Panasonic bows better Blu-ray players, meager media streamers and the ultimate party machine

Panasonic BDT-330 angleYesterday, while at a Panasonic product unveiling, we got a comprehensive look the company’s home entertainment line-up. In addition to getting all of the details on Panasonic’s 2013 TV line-up (including the gorgeous ZT60 plasma series) we took some time to look at the company’s new Blu-ray players, over-the-top media streamers, and a bombastic, glowing audio system which sucked us in like moths to a flame. Here’s the 411:

Panasonic has always offered a strong family of Blu-ray players, and this year is no exception. The company has introduced four new players in total: The DMP-BD79 ($80), DMP-BD89 ($100), DMP-BDT230 ($130), and the DMP-BDT330 ($200). All four are smart players with access to media streaming apps such as Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon Instant and VUDU, and all four come with built-in WiFi. The top two BDT models add on passive 3D support, expanded app selection, Miracast support for sharing media from mobile devices. 

We’re particularly impressed with the BDT-330. It offers excellent picture quality, Viera Connect, 2D-3D conversion, 2K 4K upscaling, a 32-bit/192kHz DAC for pristine audio, and a new metalic design that looks really sleek (a departure from cheap looking plastic should have transpired years ago, but better late than never). This is probably the best value in a high-end Blu-ray player at this time, unless you swing the extra $300 for an Oppo BDP-103, which we absolutely adore.

Too little, too late

panasonicDMPMS60streamerWhile we understand the appeal of a Panasonic-branded  media streamer for those with older HDTVs  without Viera Connect, Panasonic’s DMP-MST60 ($100) and DMP-MS10 ($80) media streamers are far more than fashionably late to the party, and disappointingly light on content. Panasonic’s newly adopted aesthetics look great on this new over-the-top streamers, but they’ve got nothing on the Roku 3 when it comes to what counts.

The DMP-MST60 does support 3D playback and Miracast mirroring and offers the same streaming options available in Viera Connect, but that’s a drop in the bucket compared to the 700+ channels available via any of the Roku devices. The Apple TV, while not our favorite web streaming device, still offers quite a bit more than Panasonic’s maiden voyage into the seas of streaming media; plus, it can be made to be a whole lot more fun if you jailbreak it. We just don’t see how Panasonic is going to sell a lot of these devices unless they’re bundled with their lower end HDTVs. As a stand-alone device, we just don’t see the appeal. 

Just in time for summer…and a guaranteed visit from the police…panasonicMAXsystem

Panasonic had a wide variety of new audio products at the press briefing, including the rather impressive looking SC-NE5 and SC-NE3 Bluetooth-enabled wireless speaker systems which support AirPlay and DLNA devices, but all of that was rendered moot by the SC-MAX650 mini-stereo system ($1,300) which offers 2,300 watts, glowing bass drivers, a CD player, inputs for your smartphone or iPod, and enough dripping machismo to make your neighbors really mad. 

The product is apparently really popular in Latin America and Panasonic has decided to introduce it here for the first time. 

Home Theater

Step aside set-top boxes, the best streaming sticks are tiny and just as powerful

Which streaming stick reigns supreme? We pit the Chromecast and Chromecast Ultra against the Roku Premiere, Roku Streaming Stick+, and the Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K to help you decide which one will be the best fit in your living room.
Home Theater

New TV? Here's where to go to watch the best 4K content available

Searching for content for your new 4K UHD TV? Look no further. We have every major source of the best 4K content, along with the cost, hardware requirements, and features that make each service worth a look.
Home Theater

From the Roku Ultra to the Fire TV Cube, these are the best streaming devices

There are more options for media streamers than ever, so it’s more difficult to pick the best option. But that’s why we're here. Our curated list of the best streaming devices will get you online in no time.
Home Theater

How to know if you’ve got great Dolby Atmos sound

Dolby Atmos surround sound has become the holy grail for home theater lovers who want the best possible sound from their systems. But getting Dolby Atmos isn't as straightforward as you might think. Compatibility problems between components…
Home Theater

What are HDMI ARC and eARC? Here’s how they can simplify your home theater

HDMI ARC is one of the coolest TV features at your disposal. But if you're like most folks, you have no idea how it works, if you even know what it is at all. Here's our primer on HDMI ARC, as well as the next generation technology, eARC.
Movies & TV

Out of movies to binge? Our staff picks the best flicks on Hulu right now

From classics to blockbusters, Hulu offers some great films to its subscribers. Check out the best movies on Hulu, whether you're into charming adventure tales or gruesome horror stories.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Folding canoes and ultra-fast water filters

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Movies & TV

The best new movie trailers: ‘Avengers: Endgame,’ ‘Bumblebee,’ ‘Alita,’ and more

Everyone loves a good trailer, but keeping up with what's new isn't easy. That's why we round up the best ones for you. This week, it's the first trailer for Avengers: Endgame, as well as new trailers for Alita: Battle Angel and Bumblebee.
Movies & TV

The best movies on Amazon Prime right now (December 2018)

Prime Video provides subscribers with access to a host of fantastic films, but sorting through the catalog can be an undertaking. Luckily, we've done the work for you. Here are the best movies on Amazon Prime Video right now.
Movies & TV

Best new shows and movies to stream: ‘The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel’ and more

Need something to watch this weekend? Check out our list of the best new shows and movies to stream right now. On the list this week: The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel season 2, Neo Yokio: Pink Christmas, and more.
Movies & TV

'Prime'-time TV: Here are the best shows on Amazon Prime right now

There's more to Amazon Prime than free two-day shipping, including access to a number of phenomenal shows at no extra cost. To make the sifting easier, here are our favorite shows currently streaming on Amazon Prime.
Movies & TV

'Stranger Things' season 3 teaser reveals the new episodes' titles

With a sophomore season as strong as its first, Stranger Things is now moving on to season 3. Here's everything we've learned so far about the Netflix series' upcoming third season.

The best 4K TV deals under $500 and over 50 inches

Big-screen TVs with high-resolution displays and 4K color have dropped so far in price that you can find highly rated 50 to 55-inch models under $500. We searched major retailers for the best deals on 4K UHD TVs.
Home Theater

Wireless headphones are finally awesome, and these are our favorites

Between sleek form factors, prime audio quality, and the freedom of untethered listening, there has never been a better time to pick up a pair of wireless headphones. These are the best ones currently available.