as possible.

You ay want to avoid most Profile 1.0 players. The reason why I say this is for the following reasons: 1. A large number of them are very slow at booting up. 2. They often have problems playing new Blu-Ray movies, some early models won't play some recent BD movies at all. Many of these machines do not come with HDMI 1.3, meaning you may not be able to get take advantage of the newer HD audio formats.

Profile 1.1 machines have been released in the last year and can play the vast majority of new discs but cannot take advantage of the new online functionalities and special features many new discs are shipping with. Also, updating the firmware can be cumbersome requiring a PC download, then that download being burned to a CD, and then that CD being inserted into your player, and then installed onto player.

Profile 2.0 machines are known as "Final Profile" or "Full Spec". These players come with a network interface, aka an Ethernet card. The Ethernet card allows you to connect your player directly to your home network. The significance of this is that with an Ethernet connection you will be able to directly download firmware updates to your player eliminating the several steps in the firmware updating process. Also, internet-based special features are available.

This is my first standalone Blu-Ray player. Since 2006, I have been using my Playstation 3 (60GB launch model) in anticipation of a full-featured standalone Blu-Ray player that didn't cost an arm and a leg. The moment I read the press release and technical specs of the BMP-BD55 I knew this was the machine to buy. The features that stood out to me are:

1. This machine has Onboard decoding of Dolby TrueHD/Digital Plus and dts-HD Master Audio audio formats, among others. This means, if you have an older receiver this machine can send the audio via bitstream or PCM, and you'll be able to enjoy the discrete audio mastered on the disc.

2. I have an older 7.1 Yamaha receiver HTR-5960 and it does not decodes the HD audio formats. **Correction** That is where your audio options begin with the BMP-BD55, as it can send decoded 7.1 and 5.1 audio to my receiver via the analog output. In other words you're not tethered, per se, to HDMI to enjoy 7.1 or 5.1 master audio and can put off buying that new receiver. The Optical Out interface supports DTS-ES, Dolby Digital EX, among more but 7.1 is down mixed.

3. Profile 2.0. Simple firmware updates, which are done automatically. Access to the internet-based special features, such as trivia games, extra behind the scenes, downloadables like ringtones etc..

4. This machine has an SD card reader. It can read SD cards up to 32GB (if the card has SDHC on it, then the Panasonic will play it). This means you will be able to view your Photos (from your digital camera: still or video), play MP3 songs, view Divx (aka those movies you downloaded from the internet), etc. I definitely recommend you getting an SD card because you may need it for future special internet- features (which are only going to get larger), as the onboard memory is rather limited. A class 6 8GB card can be bought here on Amazon for $12 and less.

5. Video quality (most important in my opinion). This machine has an excellent 1080p upconverting chipset. This means your regular DVD will look excellent. This machine also has 24p (also known as Original Source Output for those who are interested in knowing). Most movies are actually shot at 24 frames per second and this machine supports 24p for both DVD (via conversion) and Blu-Ray.

6. Price. This machine is an excellent deal for its price. Competing machines with the same or less features still cost well above $700MSRP (Denon and Pioneer ring a bell).

7. Nice Size. This player has a very nice profile and is the size of a typical DVD player. It's not razor thin but it's a substantially slim machine and Panasonic finally got rid of that annoying face plate that you have to manually lower and raise to access the disc tray, which the older Panasonic machines had.

My impressions and personal experience with this machine:

I've been using the Playstation 3 as my Blu-Ray player for almost two years and I believe this machine surpasses the PS3 in terms of Audio (7.1 audio output via analog, and solid bitsream for optical out), Audio/Video settings option (the same picture management flexibilities that exist on my HDTVs settings are available on the machine, allowing for greater picture control and flexibility). PS3 owners will know/appreciate this but I can finally use my standard/universal remote again.

What I like:

I personally found the BMP-BD55 has great colour, contrast, and noise reduction performance as viewed on my Panasonic 46" Plasma HDTV. I did a direct video comparison of several movies between the BMP-BD55 and the PS3 and the Panasonic performed better.

I viewed only areas of the films where the PS3 struggled, such as in sequences with diagonal objects (to test anti-aliasing performance), intense light dark scenes (to test contrast and brightness performance). Movies I viewed:

Blu-Ray: (The Matrix, Iron Man, Resident Evil Extinction, Babel, Disturbia, Unforgiven, Tekkonkinkreet, and The Corpse Bride). I found the BMP-BD55 had great Contrast and Brightness. Colour control is exquisite, hardly any noticeable colour artifacts.

DVD: The Incredibles, the Matrix, Evolution, The Time Machine, Bourne Ultimatum, Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith, Black Dahlia, Moulin Rouge. I found the 1080p upconversion excellent; DVDs I bought 8 years ago look better than ever and the Aspect Ratio and pull-down performance is very good as well.

Audio Processing: The onboard decoding software and chipset are great. I sent the decoded HD audio channelized audio to my 7.1 receiver and it sounded superb. This feature is important, in my opinion, because my receiver has a hard-time converting new HD audio but the BMP-BD55's on-board chipset sends a crisp decoded signal to my receiver. As a result, it doesn't have to struggle with HD audio and only needs to farm out the audio to the assigned speakers.

Load times: I was thoroughly impressed with the boot-up and load times of the machine. From start to play it took me less than two minutes to load Iron Man

What I don't like:

1. Storage Space: Given online content is going to be downloaded, they could have added at 2GB SD card (probably would have cost them only $3)

2. Would be nice if they included a USB port.

3. This is a high definition movie player. Why the heck is the included cable a composite? They could have included a short HDMI or even an S-Video cable.

I highly recommend this machine for anyone looking to enter into the High Definition Movie Disc market or looking to upgrade their 1.0 or 1.1 player. I've seen this unit for $320 (prices will ultimately go down) but if that is too much for you, I highly recommend getting the BMP-BD35 as a more affordable alternative. The only difference between the BMP-BD55 and the BMP-BD35 are the 7.1 analog out (the 35 doesn't have that feature) and Divx support for burned DVD and CD-R/RW. Other than that, the machines are identical in terms of playback functionality and quality, as they have the same video and audio cards. In my opinion, this is a great deal for a full-featured Blu-Ray player; in terms of functionality, features, and Audio/Video quality you're pretty much set.

In conclusion: I feel this is currently the best stand-alone player (especially for the price) currently on the market and a legitimate and compelling alternative to the PS3; perfect for those who are simply interested in watching High Definition movies and want to enjoy the occasional internet-based extras Blu-Ray movies are starting to offer without worrying about a new "Profile". Technology always moves along but I think, with these new players, the manufactures have finally started releasing "finalized" Blu-Ray machines you won't have to worry about being viable for years to come.

I hope you found this useful and I thank you for taking the time to read my review/opinion.
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97 of 100 people found the following review helpful
Many people have been waiting a long time for a Blu-ray Disc player like the DMP-BD55 to come along: one that supports native decoding and bitstreaming of *all* of the high definition audio formats (Dolby TrueHD, DTS-HD Master Audio, multi-channel PCM), with full Profile 1.1 and 2.0 support (BonusView and BD-Live), with reasonably fast loading times and good BD-Java interactivity, with outstanding Blu-ray Disc image quality and acceptable upconversion of standard DVDs. And I'm happy to say the BD55 satifies on all of these levels.

Although some say the PS3 is still the best Blu-ray Disc player, the PS3 lacks bitstreaming support for DTS-HD and Dolby TrueHD (which some people want), and it does not integrate as well with a home theater system due to its lack of IR or RF remote control support. Yes I know all about the Nyko IR remote for the PS3, but that is missing some core controls like POWER so it will not get you the whole way there. Also, the BD55 (and its little brother, the equally impressive BD35) are actually less expensive than the PS3, and they've come a long way in disc loading and boot-up times such that these new BD players actually load some discs a little bit *faster* than the PS3 (details below). The PS3 still wins in overall boot-up time and in loading and interaction with BD-Java discs, but the new Panasonics are among the first to give the PS3 a run for its money in this department.

Where the BD55 wins over virtually all of the competition (including the PS3) is in its treatment of Blu-ray Discs, both from a picture performance standpoint and in the audio department. On the "big picture" front, the unit includes Panasonic's newly improved UniPhier chip which intelligently upconverts the native 4:2:0 encoding on a Blu-ray discs to 4:4:4 output. What this means from a layman's perspective is that the player restores missing color detail to each pixel in the 1920x1080 image. And while this doesn't make a big difference on smaller sized screens, it does noticeably improve color detail on the larger flat panel and projection screens which you're likely to find in a home theater system. Also, the BD55 has enhanced SD upconversion over its predecessors that makes watching DVDs a lot more enjoyable. It's not quite the equal the the best upconverting DVD players on the market, but it's not that far off either.

On the sound front, the BD55 includes 5.1 and 7.1-channel analog outputs with full decoding of multi-channel PCM, Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio. This makes it an excellent choice to add to a high-end multi-channel preamp/processor or receiver which lacks HDMI inputs. The multi-channel analog output allows you to take full advantage of the latest and greatest audio formats available on Blu-ray Disc. If you haven't heard these new formats yet, you're in for a treat as they exactly match the original studio recordings in quality and it can give your home theater system quite a work out! The BD55 is one of very few players on the market today that offers this feature (multi-channel analog out). The PS3 does not offer this. And while the Samsung BD-P2500 and BD-P2550 do offer multi-channel analog outputs, they do not currently offer native decoding of DTS-HD Master Audio (though there is some conflicting information as to whether this may be delivered in the future via a firmware upgrade).

For those with more modern surround sound equipment, the BD55 can output multi-channel Blu-ray Discs and DVDs in the native "bitstream" or it can decode the bitstream to full resolution uncompressed PCM. The choice is yours based on the capabilities of your specific home theater system.

One of the first things we measured when we got the BD55 in for review was the boot-up and disc-loading time. First and second generation BD players were painfully slow to boot up and to load discs. While the BD55 does take 24 seconds to boot up (vs. the PS3's 9 seconds), the BD55 was actually quicker to load a standard (non-Java) Blu-ray Disc than the PS3 - about 9 seconds faster, to be precise - and it was about 6 seconds faster to load a standard DVD. For a BD Java-heavy disc like "Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl," the BD55 loaded up the disc in about 45 seconds, which is only about 5 seconds slower than the PS3. The PS3, with its super-fast Cell processor, is still better (and quicker) in its interactivity with BD-Java-based menus and BD-Live, but the BD55 is certainly in the same ballpark. What's important here is that the delays in playback are short enough that they won't bother most people, and the huge improvement in picture and sound quality over standard DVD make Blu-ray playback on the BD55 worth the wait.

The DMP-BD55 is by no means a "perfect" player - all CE components have their quirks. SD conversion on specialized upconverting DVD players such as the higher end Oppo players or the Silicon Optix HQV-based players is definitely better than the SD upconversion on the BD55, but not so much as to bother me (and I'm pretty picky). Overall, the BD55 provides one of the stongest feature sets and performance packages available today, and it does it at a price in line with most home theater fans' budgets. So it gets my enthusiastic recommendation.

More information is available in our full review on Big Picture Big Sound.
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39 of 40 people found the following review helpful
on November 12, 2008
Pros: Excellent Picture Quality for both Blu-ray's and Standard DVD's. Sound using analog output sounds amazing. It's 2.0 right out of the box. Can play pretty much anything. Has lot os extras in menu to work with. Slick and pretty dang cool to look at.

Cons: Not really a con but it uses SD cards rather than USB. But I guess that's actually a good thing so you can view photos and such.

Summary: I have tried three different players. I have a Samsung TV and thought that it would be a good thing to have a Samsung Blu-ray to go along with it. I had immediate problems with it. I then tried the Sony 350 which I had problems and some personal dislikes so I returned that one. After realizing I just needed to spend the money I went and picked up the Panny BD55. It is worth every penny. It surpases the picture quality and the sound quality of boththe Samsung 1500 and the Sony 350. The analogs out are great for anyone with an older receiver. The sound is fantastic. I picked up the incredible Hulk on Blu-ray and it was shaking the room. The menu is great and has tons of settings for those of us who like to tweak things. It is a beautiful looking player which you can easily find yourself staring at it. One thing that was very surprising is that the Vierra link works with My Samsung LN46A650 AnyNet function so the Blu-ray player and my tv will interact with one another. I turn the player on and the tv will turn on and change to the Blu-ray source. I turn the TV off and the player will turn off. It's pretty nifty. All in all it's a great player and probably the best that's out there right now. If you have the money go for it, it's worth it. If you don't need the analog out go for it's little brother the BD35.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on November 23, 2008
Verified Purchase
I'm really glad I waited for this model. Using the 8ch analog outputs it allows me to use my old Yamaha reciever that I really have grown to love the sound from. When on the analog output it gives channel volume adjustments within the player. It also simultaneously outputs optical digital so for the older formats I can let the reciever do the decoding and use the 5.1 features there. The configuration and menu features are great. Load times are fast enough for me. This is my first blu-ray player so I don't have comparisons. The pic quality is fantastic. I'm running mine at 720P as I have a 720P projector, so I can't speak to the 1080P features. For my set up this is a major upgrade. The upconverting to 720P for standard DVDs, mp3 and audio playback are all smooth and great sounding as well.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on December 17, 2008
Verified Purchase
Been waiting for a stand-alone player that does all that profile 2.0 has promised and handles DVD upscaling w/ zero issues. The DMP-BD55 hits or exceeds every mark! I have a pre-HDMI Onkyo AVR and needed the 7.1 analog outs that a PS/3 will NEVER provide. I've had this plugged into my HT for a week now and all I can say is "in#@$%ingcredible!!!"

PQ on a Panny AE2000/100"/ bluejeanscable 35' BJC Series-1 HDMI cable is almost 3D-like. Check out The Patriot and Cars - seems that I can just step right into the frame! By comparison, the upscaled DVD versions might as will be 480i straight out of 1979...

AQ via the BD55's HD lossless codecs is an absolute mind blower. Check out ALL of Rush's Snakes and Arrows BD title - amazing soundstage vs: the lossy DTS track - and the LFE channel in I Robot's chapter 15 home wrecker sequence (both are DTS-MA tracks)... OMFG ;-)

Ergonomics/Misc: BD Java titles take a while to boot - this is basically a specialized Linux PC - go pop some popcorn. Audio setup is a bit confusing, check out the BD35/55 thread at to clear up any questions. Network connect is a "do nothing", just hook it up to your router with some cat5 and select auto-update from the setup menu to get the latest firmware - painless. Go buy an $8 2GB SD card for the BD-Live storage. Lastly, I am giving ONLY licensing $ to the invent-a-standard fascists at $&%y, works for me.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on December 11, 2008
Verified Purchase
After reading all other reviews, I decided to go for this Panny BD55. My expectations were set very high and the player delivered them..all of them!!

The player looks quite impressive even when not powered on. Powering it, brings a cool blue cresent in the front.
Setting it up is very simple. Well thought questions on initial setup parameters takes not more than a minute and it's done! Hoooking it up with the receiver too is simple. I have an older non-HDMI receiver and this was the key reason for going in for 55 instead of 35.

Time taken from power up till you can insert the disc is longer than what the normal DVD player takes. However, it's not long enough to be painful.

The performance:

I played three different kinds of media to test. BBC's Planet Earth & Cars(BD), The Patriot (DVD) and then a classical flute (MP3)

Picture -BD
In both the cases, the pictures and colors are crisp and deep. Even in fast movements and action, the player keeps up with the details all over the screen. The forest and the flowers in Planet Earth literally bring the television alive!! You would feel as if the trees are right there in front of you. Smallest of the details in the forest come alive, especially when the camera pans around in slow motion, you feel you are gliding through the forest!
Cars puts the player into a different kind of world. The animations, reflections, shadows, the speed... all work beautifully!

Picture -DVD
The output is as good as any other high end DVD player. I didn't see much difference in the depth of colors and clarity from the ones I get from my regular DVD player (Pioneer DV525). This DVD player was anyway one of the best ones around and still puts out better performance on it's Component video than HDMI of many of the newer players!!

Audio - MP3
The audio processing is nice. The notes from the flute were rendered perfectly. I deliberately selected a solo flute performance. The listeners were immersed in the beautiful sounds of the flute... I forgot that I was merely checking the player. I listened to the whole 15 minute performance.

The Remote keys are nicely spaced. You would not need the manual for most of the operations. The smart feature is programming the TV and Receiver codes to control power and volume. However, the Receiver list is limited.

What Panasonic should do:
1. Remote: make it look more like 21st century. It's very functional (good) but still looks like one from 90s.

2. Please please please provide an HDMI cable or at least stop providing the flimsy composite AV cable!!!! That's cheap and mean too!!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on December 30, 2008
Verified Purchase
After trying the sony 350 first,not too bad but lacking in new sound formats and weak in upconversion,fast loading. Three Samsung 2500,s, Good upconversion but terrible remote control.Worked if you were 8 ft. or less and straight on. Also fan noise on one unit. Not the latest sound formats.I have a samsung 52 inch 750 and really wanted the samsung blu-ray to work but can,t recomend them. Bought the Panasonic DMP-BD55K and could not be happier.The best picture and sound of all them. Bonus is putting a sd card in from my wifes camera and doing a slide show with crystal clear pictures on a 52 inch LCD. No problems with BD-Live.Best value for the money out there.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on November 14, 2008
Verified Purchase
The picture the BD55 player puts out along with the sound quality will blow you away. There is no downside to this player. I never knew my Sony HDTV could look so good.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on December 22, 2008
Verified Purchase
I upgraded from the Sony BDP-S350. Panasonic is faster loading and starting (I use the open/close function in my remote macro to turn the machine on and it takes 15 seconds). The picture controls are very good and the image is a little sharper than the Sony. But the biggest difference appears in 24 frame mode when panning across a moving scene. The Sony jittered the picture a little bit. The Panasonic keeps the image more solid (not completely solid) but far less distracting than the Sony.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on January 2, 2009
I've had the Blu-Ray player for a little over a week and have overall positive comments about it. I specifically picked this player because I have a somewhat older receiver (Yamaha RX-Z1) that does not directly decode the newer HD audio formats, but does have a 6 channel input mode. As I expected, the picture is beautiful and the audio is impeccable.

That is, once the machine starts up. I only have plain old DVD's to compare to and maybe compared to others, this unit is fast, but, IMHO it is still way too slow. It kind feels like watching an older Windows XP machine boot. There is little feedback about progress aside from a "Loading..." message and then circles run around in a circle and then the disc finally starts. If you are trying to watch something during a meal, be sure to fire up before you sit down because you will be almost done eating before the movie starts if you do not. There is also a noticable lag when you hit a button on the remote before things move on the screen.

I was also disappointed to find that the unit has no memory of its own, so if you want to use the BD-Live features, you'll need to go out and buy an SD card, as others have pointed out. Not a huge expense, but certainly an inconvenience. With the drops in memory prices, the unit really could have shipped with some memory. Also, with respect to the BD-Live features, on some discs, a cursor seems to be missing or invisible on some of the navigation screens so you just end up guessing which item you are selecting. Makes for some interesting (at times, exasperating) trial and error sessions.

Last, the other big missing feature, which seems like a given, is that there is no memory or bookmark function that works for BluRay discs. Like many other people, I rarely can watch an entire movie in one sitting. I have to either leave the thing on with the disc spinning and blue light on or write down the chapter number on a pad and endure the startup process again the next time I can watch. Maybe they'll fix this with a firmware update.

Overall, a B+ in my mind.
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